You shall not go outside the doorway of the tent of meeting for seven days, until the day that the period of your ordination is fulfilled; for He will ordain you through seven days.
So, I was at a church function yesterday and was standing in line for food and chatting with some friends when this verse came to mind. I had “read ahead” after Friday’s entry and the whole seven days of ordination thing got stuck in my head so that I found myself chatting about it on yesterday afternoon.
Some might wonder what the big deal is. I mean, the number seven recurs all over The Bible. There are seven days of creating the world, seven years between sabbath years, seven sets of seven years between years of jubilee, seven years appointed for Jacob’s Trouble in the book of Daniel and the same seven years given more detail in Revelation. The number is generally symbolic of completion, since God created the world in six days and day seven was a day to just chill after finishing the work. All that said, there is one of these sevens that is particularly controversial in Christian circles: the seven years of the Tribulation or Jacob’s Trouble. Pick a name, I’m sure there are more.
This set of seven years is controversial not so much because Christians don’t think it’s going to happen—most Christians who believe The Bible will admit that it’s going to happen (based on those I’ve met, my idea of the scope of the debate could be skewed)—but because there is another event tied to this that Christians debate. The event is question is referred to as the Rapture. The Rapture has been the subject of a book series and the film adaptation of same. The word “Rapture” does not appear in the manuscripts of The Bible, but is taken from the verb rapturos (which means to be caught up) used by Paul in one of his letters to the Thessalonian church. The debate goes along these lines: some Christians believe it will happen while others do not (my experience is that those who do not believe in the Rapture are a small minority of the Christian family, but my exposure to all of the Christian family is far from complete). Those who do believe in the Rapture break down into groups further as those who believe it will happen before the Tribulation, in the middle of the Tribulation, and after the Tribulation. There are verses that everyone will cite in support of their side of the debate.
Rather than get any further into the weeds on that particular topic, let me just toss out there that I believe in the Rapture and hold to the pre-Tribulation viewpoint. If anyone disagrees, that’s cool. It’s not like the Rapture changes why, how, or if we’re saved. Let’s just be civil in our disagreements over things that do not change salvation.
All that context and all those caveats are necessary because the verse struck me as it did based on my beliefs. See, believing, as I do, that Jesus will catch up (rapture) His church before the seven years of Tribulation start, this seven days of ordination causes my ears to tingle a bit. I hear seven and think: “Could that apply?” And I think it does. The Bible mentions more than once that believers are a priesthood. In order for anyone to become a priest in God’s kingdom, an ordination is required. Aaron and his sons went through seven days of ordination. And during those seven days, they could not leave the tabernacle; could not leave the presence of God.
Jesus spoke of an event He called the marriage supper of the Lamb (I think it was Him, may have to go look that up later). Much has been made of the “marriage feast” side of the whole thing. Teachers and commentators weigh in on the ancient traditions of marriage and how the party could go for seven days and the couple were basically not seen for that whole time. The folks who have weighed in on this are right to do so, but it struck me that the conditions they talk about for a wedding feast—Jesus and His church cloistered away somewhere that no one can get to, seven days or so of not being seen, food and drink and merriment—are not drastically different from the conditions of ordination—God and His priests cloistered in the tabernacle, seven days of being set apart completely, food and drink and offerings of various kinds. What’s more, my experience of the character of God is that He gleefully finds ways to accomplish more than one goal through the same action. Can the circumstance that tests me and reveals my character also develop that character? Why, yes. Yes, it can. Can God command his people to take some time off and use that vacation to feed the poor? Yes. Yes, He can. HE revels in the both-and that we so often find contradictory: just AND merciful, holy AND forgiving. Why not so with this as well? So it is that I found myself thinking that the seven years between Rapture of church and return to confront evil and end the Tribulation could be both the wedding feast AND the ordination.
All that is pretty cool, but what does it have to do with the here and now?
The verse says that “He will ordain you.” Those who minister to and on behalf of God are ordained by God. Not by people. This means that the ministry God has given me to do is from Him. This should comfort me. There will be those who challenge the ministry God has given me. Ultimately, that’s not my battle to fight. God chose the minister. God will defend His choice. My part in the equation is to keep on serving in the place I’ve been called to. The literal translation of “ordain you”, according to the footnotes in my Bible, is “fill your hands”. This is also a reminder that God will provide. Not only has He chosen me for a particular work, but He will also “fill my hands” with the things necessary to accomplish what He wants done. I don’t need to run around in a panic about resources. He’s got it covered.