When God established His church on earth, He did so with certain men called for the special office of serving in the priesthood. These men would act as mediators for God, servants in His temple and proclaimers of His Word. Their duties were varied and included the nurturing of peace between God and His people through sacrifice and prayer.
Priests of the old covenant were set apart for service through the anointing of oil (Leviticus 8). This was necessary because they were the only ones allowed in the inner parts of the Tabernacle. Their appointment was sacred and holy and their connection to God was honored.
This priesthood was still prominent in the time of Jesus and High Priests were held in lofty regard by the people of Israel. It was the High Priest Caiaphas who would rule the temple during the lifetime of Jesus. Also holding that title was Annas, though he had earlier been forced out. The fact that at Jesus’ trial the crowd took him to Annas first speaks to the power he still held.
All of that changed when Jesus came as King of kings. By His birth, death and resurrection, He ushered in a new order that would expand the priesthood to all believers. By 70 AD and the destruction of Jerusalem, the old order had largely evaporated, and Seriah was the final High Priest.
When Christ came, He brought with Him a new covenant between God and His people and the priesthood would change forever. Now it would be all believers who would hold this precious title and the responsibilities associated with it. Peter introduced this new order this way, “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. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10).
Because Christ loved us enough to sacrifice Himself so that, by His sacrifice, the debt of sin would be paid, our relationship with God the Father changed. Now and forevermore He would see us through the prism of His Son who will rule forever as High Priest of all creation.
Now, instead of sacrificing sheep and cattle, we, as priests, make living sacrifices of ourselves each day. Again Peter says, “You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).
We do this by surrendering our lives to Christ and by resisting the ways of the world. Now we are to be a kingdom of priests that bring God glory in all we do and say. Instead of robes, we put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6). Instead of maintaining the temple, we serve Him by being made holy ourselves through the work of God’s Holy Spirit within us.
By His death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has, “..made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father” (Revelation 1:6). Now we must carry on the duty of priests by acting as mediators for God, workers in His kingdom and proclaimers of His Word. It is a title we should cherish and forever hold in high regard because it shows us the trust our God has in us to carry on the work of His church.
If you have made the decision to place all of your hope and trust into Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you are part of the priesthood. If you fall outside this relationship, then Christ extends to you his invitation. It is not a position to be held lightly and it comes with obligations, but it will be the best decision you will ever make and one that will bring you everlasting peace.
Hebrews 7:3 describes Christ this way, “He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.” As believers, we serve under our High Priest and we are to honor Him with our lives. Accept His invitation to be an important part of the royal priesthood. Serve Him all your days and be welcomed into the inner parts of the temple of faith. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Your Son to be our High Priest. Help us to honor you as we serve as priests under the new covenant and may the priesthood of all believers reign forever. Amen.