The Lord spoke to Moses regarding His people, the Israelites, after their exodus from Egypt:
5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Exodus 19:5-6 (ESV)
This passage has parallels for Christian believers in the New Testament:
To him (Jesus) who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Revelation 1:5-6 (ESV)
As Moses led the Israelite people into the desert, God began to make clear his plans for them. They were now freed from slavery and God wanted them to lead a new life, rooted in a faith toward God and respect for others. He wanted them to serve Him as a nation of priests, showing others the love of God, building relationships, and sharing the good gifts that the Lord provides.
When we today walk in our own new freedom along the path that God is leading us, He can use us to be a witness of His presence, love, grace, and power. We become living examples of the freedom that is available to all through faith in God. This then becomes our primary purpose: to live a life of gratitude for the blessings He has given and to walk with Him in service to others. We rejoice in all that He has done, seeking to reflect His pure love back to Him in praise and towards others to bless them, to the Lord’s glory. In this way we become “priests” of His holy kingdom.
Once established in the desert, Moses was able to reflect on all the struggles he and the Israelites had been through. Here he was joined by his father-law-law, Jethro, a Midian priest, and a seeker of the one true God. Moses was able to share his journey with his father-in-law, telling him all that God had done to bring victory in each struggle. Moses told him about the ten plagues that brought freedom from Egyptian slavery, the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, escaping Pharaoh’s pursuing army, and how God miraculously overcame all the shortages of food and water for the multitude.
Moses’ father-in-law was overjoyed to hear the testimony about the existence of a loving God, One who cares deeply enough to intervene in our daily struggles and to bring us through each one to victory. This is who he had been searching for his entire life, and when he discovered the Lord, he was filled with joy. The kingdom of God grew that day with the priestly witness of Moses to his father-in-law. Each of us is a living testimony of God’s great love for us, and of the power and desire that God has to free each one of us from the shackles of our own bondage of sin.
The role of a “priest” is to love and serve both God and the people around us, and to help them find, connect with, and strengthen their relationship with our true hope, Jesus Christ.
5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 (ESV)
As people connect with Christ, He will hold them and their daily struggles and challenges in His hands. Jesus often works through the “priesthood” of other believers to render His support and assistance.
When a person is living the role of a priest, we seek to live a holy life. We have been selected to carry the light of Christ and to let it shine for others to see and to reach for. We do not want to hide His light “under a bushel” of sin or impurity. But frankly, we often fail in this objective, and these failures can cause personal discouragement and hopelessness. Even the apostle Paul experienced such feelings:
24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! 8 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Romans 7:24-25, 8:1-2 (ESV)
We are chosen by God to be a kingdom of priests, but we cannot remain holy on our own power. We need a daily cleansing and strengthening from God. We are cleansed by the washing of God’s word (Ephesians 5:26) and by the blood of Christ, who died to bear all of our sins on the cross, and who was raised to life on the third day by the power of our loving Father in heaven.
God knows our battles with the sins that hinder our priestly walk. As we turn from them and admit them to God, He freely forgives us, then uses us again to attract others to Him, and to help minister to their needs for healing and wholeness.
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)
Let us pray to the Father, who treasures each and every one of us:
Forgive us, Lord, for the times we do not think, speak, or act like your treasured possessions. Cleanse us to serve as Your priests, a role You have graciously bestowed upon us. Forgive us for all the times we have treated others poorly, forgetting that they, too, are highly valued by You. Help us to live a holy life, redeemed by the cross of Christ and filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. May we serve as an effective witness of your great love to those around us. We ask this in Jesus name, Amen