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Priesthood of believers

Query for the Month

of April 2003

Next up-date: May 1st 2003 (God willing).

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Some perpetual questions ....

Is there really an immortal soul?

What does it mean to "be led by the Spirit"?

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Query:

1 Peter 2:

5 You also, as lively [living] stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6 Wherefore [for this reason] also it is contained in the scripture, "Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner Stone, elect, precious: and he that believes on Him shall not be confounded." [Isaiah 28:16.]

7 To you therefore which believe He is precious: but to them which be disobedient, the Stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the Head of the corner, 8 and a Stone of stumbling, and a Rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light: 10 which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

What is this royal priesthood? And when did it begin?

 


Answer:

THE KINGLY PRIESTS

 

There are six mentions of kingly priests in the Bible.

1.

The Son of God promised the obedient ones during the exodus that they would all be kings and priests.

Exodus 19:

5 Now therefore, if you will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then you shall be a peculiar treasure to Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine: 6 and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.

 

2.

Peter told the new Gentile entrants into the church that they too had become kings and priests in the spiritual temple.

1 Peter 2:

5 You also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. . . . 9 But you are a chosen generation [of living stones], a royal priesthood . . .

3.

After their resurrection and the journey to heaven the redeemed will sing that they had been made kings and priests and that they would reign on earth.

Revelation 5:

8 And when He [the new High Priest] had taken the book, the four beasts [living creatures] and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours [incense], which are the prayers of saints.

9 And they sung a new song, saying, "You are worthy to take the book, and to open the seals of it: for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 and have made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

 

4.

Some 500 years before the event, Zechariah was asked to act out the picture of Jesus being crowned as the Priest who would become a King.

Zechariah 6:

12 And speak to him [Joshua the high priest], saying, "Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying, ‘Behold the Man whose name is The BRANCH; and He shall grow up out of His place [out of heaven], and He shall build the temple of the LORD [on earth, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17].

13 "Even He shall build the temple of the LORD; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne [as a King]; and He shall be a priest upon His throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between Them both’."

5.

Paul wrote to the Hebrew Christians and showed them how Christ had become the High Priest of a system called the "Melchisedec order", as He had promised to Abraham. The priesthood was named after the man who came to bless Abraham after he had rescued his nephew Lot.

Hebrews 6:

13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no greater, He sware by Himself, 14 saying, "Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you." . . .

17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath: 18 that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us. 19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters into that within the veil; 20 where the Forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made a High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

Hebrews 7:

1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem [Jerusalem], priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and [who] blessed him; 2 to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all [his tithe]; [is] first being by interpretation "king of righteousness", and after that also "king of Salem", which is, "king of peace" . . .

 

6.

The apostle John said that his revelation came from He who had been begotten from the dead. It was He who made His followers into priests.

Revelation 1:

5 And [this message comes] from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and THE FIRST BEGOTTEN OF THE DEAD, and the Prince [King] of the kings of the earth.

To Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 and has made us kings and priests to God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

7 Behold, He comes with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen.

So let’s look at what that all means and how it affects the Divine/human, Creator/creature, Jesus Christ, and those who join Him in this priesthood.

 

The Royal Priesthood

1 Peter 1:

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers [non-Jewish Christians] scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.

1 Peter 2:

5 You ALSO, as lively [living] stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6 Wherefore [for this reason] also it is contained in the scripture, "Behold, I lay in Sion a chief Corner Stone, elect, precious: and he that believes on Him shall not be confounded." [Isaiah 28:16.]

7 To you therefore which believe He is precious: but to them which be disobedient, the Stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the Head of the corner, 8 and a Stone of stumbling, and a Rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed [by their choice].

9 But you are a chosen generation [of living stones], a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light. 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

In these words we have been given a glimpse into the depths of Christianity but for now we will concentrate on only one aspect of it. Just what is this "royal" priesthood, and when did it begin? It is not scheduled for the future, for Peter says, "You are . . . "

The first mention of sacrificial offerings in the Bible is when Cain and Abel, as the priests of their families, offered on their earth altars.

Genesis 4:

1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, "I have gotten a man from the LORD." 2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

3 And in process of time [when they grew up and married] it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to the LORD. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat of it. And the LORD had respect to Abel and to his offering: 5 but to Cain and to his offering He had not respect [because it did not show a death to self (no blood)].

At that time every man was priest in his household after he married. That system later became known as the priesthood of the firstborn (Exodus 13:1-2), and it was what Esau should have desired, but which he sold to Jacob.

Genesis 27:

19 And Jacob said to his father, "I am Esau your firstborn; I have done according as you bade me: arise, I pray you, sit and eat of my venison, that your soul may bless me." . . .

27 And he came near, and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, "See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the LORD has blessed: 28 therefore God give you of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine. 29 Let people serve you, and nations bow down to you: be lord over your brethren, and let your mother's sons bow down to you: cursed be every one that curses you, and blessed be he that blesses you."

30 And it came to pass, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, and Jacob was yet scarce gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting. . . . 34 And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said to his father, "Bless me, even me also, O my father." 35 And he said, "Your brother came with subtlety, and has taken away your blessing." 36 And he said, "Is not he rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright [the spiritual position]; and, behold, now he has taken away my blessing [the physical position, his father’s riches]."

So the priesthood started with the expulsion from the Garden of Eden and was recognised by all the patriarchs. What was the job of those priests? To help others maintain a right relationship with God, as labourers together with their High Priest. 1 Corinthians 3:9. See also John 17:20. They did this by pointing to SPIRITUAL sacrifices through animal ones. 1 Peter 2:5.

Hebrews 13:

10 We have an altar [in heaven], whereof they have no right to eat which serve the [earthly] tabernacle [the earthly priests]. . . . 14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. 15 By Him [our High Priest] therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name [character]. 16 But to do good and to communicate [share] forget not: for with such sacrifices [praise and works] God is well pleased.

Why does God want praise? Not because He is vain or wants adulation - but because it shows that we appreciate what He has done and can be protected by that understanding and that way others can hear and be saved. Psalm 7:17; 52:9; 69:29-30. Why works? Because that’s how love is shown - by helping others. Matthew 25:32-46.

We have examples of priesthood in the lives of Job and Noah.

Job 1:

4 And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. 5 And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, "It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts." Thus did Job continually.

Genesis 8:

20 And Noah built an altar to the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings [of thanks and dedication] on the altar.

This "firstborn" priesthood continued among the followers of God until it was replaced with the Hebrew "Levitical" one from the family of Aaron after the incident of the golden calf, about 1500BC.

Exodus 28:

1 And take you to you Aaron your brother, and his sons with him [of the tribe of Levi], from among the children of Israel, that he may minister to Me in the priest's office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron's sons.

Numbers 1:

53 But the Levites [the rest of the tribe] shall pitch round about the tabernacle of testimony, that there be no wrath [danger] upon the congregation of the children of Israel: and the Levites shall keep the charge of the tabernacle of testimony [look after the building and its furnishings].

Numbers 3:

12 And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that opens the matrix [the womb] among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be Mine; 13 because all the firstborn are Mine; for on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed to Me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast: Mine shall they be: I am the LORD.

The Levites did not offer sacrifices or see the holy things till they were covered by the priests, but they helped by carrying water and wood etc.

But neither of these orders was ever called a "royal" priesthood! In fact, they were always carefully identified as being separate from the kingship. So they cannot be what Peter was referring to. Let’s look a little deeper.

SALVATION in NOT depicted in the sanctuary services or supplied by its priests! The sanctuary shows only the forgiveness and cleansing of Christians.

The earthly picture of salvation, the exchange of lives, is shown in the Passover service which was conducted in the homes of the people. It did not require the services of a Levitical priest but was conducted by the parents of the family. In this ritual only circumcised people ate the lamb, because there was a need to show the removal of the "old" heart as a prerequisite to accepting the "new" one. In this way, by removal and infilling, the Son of God showed His gift of eternal life to the repentant one.

Then, and then only, a person with an endless life could approach God through the gateway to the sanctuary, for its services were available only to a separated people. The work of the Levitical priests was to help the Christian who came into the courtyard for forgiveness to approach God in the right way. They did things with the blood and body of the animals to show the different ways in which God deals with the sin problem IN HIS PEOPLE.

Even the work of the Levitical high priest did not give salvation. In his role on the Day of Atonement (which came but once a year) he showed the forgiveness and cleansing of the entire church, not individuals. Leviticus 16:21. He confesses "ALL the iniquities of the children of Israel, and ALL their transgressions in ALL their sins. . . "

We know that the Levitical priesthood had two parts to it - there was a high priest as the leader, and a multitude of helpers who assisted him in his work. It is not too much to say that the high priest was the ONLY one of importance, because it was he who made the atonement in the second apartment on the Day of Atonement. No other priest ever entered that room. And we know that Jesus is our High Priest today.

Hebrews 2:

16 For verily [truly] He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the [nature of the] seed [children] of Abraham. 17 Wherefore [for this reason] in all things it behoved Him [it was imperative for Him] to be made [exactly] like to His brethren [Christians, not natural humans], that HE MIGHT BE a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people [of God]. 18 For in that He Himself has suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted.

3:1 Wherefore [for this reason], holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling [the royal priesthood], consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 5:

1 For every high priest taken from among men is ordained [trained] for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: 2 who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. 3 And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.

Only through faith in Christ's name can the sinner be saved. He is the head of the new creation. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the prophet, priest, and king of all regenerate humanity. He is Immanuel, God with us. The eternal Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and of his fulness [His life] have all we received. He is the author and finisher of our faith. "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name."

There was a double meaning to the priesthood in the Old Testament, a physical and a spiritual one.  Cain and Abel became members of the firstborn physical priesthood when they married and had their families.  But Abel was also a priest after the order of Melchisedec because he saw and believed in the sacrifice of the Son of God.  (See Revelation 13:8.) He knew he was offering a shadow.

In the same way, Phinehas the grandson of Aaron was a member of the Levitical order and his offerings were types not realities.  But God also says of him,

 ********************

Numbers 25:

10 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 11 “Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned My wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for My sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in My jealousy.

12 “Wherefore [for this reason] say, Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace: 13 and he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.”

********************

 So here we have the proof that he belonged also to the everlasting priesthood as well. 

Conclusion:

Since the sacrifice at Calvary we do not offer animal sacrifices for we do not have physical priesthood, but as Christians we are expected to have something to offer.  As Peter told us, we are members of the spiritual house, a holy priesthood.  Paul explains:- 

 ********************

Hebrews 13:

9 Be not carried about with divers [different] and strange doctrines.  For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats [ceremonial meals], which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the [earthly] tabernacle. 11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. 12   Wherefore [for this reason] Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate. 13 Let us go forth therefore to Him without the camp, bearing His reproach. 14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

15 By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name. 16 But to do good and to communicate [share] forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

********************

 So here in our "believers' priesthood" we learn to offer that which we will continue to do in the new world in the Melchisedec priesthood.


Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated, but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.
Next query. To be discussed from May 1st 2003.
  • Romans 13:1-2

     

    • Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
       

    The questioner writes:

    The way I read the verse it seems to mean there can be no authority established on earth without God ordaining it. Verse 2 says we must obey that authority. Is that really the meaning? I can't believe that.

     

    Like to E-mail me and give me your ideas?


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