Recently, I heard someone say to a group of Christian men that we should all be “priests of our homes”. I wasn’t sure what they meant by that, but I involuntarily shuttered at the thought. The first thing that came to mind was the story I heard preached about the ritual of the Jewish high priest going into the most holy place to make sacrifices with a rope around his waist. I’m not sure if this is Biblical, but the preacher said someone would put little bells on the priest’s coat so people outside could hear him moving around. If the bells stopped ringing, that meant the high priest had been struck dead by God for doing something wrong. The people outside would then use the rope to drag his dead carcass out. So when the person recently talked about me being the priest of my home, I imagined my wife dragging my dead carcass out of my basement man- cave after I fell asleep while praying and never woke up. I know that sounds dramatic – especially since Nina still would not be able to drag my dead carcass up the stairs – but falling asleep while praying is one of my many vices. Somehow, though, I realized that that’s not what being the priest of my home means…or is it?
In the Old Testament, the priests primary role was to offer the sacrifices to God. Before King Solomon built the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, the priests served at the tabernacle, taking care of the holy items used for Jewish worship, and offering burnt offerings in this sort of mobile worship center. They wore elaborate costumes, and followed very detailed instructions given by Moses on all they were to do. The priests continued to follow these rituals in the temple as the Israelite nation grew. So you may think that priests are, by definition, those who serve at church – the ordained ministers. That seems to be the Roman Catholic view. However, before Moses, the Bible tells us of men making sacrifices to God all the way back to Cain and Abel. So the priestly function was first practiced in the home. More importantly, in the New Testament, the Apostle Peter confirmed that we Christians are not subject to the law of Moses, and now we are all priests. (1 Peter 2:5,9) The letter to the Hebrews helps us to understand that the principle behind the priesthood, and it’s function, is to represent mankind in relations with God. (Hebrews 5:1) So whether it is through burning animal sacrifices on an altar, or interceding in prayer to God on behalf of another, a priest’s job is to help others and ourselves maintain a good relationship with God.
Based on that, here’s what I think being a priest in my home means:
1. I understand that everyone in my home should have his or her own personal relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. As the leader in my home, I should help lead them into that relationship through explaining the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or at least making sure that they hear the Gospel.
3. As the leader in my home, I should help them maintain that relationship with God by helping them understand God’s Word, encouraging them to worship and submit to God, and being an example with my own visible relationship with God.
4. And do all this without a rope around my waist…Jesus already died for me.