A Kingdom of Priests – Exodus 18-19

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; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.  Exodus 19:5-6 ESV

To him (Jesus) who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 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 plan for them. As they were now delivered from slavery, God wanted them to lead a new life, one rooted in a faith toward God and respect for others. He wanted them to serve as a type of priest, showing others the love of God, building relationships with them, and sharing the good gifts that the Lord provides.

When we walk in a new freedom along the path that God leads us, he can use us as a witness to others of His presence, love, grace, and power. We become a living example of the freedom that is available to all through God. This becomes our primary purpose: to live in gratitude for the freedom he has given us, and to walk alongside Him in service to others. We rejoice in all he has done for us and seek to reflect his pure love back to Him in gratitude and praise, and towards others in ways that bless them and bring glory to God. In this way we become “priests” of his holy kingdom.

Once established in the desert, Moses was able to catch his breath and reflect on all the struggles he and the Israelites had been through. Here he was joined by his father-law-law, a Midian priest, a seeker of the one true God. Moses was able to share with his father-in-law all that God had done in bringing victory through every struggle.  He told him about the ten plagues that brought freedom from Egyptian slavery, the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea with Pharaoh in chase, and how God miraculously overcame shortages of food and water. 

Moses’ father-in-law was overjoyed to hear the testimony about a loving God, one who cares enough to intervene in our daily struggles and to bring us through to victory. That is what he had been searching for his entire life, and when he found it, his resulting spiritual experience was strong. The kingdom of God grew that day through the witness of Moses to his father-in-law about God’s great love for each one of us, and the power and desire that God has to free us from the shackles of our own bondage.

One of the twelve tribes of Jacob, the tribe of Levi, was chosen to be the official line of priests. Their job was to tend to God’s tabernacle, and later the temple, to offer the sin sacrifices required prior to the coming sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It is clear from the scriptures that God intends all twelve tribes of Israel to be priests in the sense of testifying to and sharing the love of God with people in all corners of the world. The Jewish people were to be the root of holiness for all people, the genealogy through which the Christ would come for all.  Begotten through the tribe of Judah, Jesus Christ became both heavenly King and our great High Priest (Hebrews 8:1-2).

The modern role of a priest is to love and serve God and the people around them, helping them find, connect with and strengthen their relationship with the true hope, Jesus Christ.

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 ESV

When people connect with Christ, He will hold them, their daily struggles and their challenges in his hands. That said, He often works through the “priesthood” of other believers to render assistance.

When a person is in the role of a priest, they must seek to live a holy life. They have been selected to carry the light of Christ and to let it shine for others to see and to latch onto. We do not want to hide our light “under a bushel” of sin, but to hold it out clearly and uncontaminated for all to see.

This is by no means an easy task. We are all surrounded by temptations and are tethered to sinful urges of the flesh. We strive to do our best to rely on God with the help of trusted friends to overcome our daily temptations. We want to live a pure and simple life, to walk unspoiled with our loving Creator and Savior, and be a “priest” that helps others to find the freedom, peace and joy of a redeemed life with Christ. 

But frankly, we often fail in this quest, and these failures can cause personal discouragement and hopelessness. Even the apostle Paul experienced these 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.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 may be chosen by God to be a kingdom of priests, but we cannot be holy on our own. We need a daily cleansing from God. We are cleansed by the washing of water by God’s word (Ephesians 5:26) and by the blood of Christ, who died to bear all of our sins on the cross, and was raised to life on the third day by our loving Father in heaven.

God knows our sins.  When we own up to them, admitting them to God, he freely forgives us and then uses us to help others come to Him and to minister to their needs for healing and wholeness.  He remembers our sins no more (Hebrews 8:12), allowing each of us to successfully live out our priestly calling each new day.

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

Reflection:

We are God’s treasured possessions. What has been a treasure for you, closest to your heart?

Forgive us, Lord, for the times we do not think, speak, or act like your treasured possessions. Help us to serve as priests, a role which You in your grace have bestowed upon us. Forgive us for all the times we have treated others poorly, forgetting that they, too, are highly valued by You and are deserving of our best support and love. Help us to live a holy life, so that we may be used by You as an effective witness of your great love and power to those around us.

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