On last Thursday July 3rd in the AIM (Auxiliaries In Ministry) Convention Evangelist and Music Department President Dr. Judith Christie McCallister took the stage to deliver a message in pursuit of a new directive that Supt. Michael Eaddy, Chairman of the General Council Of Pastors And Elders has set forth within the church under the approval of Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake. The event called "The Procession Of The Levites" involved renewing the perspective on the "Glory" of God within the church by emphasizing King David, and his purpose in restoring the Ark Of The Covenant, which represented God's presence, to Israel. this story of course can be found in 2 Sam. 6.
In a particular part of the service many of the Elders agreed to dress in what was deemed "Levitical garments" with a recreated, mock, "Ark Of The Covenant", and were to process around the sanctuary/auditorium behind the singers and dancers with the mock Ark. Of course this was supposed to be representative of the "Glory Of The Lord" defeating the enemies of God's people through the invocation of the Lord's presence through the Ark and among the people. Ie: the church.
In my book, "Ministering Effectively", I examine the Levitical priest and worship under the Levitical system as well, and I sincerely applaud the church leaders call to holiness by looking at and examining this model contained within scripture. So I simply want to say that I understand the basis of this concept. However, I focus on how the works and actions of that Priest interface with Jesus himself as he is a High Priest. Remember, Jesus is NOT a priest after the order of the Levites, but after the order of Melchisedic.
Hebrews 6:20 ~ Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
The examination of the Levite only takes us so far in understanding the glory of God as he reveals his path and plan. Understanding the Ark Of The Covenant is to also understand that it, (The Ark) was NOT a good luck charm or something that could, in and of itself, make the presence of God come into any situation. The understanding that God is not a charm, potion, or a set of commands such as an incantation, should be clear when we examine how Israel lost the presence of God to the Philistines to begin with. It was 1 Sam. 4:21-22 that said:
21-And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. 22-And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.
Israel, under Eli, the last High Priest in that era, made the dreadful mistake of invoking God's power, by bringing the Ark Of The Covenant onto the battlefield without sanctifying God in their hearts. Their leaders, as a whole, refused to sanctify themselves and they did not obey God in purity. Remember, it was Eli's sons, Hophni and Phineas who were wicked in the service of the Lord and continued to do evil without the correction of Eli. Eli summarily addressed their sins, but the defiled priests failed to show or display any form of repentance. They continued to take more than what was their share of the meat brought to the Temple for sacrifice. They continued to sexually molest and defile the virgins brought to the Temple during the time of dedication to the Lord, and did service without regard to purity in any form. (1 Sam. 2:12-17, 22-25)
Remember, the glory was LOST due to willful disobedience, stiff-necked(ness) and hearts that were hardened to and in sin. Although these evil practices happened at the place of worship, the whole multitude was affected, and God's people put to open shame.
THAT is how the Glory was lost. Before we can get it back, we must FIRST go back, offer repentance for what we have allowed and throw ourselves on the mercy and alter of God!
As I stated, the examination of the Levite can only take us so far. Why? Because, the Priesthood of Jesus is NOT dependent upon Levitical service and the practice of the Levite. Anything that we find the Levite doing in detail, only points to what we would find in Jesus and in preparation for service in Christ.
While I don't want to rain on anyone's party or throw a hammer and a wrench in the festivities, not because one should not be thrown, but because I really don't want to start fighting yet another battle and because I believe that calling the church to spiritual renewal is a good thing, (IF that was the call that was made, and I am not convinced based on the lack of call to corporate repentance) I couldn't help but think: "What are these folk doing?" and "Do they not understand that JESUS IS the glory of God and that HE is not and cannot be carried any longer on a cart?", and that "the Temple in which the glory of God now resides is the Temple of the body?"
1 Cor. 6:19 ~ What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
John 15:4 ~ Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
Col. 1:27 ~ To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
The presence of Jesus in the individual life of each believer is BETTER than the expectation of the glory of God which was limited to the Ark Of The Covenant. Now, God's presence is more expansive and more comprehensive. Not only that, the glory is now a permanent, abiding presence that is to be with us always:
John 14:16 ~ And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
One may say, that is simply reflective of the Holy Ghost and the other scriptures of Jesus. I would say, to whom do you think the Glory Of God refers? The glory of God is not a coat, or a part of God. The glory of God IS God! Herein is the understanding of the entirety of the OT writing concerning HIS Glory.
John 1:14 ~And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
The works and actions of the Levite Priest are only a look into the much better proliferation of GLORY that we find in Jesus. Repentance, however is the FIRST key and step to obtaining the abiding presence of God.
Unfortunately, as I alluded to earlier, I did not hear a call to corporate repentance from the leaders of this church. Neither do I see an effort to heal those who have been victims and continue to be victims of sexual abuse. That is only one part of all things, but it is a part of which I am and have been intimately involved in as far as reform is concerned. I have heard and continue to hear talk about what we "should" do and how we "need" to do thing etc, but I did not hear a clarion call to repentance as a corporate body of believers for what we have allowed and for what has caused the glory of the Lord to diminish at least within our camp.
Please let it be known that neither a reversion to Judaism or its customs will usher the "Glory Of God" into our presence or back into this church, if it be that the glory has departed. To walk as a reenactment of an historical event is one thing. To walk and process as Levites in order to gain the Glory of God back into the church or among the people of God is quite another. That latter will never produce fruit and is a fruitless effort and exercise of fantasy.
However the concept of the "procession of the Levites" concept came to the church, it is my prayer that the church does not become more enthralled with the performance of ceremony than the acceptance of the substance that the ceremony represents and points toward.
Matthew 28:18-20 ~ 18-And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19-Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20-Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, evenunto the end of the world. Amen.