As we begin to explore the “how to’s” of ministry, our journey starts in the Old Testament. It is here that we uncover the spiritual roots that will prepare and position us for God’s power.
God established divine patterns and procedures early on with his people. The Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob understood the fundamentals of approaching God. Moses introduced the formal functions of being a priest to Israel and then expanded the scope of their ministry. With the building of the Tabernacle, God began to interact directly with the masses through these specific men chosen to fulfill that role.
Three key spiritual elements…the priest, the altar, and the sacrifice… pave the way for our understanding of ministry. These concepts illustrate not only the purpose, but provide the scriptural basis for effective modern-day ministry.
The Person…The Priest
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)
The priesthood began in Genesis with the Patriarchs and expanded under the leadership of Moses. They performed a two-fold function.
Priests represented the people before God and they represented God to the people. These Old Testament ministers acted as a liason, a practical touchpoint ushering people into the presence of God.
As his children, God has chosen us as New Testament, modern-day priests. Whether we stand at a formal church altar or out in our communities ready to serve, we enter into the spiritual role of a priest. Like those of old, we too have a dual obligation. We come before God and our focus is vertical—we minister unto God and commune with him on a personal level. And, like the priests of old, our focus is also horizontal—we minister in behalf of God, taking the provision of Christ’s work at Calvary out into the world.
The Place…The Altar
We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat. Hebrews 13:10
The Old Testament altar was a place of communication, covenant, and blood. It was here that men worshiped God on altars of earth, stones, bronze or gold. They presented certain sacrifices as offerings to God as he directed. After the flood, Noah offered a sacrifice on an altar. Abraham received the promises of God at an altar. Ancient altars became the meeting place where God encountered his people.
We no longer stand at a physical altar where animals are sacrificed. Christ’s death on the cross has given us access to an “altar” of unlimited grace. When he died on the cross, Christ entered a heavenly tabernacle and placed his blood upon an eternal altar.
… he(Christ) went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption… (Hebrews 9:11-12)
Today our spiritual altar is anywhere ministry occurs. We literally position ourselves at this heavenly altar. Here we find grace to help in times of need. This is the place of blood, for Christ shed his blood for mankind. It is a place of covenant, for we have an everlasting covenant with God according to his word. It is a place of sacrifice, for Jesus Christ the “Lamb of God” forever satisfied God’s requirement for a regular blood sacrifice.
This is the place of blood, for Christ shed his blood for mankind. It is a place of covenant, for we have an everlasting covenant with God. It is a place of sacrifice, for Jesus Christ the “Lamb of God” forever satisfied God’s requirement for a regular blood offering. Understanding the Old Testament concept of the altar and the role of
Understanding the Old Testament concept of the altar and the role of priest are important. They position us to receive the power of God for ministry.