There is considerable emphasis today on the Kingdom of God and why not? The Bible addresses this subject in a variety of ways.
Familiar verses like the “Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21) “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God” (Mat 6:33) are among those that come to mind. In fact, Jesus mentions the Kingdom of God in the gospels on 46 occasions. The Book of Revelation makes clear that God is seeking to make unto Himself “Kings and Priests” unto the most high God. (Rev 1:6, 5:10) It is God’s desire that we rule and reign with Him in the Millennium and beyond. The question that needs to be asked is how does one come into this level of reigning? Is there a danger of placing too much focus on Kingdom Living at the expense of understanding the priestly role?
The dual function of the King/Priest role is first seen in the life of Melchizedek. This remarkable man serves as a type of Christ. He was both a king and priest. In his encounter with Abraham he brought forth bread and wine which portrayed Christ as the future sacrifice for man. This is the origin of the communion service that we commemorate today. (Gen 14:18)
The role of the priest is picked up again in Exo 19:6. God stated His intention that all were called to be priests. It was here where the children of Israel stumbled at the giving of the Law. It proved to be offensive due to its ability to address issues of the heart. Soon thereafter God separated a tribe unto Himself (Levi) because of their aligning themselves to be on the Lord’s side while the rest of Israel was serving God on their terms. (Exo 32:26) Prior to this Israel was consumed in idolatry while going through the motions of church service. (Exo 32:1-6, Rom 1:23-24) There was a price to pay in coming into the office of a priest. A price that Aaron and the tribe of Levi were willing to make. The true priesthood of our day is no different. Perhaps that is one of the reasons for its being minimized and lightly regarded.
The priesthood continues its presence through the journey of God’s Word. In fact, a whole book of the Bible (Leviticus) is presented to help further define the ministry and office of the priesthood. The promise of an everlasting priesthood was given to a man named Phineas who experienced and executed the indignation of God as a result of the fallout from Balaam’s prophetic ministry. (Num 25:12-13) Is there similar outrage at the compromise and worldly standards seen in many churches today? Truth is, this event had great significance for the priesthood of the Old Testament while giving key insight for the preparation for the future order of emerging priests.
The priesthood continued through the reign of Judges up to the time of Samuel. This was a pivotal period in Israel’s history. The priesthood was corrupted; there were several good Judges but their reign was more of a temporary fixture as Israel wallowed in an unstable relationship with their God. The burden of the Lord came upon a woman (Hannah) who travailed to bring forth a man-child; one dedicated to the Lord for the purpose of establishing a true portrayal of king and priest. (1 Sam 1:11) Samuel was a priest whom God used for this purpose. It is interesting to consider that it is only now that the thought of a king comes to mind for Israel. A period of about 3000 years had transpired before the formation of Israel’s first king. How did it come about? The children of Israel took note of surrounding nations and wanted to be like them. (1 Sam 8:5) They sought after a king for the wrong reasons. It appears that some things never change. Let me ask a question! Why do you serve God? Let’s be honest. Is it because of His salvation from sin and promise of eternal life? That is certainly a good reason. But is that all? Are we willing to allow Him to reign as Lord and King over our hearts and lives? In other words does the message of the Cross have true meaning in our lives? You see to reign with Christ as Kings we must first allow Him to be King over our life. Taking up our Cross daily while learning to die to self are essentials in coming into this experience.
Israel’s first king was Saul. He was not God’s choice but rather a product of the people. Saul was not even of the royal lineage as prophesied by Jacob. (Gen 49:10) Saul had initial success however his downfall was in his assuming the office of a priest in addition to his disobedience. Saul had no understanding or reverence for the priestly office. In fact, Saul had little regard for the presence of God in not seeking after the Ark during his reign. (1 Chr 13:3)
1Ch 13:3 And let us bring again the ark of our God to us: for we enquired not at it in the days of Saul.
The man who succeeded him was different. David was much like Melchizedek who served as both a king and priest. David was also a portrayal of the true King/Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Why did David have this awesome privilege which was denied to all others? Perhaps it can be summed up by saying that he had a heart after the living God. (1 Sam 13:14, Psa 139:23). David’s reign is a picture of the coming millennial reign of Christ.
The line of kings continued through a period of about 450 years. There were several outstanding kings nonetheless it did not prevent Israel from going into Babylonian captivity primarily due to their idolatry. The role of kings again became silent since the period of Babylon. Still the priesthood continued to go forward. There were prominent priests though the reign of the kings who helped to bring stability at key junctures. In fact, a priest by the name of Jehoiadah intervened in a hellish plot which nearly extinguished the royal line of Judah. (2 Kings 11:1-4) During the 70 year captivity in Babylon priests such as Ezra (Ezr 7:6) and Joshua (Zech 3:1-8) were being prepared for the Restoration period to come. The last Book of the Old Testament presents both indictments and promises concerning the role of the priest.
What about the New Testament? Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist was a priest. When Jesus was introduced by John the Baptist at the River Jordan it was as the “Lamb of God”, not as a majestic powerful King. This was not what the people were looking for. Jesus as our High Priest took upon Himself sin thus becoming the sacrifice for all mankind. Did he look like a conquering King while upon the Cross? The truth is Jesus was ruling and reigning as King although not in the manner people perceived. “Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies”. (Psa 110:2)
If we die with Him we shall surely reign with Him. The Lamb is again seen in the Book of Revelation. John saw the Lord as a king but yet was lamenting due to no one being able to open the seals. It was upon seeing the Lord as the Lamb that the seals were able to be opened. (Rev 5:6-7) Do you associate power and majesty with a Lamb? It is interesting to note that the power of Pharaoh was not broken with the powerful demonstration of God’s judgments upon the land. His power was broken by the blood of a Lamb at Passover.
The priesthood of God speaks to the power and nature of the Lamb. It is the royal priesthood that helps temper the prophetic ministries of our day. The true priesthood puts the Cross front and centre in the life of a believer. It is an office that God is again calling every believer to embrace and understand. Will we heed? The purpose of this article is to help put the roles of King and Priests into true perspective. Jesus is a King and as King will return with multitudes of His saints so as to establish His Millennial reign. Do you want to reign alongside Him? The key to reigning lies in understanding the priesthood of the believer. One cannot reign without first allowing Him to reign within. Sadly, this is something many Christians will not allow God to do. May God grant that we learn to understand and appreciate the threaded picture of priests throughout the Word of God.
1 Pe 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: