Derek Prince - The Father As A Priest
Let’s go a little step further now in this picture of what it is to be a father. I think I need to say at this point that I’m not providing merely theory. I have experience. When I married my first wife I inherited eight adopted daughters on the same day. So, I mean, I started ahead of most people. Of those daughters, six were Jewish, one was a Palestinian Arab, one was English, and later we adopted a black African baby. So we have a pretty good cross section of the human race in our family. It’s very interesting because the older they grow, the more characteristic they are of their original race. It’s very interesting.
I can’t go into that. But what I’m saying is I’m just not offering you theory. I’m far from saying I’ve always been a successful father. I wish I could say it. But I’ve tried to learn from my mistakes, which have been many. I would try to help some of you to avoid making some of the mistakes that I’ve made. See, why should everybody go ahead and make all the same mistakes all over again? So, as I say, I’m not talking from theory.
Let’s look now in 1 Corinthians 11:3. 1 Corinthians 11:3: I want you to know the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman (or wife) is man (or husband) the head of Christ is God. If you put that from the top downwards, you have a descending chain of authority that starts with God the Father and ends up in the home. See, that’s why you can’t play around with the Bible’s teaching about family life, because it’s based on the eternal nature of God Himself. God is a Father, He’s the head of Christ, Christ is the head of the husband, the husband is the head of the wife.
Now, in that chain you find two persons who relate both upwards and downwards. Christ relates upwards to the Father, downward to the man. The man relates upward to Christ and downward to the wife and, by implication, his family. So, in the same way that Christ represents God to the man, the man is responsible to represent Christ to his family. Do you see that? If you want a definition of the responsibility of a husband and a father, a Christian husband and father, it’s to represent Christ to his family. If you’re looking for a job description, that’s it.
Now, there are three main ministries of Christ, as I understand it, in which the father should represent Him to his family. Christ is priest, prophet and king. The husband has responsibilities in all three areas. He’s responsible to be the priest of his family, the prophet of his family and the king of his family. Let’s look at each of those in turn. First of all, the father as priest. What’s the distinctive word, the unique word connected with a priest? One word: sacrifice. The father is obligated to offer sacrifice on behalf of his family. In the New Testament, the primary sacrifice is intercession. Which incidentally, as we’ve been hearing, means praise, thanksgiving. You know that you help people tremendously in the spirit when you just praise God for them.
This is a story I didn’t want to go into, but it comes to me, of a man named Praying Hyde. Some of you have heard of him. He was a tremendous missionary in the Punjab in India when India was still under the British. His ministry was prayer, everything else was secondary. God taught him some tremendous lessons in prayer. Quite early on, he came across an Indian evangelist whom he considered to be ineffective and cold. So he wanted to pray about this man and he began: Lord, you know how... and he was going to say: ...cold Brother So and So is. But the Holy Spirit stopped him and said: Don’t you accuse God’s servant to Him.
You see, how shall we accuse those whom God has justified? So he changed and he began to think of everything good in that man’s life and to thank God for him. Within a few months that man was a flaming, successful evangelist. What changed him? Not being accused but being the object of thanksgiving. I would say to husbands and fathers, take a lot more time thanking God for your family. Because you create an atmosphere around them that makes it easy for them to succeed. God has taught me this: If I cannot thank God for somebody, I have no right to pray for them. I better not pray at all, because my prayer will do them more harm than good.
So that’s just by the way, but as I sometimes say, there’s no extra charge for that. Let’s look at a picture now of a man in the Old Testament, Job, who was a model as a priest of his family. We look at the opening chapter of Job, verses 1–5: There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God, and shunned evil. Seven sons and three daughters were born to him. Also his possessions were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys and a very large household; this man was the greatest of all the people of the east.
Now his sons would go and feast in their houses, each on his appointed day, and would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. So once every week, as I understand it, all Job’s children got together to feast. Seven sons and three daughters. Now Job knew their practice and this is what he did: So it was when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them. And he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all, for Job said: It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts. Thus Job did regularly. That’s the Old Testament pattern of intercession: offering sacrifice for every one of your children.
And when you offered the sacrifice for them, you claimed on their behalf the benefits of the sacrifice. It says Job sent and sanctified them. I really don’t know exactly what it means but I think it means that in some way Job let them know that he had claimed the benefits of the sacrifice on their behalf. That’s the picture of intercession. Claiming the benefits of a sacrifice on behalf of those for whom you are praying. Of course, the sacrifice for us is the sacrifice of Jesus. So intercession for our children is really, in a way, claiming the benefits of what Christ accomplished on the cross by His death on behalf of our children.
Now you might say if you were a little bit cynical: Well, it didn’t do much good. Because, in one disaster, all his children were wiped out. Here’s one of the cases where you need to read the Bible carefully. I’d like you to turn with me to the closing chapter of Job and James says: consider the patience of Job and the end of the Lord. In other words, don’t form any conclusions till you’ve read the end of the story. You remember after Job had learned his rather hard lessons, he was fully restored. Incidentally, when did restoration come to him? It's just as a matter of interest. When he prayed for his critics.
So don’t let your critics get you down, use them as a ladder to climb up on. See, pray for them. God will release His grace to you. Now it says in verse 12 of chapter 42: Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning: for he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, 1,000 female donkeys. He had exactly double the number of livestock. But the next verse says: He had also seven sons and three daughters. He’d only got the same number of sons and daughters as he had before. Why? Why didn’t God double them? My understanding is because Job’s prayers had been answered and though they’d been carried out of time into eternity, they were in God’s keeping in the place of the righteous dead awaiting the redemption that comes through Jesus Christ.
So, it did pay, you see? And in fact, it shows how urgent it is to pray for your family. Job had no idea that a disaster was coming in which the whole family would be carried off in one moment. But his prayer prevailed. Let’s never look just at the results in time, that’s a great mistake of contemporary Christians. The ultimate results are in eternity. Then let’s look at the ordinances of the Passover, which is a tremendous example of a father’s ministry as priest. It’s recorded in Exodus chapter 12. You’ll recall that it was through the sacrifice of the Passover lamb that Israel was delivered out of their slavery in Egypt and brought out to be a new nation. Whereas, the Egyptians who had no sacrifice endured the judgment of God upon their firstborn. The ordinance of the Passover depended on the father. There was no one else who could do what the father had to do.
And so, Moses said in Exodus 12:3: Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: On the tenth day of this month, every man shall take for himself a lamb according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. So every father had a responsibility to provide a sacrifice for his household. And then the way that the sacrifice was made effective was by sprinkling its blood on the outside of the door: the lintel, the two door posts.
And this is recorded in Exodus 12:22–23: And you (that’s every father) shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and two door posts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of his house until morning. For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two door posts, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.
So the only protection in Egypt was the blood of the Passover lamb sprinkled visibly on the outside of the door of every home. And there was only one person who could sprinkle the blood. Who was that? The father. You see, the well being of his whole household depended on the father’s faithfulness as a priest. Do you think God’s principles have changed? I don't. I think it’s the same today. And then turning on to the New Testament we have that amazing incident of the epileptic boy in Mark chapter 9, whom the disciples could not heal. But when Jesus came down from the mount of transfiguration, the father brought the boy to Jesus. We’ll just read the brief conversation. The father described all the sufferings of the boy, et cetera. And Jesus said to him: If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes. Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears: Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.
What impresses me about that is the boy could not believe for himself. But the Lord held the father accountable to believe for his son. I believe that’s a principle. I believe that God holds fathers accountable to have faith for their children. See, the boy was hopeless. He couldn’t do anything for himself, he was an epileptic. Jesus said:If you can believe, it will be done. I wonder how many of us as fathers recognize our responsibility to exercise faith for our families. I noticed one thing about the ministry of Jesus which became very real to me when God plunged me into the ministry of deliverance. Because I often had people that would come up in a meeting with a child and say: pray for him or pray for her.
I learned to ask a question: Are you the parents of the child? Quite often the answer would be: No, we’re not the parents. The parents are not believers but we want to bring this child. I challenge you to search the ministry of Jesus. He never prayed for a child, except on the basis of the faith of one or both parents. There is no scriptural precedent for this. Jesus never went against the Father’s divine order. Parents have much greater responsibility than most of us are willing to acknowledge. They say in German, I won’t say it in German, but they say: To become a father is easy. To be one is difficult. Would you agree with that?
And then we look on in the ministry of Paul, the famous incident in Philippi, where the jail was shaken with an earthquake and all the prisoners were set free. The jailer was about to kill himself because he was answerable with his life for the lives of the prisoners. If they escaped, his life had to answer for it. But do you remember Paul said: Don’t kill yourself, we’re all here. And so he cried out that age old question: What must I do to be saved? And here’s the New Testament answer, verse 31 of Acts 16: So they said: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved...
Now a lot of evangelicals stop there, but that’s not the end of the verse: you will be saved, you and your household (your family). What a pity to cut off those last few words because a father has the privilege to believe for the salvation of his family. Because of the responsibilities that he has, God also gives him the authority. See, God never gives responsibility without authority. Nor does he give authority without responsibility. So because of the tremendous responsibilities that God has placed upon a father, He gives him the authority to believe for his household. That’s what Joshua said. He said: As for me and my house... What did he say? We will serve the Lord.
How did he know his house would serve the Lord? Because he had the authority to believe for them. I was dealing with a dear lady once who came to me all troubled about her unsaved family. I said in a comforting way: Acts 16:31: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, and your family. She went away, and the Holy Spirit very gently chided me and He said: You misapplied that Scripture. It was not spoken to a woman, it was spoken to a man who was the head of his house. He had the right to believe for his house.
Now you ladies will be up in arms maybe and say: Well, what about us? Don’t go to that scripture. You want a real good pattern? If you’ll humble yourself, it’s Rahab the harlot. She... Oh, how marvelous! She believed for her whole household. But it was not on the basis of her position in the family, you understand? It was on the basis of faith which God gave her. So there we are, that’s the father’s responsibility as priest.