Good morning royal priesthood of Signal Mountain!
Did you know there are 13 chapters in Hebrews and that the word “priest” occurs in every chapter of the book of Hebrews except chapters 1, 11 & 12. In those 13 chapters it occurs 34 times, more than any other New Testament book. Surprised? Impressed? Maybe it’s just me, but that seems like a lot about priests.
As you know, I have been focused on this subject. That’s because the Bible is focused on it too. Our worship rests in our being priests and priesthood. Priests are the ones who worship God and who lead others to worship God.
There are all kinds of priests in the Bible, just as there are all kinds of worshippers in our world today. Many of the priests we read about in scripture were priests of other gods. But even among those who were priests of God, many were wicked and disobedient. In fact, as you already know, only one priest was perfect. Sadly, it was the priests of God who falsely accused the only perfect priest to put Him to death. They charged Him with blasphemy and delivered Him up to Pilate to have Him crucified. What an ironic twist. What a terrible sin! Such a crime from such an office has had a negative effect on the reputation of the priesthood. Those who should have done better, and were impowered to do better, and were taught to do better, did not. Instead they used their power and position to carry out their crime.
On the other hand, many other priests in scripture have served faithfully. They took their priesthood seriously and served obediently. Many of the Old Testament prophets were priests such as Isaiah and Jeremiah. In the Old Testament and throughout the gospels you were a priest because you were born into the family line of Aaron. No one took that office by choice; it was by birth. A priest had to be born in the tribe of Levi and come from the family line of Aaron. Levites could serve and eat from the sacrifices, but were not allowed in the temple. Priests could go into the temple. All priests could serve in the worship and temple service, but only the High Priest could enter behind the veil and sprinkle the atoning sacrificial blood on the Ark of the covenant. God’s law was specific about this. Everything was to be done with great care and according to the prescribed way. God’s worship has always come with instructions. All the way back to Cain and Abel, before we find the word “priest” we see this. Cain’s sacrifice was not accepted, but Abel’s was. Cain got mad. God said to Cain, “Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right will you not be accepted? (Doing worship right is important). When Moses led Israel out of Egypt and out into the wilderness, God gave them His laws, many of which had to do with worship. God was specific about who, where, when and how. Priests and Levites were commissioned by God for doing this God’s way. The worship was ongoing, every day, with each Sabbath a day for the entire nation of Israel and regular feasts and sacrifices carried on throughout the year.
For many of us, our Bible reading gets bogged down when we hit these laws of worship. Is that not true? How many times have I heard how Bible reading was going great until we hit the end of Exodus and enter Leviticus and Numbers? Little historical narratives along the way are like islands of refreshment as we plod through all the instructions on worship. Right? But for the Levites and priests, these instructions and laws were of vital importance. Care in carrying them out was serious business. It could cost you your life if you did them wrong! Many Christians have said to me, “I am so glad I didn’t live back then!” And I personally echo that sentiment. I am so thankful to live under the covenant of Jesus Christ! Jesus has given us God’s grace and truth in ways that were only a shadow in the Old Testament.
Through Jesus Christ, all things have been made new. We have a new covenant through His blood, a new access of forgiveness through His sacrifice, a new way of worship in His name, a new hope of eternal life in His resurrection, a new royal priesthood in His kingdom, a new international mission in His Saving gospel, and a new holy nation in His church.
What God through Jesus Christ accomplished has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. Now, in Christ, we have an everlasting inheritance that can never perish spoil or fade, kept in heaven for us. Like living stones, God is building us into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ!
Jesus Christ is a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek, our eternal high priest. Look with me at Hebrews 7:15-28. This passage falls right in the middle of his point about Jesus as our high priest.
How long will Jesus Christ be a high priest? Jesus will always be the one through whom we have gained access to God, will He not? Jesus Christ is forever our high priest, and since Jesus Christ is our life, and we are the body of Christ on this earth, we have a royal priesthood duty here.
As long as there’s a church of Christ, there’s a priesthood of Christ in which we serve and by which we are saved. Praise God for His gracious gift of Christ, our High Priest forever. Amen?
In closing, let’s read 1 Peter 2:4-10 (read)
Illustration: (Hold up Passport) What is this? This identifies me. It also has a number. We all also have a social security number. You and I have an identity. Who are you? Who do you trust to tell you who you are? Who knows you better than anyone else?
(Hold up car title) This is the title to my car. It has a VIN number, and that VIN number is on public record with my name on it. This car belongs to who? Me. It is mine, and this is recorded in the books at the Tennessee Department of Transportation. If I lose my title, I can file for a replacement and pay a fee and get another one.
Here’s my point: When God made you He put His image on you. He owns you. When you got lost in sin, He paid a huge price to restore you and put your name in His book. God has chosen you to be His.
God answers the question of “Who am I?” You are a chosen people, you are a royal priesthood, you are a holy nation, you are a people belonging to God. The world would love to steal your identity. Don’t let it. God calls you by name and you are His! We are His people, the sheep of His pasture! Know who you are and Whose you are and declare His praises!