Kingdom of Priests

Disciples reign with Jesus as priests who render service in his Tabernacle and mediate his light and Word in the World. The present sovereignty of Jesus is based on his past death and resurrection, and his disciples participate in his reign over the Earth. Like him, their position is paradoxical. It is characterized by self-sacrificial service rather than overlordship over their enemies. The shedding of his blood is what consecrated them as “priests” for God, and priestly service for others IS how the disciple reigns with him.

Lantern Twilight - Photo by Julia Florczak on Unsplash
[Photo by Julia Florczak on Unsplash]

This is in fulfillment of the mission given by Yahweh to the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai - 
You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” However, that role has now fallen to the followers of the “slain Lamb,” and this theme of fulfillment is especially prominent in the Book of Revelation - (Exodus 19:6).

  • (Revelation 1:5-6) – “Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. Unto him who loves us and loosed us from our sins by his blood; and HE MADE US A KINGDOM, PRIESTS FOR HIS GOD AND FATHER.”

In the Greek text, the term “kingdom” is in apposition to “priests.” That is to say, the latter term defines the former. It is a PRIESTLY KINGDOM, therefore, its members execute their royal duties AS “priests.” There is one group in view, not two; “priestly kings,” not “priests” and “kings.”

In the Book’s opening vision, Jesus is the glorious “Son of Man,” a priestly figure who serves in the Sanctuary and walks among the “Seven Golden Lampstands.” The image reflects the ancient Tabernacle in which a seven-branched lampstand stood. This priestly figure is clothed with the full-length linen robe of the High Priest of Israel that was held together by a “golden girdle.”

In this Sanctuary, Jesus tends the seven “Lampstands,” trimming their wicks and replenishing oil as needed. The “Golden Lampstands” represent the “Seven Assemblies of Asia” that are overseen by him from the heavenly Tabernacle – (Revelation 1:12-20).

To the saint who “overcomes,” the Son of Man promises to “grant him to sit down with me in my throne, just as I also overcame and sat down with my Father in his throne.” But to rise to such a high honor, the disciple must “overcome” in the same manner that he did, the “Faithful Witness” who “loosed us from our sins BY HIS BLOOD.”

Disciples do not attain this regal status by conquering their persecutors or enslaving other men, but by overcoming sin and Satan, by perseverance in tribulation, and by bearing faithful testimony to the surrounding community – (Revelation 3:21).

THE REIGNING LAMB


In the vision of the Throne, only the “slain Lamb” is declared “worthy” to open the “Sealed Scroll.” Though he is the “Lion of the tribe of Judah,” the Messiah destined to “rule the nations of the Earth with a rod of iron,” he fulfills that role as the sacrificial “Lamb” - (Revelation 5:9-12).

The mission of Israel is applied to the men from every nation who are redeemed by the “Lamb.” They are constituted “by his blood” as a “kingdom and priests.” Therefore, “they are reigning on the Earth,” PRESENT TENSE. As priests, they mediate his light on the Earth.

In the vision of the “innumerable multitude,” John saw men “clothed in white robes” coming out of the “Great Tribulation,” having washed their priestly robes and made them white “in the blood of the Lamb.” They are standing before the “Lamb” in the Sanctuary, and “He that sits on the throne shall spread his tabernacle over them.”

The “white robes” worn by the saints are based on the ones worn by Aaron and his sons when they were installed as priests. Thus, overcoming saints are pictured as priests at worship in the Tabernacle – (Leviticus 8:6-7, Revelation 7:9-17).

This priestly company is “rendering divine service” before the “Throne.” This clause translates the Greek verb latreuô, the same one applied to the service of the Levitical priests in the ancient Greek version of Leviticus or the Septuagint. Moreover, present-tense verbs are used - “They ARE SERVING him day and night” in the Sanctuary.

The priestly role of the saints becomes clearer when John “measures” the “Sanctuary,” the “Altar,” and “those who were rendering divine service” in it (latreuô) in Chapter 11. That is, the priests conduct their duties before the “Altar.” After he “measures” the “Sanctuary,” the entire “holy city” is handed over to the nations and “trampled underfoot forty-two months” – (Revelation 11:1-2).

This reality is portrayed also in the vision of the “Beast ascending from the sea.” It is given a “mouth speaking great things” with which it “slanders the Tabernacle, those that dwell in the heaven.” In the Greek clause, there is no conjunction between “tabernacle” and “they who tabernacle.” The two terms are in apposition and the latter identifies the former.

This understanding is confirmed by the next verse - “it was given to the Beast to make war with the saints, and to overcome them.” The “Beast from the Sea” wages war on the priestly company of saints that is “rendering divine service” (latreuô) before the “Lamb.” This is in deliberate contrast to the “Inhabitants of the Earth” who are “rendering homage” (proskeneô) to the image of the “Beast” – (Revelation 13:4-7).

KINGS AND PRIESTS


The “kingdom of priests” is presented once more during the “Thousand Years.” After Satan is banished, judgment is given FOR the martyrs who die for the “testimony of Jesus and the Word of God, and such as did not render homage to the Beast.”

They “lived and reigned with Christ a Thousand Years… Over these, the Second Death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and reign with him a Thousand Years.” Thus, they qualify to reign with him because they willingly give their lives in service to his cause.

In Revelation, Jesus is a priestly figure. His sacrifice redeems men, and he now reigns as their High Priest. In turn, his lifeblood consecrates his saints as “priests” who rule with him, and they do so in the same manner that he did – Self-sacrificial priestly service. They overcome their enemies by the “blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and because they love not their life unto death.” This is what it means to reign with Jesus on the Earth.


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