“The race of God’s anointed priests
Shall never pass away.
Before His glorious face they stand,
And serve Him night and day.”
A truer stanza was never penned. It was written some three hundred years ago; if true then it is true today.
The business of the priest, is, first and foremost, to praise. He may have other sacred occupations, but praise is the chief.
“God inhabits the praises of Israel” (as we read in Psalm 22:3). Praise is His becoming environment. “Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, they will be still praising thee” (Ps. 84:4). Praise is their delightful and constant employment.
When a tribe was chosen to lead Israel across the desert, from sea to river, Judah was selected, and Judah means “praise.” Alas that the harpers failed in their song!
Praise was the paen of Jehoshaphat ere he fought his battle.
Stones would cry out if praise were restrained.
Prison walls only elicited praises when Christ’s priests were, for His sake, placed in the stocks.
“Worthy is the Lamb” is the praise that reverberates throughout the wide vault of heaven. All is praise.
No, this race is immortal. It survives time with its thorns and hindrances, it shall continue for ever. It shall never pass away.
As surely as God has given His Spirit to a single soul—no matter when, or in what day or dispensation—that soul is hereby bound to sing His praise.
That Spirit is the pledged proof of blessing, and how can anyone be blessed without, subsequently, giving thanks and praise to the Blesser.
No doubt the fuller the light the deeper also the praise. The early notes of Ephesians 1 are a great advance on anything we find in the Old Testament; but, whether Old Testament or New, praise is the very life of the saint. Who then are God’s “anointed priests”? Are they a special and distinctive class? Are they marked off from others by any external attire—anything that places them in a caste peculiar to themselves?
What is the anointing, the consecration, whereby their priesthood is assured? It is the reception of the Spirit of God. All who can truly cry “Abba Father,” who can thus consciously address God, these are anointed; they have received His Spirit, and this is true of every child of His—every Christian today. They are a “royal priesthood” so that they should show forth the praises of Him who has called them out of darkness into His marvellous light. The Christian community, the whole blood-bought family of God—the entire church of Christ, should be marked and distinguished by this grand special feature that, here and now, they show forth praise for the grace bestowed on them.
The apprehensions of all may differ, gifts may be diverse, but the one thing that declares the anointing is praise. That which God has done for His saints calls for their praise. Look at the Book of Psalms and see how it ends with a long, loud, lovely Hallelujah—a grand outburst of praise on the part of His redeemed and delivered people.
Quite true praise is not worship, but it is more than prayer and more too than thanksgiving.
We utter in prayer our wants, we give thanks for the gifts of God—His mercies and goodness; we praise Him for that which He has done, is doing and will do for our blessing—all this is in language articulate and audible, possibly, to the intelligence of men; but worship being the absorption of the soul in its glorious Object—the Father and the Son, may be beyond all possible expression. “The elders fell down and worshipped Him that lives for ever and ever” (Rev. 5:14). What they said (if anything) we are not told.
Such worship! How little do we understand it! What a terra incognita it is to the majority of the children of God! But what a field for our increased apprehension, ere we find ourselves in the Father’s House on high where our absorption in God fully revealed—Father, Son and Spirit—shall be eternal and complete.
Praise, on the other hand, as the true and simple acknowledgment of our being placed already in His “marvellous light” is the becoming language of every saint of His today.
But may it be cultivated diligently. May we charge our sluggish, selfish, grovelling hearts to live more in the bright, blessed region of praise to our God and Father as belonging to that “race of priests” which shall never pass away.
“Whoso offers praise glorifies Me” (Ps. 50:23).