I was brought up in a religious tradition that included men in long black robes that lived in a cloistered life style, so whenever I hear the word, “priest” this picture enters into my mind. The term prophet really does not produce a much better image. I have probably watched too many movies and whenever I think of a prophet, John the Baptist springs into my mind wearing his dirty robe, holding a shepherd’s staff in his hand, and yelling at sinners with his booming voice. Ok, it’s not really John the Baptist its Charlton Heston pretending to be him, but you probably get the idea. What do these ancient words and roles have to do with me as a father?
My understanding of one that serves as a priest includes the thought of someone that stands in the place of another. In the Old Testament, there were many priests that served as representatives of the people. These men would offer the sacrifices at the altar, they would pray for, and as a representative of the people of God, offer the required sacrifice. Not everyone could approach the altar but only the assigned priest, and his duty was to represent the people to God.
In the New Testament, the office of priest was fulfilled in Christ. Jesus is now the Great High Priest that forever lives to make intercession for His people. In addition, He is now the one and only Way to gain access to God the Father. As believers we no longer need a man to be between God and us as a representative, for in Christ, we may all come to the throne of God and find grace and mercy in our time of need! We do not have the time or space to develop the complete role of the priest, but we know enough to grasp some of what this means to us as fathers.
First, as husbands and fathers, we are to intercede for those under our care. We are to stand in the gap for them in prayer. We cannot take their place for Jesus is the only Substitute, but we are to minister at the altar on our families behalf. Each member of our family must have a personal relationship with Jesus and there is no way around that truth, for He is the only way to the Father, and His sacrificial death is the only sacrifice needed. But, still we are called to pray for our families. This mystery around prayer is great, yet, we are to be men of prayer asking God to reveal Himself and His will to those under our charge. We pray for our family!
Second, we are called to have a personal relationship with Jesus that is visible to those under our care. We should be men of prayer, service, and students of the Scripture. What does our family see in our life? Do we lead them to the throne of Grace in prayer? Are we going there our self? This is not meant to be a heavy rebuke, but which of us prays enough? If God has called us to lead our families, we must be men of prayer to find out what He wants. We should be those that come before our God and wait, listening to Him to find out what His will is. We should be those that prayerfully read His Word to discover the direction He desires for us to take. We must be leaders that pray and lead others out of our relationship with our Lord.
Ok, I need to pray more, I get it. What about this prophet thing? Prophets in the Old Testament spoke for God to the people. In the New Testament, the role is still the same. Many may argue over what the title now means, and I will leave them to continue with the discussion. As fathers, the point is we need to be hearing from God as to what He wants us to do and how we are to live. We proclaim that we are His servants, so we should attempt to figure out what the Master wants from us, and to do with us.
As a pastor for three decades that has been heavily involved in family counseling, the number one cry I hear from the ladies is that they want their man to lead. The wife wants to know that her husband has a relationship with Jesus and that their man is walking in daily obedience. Submission is not a problem for a wife that knows that her husband is close to Jesus. On the other hand, it is a fearful thing to attempt to willingly line up under (submit to) a man that is not connected to Christ. While not true in every case, if the wife knows her husband is hearing from God, she will be more than willing to follow wherever he wants to lead.
As men, we are charged with raising the level of spiritual conversations and activities in our home. We should be the ones that are considered wise in the Scripture. We should be the ones that our children look to for biblical answers. We should be the spiritually mature ones in our homes. Should be and reality may not be the same, but we must have a goal. Like most men I know, I feel that I married up, way up! That does not mean that God does not want me to grow, mature, and lead, even if I believe my wife is far more mature than me in many ways. God wants me to lead and this will drive many a man to his knees, which is where a priest and prophet should be.
Our families are not demanding perfection, or at least they should not be asking for the impossible. Most of the time what they are asking for is quality time, a relationship with us, and the knowledge that we are connected to the Lord. We can give them that, and should. If you do not know where to start, pray. Make some time to read the Word of God and then begin a discussion around the dinner table about what you read. Start slowly and encourage any little sign of interest you see. Maybe reaching under the covers at night for your wife’s hand and praying together would be a good place to start. Perhaps kneeling beside your children’s bed as you say goodnight and pray with them is the place. You cannot steer a parked car so get it in gear and pull away from curb brothers. Priests and prophets are still in great need today.