Athlete, You're a Royal Priest

Read Exodus 19

What does it mean to be a “kingdom of priests” (19:6)?  There is no universally agreed upon definition of a priest, but Scripture helps us to see several functions of priests.  1) Priests receive the blessing of God and offer it back to God in worship.   We see this when priests bring the firstfruits of the harvest back to God as an offering.  Of course, this offering acknowledges the reality that all things belong to God and that all of life ought to be lived in worship.  2) Priests intercede between God and humanity.  We see this when priests offer sacrifices for sin in the tabernacle and temple.  3) Priests have direct access to God (19:9-11).  

Israel has a unique priestly role among the nations.  1) “Although the whole earth is [God’s]” (19:5), Israel would be a nation that actually acknowledged God’s universal kingship by offering their lives and blessing back to God.  2) They were an intercessory nation.  Not only would Israel offer sacrifices for their own sins, they were also called to mediate God’s blessing and truth to the nations (e.g. Genesis 12:3).  3) Finally, God revealed his presence and glory directly to Israel at many times and in various ways.

Through Jesus, Israel fulfills her calling as a kingdom of priests and the church, which Paul called “the Israel of God,” becomes a kingdom of priests.  1) Jesus is the only One who has fully and perfectly offered his life up to God.  2) All of the Old Testament sacrifices are only effective in that they point to and are fulfilled in Christ’s sacrifice for sin.  3) Jesus is the full revelation of God’s love and glory.  Through him, we offer up our lives as living sacrifices, we intercede for others by praying for the work of Jesus in them and by communicating the good news about him, and we always have direct access to God, for the barrier of sin has been abolished.  We are a “royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God that [we] may declare the praises of him who called [us] out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).  

Questions for Reflection and Prayer

1. If you are a Christian, Jesus is your great high priest.  What does this mean for you today?
As those “in Christ,” who share in his life, we take on the role of priests.  What does it look like for you, this week, to live out your priestly calling?  What does it look like to offer God’s blessings back to him?  To offer your regular work to him?  For whom is He calling you to intercede through prayer, service, and communication?

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