Kings and Priests Before God
Throughout the Bible, a recurring, overarching theme is that God has desired to have a people set apart for Himself and called for a holy purpose. When God met with Israel at Mount Sinai, He spoke through Moses the words that defined them as a nation:
“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:5-6)
Notice that the scripture says, “you shall be a special treasure to Me” and, “you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests…” God was emphasizing that in order to be an effective priesthood, they needed to be set apart and devoted to Him first, above everything and everyone else.
The Role of Priests
What is a priest? From the role of the priests in scripture, we can see that a priest is someone appointed by God to stand between heaven and earth, calling forth and appropriating heaven’s blessing into and among the people of God in the earth. God appointed the priests because He desired to have relationship with His people, which could only happen in the context of holiness and the atonement for the sin of the people before a holy God.
Remarkably, the goal of God’s provision of atonement for the nation, which was given through those appointed from the tribe of Levi as priests, was that all the nation would be able to live close to Him as priests before Him. This first comes to light in the book of Exodus, but we see this concept in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
During the Protestant Reformation, a key theme advocated for by many Church leaders was the concept of the priesthood of all believers. Up until that time, much like the role of the priests as it was first carried out in ancient Israel, all who were part of the Church had to rely upon the role of the priests to bring them into the presence of God. The Church also relied on the priests to understand the Scriptures, which were read and available only in Latin.
With the Reformation came a shift in the accessibility of the Scriptures in the common language of the people, empowering them to carry out their biblical calling.
The book of First Peter reiterates the theme of a kingdom of priests from Exodus 19 and applies it also to all Gentile believers who have come into the household of faith:
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…” (1 Peter 2:9).
Peter was not only speaking to leaders or to those who had been assigned a specific role as priests, but he was speaking to the whole body of believers, just as God commissioned the whole nation of Israel from the holy mountain. God had appointed them at Sinai as a nation of priests who would bring salvation to the world through the manifestation of God’s covenant.
Kings of One Kingdom
The identity of the people of God as a “royal priesthood” combines the callings of two of the tribes of Israel – the tribe of Levi (the priestly tribe) and the tribe of Judah (the line of kings).
From the beginning, the “kingdom of priests” as defined by God was not a monarchy dominated by the personality of one powerful human being. Rather, God’s Kingdom, from the outset, was corporate and communal in its expression.
From this understanding, we can see that we do not carry out our priestly intercession in the Kingdom of God merely “on a wing and a prayer.” Rather, we have been given the delegated authority to “call those things which are not as though they were” (see Romans 4:17). As believers, we have been appointed to bring heaven’s decrees to the earth, with binding authority.
We have been vested with the authority of the King of kings to bring His desires to pass in the earth through relationship and partnership with Him. We are ambassadors for Him, representing His wishes, heart, and desires. As you pray and intercede in your priestly calling, take up the delegated authority you have received as a king and declare God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven… today!