As people of God, Christians need to understand their role in the Kingdom of God on this earth. According to 1 Peter 2:5 and 9, followers of Jesus Christ are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, and as such need to fulfill the purpose of the God they represent in this world. This means every Christian has the job of a priest to intercede on the behalf of others. This job can be understood by looking at the roles of the Old Testament priesthood.
1 Peter 2:9 But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:
Exodus 19:3-6 And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
What did Old Testament priests do?
- Offer sacrifices
When God selected and anointed the priests, he told them they were to minister in the tabernacle (and later in the temple) before the Lord and to the people. The priests of the Old Testament were responsible for many things the majority, at least which were heavy-duty responsibilities. One of the most common jobs of a priest was to offer sacrifices for the people. This was a very ritualistic necessity, since at that time blood sacrifices were required for the sins of men. Many people had to travel great distances and were coming and going continually for this event, and sometimes during special events, sacrifices were continually offered for hours and even days. Practically speaking, this had to be a very stinky, nasty job. The sacrificial animal had to be washed then killed and its blood sprinkled on the altars, then it was burned.
- Make judgments concerning the law.
Priests had to perform rituals to determine whether or not a skin spot was leprosy then instruct the person in what to do. They had to perform rituals to determine whether or not a wife had actually cheated on her husband, or if he just had a jealous spirit. They had to judge whether or not a person was guilty when s/he was accused of a sin or a crime. These are just a few examples of situations which came before the priest for which he had to make a judgment according to the law concerning the people of God.
- Blow the trumpets to call an assembly
Any time an assembly was required, such as a meeting, a celebration, a public announcement, or a time for the whole population to move, the trumpet had to be blown, and that was the job of the priest.
- Custodians of the tabernacle and later the temple
Priests were to care for the tabernacle, the temple, and all its furniture and utensils. Anointed priests fashioned the utensils and furniture of the tabernacle according to God’s pattern. When the tabernacle was moved with the Israelites through the wilderness, the priestly tribe was in charge of moving it. Priests carried the Ark of the Covenant in which was the Book of the Law, a pot of manna, and Aaron’s rod. The Ark of the Covenant was where the presence of God dwelled, and it represented God’s anointing and presence.
- Read the law to the people and instructed them in it
At times when the kings turned away from God, the people were not taught the law and became ignorant of the ways of God. It was the job of the priests to read the law to the people, keeping them informed of the ways of God. They taught the law to the people so that they would follow after God and walk in His blessings.
- Messengers of God
When God had something to say to His people, it was the priest through which He usually spoke. Through them, he relayed his instructions and his requests.
- Anointed and instructed kings
Even though it was against the will of God for Israel to choose a king, God revealed the one to be chosen to the priest, and it was the job of the priest to anoint the man chosen for king and to instruct him in God’s will. The king was accountable to God’s anointed priests, which was a kind of ‘checks-and-balance’ system. It worked.
- Mediated between God and mankind
God revealed his will for His nation to the priests, and the priests were responsible for leading the people to do God’s will. A priest would also speak to Jehovah God for the people, serving as a mediator between them.
What do New Covenant priests—Christians—do?
- Offer sacrifices
But we do not offer blood sacrifices today! True, thank God! But we are to offer up ourselves as a living sacrifice to God. How do we do this? We have to recognize that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Ghost and are to be treated as such (1 Corinthians 6:19). We are not our own but are bought with a price, the price of the blood of Jesus. When Jesus laid down his life, we perceive that he gave his life on the cross. But that is not all he did. He literally lay down his life from his childhood. He said he said and did only as he was instructed by His Father in heaven. He did not live for Himself, but for us. The purpose for Him being born as a human was to make a way for us to live like him and to show us how to do that.
Romans 12:1-3: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace that was given me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to each man a measure of faith.
1 Peter 2:5 ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
As Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, we are to give ourselves to God, a living sacrifice. This was wonderful news to the Jewish Christians whom Paul addressed here, because now they no longer had to travel anywhere to offer sacrifices to God; they could consider their praise and acts of service their sacrifices anywhere, anytime. We, also, are to offer ourselves in service to others as to God.
Philippians 2:17 Yea, and if I am offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all:
Ephesians 5:1-2 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor.
One type of service is monetary sacrifice.
Paul addressed the Philippians about their loving monetary sacrifice when they freely
gave to help him in his ministry. It seems that the Philippian church was the only one who sent money to him and as a result, he told them that God would supply all their needs. You will find this story in Philippians 4:15-19 (vs 18-19) But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Notice Paul calls their monetary offering not just a sacrifice to God, but a sweet smelling, well-pleasing sacrifice. By this we understand that when we give to ministries, we are offering a monetary sacrifice.
This is not tithing. When we tithe, we are giving the first portion of our income that we owe God. Under the law, God’s people were taught to give ten percent of their first fruits to God, and Jesus told the New Testament Pharisees not to omit tithing (Matthew 23:23).
Another sacrifice to God is the sacrifice of praise.
God accepts our praise as a sacrifice. The Psalmist David says in Psalms 33:1 and 147:1 that praise is comely, or looks good, on God’s people. He loves to receive our praises! David, the master worshipper, admonishes all creation to praise God in various ways, including songs, musical instruments, dancing, and shouting. He says we should praise God in the assembly, in the congregation of saints, from the bed, and in the heights. (Read Psalms 147 – 150.)
Hebrews 13:15-16 Through him [Jesus] then let us offer up a sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of lips which make confession to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
- Make judgments concerning the Word
We make judgments only by the word, judging what is sin and what is not sin according to the Word. Here, we must take care lest we judge according to our own opinions or thinking because we will be judged with the same judgment with which we judge. In 1 Corinthians 6:1-5, Paul says that Christians will judge the world and will judge angels, or messengers of God. We are all accountable to the Word of God, and we should know the Word of God enough to know the will of God.
- Blow trumpets to call an assembly
Today, we sound the trumpet of the Word of God. We sound the Word to call an assembly of the people to worship, to celebrate, to warfare, and to move with God as He moves. This is a great responsibility because if the children of God, the Priests, do not sound the trumpet of the Word, it will not be sounded and the people will not know what is going on. They will not know to worship, to go to war, or that God is moving. They cannot celebrate if they do not know there is a celebration.
- Caretakers of the temple
The Old Testament tabernacle and temple were made by hand but today, WE are the temple of God. It is our job to take care of this temple in which God dwells. We have been given specific instructions for its care. How do we manage our lives? Our body, soul, and spirit? We are instructed to put off such things as anger, malice, jealousy, and to put on Jesus, the armor of God, and the armor of light.
We know to maintain a healthy diet to care for our bodies. We need to keep our soul (mind, will, and emotions) free of anything that would pull us away from God, such as the wrong kind of reading, entertainment, conversation, or wrong thoughts. We must keep our emotions under control, and diligently make right choices.
Ephesians 4:22-24 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Romans 13:12-14 The night is far spent, and the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk becomingly, as in the day; not in reveling and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and jealousy. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.
- Read the Word to people and instruct them in it
Jesus gave us (Christians) the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19, telling us to:
(Matthew 28:19-20) Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.
One of the ministry gifts in Ephesians is teaching, and these gifts are given to quip the body of Christ that it may grow up into the fullness of the statue of Christ, to a perfect (mature) man. However, we all teach others with our attitudes and actions. What others see us do shows them what is important to us. For instance, when others, especially our children, see us reading the Word of God and hear us pray, it teaches them that the Word and prayer are important to us. When they see us live an overcoming life, it teaches them that God’s word and prayer works. When others see us maintaining a good attitude when it would perhaps be easier to give in to a bad one, they understand that having a good attitude is possible and it pays off. When they see us overcoming temptations to do wrong, they learn from us that they also can resist temptations and that it is important.
- Messengers of God
God still speaks to and through His people today. We are living epistles (letters), read by all men who know and see us. That is why it is so important that we consistently and habitually walk in a Godly attitude, careful that in all we say and do, so the life of Christ can be seen in us.
2 Corinthians 2:2 For if I make you sorry, who then is he that makes me glad but he that is made sorry by me? And I wrote this very thing, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that you should be made sorry, but that you might know the love that I have more abundantly unto you. But if any hath caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow, not to me, but in part (that I press not too heavily) to you all. Sufficient to such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the many;
Anoint and instruct kings
Remember we are Kings as well as Priests, and we are accountable to one another. This, again, is the ‘checks and balances’ system in the Kingdom of God.
Colossians 1:28 whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ;
Colossians 3:15-16 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to the which also ye were called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God.
2 Timothy 2:24-26 And the Lord’s servant must not strive, but be gentle towards all, apt to teach, forbearing, in meekness correcting them that oppose themselves; if peradventure God may give them repentance unto the knowledge of the truth, and they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him unto his will.
- Mediate between God and man
One of the responsibilities of a child of God is to intercede to God on behalf of others. We are to pray for those in authority, for the sick, for one another. Sometimes the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us when we do not know how to pray That is one reason it is important that we habitually pray in the Spirit.
Romans 8:26-7 And in like manner the Spirit also helps our infirmity: for we know not how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered; and he that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Intercession in warfare:
Ephesians 6:17-18 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: with all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching with in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.
This indicates praying aggressively and earnestly, as we are told in James 5:16, The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. The prayer not only must be fervent, but it must be effective. The best way to pray effectively is to pray the Word of God. For example, when you are praying for healing, you can use scriptures such as 1 Peter 2:24 which says, Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
We are not to worry when we intercede.
Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Intercede for those in authority.
1Timothy 2:1-3 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior;
Intercede for those who are sick, knowing that our prayers, with the right attitude, are powerful.
James 5:13-16 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
God preserves the prayers of the saints.
Revelations 5:8 And when he had taken the book, the four living creatures and the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
As priests in the Kingdom of God we have much to do, just as the priests of the Old Testament. It is important that we diligently perform our duties as we promote God’s Kingdom, working to grow up and to help new Christians to grow up that we all may be joints of supply in the Kingdom. We are to mature to “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” so that each separate part works as it should, and the whole body grows and builds itself up through love (Ephesians 4:13, 16). Then the ministry of the priest is complete.