CDPCKL · Building a House For God: the Light-Keepers’ Ordination (Exodus 29:1-46)

Building a House For God: the Light-Keepers’ Ordination (Exodus 29:1-46)

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. In other words, he created a space filled with all the raw materials necessary for the construction project he had in mind. Then, over the next six days, we see God take those raw materials and shape some of them into an orderly structure, a house set apart from the disorderly space outside. And it was only at the end of the sixth day, after he had finished building his house, that God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over all the creatures.” 

And so, by the seventh day, we are told, God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 

Basically, over the course of six days God built the earth as an orderly system bursting with light and life; and then he created human beings to administer that system, to take over the business of making sure his house runs smoothly and continues to produce orderly light and life. 

And that is why, on the seventh day, God was able to move into the new house he had built and then rest: he had done the hard work of creation; it was now his pleasure to hand responsibility over to his children so that they could have the pleasure of working: shaping and sustaining creation. 

But if you are familiar with the Book of Genesis, then you know that there is a second, more detailed account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, one that focuses on the creation of mankind. 

And that second account begins with a vision of the completed earth as a wilderness. It is bursting with life — just as described in the first account — but as the narrative camera zooms in we find that this life is wild-life, uncultivated life, life that has not yet been brought into a sustainable order. And the reason it is uncultivated, we are told, is because God had not yet created a cultivator: there was no one to work the ground. 

But then the camera pans over and shows us that the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden. And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. 

So in the second, more zoomed-in account of creation, we see the same basic narrative pattern at work: first God creates a space filled with all the raw materials necessary for the project he has in mind. Then God takes some of those raw materials and shapes them into an orderly structure, a garden set apart from the disorderly earth outside. 

And it is only after God had finished planting the garden that he formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. And the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 

Basically, according to the second, more zoomed-in account of creation, the first man was created to be a priest over God’s house, a priest at work in the Garden of the Lord. 

And if you were with us last week then you already know why we have started our sermon from the middle of Exodus today by going right back to the creation of mankind in Genesis: because last week in Exodus God just re-created mankind, he has just officially rebooted the original priesthood. 

If you were not here last week, then let me explain briefly what is going on: at this point in the Book of Exodus, Moses is at the top of Mount Sinai receiving instructions from God on how to build a tabernacle — a sacred tent — that will be God’s house, so that he can live in the midst of his people. 

And so far God has outlined all the raw materials that Moses will need for the construction project. He has described the structure of the tabernacle, how it will be set apart from the disorderly world outside. He has described the furniture that will be needed to fill the tabernacle with light and life. And after he had finished describing the tabernacle and its furnishings he then called Moses’ brother Aaron to serve as the father over a new line of priests: men specially called to administer God’s house, to make sure it runs smoothly and continues to produce light and life. 

That is what happened last week. And so at this point it is easy to see how what is going on in Exodus right now is meant to be an echo of God’s original work in creation, including a re-creation of mankind. 

But if you are not very familiar with the bible, if you are not familiar with Christianity, you might be asking yourself why God feels like he needs to re-create mankind. Wasn’t the first time enough? 

Well, the first time would have been enough if the first man — Adam — had done his job of working and protecting God’s house, the Garden of Eden. 

But Adam failed. He allowed a disorderly wild animal — a serpent — from the wild country outside to slither into the orderly garden. Even worse, instead of bringing that serpent into proper order and submission to God’s Word, he allowed that serpent to disorder God’s Word: he allowed the serpent to preach the lie that Adam could seize power for himself and live forever as an independent god. Even worse than that, Adam then submitted to that serpent’s word. So in the end, it was Adam himself who brought disorder into God’s house, and death to himself. 

And as a result, Adam was driven out of the garden. Even though he had been created in God’s image, Adam had defiled that image by submitting that image to the rule of an animal. And by defiling himself, Adam had also defiled God’s house. 

And if you were here a couple of weeks ago, you will remember how, in the last moments before Adam was cast out, God performed the first animal sacrifices recorded in scripture: he shed the blood of animals in order to provide garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and he clothed them. Those sacrifices, and the clothing that came from them, were a promise that one day God would permanently cover their shame and make them holy enough to return to the garden. So: 

This is why God needed to reboot his original priesthood: the first priesthood failed. So far, he has chosen Aaron to pick up where Adam left off. And he has also told Moses how to make a special set of priestly garments that are designed to restore the human dignity and honor that Adam lost. 

So it makes sense now, as we continue reading in Exodus, for God to tell Moses to dress Aaron and his sons in those special robes. He says, [1] “This is what you are to do to consecrate them, so they may serve me as priests.” Then he goes on to outline how Moses is to wash Aaron with water, and then dress him in the tunic, the ephod, the breastpiece, the turban and its golden seal. “Then,” God says, [7] “Take the anointing oil and anoint him by pouring it on his head. [8] Bring his sons and dress them in tunics [9] and fasten caps on them. Then tie sashes on Aaron and his sons. The priesthood is theirs by a lasting ordinance.” 

We learned last week that these priestly robes were designed to make the priest holy — they set him apart from the people, and protected him from God’s perfect holiness. The robes were a kind of symbolic holy armour, we could say. 

And since the robes are holy, they need to be protected from the priest’s physical unholiness. This is why the priest needs to be washed before he puts the robes on, and needs to have special oil poured on his head afterward. 

The oil is poured, not sprinkled. Moses is supposed to use a lot of oil! — enough oil so that it ends up running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe, as it says in Psalm 133. 

Why? Because, in those days, oil was used to kill lice and fleas. It would not be proper for Aaron to put on these holy garments with with the dust of the wilderness still on his body, and all these little creatures crawling around in his hair and beard! 

There is a very practical concern behind these instructions: the priest needs to be physically clean before he puts on these holy robes! 

But now, as we read on, we find out that it is not actually enough to simply clean the priest’s body before he appears before the Lord. These holy priestly robes are not actually enough to restore Aaron back to the way Adam was in the garden of Eden — a deeper level of washing is needed. 

A few verses ago, God had told Moses to gather some particular items: a young bull, two rams without defect, and a basket full of three different kinds of bread made without yeast. Well, now we find out that these items are supposed to be used in a series of sacrifices: 

First, the bull is brought to the front of the tent of meeting, and Aaron and his sons lay their hands on its head. 


Because Aaron and his sons are sinful men, and they have done sinful things with their hands. By laying their hands on the bull’s head, they are symbolically tranferring their sinfulness to the bull. 

Then the bull is slaughtered. And some of the bull’s blood is painted on the horns of the altar, while the rest of the blood is poured out on the earth at the base of the altar. 

Why is the blood used this way? 

Verse 36, near the end of this passage, tells us why: the bull is sacrificed as a sin offering to make atonement. Purify the altar by making atonement for it, God says, and anoint it to consecrate it — to make it holy. 

So the bull’s blood actually makes the horns of the altar holy, and makes the earth holy that the altar is sitting on. 

And verse 37 goes on to tell us that this is a seven day, seven bull process. After the seventh ritual on the seventh day, then the altar will be most holy, and whatever touches it will be holy. 

But here is a question: why does the altar need atonement? An altar cannot sin, can it? 

That is correct: an altar cannot sin. But the altar has been constructed by the hands of sinful, unclean men, just as the earth itself has been defiled by the feet of sinful, unclean men. So the seven days of bulls’ blood is what actually re-creates the altar and the earth, symbolically restoring its holiness, restoring it back to the way the garden of Eden was in the beginning, when God first planted it. 

Then every bit of the bull is burned. Nothing is kept back: the bull is completely destroyed as if it never existed. Some of the organs are burned on the altar, which is now holy; the rest of the animal is burned outside the camp. It is a sin offering. 

And this symbolises how the sin that once defiled the altar is now gone, burned up, never to return. From this point on, the altar will be most holy, and whatever touches it will be holy, must be holy. From this point on, only holy hands may ordinarily touch the altar; and if unholy hands do come to cling to the horns of the altar, begging for God’s mercy, those hands will themselves become holy. 

Then the first ram is brought, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head — again, a symbolic transfer of their sins to the animal. 

Then this animal is also slaughtered, and all of its blood is splashed against the sides of the altar, yet another level of holiness applied to the altar. And this animal is also completely consumed by fire, but this time all of the animal is burned on the altar — none is burned outside the camp. 

Why not? 

Because, verse 18 tells us, it is a burnt offering to the Lord, a pleasing aroma, a food offering presented to the Lord. 

So there is a progression happening here: the sins that were attached to the bull were taken outside the camp and burned up as if they never existed. That made the altar holy enough that now the ram can be burned upon it as a meal for God. 

But of course, the God of Israel is a Spirit; he does not need to eat physical meat. So the meat of this animal is transformed into smoke, which symbolically rises up into heaven where God symbolically “eats” it. 

Which also means that the sins attached to this ram are also purified by fire, transformed into smoke, which rises into heaven — where God symbolically consumes them. 

Then the second ram is brought, and again Aaron and his sons lay their hands on its head. But this time some of the ram’s blood is put on the lobes of the right ears of Aaron and his sons, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet. Then the rest of the blood is splashed against the sides of the altar. And then some of the blood that has been splashed against the altar is taken back and mixed with some of the anointing oil and sprinkled on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. 


Because, God says, then he and his sons and their garments will be consecrated. 

So what we are learning is that the robes themselves, just like the altar, were not naturally holy. The robes, just like the altar, needed to be made holy through the sprinkling of blood. 

But because these robes come in very close contact with the bodies of sinful men, they — and the men who wear them — need to be sprinkled with blood and also the same oil that was used to cleanse Aaron in the first place. 

And this actually adds another symbolic layer to the use of this oil. A few minutes ago we realized that the pouring of oil had a very practical, physical cleansing purpose. Now we realize that the oil is not just about physical cleansing, it is also about spiritual cleansing. It is not enough for Aaron and his sons to be made holy on the outside; they also need to be made holy on the inside — and this sprinkling of blood and oil symbolises that internal cleansing from sin. 

But here is a question we could ask: why is the oil only sprinkled on the right ear, the right thumb, and the right big toe? Why not just dunk Aaron completely in the oil — wouldn’t that symbolise cleansing from sin even more powerfully? 

No. Dunking Aaron in oil, or blood, or water, or anything else, would actually — dare I say it? — water down the symbolism. 

But a sprinkling ritual like this one, where just a drop of oil is placed on the ear, the thumb, and the toe, is so very obviously symbolic that it forces people to understand that this is not a physical washing, it is a symbolic washing. It forces people to ask, “What kind of cleansing does this ritual symbolise?” 

And the answer to that question, in this case, is: Aaron’s ear, which is closest to heaven, needs to listen to God’s voice; Aaron’s hand, which performs the sacrifices that connect heaven and earth, needs to do God’s work; Aaron’s foot, which is closest to the earth, needs to walk in righteousness as an example to the people he leads. And none of these things could happen unless Aaron’s ear, thumb, and toe are made holy by this mixture of blood and oil. 

Basically, by anointing just Aaron’s ear, thumb, and toe, Moses is baptising Aaron’s whole body, all while highlighting the true symbolism of what is happening — a symbolism that would actually be lost if Aaron’s whole body was dunked in oil. 

But this third sacrifice is not yet over, because as we read on we find out that most of this second ram is also completely burned on the altar as a food offering. But this time we find out that God does not just symbolically “eat” meat, he also “eats” bread, the fruit of the earth itself: at this point Aaron and his sons take the three kinds of bread made without yeast and they present them to God in a waving motion: extending them to God, then taking them back, then extending them to God once again by putting them on the altar to be completely burned. 


Well, the Book of Leviticus — which comes after Exodus — tells us that a “wave offering” is a kind of fellowship offering. Waving the bread forward and back like that was a symbolic way of saying that this is a shared meal: God has given his people bread from heaven to eat, and now his priests are giving a portion of that bread back to God. 

And this idea of a meal shared with God is confirmed in verses 26 and 27: some meat from this last sacrifice is also extended to God, then taken back. Then, God says, “take it and cook the meat in a sacred place. [32] At the entrance to the tent of meeting, Aaron and his sons are to eat the meat of the ram and the bread that is in the basket. [33] They are to eat these offerings by which atonement was made for their ordination and consecration. But no one else may eat them, because they are sacred. [34] And if any of the meat of the ordination ram or any bread is left over till morning, burn it up. It must not be eaten, because it is sacred.” 

The food from this meal is to be reserved for God and his priests alone. 

And then Aaron and his sons have to stay there, at the entrance to the tent of meeting, for seven days before they are ready to take up their duties as priests. 

And what were their duties as priests? 

Well, last week they were introduced to us as the keepers of the seven lights inside the tabernacle: lighting them in the evening, putting them out when the sun rises. 

Now we learn a little more about what will be required of them. God goes on to say, [38] “This is what you are to offer on the altar regularly each day: two lambs a year old. [39] Offer one in the morning — after the lamps have been put out — and the other at twilight — just before the lamps are lit. And each lamb is sacrificed along with wheat flour, oil, and wine, because these sacrifices are actually food offerings presented to the Lord. [42] For the generations to come this burnt offering is to be made regularly at the entrance to the tent of meeting, before the Lord. There I will meet you and speak to you. 

So here we find out that God intends to keep on eating and drinking with his newly ordained priests: breakfast and dinner, every single day. 

But — and I want to be clear about this — these sacrifices are not performed because God is hungry and his people have to keep feeding him. That would be a very pathetic kind of god! No: the reason God wants his priests to eat breakfast and dinner with him every single day is so that, every single day, they will be reminded that they are in covenant with God. They are bound together; they are forgiven; they are family. 

And this daily reminder is not just for the priests. We know this because, in verse 43, God goes on to say: 

There also I will meet with the Israelites, and the place will be consecrated by my glory. 

[44] “So I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar and will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. [45] Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. [46] They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.” 


Wow. So what have we just learned through this ordination process? 

Well, for one thing, we have learned that Aaron’s ordination in Exodus was a lot more difficult than Adam’s ordination in Genesis: 

In Adam’s case, because he received God’s breath directly, all God had to do was put him in the Garden to work it and take care of it. Because Adam was God’s son, he was already holy. He was born ready to eat with God, his Heavenly Father. 

Aaron, however, was a son of Adam, defiled by Adam’s sin and by his own sins. Aaron did inherit God’s living breath from Adam — just as every human being has inherited God’s breath — but the breath of God that Aaron inherited was messed up, polluted. It was no longer pure, no longer holy. 

And so, just as God had to sacrifice some animals to cover up Adam’s shame as he was driven from the garden into the wilderness, now Moses has to sacrifice some more animals to cover up Aaron’s shame as he is brought back into the garden from out of the wilderness. 

So Aaron’s ordination was costly. 

For another thing we also see, in this series of rituals, a continuation of a theme that we have already noticed: a gradual movement between holiness and unholiness. 

The tabernacle is holiest in the center and at its highest points, and becomes less and less holy the further out and lower down it goes. Last week we noticed a similar progression in Aaron’s robes. 

Here we see that progression moving in the opposite direction, from unholiness toward greater and greater holiness: the first sacrifice sanctifies the altar, which then allows the second sacrifice to sanctify God’s food, which then allows the third sacrifice to sanctify the priests themselves, so that they are finally able to eat with God. 

So there is a continued progression happening. 

And another thing we have just seen, for the first time in scripture, is a connection between being anointed and being cleansed, consecrated, set apart for a particular task. 

See, when Moses anointed his brother Aaron and made him a priest, Aaron literally became “the Anointed One”. 

Now, in the Old Testament Hebrew language, the word for “Anointed One” is the word “Messiah”. In the New Testament Greek language, the word for “Anointed One” is the word “Christ”. So when Moses poured oil over Aaron’s head, Aaron became a kind of Christ to his people — a leader, a saviour, the High Priest who would cleanse the people of their sins. 

As Christians, we are very familiar with Jesus Christ — Jesus, the Anointed One. We are less familiar with Aaron Christ…but the connection is there. 

So, to summarise: first, Aaron’s ordination was far more difficult than Adam’s, because of his sinful nature; second, that sinful nature had to be made holy in careful stages; third, this process turned Aaron into a type of Christ to his people. 

Okay. All that is very interesting, of course. But what does it have to do with us in modern Malaysia? What is God commanding us to do in response to this text? 

Here is a question: next time we ordain an elder for our church, should we practice some kind of very elaborate cleansing and anointing rituals, with holy oil and holy water and holy smoke and everything? 

Some church traditions say yes, that is how Christian priests should be ordained. 

But in our church tradition, we do not have priests — not in the Old Testament ritual sense. Our pastors and elders are not priests, so we do not ordain them using any kind of Old Testament rituals. 

Why don’t we have priests? Because the New Testament writers clearly say that Aaron Christ’s priesthood has been completely fulfilled and superceded by Jesus Christ’s priesthood. 

The Book of Hebrews, especially, tells us that Aaron’s earthly ordination rituals were really just a shadow of the heavenly ordination rituals Jesus would go through. Aaron and his sons laid their hands on a bull and two rams; those animals took the priests’ sins upon themselves and died instead of the priests to atone for their sins. But Jesus allowed Aaron’s sons to lay hands upon him; he took their sins upon himself and died instead of them to atone for the sins all God’s people. 

Basically, Jesus became the High Priest that Aaron could never be, he performed all these rituals perfectly so that they would never again have to be repeated. So, now that Jesus the real High Priest is here, why would we want to go back to performing the rituals of a system that is now obsolete, rituals that were simply pointing forward to our perfect Christ? That would be like going back and rewatching the previews of our favorite movie instead of watching the movie itself! 

This is why, in our church tradition, we do not use elaborate anointing rituals when we ordain people for service. 

But if you are here today and you are not very familiar with the bible, if you are not very familiar with Christianity, you might be asking yourself why Jesus was able to become God’s perfect High Priest when Aaron could not. 

There is an answer for that: 

If you remember, a few minutes ago I pointed out this big difference between Adam and Aaron: Adam received God’s breath directly, he received God’s Spirit directly, and this made him a living being. Aaron did not receive God’s Spirit directly, he got it through Adam, after Adam had messed it up. That is why Aaron needed his sins atoned for before he could become a priest, and that is why Aaron’s sacrificial work was never powerful enough to permanently atone for the sins of God’s people. 

But Jesus, like Adam, received God’s breath of life directly: he was conceived by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary. Jesus’ human body did not receive the corrupted version of God’s breath through Adam; he received the pure original living Breath of God. So in Jesus, the original priestly image of God was restored. 

And this is why, when the Lord God took Jesus and put him on earth to work it and take care of it, Jesus did the job right. The ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, tempted Jesus just as he had once tempted Adam: he promised Jesus immortality, a chance to dodge death and seize power directly for himself. But Jesus did not submit to the serpent. He submitted to his Father’s greater plan; instead of seizing eternal life directly for himself, he submitted to death first as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of Adam’s children, so that they also might receive eternal life along with him. And it is because of this faithful obedience that he was raised up and ordained to be High Priest forever. 

Here is the short version: because God breathed his Spirit directly into Jesus, and because Jesus used that Spirit to become a merciful and faithful High Priest, Jesus now has the power to breathe God’s Spirit directly into anyone who asks for it. 

So if you here today and you are not a Christian, and you are wondering how this ancient text could possily be relevant to your life today, this is how text is relevant to you: if you listen to God’s voice and obey his commands now, Today, this text could change your life. This is what God is calling you to do: 

First, recognise that you are a human being made in God’s image, filled with the breath of God. You were created to work the earth and take care of it, and to inherit all things in the end from a Heavenly Father who loves you. You were made to be more than you are now…and I think you already know this. 

Second, recognise that God’s image in you is seriously messed up. And as a result you have taken the breath God gave you and you have befouled it: you have breathed in God’s breath of life, but you are breathing out something that smells like death. And — unless you are a total narcissist — I think you already know this about yourself also. 

Third, recognise that this problem cannot be solved with a breath mint. What you need is for God himself to breathe into your nostrils a new breath of life, so that you can be reborn as a new living being. 

Fourth, recognise that Jesus alone has the power to breathe upon you so that you receive his Holy Spirit for yourself. And once you have recognised this, come to Jesus and ask! You will not be refused. These are Jesus’ words for you, he says: “I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” 

And once you have asked Jesus to give you the Holy Spirit, then come and be baptised with the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice, so that you will be united with him in his eternal life. Let Jesus’ Church sprinkle clean water on you, so that you will be clean. Let us anoint you by pouring water on your head, so that you may serve God as a priest. 

If you do this, friend, you will find that you too will be drawn gradually upward and inward, just as Aaron and his sons were. Do not expect an instantaneous transformation, as if the temptations of all your old life will just disappear. Yes, your baptism into Christ will make you holy in a moment; in a moment your official identity will be changed from child of Adam to child of God. But then the Holy Spirit will begin the process of transforming your character and your body from the inside-out. And he will do this in careful stages. Sometimes you will feel like he is working too quickly, but most times you will feel like he is saving you from yourself too slowly. 

When you begin to experience this, please do not be too discouraged. Instead, remember that you are now a child of God, and he does not give up on his children, no matter how slowly they may learn. 

Friend: ask, and receive the breath of life. Become a living being. Do it Today. 

But now, what about the rest of us who have already been baptised? How does our Heavenly Father want us to apply this passage to our lives, since the need for all these elaborate rituals has now passed? 

Well, the rituals have passed away, but the reality remains. 

A couple of minutes ago I said that, in our church, we do not have priests in the Old Testament sense, and that is true. But in the New Testament sense, we are all priests. That is what happened to us when we were baptised into Christ: we became God’s anointed nation of priests. Which means that we have all been cleansed, consecrated, set apart from the world to work as priests on behalf of the world. Aaron’s work — Adam’s work — is now our work. 

What does that work look like? 

Well, last week we realized that we are now the keepers of the seven lights of God’s Word. And we brainstormed a bit on what that could look like in our everyday lives. 

Today we learned that it was the priests’ job to prepare and eat breakfast and dinner with God every day as a continual living reminder of the reality of God’s covenant with them. Every day, morning and evening, as they sat down to eat with God, those priests were performing a living sermon for themselves that proved the reality of God’s presence with them, his mercy and forgiveness. 

But God makes it clear that this was also a sermon for the rest of the people. Basically God said that, as long as Aaron and his sons serve as priests in this way, then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. And they will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. 

And, by the way, we need to realise that God is signalling a major transition here: 

Until this point in his relationship with Israel, God has proven that he is with his people through a series of overwhelming signs and wonders. But that spectacular phase of his self-revelation is passing away. 

From now on, if the people of Israel ever doubt whether God is really with them, all they have to do is go to the tabernacle and watch the priests at their labour. From now on — except for very special and unusual moments in history — God is going to prove his presence with his people through the humble, quiet, repetitive, faithful work of the priests in his house. 

This is the age we live in also. 2000 years ago Jesus arrived, like Moses did, in an explosion of signs and wonders, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was with him, and would also be with anyone who wanted to be with Jesus. 

But by the end of the Book of Acts — and certainly by the end of the first century of Jesus’ Church — that phase of Jesus’ spectacular self-revelation was gone, except for very special and unusual moments in history. Since then, the way God has proven his presence on this earth has been through the humble, quiet, repetitive, faithful lives of ordinary Christians. 

So this is our application, brothers and sisters: let us do the work of God’s priesthood. Let us, as a church, join our Lord and Bridegroom in working and keeping the earth for six days a week, and coming together every seventh day to eat with our Heavenly Father. 

And let us also receive our Father’s promise: that as long as we continue to serve as priests in this way, then he will dwell within his Church and be our God. More than this, he has also promised that, if we remain faithful, all who come in from outside longing to receive the breath of God will see us at our work and know that he is the Lord who brought us out of sin and death so that he might dwell among us. 

Brothers and sisters, our life together, combined with our corporate public worship, is actually God’s evangelistic plan to win the nations. This is how God has ordained for us to grow his Church: through the ordinary, daily, priestly work of ordinary Christians. Not through signs and wonders — that age has passed — and not through spectacular evangelistic programs or rallies — those things are all modern inventions based on modern marketing techniques. Yes, those techniques are very effective at gathering large groups of people together, supposedly in the name of Jesus Christ! — but they are not actually effective at uniting people to Jesus Christ so that they become truly living beings. 

So look, if God has given you the gift of individual evangelism…then please do the work of an evangelist! But please also remember that the work of an evangelist does not actually consist of you, as an individual, trying to get people to ”pray the sinners’ prayer” or “make a decision for Christ” or anything like that; the work of an evangelist is to help draw people into the life and worship of Jesus’ Church, so that they might have a chance to see God’s priesthood at work and perhaps exclaim, “God is really among you!” 

And look, if God has not given you the gift of individual evangelism — and perhaps you have been made to feel guilty about that in the past — please, take a deep breath and know that the Holy Spirit has given you the gift of communal evangelism. We are all part of a larger body made up of many members with many different gifts, all designed to work together in the dance of life and worship, which is the only true evangelistic witness to the peoples of the earth. 

We have been called to do the work of God’s priesthood, a work that happens slowly, humbly, quietly, repetitively, collectively, often only bearing its fruit after generations of faithfulness. So let us each do whatever it is God has called us to do. If it is to be a father or a mother, a son or a daughter, a brother or a sister, then do it all for the glory of God. And let us trust Jesus to use our faithfulness to build his Church in his own way at his own speed. 


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