“He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb… And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood, you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.” (Rev 5: 7 – 10)
If you are a follower of Jesus; if you have received the free gift of eternal life which Jesus Christ purchased for us by His death on the cross, then you are part of a vast kingdom, comprising people from every tribe, language and nation.
And you are a priest. Together we are a kingdom of Priests.
What might it mean, in the 21st Century to be a priest of God? The text, above, from the book of Revelation, speaks of two things – serving and reigning – but let’s look at the Old Testament understanding of a priest first.
An obvious place to start would be the inauguration of Aaron as High Priest in the book of Exodus, at the beginning of the Levitical priesthood. But Priests had been around before then. For example, Melchizedek was the priest of the Most High God in Genesis 14: 18 and Moses married a daughter of the priest of Midian years before he established Israel’s priesthood.
In a nutshell, priests in the Old Testament assisted ordinary people in their religious duties. They helped the sinner make his sacrifice. They took care of the Tabernacle – its walls and furnishings, the place of worship. They helped to provide the environment where an impure heart may find forgiveness and a restored relationship with God.
Perhaps this is the greatest act of service one can give to another today. Or the greatest gift of service the church can give to the world – to provide an environment where impure hearts may find forgiveness and a restored relationship with God.
I find it interesting to note that one of the things the Lord called Moses to pass on to His people was “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.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites” (Ex 19: 5 – 6).
All of God’s people were to be priests, not just Aaron and the Levites. The family of Aaron were called to look after the sacrificial system, but the nation was called to provide an environment where people can find God.
The Bible is pretty honest about their failure to achieve this but now that Jesus is our high priest, we are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pet 2: 9).
A kingdom of priests. Serving and reigning. Called to provide an environment where impure hearts can find God.