1Pt 2; Ex 19:6 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for a possession, so that you might speak the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light….
The last few weeks we have been speaking of Jeremiah and others who were called and chosen by God to work together with Him, according to His purpose. In this verse we can see that a primary purpose for which God has called and chosen us is to be a praise to Him who is worthy of all praise.
What is it to be a priest and a priesthood? Let’s consider some other verses from the Scriptures to help us know and understand, and to live in the truth:
Gen 14:18-20a And Melchizedek the king of Salem brought forth bread and wine. And he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of Heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.…
The first priest mentioned in the Bible is Melchizedek. He serves God Most High (El Elyon); he blessed Abram who also belongs to El Elyon; and he blessed El Elyon, who enabled Abram to defeat his enemies who had taken his relatives captive. A priest is one who blesses others in the name of the Lord, and who blesses God for His greatness. Notice that Melchizedek gave Abram bread and wine, the reminders of the sacrificial foundation of all praise and blessing.
Num 1:47-50 But the Levites, according to the tribe of their fathers, were not numbered among them. For Yehovah had spoken to Moses saying, Only you shall not number the tribe of Levi, neither take the sum of them among the sons of Israel. But you shall set the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony, and over all its vessels, and over all its things. They shall carry the tabernacle and all its vessels. And they shall serve it, and shall camp around the tabernacle.
The Tribe of Levi was called out of the rest of the Children of Israel to serve YHVH as priests. They were no longer of Israel, while yet they were still related by flesh and blood. They were separated unto the Lord and service to Him firstly, and then to the rest of their brethren, the Children of Israel, in His Name. In other words, the priests were holy. This was to be a service done in love with thanksgiving.
Dt 18:1-2 The priests, the Levites, all the tribe of Levi, shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel. They shall eat the offerings of Yehovah made by fire, and His inheritance. Therefore they shall have no inheritance among their brothers. Yehovah is their inheritance, as He has said to them.
All of the priests together had no inheritance of land with the rest of their extended family. What was God’s was theirs! The whole land was His; by being scattered throughout the land serving the other tribes, they, as a tribe, would inherit the whole, while possessing none of it themselves. YHVH had told them that HE was their inheritance. The ministry of the priesthood was their their inheritance to perform it.
Levi 22:9 And they shall keep My ordinance, lest they bear sin for it, that they may not die for it when they defile it. I, Yehovah, sanctify them.
Heb 2:11 For both He who sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one, for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brothers…
Priests are given much honor by being chosen by the Lord to be His, and to represent Him to the people even as they represent the people before God. The priests carry a heavy responsibility to keep the commandments of the Lord because it is He who has sanctified them – makes them holy. By keeping His commandments, they sanctify themselves for His sake, and for their own peace and joy, too. Otherwise, they are guilty of defiling themselves by defiling, dishonoring God’s good and holy commandments.
Levi 18:27 For the men of the land who were before you have done all these [sexual] abominations, and the land is defiled.
1Cor 6:18-20 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits fornication sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit in you, whom you have of God? And you are not your own, for you are bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Heb 13:4 Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled, but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
Mk 7:20-23 And He said, That which comes out of the man is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things pass out from inside and defile the man.
Defilement is often associated with sexual immorality and immoral lust, that is, any sex outside the marital relationship, or pornographic thoughts or lust in the heart. That which is in the heart will come out! We see here again the truth expressed that in Christ/Messiah we have become joined with the Lord; therefore if we defile our bodies, it brings dishonor not only to ourselves, but even to the name of Jesus/Yeshua. He who sanctifies, and he who is sanctified are one. It defiles the ‘land’; it defiles the Kingdom of God on the earth. We sin against our own bodies, according to the Word of God. As priests of God in Christ, we have both the honor and the challenge to keep ourselves pure, even as He is pure. In today’s world, this is a great challenge to love and to trust Jesus for to overcome.
Ezek 44:23-24 And they shall teach My people to discern between the holy and common, and between the unclean and the clean. And in a dispute they shall stand in judgment; and they shall judge it according to My judgments. And they shall keep My Laws and My statutes in all My assemblies, and they shall keep My Sabbaths holy.
All priests are in a relationship with the Lord in a more personal way than others: we have access in Christ to the Holy of Holies, into the very presence of God at the throne of grace. In Ps 73, Asaph the priest begins writing about how he almost fell from the faith as he saw the wicked prospering. He could not understand the righteousness of this before God, whom he served with all his heart in holiness. What was the point, if the wicked prosper and the righteous “can’t have fun”. Asaph did not understand, until he went into the sanctuary, into the holy presence of God, and understood that a day of judgment would come, and the wicked would no longer prosper, and the righteous would be rewarded.
As believers in Jesus, we are called and chosen to be priests, holy to God, to instruct other believers first of all to discern between what is precious to God and has eternal value, and what is merely ‘of the world’. We are to behave ourselves in a way that is ‘clean’, and not causing ‘little ones to stumble’. We are to mature in godliness, being conformed to the image of the Son of God, being transformed from what is acceptable to the world, but not to God. We offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.
In Ps 82 (Jn 10:34-36), the priest Asaph again writes by the Holy Spirit that those to whom the Word of God came to judge righteously were the leaders in Israel. God says that they are judging unrighteously, acting as mere men than as those who represent the Judge of the whole Earth. If we are to judge between good and evil, between the innocent and the guilty, we need to know God’s word, His commandments, His laws and ways. Every earthly lawyer and judge are held to high standards of upholding the laws of their country. How much more so should we, as priests of God in Christ, uphold the Law of His Kingdom in all things?
The blood of the cross, the death of our Lord and Savior because of our sinful nature and way of life needs to take deep root in our souls so that we will value more and more what a great God we serve who has loved us so much to pay such a price. He/She who is forgiven much loves more. Like Asaph, we must see things from the perspective of God’s holy and righteous throne. If we are to judge matters according to the authority of GOD’s authority and will, we will be as merciful as possible, for we are all sinners, and we will uphold the truth of God’s Word.
Rev 5:9-10 And they sang a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the book and to open its seals, for You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation. And You made us kings and priests to our God, and we will reign over the earth.
Are we singing a new song? Is our life changing in ways that we ‘march to a different drummer’? Yeshua has been crucified to redeem us from every kind of people to be a kingdom of priests, ruling and reigning with Him when He returns to establish the Kingdom of God on the Earth, with its center in Jerusalem and Israel. Our lives now are in preparation for that day: are we preparing? Do we see that GOD has a purpose, and He has called us into it to work together with Him?
To be a king is to have authority to rule, and in God’s kingdom that authority is based on His holiness and righteousness. To be a priest is to minister unto God in faithful love, and to minister unto the people as those who know God, what honors Him, what pleases Him; for we do so in His Name. The king is subject to the High Priest: there were priests before there were kings, and it is the duty of priests to maintain the righteousness and holiness of God’s law. The prophets received their authority from the Lord to speak in His name His word – to priests, to kings, to the people – to bring all people to obey the true God, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob; the God of Israel; the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. These three – prophet, priest, and king – are all part of our calling and chosenness in Messiah – the Anointed One: the Prophet; the great High Priest; the King of kings.
Some of you have known from an early age that you wanted to be an engineer, a musician, a doctor, or a teacher; and if you were serious, you prepared for that by making choices in your life which would better make you ready and open the door for you to be accepted at a certain school or by a particular business or hospital. So, too – and even more so – should we, when we understand that for which we have been called by the Lord, put aside those things which hinder, and focus on the life which God has promised in His Kingdom to those who love Him.
Heb 13:14-16 For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By Him, then, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, confessing His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
We see here, as for the Levites, that the priests of God in Messiah have no possession of any land here. Yeshua is our inheritance, and we are His; and with Him we will inherit all things in the world to come. Until then, we sacrificially serve God and others, to the glory of His Name.