“Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come near, for the LORD your God has chosen them to minister to Him and to bless in the name of the LORD; by their word every controversy and every assault shall be settled.” (Deuteronomy 21:5 NKJV).
Immediately after the miraculous deliverance of the children of Israel from their long and terrible slavery in Egypt, God instituted for them a sacrificial system of worship and appointed Aaron as the high priest and his sons as the priests. God also chose the tribe of Levi to minister to Him, and to help Aaron and his sons in discharging their priestly duties (Num. 18:2, Deut. 10:8).
The responsibility of the priests under the Old Covenant is two-fold: to minister first to the LORD and then minister to the people. This is the divine order for their service! It is mandatory for the priests to first minister to the LORD before going out to bless the people of Israel in the name of the LORD.
The Scripture clear points to us the divine order for the service or ministry of the priests in Deuteronomy 21:
5 “Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come near, for the LORD your God has chosen them to minister to Him and to bless in the name of the LORD; by their word every controversy and every assault shall be settled. (NKJV).
Although the Old Covenant priests were ordained to stand in the gap between God and the children of Israel, yet their primary responsibility was towards God – ministering to God in worship. Ministering to the people or blessing the people in the name of God was only secondary.
Ministering to God must always come before ministering to people. This is the right order put in place by God for all His servants or ministers!
Our Lord Jesus Christ also followed this divine order of service during His earthly ministry. The Lord Jesus highly esteemed and cherished His fellowship with His heavenly Father far above His ministering to men.
The Lord Jesus would often separate Himself from the people and even His disciples in order to spend quality time in communion with His heavenly Father before starting to teach and minister to the people in need (John 7:53; 8:1-2).
The Lord Jesus also inculcated the divine order for service or ministering into His disciples. He called them primarily to be with Him – to fellowship with Him, learn from Him, and attend to Him. The Lord Jesus made His disciples to realize that ministering to people is secondary!
The Scripture points this out in Mark 3:
13 And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him.
14 Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach,
15 and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons (NKJV).
Therefore, in the early Church it was a common practice for the disciples to gather together just for the purpose of ministering to the LORD. It was in one of those services that Barnabas and Saul were called and sent to the Gentiles nations by the Holy Spirit.
The Scripture records in Acts 13:
1 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away. (NKJV).
Sadly, we hardly have this kind of services in our churches today. Almost all our services and meetings are tailored or dedicated towards ministering to the people and meeting our personal needs.
Even when we set aside some services or meetings to praise God, yet it is still with an underlying ulterior motive to provoke, manipulate, or motivate God to bless us, or to arise and fight against our enemies. What a terrible mindset!
When the Old Covenant priests followed God’s order of service, ministering first to God before ministering to the people of God, God attested to their ministry to the people with His awesome glory, resulting in the people surrendering to God and worshipping God with reverence.
After Aaron had finished ministering to the LORD, the Scripture records in Leviticus 9:
22 Then Aaron lifted his hand toward the people, blessed them, and came down from offering the sin offering, the burnt offering, and peace offerings.
23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of meeting, and came out and blessed the people. Then the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people,
24 and fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces. (NKJV).
On the contrary, we scarcely witness the manifestation of God’s awesome glory and presence in our churches and meetings today in spite of all the screaming, shouting and gymnastic display of servants of God on our pulpits.
Because we despise and disregard the order of service God has put in place!
Because many servants of God today esteem, exalt or magnify ministering to people above ministering to God!
We hardly hear the clear voice of the Holy Spirit in our services today calling out the believers and sending them out for the work of ministry to which God has called them because we hardly gather together to minister to God and focus on God alone, completely ignoring and forgetting ourselves.
It is sad but true that our focus in all our services is on ourselves – on our personal needs, challenges or battles. We are not really ministering to the LORD until we consciously and completely ignore or forget ourselves and focus only on the LORD as we worship Him in the beauty of His holiness.
We shall not be able to truly minister to the LORD until we change our selfish mindset of seeking to move, compel, motivate or provoke God by our worship or praise to bless us or fight our enemies for us. We cannot worship God in spirit and truth if we are always seeking to use God for our own profits.
Like the priests of old, believers today must always first seek to minister to the LORD before seeking to minister to the people. When you always set ministering to people ahead of ministering to the LORD, you will eventually become spiritually drained, exhausted and impoverished.
It is only those who cultivate the habit of waiting upon or ministering to the LORD before ministering to the people that will never be wearied or exhausted spiritually, emotionally and physically.
The Scripture attests to this truth in Isaiah 40:
31 But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. (NKJV).
Beloved, the sure way to remain spiritually fresh, flourishing, fruitful, impactful, relevant and effective as God’s servant this New Year is to set ministering to God or relishing God’s presence as your highest priority this New Year.
Above anything else, cherish and guard jealously your time of personal communion or fellowship with God.
The Scripture assures in Psalms 92:
13 Those who are planted in the house of the LORD Shall flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing,
15 To declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. (NKJV).
Friend, the Lord is calling you today as His priest to reset or re-order your priority in ministry or service. It is wisdom to esteem and pursue ministering to the LORD, fellowshipping with the LORD, relishing the LORD’s presence and waiting upon the LORD above ministering to people and enjoying their presence.
Our Lord Jesus Christ and His early apostles diligently followed God’s order for service. They highly exalted, cherished and guarded their personal time of communion with the LORD in spite of their daily busy schedules, leaving us an example or a model to follow (Mark. 6:46, Luke 6:12, Acts 6:1-4),
Choose to follow God’s order for service this New Year!
“Hear instruction and be wise, and do not disdain it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, Watching daily at my gates, Waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the LORD.” (Prov. 8:33-35 NKJV).
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for showing me today the divine order for service. Dear Holy Spirit, help and strengthen me daily to cherish and guard jealously my time of personal communion with my Lord Jesus Christ, in Jesus’ name. Amen.