Thursday, July 2, 2020
1 Peter 2:9, “a royal priesthood”
We continue today looking at the identifying markers of the Christian. Not only are followers of Christ part of God’s chosen race, but all believers are part of a royal priesthood. Just as he did previously, the apostle Peter uses a term reserved for the people of Israel to describe the disciple of Jesus regardless of ethnic background. The Lord Jehovah tells Moses at Mt. Sinai before handing down the Ten Commandments, “and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Ex. 19:6)
A kingdom of priests and a royal priesthood. What does this mean? What was the role of the priest? The priest had two major roles for the people of God. First and foremost, the priest served as God’s representatives, declaring God’s Word and will to the people. Secondly, they served the tabernacle and the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. This included the sacrificial system, which made atonement for the sins of the people.
However, this declaration of the Lord to Moses is before the law concerning priests and the tabernacle was laid down. In other words, the Lord Jehovah’s ideal for the people of Israel was for EVERYONE in the nation to be a kingdom of priests. This means that God intended for Israel to be His representatives to THE WORLD.
Of course, the nation of Israel failed extensively in fulfilling the ideal of being a kingdom of priests to a pagan world. Instead of being a beacon of hope to a lost and dying world, the Israelites repeatedly incorporated the surrounding paganism into their worldview.
But God’s calling and ideal has not been thwarted! God has renewed his calling for a kingdom of priests through the New Covenant. Therefore, it is vitally important for each and every disciple of Christ (regardless of race, gender, socio-economic class, spiritual giftedness, or role in the church) to see himself and herself as a priest unto the Lord.
While God does call some to be pastors, teachers, evangelists, etc., the New Testament is clear that all believers fulfill the role as priest. As a Baptist minister, I view this concept being fulfilled in the doctrine of the Priesthood of All Believers. This means that every believer is called to a relationship with God. While the pastor serves to expound upon the Scripture and help lead a church as Christ’s under-shepherd, believers do not need a pastor to gain access to God through prayer and devotion. You do not need a human priest or pastor to offer confession for sins to receive forgiveness. Jesus, as our Great High Priest, is our mediator to present our petitions before the Father. We have access to God’s presence through His grace and our faith (Rom. 5:2).
What the priesthood of the believer means is that all Christians are first and foremost called to represent the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father to the world. We are His messengers. As Paul states, “God…gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the word to Himself, through Christ and give us the ministry of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ.” (2 Cor. 5:18-19)
Secondly, the priesthood of all believers is called to serve the temple of the Lord. Of course, as we saw last week, the temple of the new covenant is none other than the body of Christ, the church. Therefore, we are called to serve one another, building up one another, encouraging one another in the bond of Christ.
While we may go through our days struggling to make ends meet, finding it difficult to obtain significance in this vast world we live in, may we never forget that everyone who follows the Lord Jesus Christ has been led to the high calling of the priesthood. When we gather together to worship the Lord, we are priests unto Jehovah, serving and encouraging one another. As we go our separate ways after worship, may we realize that we are priests sharing the message of reconciliation and love of God to a lost and dying world.
Pastor, Sharon First Baptist Church