A Kingdom of Priests

Posted: November 16, 2012 in Articles

“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation…” Exodus 19:6

“You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign of the earth.”Revelation 5:10

Moses predicted it and the Bible confirms that all disciples of Jesus Christ are called to be priests. In fact, His kingdom is to be a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). In the New Testament a disciple or Christian is a priest as well. When one understands the role of a priest in the Old Testament, a better understanding of our discipleship becomes prevalent. The priests held a special role in the Old Testament. All priests were Levites, but not all Levites were priests. They oversaw the spirituality of Israel, administered the sacrificial system to keep the purity of Israel, and helped with diseases and other needs as part of their profession. Their role was to guard the worship, be a personal example of holiness (Leviticus 11-15), bless/encourage people (Leviticus 9:22), and handle contribution (Nehemiah 10:36-39) among other duties. As disciples, we are all called to be priests and carry out these roles under the new covenant. Ultimately, the priest was called to reconcile men to God (evangelism!) and preach the word. Let us look at the first priesthood ordination of Aaron and His sons in Leviticus 8:23-24, and at the three actions that priests must take, which are also what we as disciples must adhere too.

“Moses slaughtered the ram and took some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. Moses also brought Aaron’s sons forward and put some of the blood on the lobes of their right ears, on the thumbs of their right hands and on the big toes of their right feet. Then he sprinkled blood against the altar on all sides.”Leviticus 8:23-24.

I. Hear God’s Voice

The blood was to be put on the ear lobe as a reminder for the priest to always listen to the voice of God. Constantly, we are putting noise in our ears, whether it be the radio, kids in the back seat fighting, and in general just the commotion of life. In all this, it is easy to miss the voice of God. While walking around on campus, trying to do my priestly duty by reconciling men to God, it is amazing how many have headphones on listening to music. Our generation has forgotten the importance of being still and listening to God. The priest was responsible to determine what God’s will was for the nation (1 Samuel 23:6-12). As Christians, it is imperative that we are in God’s word on a daily basis to listen to His voice, and follow where He goes. Sadly, even in the Old Testament, priests could be misled to think they are following God, yet they followed lies. Jeremiah 5:30-31 reads, “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy lies, and the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” It is sad to see in our former fellowship many ‘prophets’ preach lies to the people. Character assassinations, half-truths, and false-doctrine (discipling is optional, autonomy, lukewarmness, mainline theology, etc.) may be preached to the people, but as priest we cannot rule (do our discipleship) by our own authority. Even more heart breaking is the false prophets in the denominational world who see visions of their own mind and not from God’s word. Are you as a priest in God’s authority? It is great to be part of a movement where discipling is practiced and world-wide brotherhood is the norm. If this isn’t the norm, you may be missing God’s voice. What will you do in the end?

II. Do the Work of God

Next, the priest would put the animal’s blood on his thumb. This was a constant reminder to always do the work of God. For the priest, this meant living a sacrificial lifestyle that focused on the atonement of men’s sins. We are all priests according to the scriptures, yet only Jesus is the ultimate High Priest who helps us share a relationship with God. It is because of His great sacrifice at we are bent on helping others meet with our High Priest, Jesus (Hebrews 7-8). As a young Christian, I remember having many big dreams for God’s kingdom such as being a Bible Talk leader and one day leading a church. Yet, I wasn’t willing to work as hard as I needed to see these dreams accomplished. When entering college, I gained a deep conviction that a disciple is a worker although my personal righteousness was not at God’s standards. Through God’s discipline and love I personally have decided to carry out my priestly duty in serving the Orlando campus ministry. We have seen a lot of growth and with that comes new challenges of taking care of our baby disciples. It requires hard work. Jesus himself calls us His workers that are sent out to reap a harvest of disciples (Luke 10:2). In fact, the Bible says we were not only saved to work, but created for good works in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:10). If you aren’t a worker for the Lord, you aren’t truly saved. Jesus has given us the ministry of reconciliation. One must look inwardly and ask themselves if they are truly giving it all they’ve got to see men and women reconciled to God? 1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “…Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” In context, Paul is teaching us that we work hard because we know that there will be a resurrection one day when God comes to dwell with us. Because of this, our labor isn’t in vain! God is using this work to train and transform us for the day when we will reign with Jesus. Secondly, not only did priest work hard at reconciling lost man to God, but they collected and gave tithes to build God’s house and keep the ministry of reconciliation going strong (Nehemiah 10:36-39).As a church we are excited about our priestly duty to give 10x our regular weekly contribution to help build God’s house here in Orlando! A true priest has the heart of Nehemiah 10:39b, “We will not neglect the house of our God.”Let it be said that no member of the Orlando International Christian church neglected the building of God’s church here by not giving our tithes or participating in this special contribution. Are you remembering to do the work of God required of a New Testament priest: evangelism and contribution?

III. Walk in God’s Ways

Finally, the priest put some blood on the big toes of their feet for a constant reminder to walk with God. Genesis 5:24 says, “Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”This man walked so closely with God that the Lord just couldn’t wait to have him. How has your personal walk with God been lately? The priest was to be an example in personal righteousness, especially in the area of purity. He represented the purity of Israel. The disciple’s life should represent the purity of God’s church. When sin was in the camp, it was the priest who had to act fast and radically to atone for the sin and obey the law. God desires a fellowship of only “sold-out disciples” because when He looks down from Heaven that is all He sees in regards to the church. It is heartbreaking for me to see churches that are no longer composed of a “royal priesthood” (only disciples) and the few priests deciding to stay in lukewarm fellowship ruling by their own authority(autonomy). One disciple in such a fellowship was content that his personal ministry practiced the truths of God’s word, even though the older members were not living as priests (disciples of Jesus). A true priest is concerned with ALL spiritual Israel (the church) not just part of it. God works when His movement is pure, the priests understood this concept. Will you follow God and walk with Him if you are in a dead congregation? After a time, you cannot. A daily walk with Jesus is essential to living out God’s will. We are called to “worship in spirit and in truth” John 4:23-24, not with dead or lukewarm disciples who have forgotten they were called to be priests.

Matthew 28:18-20 states the mission of God’s priesthood and encompasses the three reminders. Those eleven men heard Jesus’ voice to go and make disciples, and because they did the work of God and walked with God- they saw an evangelized world in their lifetime (Colossians 1:23). We too can do it in our lifetime if we understand and then live out our calling as priests to the Living God. The promise then was that Jesus would always be with them as they carried out their priestly duty and to Him be all the glory.

Campus Minister,

Mike Patterson

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