“My Kingdom of Priests”

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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“And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.”

Exodus 19:6

Last week I began reflecting on Exodus 19:1-6, one of the watershed passages in all of Scripture. Here, the Lord explained the covenant he was making with Israel. He reminded his people that he had saved them from the Egyptians, revealing that the fundamental foundation for the covenant was his own grace. Moreover, the Lord made it clear that he had saved the Israelites, not only so that they might participate in his mission in the world, but also so that they might be in relationship with him as his “special treasure.”

According to Exodus 19:6, the Lord designated Israel to be “my kingdom of priests.” As you might expect, scholars debate the precise meaning of the Hebrew phrase behind this translation (mamlekhet kohanim). Yet it does seem that this Hebrew phrase means more than simply that Israel would have priests. Every other nation in the ancient world had priests, after all. But what Israel would be, in particular, was a nation that would be led by God. Therefore, the priests would serve a broader leadership role within Israel. Moreover, Israel itself would have a priestly role in the wider world, representing God to the gentiles. Even as the Lord would make himself known to the Israelites through the ministrations and declarations of the priests, so he would reveal himself to the nations through Israel.

From a New Testament (new covenant!) perspective, we recognize that Israel’s priestly role in the world was focused in Jesus, who perfectly revealed God through the Incarnation, and whose death was the ultimate priestly service. Now, we who are in a covenant relationship with God through Christ, have assumed the priestly role within the world. We exist on this earth to represent the Lord and to tell the world of his wonders. As it says in 1 Peter 2:9: “But you are not like [those who stumble], for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Do you ever think of yourself as a “priest” in this world? How might you be a “priest” in your workplace? your family? your neighborhood? your church?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, sometimes I can forget that you have chosen to make yourself known through me. Oh, I’m fine with this idea when I’m doing obvious “spiritual” work, like writing these Reflections! But when I’m “just a guy,” when I’m shopping in the grocery store or talking with folks in Home Depot, I can completely forget my priestly calling.

Help me, Lord, to represent you in every aspect of life, when I’m at work and at home, when I’m at church or in the neighborhood. May I be a faithful “priest,” along with my fellow believers.

Help your church, Lord, to fulfill our high calling as a kingdom of priests in this world. Amen.