The Necessity of the Holy Order
NCW 18, April 1995
Q. The New Covenant Assemblies place great stress on the importance of the Holy Order. What would happen if the Order ceased to exist? Would the local Branches survive?
The Holy Order is the raison d'être of the local Assemblies and this Messianic Evangelical Community exists for a particular purpose, namely, the gathering to, and establishment of, cities of refuge. However, the Holy Order is not the steering force itself, but the patriarchs that lead it. A better question would be: would the local Assemblies of NCAY survive if there were no more patriarchs?
The answer is, yes, the local Assemblies of NCAY would probably survive but would evolve in a quite different direction to which it was intended. The relationship of the Order (Chavurat Bekorot) to local Assemblies is not unlike that of parents to children. Let children go their own way and they will rapidly introduce forces of chaos into their lives. Let the local Assemblies 'go their own way' and its central message (the final gathering) will become diluted and eventually disappear. As a 'Bible-only' community it would eventually evolve into another evangelical Protestant denomination. Alternatively, it could publically adopt other scriptures in which case it would disappear down some spiritual backwater and become another 'Independent Church', and would eventually disintegrate.
With no Holy Order there would be no apostles to guide and knit the different congregations together. Either they would be forced to democratically adopt a constitution which they mutually agreed to abide, or the several congregations would go their own ways, adopting the characteristics of their local leaders. In the course of our history, many former congregations have done just that.
The essence of the Holy Order is that it is led and guided a Presiding Patriarch. That Presiding Patriarch must be the dynamic engine of both the Order and the local Assemblies, directly and indirectly, respectively. He must be living in the stream of revelation with a panoramic vision of the future before him, steering the qodeshim (saints) towards their goal. He must be experienced and living extremely close to Yahweh. His ministry will be characterised by a constant stream of revelation, both local and prophetic. This will percolate down to the local Assemblies through the leadership, guiding, lifting, and sustaining them. New light and emet (truth) will constantly be coming out of the Davar Elohim (Word of God).
Every time Yahweh's work has been established on the earth two antagonistic forces have operated against it. On the one side, there will be the tendency to independence and self-assertion of the local congregations. The congregation led by Diotrophes is a good example (see 3 John). At the other extreme there will be a tendency on the part of unenlightened or semi-enlightened persons to exercise total, central control on all the congregations, such as the Judaisers wanted in New Testament times. They wanted a monolithic organisation such as Judaism had become in Yah'shua's (Jesus') day.
Every parent realises at sometime that children both need to be strictly controlled as well as be given the freedom to explore and, if neccessary, make mistakes. That is the essential rôle of the Holy Order. It must exercise strict control over doctrine and practice in the local Assemblies whilst allowing each congregation a measure of freedom to act on its own. From time to time it must expect to pick up the broken pieces of projects and uninspired local ideas gone awry.
The function of the Holy Order is to train up the priesthood of the local Assemblies and make them accountable. When leadership refuses to be accountable, apostacy always sets in. Local Assembly leaders are therefore frequent visitors to the Holy Order where their holiness or set-apartness is measured and their stewardship is weighed. This gives them the critrical spiritual edge needed for ministry in the world, polishing up their ministerial tools as well as ensuring they are kept humble and usable by the Ruach (Spirit). Without this balance congregations can quite quickly end up following a charismatic pastor who through pride and rebellion could well end up spiritually destroying them.
The relationship between the Order and the local Assemblies is therefore most imtimate and essential. It is a fine balance, a dynamic interaction. As the local Assembly's 'children' mature spiritually and become spiritual 'parents' themselves, so they become an active part of the Holy Order's regulating and decision-making process. In this way all the congregations are joined together. The Holy Order is, if you like, a 'supra-congregation' of the priesthood leaders of all the local congregations. In this way all local Assemblies are in a dynamic relationship with each other and form a wholeness. Just as a local member of parliament (theoretically at least) has close contact with his constituents, so all the local MPs have close contact with each other in parliament. Thus the nation is bound together, with an cabinet steering the whole (= the Patriarchate). As everyone knows, if you get a bad Prime Minister, the country suffers. Similarly, the rôle of the Patriarch is most important. Though a nation can be goverened by consensus without a head, it rarely makes great progess. In Yahweh's theocracy progess is vital for the life of the Messianic Community (Church).
This leadership structure is not the most essential ingredient in itself. The whole thrust of the Holy Order with its ordinances and instruction is the oil that keeps the whole mechanism moving smoothly. The priesthood is not the Community's police force so much as its doctors, nurses, midwives, teachers, lawyers, counsellors, and the like. The priesthood has a multi-faceted rôle. It is all that true parenthood should be.
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