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In the Gates

Devoted to the Lord

Abiding Principles from the Ceremonial Laws: The Ceremonial Laws in the New Covenant (2)


Ministers of the Gospel have received a calling analogous to the priests of ancient Israel.

Do you not know that those who are employed in temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. 1 Corinthians 9.13, 14

Here Paul refers to Old Covenant teaching about priests and how they were to be provisioned (cf. Deut. 18.1-5). Priests had no land which they might cultivate to meet their needs. They were wholly consecrated to the Lord, and all their waking moments were devoted to the work of renewing God’s people in His Covenant. Their provisioning was through the tithes and offerings of the people, who were to be scrupulous about caring for them with the best of their offerings.

Paul applies this teaching to himself. As the priests were devoted to the work of renewing God’s people in His Covenant, so the minister of the Gospel is set apart for preaching, teaching, and equipping the saints for the work of ministry. His calling must be his primary focus, and he must not allow worldly distractions to prevent him from the Lord’s work (cf. 2 Tim. 2.1-5). As no priest or Levite was to be distracted by having to keep up a farm or care for flocks and herds, so no minister of the Gospel should be expected to do anything other than pursue the work of his calling from the Lord.

The New Covenant minister can thus learn from studying the calling and duties of a priest how he should pursue his own work. His calling is one of Covenant renewal. He calls and leads the people into the presence of God and His glory, so that they might be renewed in Him day by day. Moreover, like the judges in ancient Israel, ministers and elders “rule” over the people of God, to nurture their souls in the grace and truth that are in Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 5.17, 18; Heb. 13.17). They are the Lord’s shepherds in His flock and must do the work which Jesus, the Good Shepherd, has outlined for them (Jn. 10). Thus they must devote themselves to the study of God’s Word, so that they may not be ashamed in any duty to which they are called in teaching or applying it (2 Tim. 2.15; 1 Tim. 4.26; 2 Tim. 4.1, 2; 1 Thess. 5.12, 13).

The calling to ministry is, as Gregory the Great wrote, the “art of arts” for it entails caring for the souls of God’s people, leading and encouraging them in seeking the Lord and His Kingdom, and nurturing them to bear spiritual fruit for the eternal glory and praise of the Lord. Their work is analogous to that of the priests and Levites of the Old Covenant; thus, we may expect to discover many valuable insights and truths for the practice of Gospel ministry by close and consistent study of the lives and callings of those Old Covenant officers.

For a fuller study of the pattern of worship revealed in Scripture, order the book, The Highest Thing, by T. M. Moore, from our online store. These studies and brief essays will help you to see how the pattern of sound worship, which began in the Law of God, comes to complete expression in the rest of Scripture. Pastors, we’re getting ready to start the next season of The Pastors’ Fellowship. Write to me today at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for information about how you join in these online discussions. Our theme for the coming series is “The Worldview of God’s Law.” There is no charge for participation, but you must reserve a place for these monthly gatherings. Subscribe to Crosfigell, the devotional newsletter of The Fellowship of Ailbe.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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