Staff & Sling
Ministry

Joseph E. Hébert, Ph.D.

98119 N 3745 Rd
Okemah, OK  74859
918 623 3078

A Kingdom of Priests

There are some who subscribe to a doctrine called "Replacement Theology," or "Supersessionism." This doctrine holds that Israel and the Jews have been superceded, or replaced, in God's plan by the Church. Those who subscribe to this doctrine believe that God is finished with the Jews, and that they are no longer His chosen people.

I am not one of those people.

If I knew nothing else of scripture I know Daniel's prophesy of 70 Weeks, and that is enough to dismiss as errant any such teaching. The Jewish people have yet one week, which is to say seven years, wherein God will do His work on Earth through them. There will be yet one week wherein the Church, the Bride of Christ, will not be here and during which God will accomplish His purpose through His still chosen people, the Jews. But that is another matter for another day.

The point is that many Christians tend to think of our role, our function, to be similar to that of the Jews in the Old Testament. They think that we are the New Testament analog of the Old Testament Jews. But a better analogy would be that the Jews reflect the world, and we are like the Levitical Priesthood. Consider God's Word.

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 an holy nation (Exodus 19: 5, 6a).

Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. ... But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (I Peter 2: 5, 9).

And from Jesus Christ, [who is] the faithful witness, [and] the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us a kingdom of priests unto God and his Father; to him [be] glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen (Revelation 1: 5, 6).

And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God a kingdom of priests: and we shall reign on the earth (Revelation 5: 9, 10).

Like the Levitical priests, we too have a high priest who is our head.

Now of the things which we have spoken [this is] the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man (Hebrews 8: 1, 2).

The Levitical priests wore special garments (see Exodus 28). Likewise, we too are told to how to array ourselves.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (Ephesians 6: 13 - 17).

Levitical priests were anointed with both water and oil.

And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water. ... Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour [it] upon his head, and anoint him (Exodus 29: 4, 7).

In scripture, water is symbolic of repentance, and oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Knowing this lends understanding to Christ's words when He told us how we have to enter into His kingdom of priests.

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3: 5).

And indeed, we are all baptized in the water and the Spirit. We are all born of repentance and indwelt by the Holy Ghost.

Finally, note that when Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land, no inheritance of land was given to the Levites.

...: but unto the Levites he gave none inheritance among them. For the children of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim: therefore they gave no part unto the Levites in the land, save cities to dwell [in], with their suburbs for their cattle and for their substance (Joshua 14: 3b, 4).

Likewise we are exhorted to have no inheritance in this world.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6: 19 - 21).

Interestingly, in Exodus 29 we read that the first thing that had to happen, in order for Aaron and his sons to become priests, was a sacrifice to consecrate them into the Levitical Priesthood. And they, the newly anointed priests, were to eat thereof.

And Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram, and the bread that [is] in the basket, [by] the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And they shall eat those things wherewith the atonement was made, to consecrate [and] to sanctify them: but a stranger shall not eat [thereof], because they [are] holy (Exodus 29: 32, 33).

Similarly,

That the Lord Jesus the [same] night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake [it], and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also [he took] the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink [it], in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink [this] cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of [that] bread, and drink of [that] cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many [are] weak and sickly among you, and many sleep (I Corinthians 11: 23a - 30).

Well, in light of this understanding it is reasonable to ask, what are our duties? We don't really need to offer any sacrifices do we? Indeed, our High Priest has offered one sacrifice that is eternally sufficient.

For such an high priest became us, [who is] holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself (Hebrews 7: 26, 27).

Nonetheless, we too are called upon to offer up sacrifices to the Lord.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service (Romans 12: 1).

But the priests did more than offer sacrifices. They ministered the affairs of the Tabernacle/Temple. For example, they were to keep the Golden Lampstand burning always (see Exodus 27: 20, 21). Similarly, we are told to be light in the world around us.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5: 14 - 16).

But perhaps the most important lesson we can take from this analogy is that the Levitical priests offered up incense on behalf of the people, in a continual offering to the Lord.

And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations (Exodus 30: 7, 8).

Like water and oil, incense is also a symbol. It symbolizes prayers. And just as Aaron was told to offer up incense continually, so too are we told to offer up our prayers.

Pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5: 17).

Indeed, in addition to being the light of the world, we also are told to be the salt of the earth.

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men (Matthew 5: 13).

Salt is a preservative, and so we are to preserve the world until He comes. And that means that we are to offer up intercessory prayers on behalf of the lost.

God's Word is plain. No one can come to Christ unless the Father calls them.

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6: 44).

And there are those whom He has given over to a seared conscience.

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen (Romans 1: 21 - 25).

Nonetheless, we know that it is not God's will that any should perish.

Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish (Matthew 18: 14).

God gives us the example in His Word. In Genesis 18 we read that Abraham pleaded with the Lord to spare Sodom and Gomorrah. And make no mistake. It was the Sodomites, not the righteous, for whom Abraham interceded. It was the wicked he asked God to spare. So too should we intercede on behalf of the lost around us. God tells us that even if He has stopped calling one of these lost souls, it is not His will that they perish. And moreover, He tells us that because of our prayers He is willing to give them another chance.

And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth (Luke 11: 5 - 8).

Too often we are like Jonah. Not as we should be, as reflected in his prayer. No. Too often we are like Jonah who was angry with God for not smiting the Ninevites (see Jonah 3: 10 - 4: 2). Too often we forget that those lost souls are no less deserving of God's mercy than we. So in closing, I ask your this. Can you think of anything sadder than sitting next to God and seeing people that you knew, that you called friend, cast into the eternal lake of fire, and realizing that but for your prayers they could have been sitting there with you?