Some time ago I was at a meeting where I was made, once again, very much aware of a tendency within the Church to want to revert to an Old Testament experience of God.
Under the Old Covenant, the people did not have a personal relationship with God. They could only come to Him through the priests and the prophets.
This was never God’s original intention. In Exodus 19:6, He clearly said that His purpose was for the whole of the nation of Israel to be a “Kingdom of priests”. In other words, He wanted every Israelite to have free access to Him: a face-to-face relationship.
Instead, the people chose to send Moses up to the mountain where God’s presence was manifested in thunder, lightning and fire. Their fear of God’s presence resulted in the creation of a priesthood – a tribe which from then onward would act as the mediators between God and man. The only ones outside of that tribe who could relate directly to God were the prophets.
When Jesus died, however, He did away with the Old Covenant and instituted the New Covenant. He returned to the original plan, establishing His Church as a “royal priesthood” in which every person could “come boldly before the throne of grace.” From that time forward, He alone was to be the mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5). Moreover, whereas the mediation of the old priesthood had served to keep the people separated from God, the mediation of Christ served to draw them closer to the Father.
So why do so many Christians seek for some other mediator? They want someone else to pray for them; someone else to search the Scriptures and give them pre-digested spiritual food; some prophet to seek God on their behalf. Now this is not to say that we shouldn’t ask others to stand with us in prayer, nor that we shouldn’t listen to teaching or read books. Likewise, a word of prophecy can confirm the things we sense in our heart. All of these things are legitimate, provided that we are praying, searching the Word, and listening for the voice of the Spirit ourselves. It is when we will not do these things ourselves, but depend on others to do them for us – to be the mediator between us and God – that we are returning to the Old Testament pattern.
At the same time, some leaders want people to relate to God only through them. They want to hear God for you; to be the ones who tell you how and what to pray; to be the only interpreters of Scripture on your behalf. Again, there is a legitimate order in the church, and it is right that we submit to the leaders whom God has put over us. However, when a leader tries to take the place of Christ as the only mediator between you and the father, or tries to take over the role of the Holy Spirit in your life, I would offer one simple bit of advice: don’t walk, RUN from that relationship. It can only take you back into the bondage of the Old Testament.