“And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:10 NKJV).
Under the Old Covenant the priesthood belonged exclusively to the tribe of Levi under the leadership of Aaron (Num. 3:10-12). But under the New Covenant, every born-again believer is a priest to God under the leadership of Jesus Christ, the great High Priest (Heb. 3:1, 4:14).
The Scripture aptly presents this truth in 1 Peter 2:
9 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. (NKJV).
The Scripture also establishes this truth in Revelation 1:
5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,
6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (NKJV).
Also in Revelation 5:
10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.” (NKJV).
While there are some believers who have been called specifically into the five-fold ministries or offices in the Church (as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers), yet every believer is called to be a priest to God (Eph. 4:10-15).
Under the Old Covenant, the priests ministered both to the LORD and to the people of Israel. However, it was mandatory for the priests to first minister to God before going out to bless the people of Israel in the name of the LORD.
Moses instructed, “Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come near, for the LORD your God has chosen them to minister to Him and to bless in the name of the LORD…” (Deut. 21:5 NKJV).
This is the divine order for service that is acceptable to God!
Similarly, under the New Covenant, the born-again believers as priests are called to minister both to the LORD and to people. However, ministering to the LORD is the foremost responsibility of the believers. When you set ministering to people ahead or above ministering to the LORD, you will not be effective, impactful and fruitful in your service or ministry to people.
Although the service of the Old Covenant priests to the LORD was mostly physical and served only as a shadow of the good things to come, yet they offer us an opportunity to learn about ministering to the LORD. Unlike the Old Covenant priests, the believers today are not expected to serve or minister to the LORD in the oldness of the letter, but in the newness of the Spirit (Rom. 7:6).
The Old Covenant priests ministered to the LORD primarily in three ways. It is wisdom for us to examine these ways.
First, the Old Covenant priests ministered to the LORD by tending the seven lamps in the holy place. It was the responsibility of the priests to keep the lamps burning continually before the LORD.
God said to Moses in Exodus 27:
20 “And you shall command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually.
21 “In the tabernacle of meeting, outside the veil which is before the Testimony, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening until morning before the LORD. It shall be a statute forever to their generations on behalf of the children of Israel. (NKJV).
The New Covenant priests are not apparently called to attend to any physical lamp, but to spiritual lamps – God’s Word and God’s Spirit. The Scripture clearly reveals that God’s Word and God’s Spirit are spiritual lamps.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psa. 119:105 NKJV).
“Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.” (Rev. 4:5 NKJV).
As a believer, the New Covenant priest, you minister to God by diligently attending to God’s Word and God’s Spirit. Just as the Old Covenant priests attended daily to the lamp of God before the Testimony and kept it burning, you also must pay a close attention daily to God’s Word and God’s Spirit. You must set or focus your mind on God’s Word and on the things of the Spirit of God (Rom. 8:5-6).
The Scripture admonishes:
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Col. 3:16 NKJV).
“Do not quench the Spirit.” (1 Thess. 5:19 NKJV).
“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Gal. 5:25 NKJV).
When you ignore, disregard or disobey the voice, the leading, the prompting or guidance of the Holy Spirit; you are quenching or putting out the light of the Holy Spirit in your life and thus failing in your primary responsibility as a New Covenant priest. Similarly, when you fail to read, study, listen to, meditate and act upon God’s Word, you are neglecting your foremost ministry as a priest to God (Josh. 1:8, Psa. 119:11, Mal. 2:7).
Second, the Old Covenant priests ministered to the LORD by burning sweet incense every morning on the altar before the ark of the Testimony.
God commands, “Aaron shall burn on it sweet incense every morning; when he tends the lamps, he shall burn incense on it.” (Exo. 30:7-8 NKJV).
The Old Covenant priests were forbidden from coming before the LORD without a censer full of burning coals of fire and his hands full of sweet incense, lest they die.
God warns, “And he shall put the incense on the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the Testimony, lest he die.” (Lev. 16:13 NKJV).
What is the sweet incense God expects from us today?
Our prayers and praises!
The book of Revelation speaks of “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” (Rev. 5:8 NKJV).
The Scripture also commands: “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” (Heb. 13:15 NKJV).
As a New Covenant priest, it is your foremost responsibility to offer prayers, worship, praises, or thanksgiving continually to God. You are expected to pray always and not faint. You are also expected to give praises and thanks to God at all times and in all circumstances (Luke 18:1, 21:36, 1 Tim. 2:8).
The Scripture commands in 1 Thessalonians 5:
17 pray without ceasing,
18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (NKJV).
Also in Psalms 100:
1 Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing.
3 Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
5 For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations. (NKJV).
Third, the Old Covenant priests also ministered to the LORD by offering or burning sacrifices on the altar of bronze before the door of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting. The priests must ensure that the fire on the altar never goes out by ensuring that it never lacks sacrifices.
God commands, “And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not be put out. And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order on it; and he shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings.” (Lev. 6:12 NKJV).
The believers today as the New Covenant priests to God are not expected to offer any animal on any altar as a sacrifice to God. However, the believers are expected to offer, present, or yield their bodies to God as a living sacrifice.
The Scripture admonishes: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Rom. 12:1 NKJV).
Beloved, you minister to the LORD by not yielding or presenting members of your body as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but as instruments of righteousness to the LORD (Rom. 6:19).
The Scripture commands: “And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” (Rom. 6:13 NKJV).
Friend, seek to fulfil your foremost responsibility or ministry to the LORD as His priest this New Year by attending daily and continually to God’s Word, yielding promptly to God’s Spirit, offering daily and continually sacrifices of prayers and praises to God, and presenting your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
What about your ministry to people as a New Covenant priest?
Find out in the second part of this piece!
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for making me a New Covenant priest. Teach and help me Holy Spirit to draw daily from You the grace and strength I need to fulfil my daily responsibility as a priest to the LORD, in Jesus’ name. Amen.