The followers of Joshua, the people who knew him personally, never became priests. Priests are the villains. But, we see them all over the church world today. In this blog I rant a little about some of this.
Ryan and I recently watched an encounter with a Protestant pastor. He visited one of his congregants. That person had been under this pastor for maybe 40 years. There were priestly patterns in this encounter that neither of us liked watching.
It triggered a long conversation between Ryan and myself. It triggered this blog post too. Let me rant just a little.
First off, even though the occupational title was protestant pastor, we would claim that he was operating in the role of a biblical priest. This is what we were watching.
There is a very fine line, at times, between being a pastor and being a teacher. And then there are serious issues of what is being taught.
In the world of the Bible, of course, the book is full of contradictions. We can argue just about any point in the Bible is contradicted somewhere else in the same pages. It is a skill to find them and know them.
We do not go to church any more, not even as someone's guest, because if we open our mouths we can state the textual contradictions against nearly everything heard from the pulpit. Such is the depth of the problems in the book. Ryan is good enough at this to usually know the citations from memory for every key point.
So the job of running a church involves picking sides on a whole range of contradictions. This forms denominations as we know them, with choices made at denominational founding that leads to various christian brands.
It also means regularly and actively covering over the disputed points that are buried within the text. Priests must do this as the text is used as the basis of authority throughout the Protestant world. Other branches of christianity have it easier because they can just claim tradition or high priestly authority.
The Bible is built this way on purpose. It was edited by kings going back to Solomon. The most recent set of changes 500 years ago was funded by wealthy friends of the king and then authorized by the king himself. These edits allow the priestly class to support the king in whatever endeavor he may wish to undertake. From going to war, to culling his kingdom through forced Covid shots.
So the Protestant job of pastor, the ancient job of priest, is mostly picking sides in support of the political winds of the day. Called formally 'apologetics' or giving an apology for what is wrong in the text and in the earthly king's broken realm.
Priests exist through the story. Pharaoh's cupbearer and baker are part of his priesthood, having something to do with officiating in his religion. Priests still do this today officiating communion.
Priests come to the fore when we think about the editors. Intitially editors are kings, say Solomon, but as the kingdoms in question grow larger, we get the king delegating religious authority to Ezra, so think of priests as operating with the king's authority. Non-profits of all types, including churches, are still operating as sons of the king.
So priests exist as part of the trouble inherent in asking for a king.
We saw this in the counter between a pastor and his congregant. That pastor was beloved for fighting all sorts of battles on behalf of the people in the congregation. He behaved as some sort of oracle, able and willing to answer any question.
Here is the heart of this rant: Pastors fighting these battles? WRONG!
All supposed battles that matter are really problems in our walk with Joshua. When we are in rebellion to him we reap battles of various types. These are subtle and complex and come in different domains in life. These supposed battles erupt in areas different than we might expect, often times based on an issue within ourselves.
Read S. Samuel 8:4-21 to understand the problems with asking for a king. Having an earthly king means rejecting Joshua. It is a personal decision, but it expresses itself in the collective political and social world.
This is what people do when they put faith in the US President or Congress. But they also do it with instruments of state propaganda, such as mass media. Those TV anchors you know? They are priests too. People also seek kings when they turn to institutions created by kingly action. This includes organized church in all forms.
So when we watch certain interactions with pastors we see interactions that should have been directed to Joshua. Questions like, Who are you going to marry? If you ask a pastor, you are making them into a priest. Asking a pastor to evaluate a 3rd party's theology? Is making that pastor into a priest.
Before the Samuel passage linked above, there are a few teachers and there are a few prophets. What was Samuel doing, for example? He was able to ask Joshua questions on behalf of the people. So there was a known mechanism by which Joshua expressed himself collectively.
Samuel was not running a church. He had a circuit that he traveled yearly and a place where he could be found otherwise. Apparently a local group knew him and they had a place of fellowship. Perhaps specifically he had a place for public meals.
Let me suggest his job was to teach the people around him the character and nature of Joshua, in other words to testify about him.
Earlier in the story we think there was a museum built in Moses's day. It had a carved testimony on stone, the tablets, perhaps 3D models in metal. A place for getting copies of the text. A place for Tabernacles holiday.
Forward from Samuel, similar things. Naboth's vineyard was likely a place of hand made scrolls. Vinegar is the fuser in the receipe for ink, so they had to tend a vineyard in order to make scrolls.
Forward more and Namaan the commander could be sent to the prophet, so he (or they) were at a known place.
The apostles had a hangout too, Lazarus' large house and later that group moved to someplace in Antioch.
So a personal walk with Joshua is something that is done at home with family and friends. Then there are people called by Joshua, and known publicly, to a limited form of public interaction. Those few do have public places of meeting, a destination of pilgrimage.
The term judge is used likely because they were trusted to help settle group questions.
What About Us?
Ryan and I do not want to have a priest. We do not want to be a priest. We want to follow Joshua as best we can in the growing list of projects he has given us.
We see ourselves as teachers. We are teaching to as many as will listen, how to have their own walk with Joshua. The primary tool for that walk is Lots. This is an important feature of the Testimony App.
Joshua reserves his audible voice for emergencies, and for life altering encounters. He does not want to injure our spiritual ears, so he uses other means more regularly.
There is an old introductory article on Lots recently back online at BibleTime.com. That article gives a complete history of our practice. Forgive some church theology in that article. Note: we now do lots in the TT app and usually to the paragraph.
In general, we are teaching about The Testimony. Similar to Paul, the text being rediscovered. We are also teaching on world events and the flow of history. In general we are teaching about Joshua himself and his work in the world.
But, we do not want to be anyone's priest.