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The Royal Priesthood

Followers of Jesus are to live as royal priests, reclaiming the lost calling God gave humanity to represent him and rule the world on his behalf.

Biblical Themes Dec 14, 2021


Introduction [00:00-00:56]

Jon: The Bible introduces humanity as God’s royal priests, ruling with God in Eden—a place full of life and abundance and God’s blessing.1

Tim: But humanity was deceived by evil and then exiled from Eden. And so humans forfeited their calling as the royal priesthood.2

Jon: But God promised that one of their descendants would be an even better priest, who will defeat evil and intervene on their behalf to restore the blessings of Eden.3

Tim: This descendant would be a royal priest like Melchizedek, that Abraham met in Jerusalem4, and also like Moses and the priestly figure he saw on Mount Sinai5. This descendant will also be like David and the priest king that David called “my Lord” in Psalm 110. And all of these figures lead us to Jesus, the ultimate royal priest who suffered and died for a failed humanity so that they could be restored to their original calling as royal priests.

Pentecost and Mini Temples [00:57-02:07]

Jon: About a month after the resurrection of Jesus, his disciples see him ascend into the skies.6

Tim: Yeah. This was the fulfillment of Israel’s hopes and of the story of Jesus. He was exalted into the heavenly temple of God’s presence and installed there as the cosmic royal priest.

Jon: Now, Jesus also told his followers to wait for God’s presence to come and guide them into the future.7

Tim: And so during Pentecost, a festival in Jerusalem, God’s Spirit comes down on them like they are each mini temples who are filled with God’s presence.8

Jon: Mini temples?

Tim: Yeah. Just like God took up residence in the tabernacle and later the temple, now God dwells among the followers of Jesus, and their bodies are the temple. The apostle Peter, who was there that day, later put it this way: “You all are living stones, built up as a spiritual house...You all are a royal priesthood.”9

Jon: So they are, all together, God’s temple!

Tim: And they’re also the priests, reclaiming that lost calling that God gave humanity to represent him and to rule the world on his behalf. The Spirit is restoring the life and blessing of Eden to the people of Jesus.

The Royal Priesthood [02:08-03:51]

Jon: But these people aren’t priests. They’re merchants and fishermen, soldiers and slaves, tax collectors and the poor. They work in the world, not in temples.

Tim: And yet they talked and behaved as if they were priests. They believed Jesus was the cosmic royal priest ruling all of Heaven and Earth as his temple, and they saw themselves as an extension of Jesus here on Earth, that is, “the body of the Messiah.”10

Jon: That’s a beautiful image, but what does it actually look like?

Tim: Well, if you went to the temple in Jerusalem, you would hear the priestly choirs singing poetry that honored God and that told the story of his love. Music was a bridge between Heaven and Earth.

Jon: Ah, so the followers of Jesus started writing and singing new songs about Jesus as part of their priestly calling.11

Tim: Right. Priests also surrendered everything over to God through their sacrifices. And so followers of Jesus started giving themselves—their time and their money and energy—to serve those in need. And they said, “these are the sacrifices that bring pleasure to God.”12

Jon: Priests also intercede on behalf of others through blessings and prayers, advocating for the needs of everyone.

Tim: Yeah. This is why the apostle Paul called on the Christians living in Rome to all together offer their bodies as one single living sacrifice.13

Jon: A living sacrifice? Tim: Yeah! Jesus offered his life in the ultimate act of love, and so they too were to surrender themselves to each other and to those who needed their help. This is the royal priesthood Jesus-style.

Jon: When people imitate Jesus the royal priest, they become a new humanity, living in a way that reunites Heaven and Earth.

God’s Royal Priest in the New Heaven and Earth [03:52-04:32]

Tim: Exactly. And now you can see how the whole Bible is one unified story about a royal priestly humanity that lost its way.

Jon: But then how God promised to raise up a priest who would give his life to restore us.

Tim: And then how the stories of Abraham, and Moses, and David all point forward to a promised priest king.

Jon: And how this all led to Jesus, our great high priest who suffered on our behalf to restore us to our calling.

Tim: And so this is why, on the final pages of the Bible, there’s a vision of a renewed and reunited Heaven and Earth with humans serving and ruling as God’s royal priests forever.14

1. Genesis 1-2
2. Genesis 3
3. Genesis 3:15
4. Genesis 14:18-20
5. Exodus 28
6. Acts 1:9
7. Acts 1:4
8. Acts 2:1-4
9. 1 Peter 2:5, 9
10. 1 Corinthians 12:27
11. Ephesians 5:19
12. Hebrews 13:16
13. Romans 12
14. Revelation 21-22
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