Because we find that Jesus and the Apostles kept church and world separate in their teachings, we endeavor to do the same. We have just considered "your sanctification" (the church's) and now we glance at the world's privilege in this direction. The two are alike, yet different. Alike, in the sense that sanctification means consecration; different, because the consecration differs under the different attendant circumstances.
The two occur at different times. The Church's consecration first in (this) the Gospel age; the world's afterward in the next or what is often called the Millennial age. Hence Jesus in the beginning of this age, though he loved the world so much as to die for them, and desired their sanctification as well as that of the Church, yet, knowing God's order, that the Church must first be gathered and perfected on the spiritual plane of being before the world on the earthly plane could be blessed through their ministration, prayed thus: (John 17:9,21,22), "I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me" (specially selected by the magnet of truth to become Jesus' bride and joint-heir) "that they all may be one...as thou Father art in me and I in thee; that they also may be one in us...that they may be one even as we are one" (partakers of the divine nature" 2 Pet. 1:4), "that (when these are thus perfected in the divine nature) the WORLD may believe.
Yes, deep hidden riches of grace for the world are at present obscured by the exceeding riches of God's grace and lovingkindness toward us who are in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6-8). The "royal priesthood" have consecrated to sacrifice during this Gospel age. The anti-types of the "Levites," who consecrate to service but not sacrifice must be fulfilled in the Millennial age. (See Numb. 8:24.)
During the Gospel age the call has been, who will take up the cross and follow me (Jesus)? Who is willing to deny (ignore) himself and suffer with Christ in hope of reigning with him? Who will present his body—his human nature—a living sacrifice and become dead with him that he may also live with him? (2 Tim. 2:12; Rom. 12:1 and 6:8.)
In answer to this call for severe service, yet "reasonable," when the reward is considered, few—a "little flock", a "royal priesthood"—have during 1,800 years heeded the call and been selected. How few, or who they are, we know not—God knoweth; but we know that Jesus is the high-priest of their profession, and those who shall be with him are called and chosen through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, (2 Thes. 2:13) and faithful. We know, too, that it includes all and only those who have made and kept a "covenant by sacrifice" (Psalm 50:5; Rev. 17:14.)
The conditions of consecration for mankind in the next age will be not sacrifice of things lawful and right and good for the natural man, or the laying down of the human existence, but obedience to God and his law of love, which offers on the surest foundation everlasting life and blessing. Thus the prophets express it: "Serve the Lord with fear (respect) and rejoice with trembling." (Psa. 2:11.) "Hear (obey) and your soul shall live. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." (Isa. 55:2,7.) In a word, obedience to God will be the only requirement from all who, being justified by faith in Christ, would consecrate themselves fully to God. Nor would sacrifice, crucifixion, death be possible to those in that age, seeing that evil in all its forms is to be suppressed and all things brought under the control of good and right. It is because, in God's arrangement, evil (Satan) now rules the world, that [R443 : page 4] right-doing, truth and goodness are bringing reproach, crucifixion, and suffering: and this we have seen is to permit the sufferings and sacrifice not only of Jesus the high priest who, without sacrificing the human, could never partake "of the divine nature," by which they are clothed with power to bless and restore mankind. It will be apparent to all, then, that when the present triumph of evil gives place to the lasting triumph of righteousness, the very circumstances which now make sacrifice necessary to the overcoming of the world will be gone, never more to return; consequently the opportunity for sacrificing for right and truth will be gone. When the time foretold shall fully come, when "A king shall reign in righteousness and princes shall execute judgment in the earth"—then "In his day the righteous shall flourish" and the evildoer shall be cut off (Ps. 72:7; 37:9).
The original appointment of consecrated priests under the typical system numbered five, while of the Levites there were seventeen thousand one hundred and sixty appointed. (Num. 4:36,40,44,48; Exod. 28:1.)
The proportion of these numbers toward each other probably typifies the much larger proportion of those saved and consecrated in the next age as men, as compared with the "little flock" selected under the trying ordeal of sacrifice during the Gospel age to become spiritual beings,—"new creatures"—and to be made unto our God kings and priests to reign on the earth (Rev. 5:10). For a fuller treatment of this phase of the subject, see "The Tabernacle" pamphlet.
It will be seen then, that if our time for consecration to sacrifice as priests is ended, the time for consecration for the Levite class is due to commence. How important, now in the little while which remains, that those who have thus consecrated to sacrifice with Jesus should make their calling and election sure by compliance.
It may be asked, What is the practical difference between the two consecrations as they affect our daily life and actions? We reply, that the consecration or sanctification of the Levite class is merely to abstain from sin and do those things which are right, while those who consecrate as priests deny themselves those things which are rightly and properly their privilege as men. For instance: It is right that men should seek, by every lawful and proper action, to make themselves comfortable and happy in the world, to have a "good name;" to rightly value the esteem of their fellow-men, and to accept public office; to spend time and talent in science, music, art, etc. All these things, if sought in a sinless way, are proper to consecrated MEN—Levites—but not for the new creature, not for the royal priesthood. The latter is to be careful for nothing: ease, comfort, reputation, honors of earth, are not to be considered, except to remember that these are as dross when compared to the higher office and honors promised to the sacrificers. This class—the priests—have no time for concerts, games, science, art, music, etc., even though they be sinless, (except such as are necessary to health) because all their time, money, and talents are consecrated to be sacrificed from self to the Lord's service. "As it is written, for thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." "In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us"—"Heirs of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord, if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings (losses, deprivations, self-denials) of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." (Rom. 8:17,18,36,37.) These distinct consecrations are further shown in article, "Two Baptisms," in another column.