Too often the Old Testament picture of a priest confuses us New Testament saints. We hear the word priest and we think, that must apply to some in the ministry profession. We think of the Levites performing the temple worship when we hear the word priest. But even the Old Testament gives a glimpse of what the New Testament priest was to become:
“And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.’” (Exodus 19:3-6)
We who have given our lives to Jesus Christ have become what Peter describes as a royal priesthood:
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…” (1 Peter 2:9)
I particularly like the way Warren Wiersbe describes the difference between the Old Testament and New Testament on the priesthood. He writes:
“In the Old Testament period, God’s people had a priesthood; but today, God’s people are a priesthood. Each individual believer has the privilege of coming into the presence of God.”
Dr. Wiersbe is referring to Hebrews 10:19-25 and the substitutionary work of Christ on the cross that gives us direct access to God:
“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:19-25)
It is not our theological training or spiritual pedigree that makes us a royal priesthood; it is our salvation in Christ. Peter explains earlier in his first letter that we are being built up to this priesthood:
“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:1-5)
So we are a royal priesthood and we are also a holy priesthood who “offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Ah but Bro Dave I’m not good enough to be considered a holy priesthood. I fail too much and I just don’t have the commitment. Oswald Chambers has an answer to that reply:
“By what right do we become ‘a royal priesthood’? By the right of the Atonement. Are we prepared to leave ourselves resolutely alone and to launch out into the priestly work of prayer? The continual grubbing on the inside to see whether we are what we ought to be generates a self-centered, morbid type of Christianity, not the robust, simple life of the child of God. Until we get into a right relationship to God, it is a case of hanging on by the skin of our teeth, and we say – What a wonderful victory I have got. There is nothing indicative of the miracle of Redemption in that. Launch out in reckless belief that the Redemption is complete, and then bother no more about yourself, but begin to do as Jesus Christ said – pray for the friend who comes to you at midnight, pray for the saints, pray for all men. Pray on the realization that you are only perfect in Christ Jesus, not on this plea – ‘O Lord, I have done my best, please hear me.’”
I can remember a time when I had recommitted my life to Christ that I had a simple and robust prayer life. it wasn’t structured or stately; it was basic and believing. I presented my simple prayers to God believing He would somehow answer them.
Would to God that I return to that priestly work of prayer.
Will you join with me?
If we will do that then I believe revival would truly come and we as a nation would once again be holy.
More on that next time.
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Copyright © 2013 David Jeffers