A Holy Priesthood

by Scarlett Stough

For the Scripture References and related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible Study Guide: Be Holy in All You Do.

Peter calls God’s people "a holy priesthood," who are to be offering spiritual sacrifices (1 Peter 2:4-5; 9-10). Are we fulfilling that role?

He addresses this letter to "God's elect" (1 Peter 1:1-2), not to individuals with specific roles, such as apostle or pastor-teacher, but to all who belong to him through Jesus and the Spirit. Peter's exhortation is meant for all who believe in Jesus as Son of God and have accepted him as their Lord and their Savior.

Since we have this responsibility, we need to know our job description. We don't have to wear special garments or carefully follow rites rigidly as the Levitical priesthood was required to do. Yet we do have some requirements in common. The priesthood of Moses' day was required to "be holy." So are we. They were required to make sacrifices; so are we, but not of slaughtering animals. We are to be living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). They were required to know, practice and teach the word of God; so are we.

The book of Leviticus gives instructions to the priests. Most of us find it difficult to slog through the detailed descriptions, but it is worth the effort to discover the reason God gave them these instructions. Following these instructions to the letter was intended to teach lessons of faith, obedience and holiness. For instance, wearing tassels on one’s garment was not the lesson; it was a means of remembering the lesson of holiness. Today each person born from above, given new life, has received the Holy Spirit dwelling within to remind us to be holy and to give us the power to practice holiness. We don’t need tassels.

Malachi was the last prophet God sent to his people before John, who was the Elijah sent to announce the coming of the Messiah, Jesus. Malachi was sent to rebuke the priests and the people they served. Neither group was worshiping God with whole hearts. We can learn from God’s correction for them. The priests had failed to "preserve knowledge" and instruct the people in God’s knowledge (Malachi 2:7-9). We also are instructed to study the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:14-16) and to obey its instructions (James 1:22-25). Malachi is a short book, read easily within a half hour, but worth giving it a season of study and reflection.

Jesus summarized the Law, God's instructions, as love toward God and love toward neighbor, but we don't know how to love without example and explanation. We cannot fulfill our role as priests unless we can fulfill the royal law of love. The Holy Bible is our manual containing our job description and requirements.

Volume 14 Issue 03 | Notes from Nancy | Women in Christ Commentary | Bible Study Guide | Abundance of the Heart | Exhortation | Book Review

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