Christian Living

A Kingdom of Priests

God Is Still Waiting for Us to Obey Him and Minister to Others

It’s interesting to connect the Old Testament with the New Testament, to see what changes and what remains the same. Let’s look at what God says about his people being a kingdom of priests.

A Kingdom of Priests in The Old Testament

In the Old Testament we see Moses on Mount Sinai, hanging out with God. They’re having a spiritual confab of the highest order. God has some words—many words, in fact—for Moses to give to the people. In one instance God says they will serve as his kingdom of priests, a holy nation (Exodus 19:6).

Really? I never caught that before. And I’ve never seen any evidence of them as a nation serving as priests. What happened?

It could be the people were afraid. Just one chapter later in the book of Exodus, the people see a display of God’s power. They pull back in terror. They keep their distance. They’re terrified of God and don’t want to hear what he has to say.

Instead they ask Moses to function as their intermediary between them and God. He essentially serves as their first priest (Exodus 20:18-21).

After this, God seems to switch to plan B. Instead of his people being a kingdom of priests, he sets aside some of them—descendants of Aaron—to service priests, functioning as the intermediary between God and his people.

This is something far different than what he originally wanted with everyone being a priest.

A Holy Priesthood in The New Testament

Though we do see priests throughout the Old Testament, we never see the nation of Israel or Judah emerge as a country filled with priests. Will this change in the New Testament?

According to Peter, in his first letter, it will—or at least it should. As followers of Jesus and through Jesus, we’re his chosen people, priests of a royal order, and a holy nation. We are God’s special envoys to tell others about him (1 Peter 2:9).

Individually we are parts of a building—living stones—used to construct a spiritual home, which we can collectively think of as his church, the church. As such we are a holy priesthood. We offer spiritual sacrifices to God through our right standing with Jesus (1 Peter 2:5; also see Ephesians 2:22).

A Kingdom of Priests Now

This is a grand vision: as followers of Jesus we are his priests, a holy priesthood, a nation of priests. Are we doing this? No.

We hire clergy to work as our modern-day priests, serving as our intermediary between God and us. We’re not functioning as we should, as priests. We delegated this holy responsibility to a select few who have gone to seminary and received their ordination.

Even today, God expects us to obey his call to serve as his holy nation of priests. What are we waiting for?

Read more about this in Peter’s thought-provoking book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.