November 13, 2010

A Kingdom of Priests: A Holy Nation

"You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” Exodus 19:4-6

We see features of God's covenant with Israel described here. What parallels are there between these and our position under the Gospel with Jesus Christ?

God delivered people out of Egypt like bring them from death to life (redemption). For Israel, Egypt was a place of affliction, suffering and subjugation. This similarity is seen in the Christian and the world in general. God makes a covenant with them that allows them to be His people and have an exalted position among all the nations. God has made them a “holy nation”. If they accept and obey this covenant God would make them a treasured possession; a kingdom of priests. God was offering them dignity in His yoke rather than a subjugated slave’s yoke that must do a master’s bidding against their will. We see here the “slave to sin or slave to Christ”. By submitting themselves to the stipulations of God’s covenant god would elevate their status and remove them from their bondage.

The Bible’s whole theology of redemption in the New Testament is summarized in these verse. (1) God judges the enemies of His people and His kingdom. (2) He redeems His people and brings them back to Himself. (3) If they truly turn to Him in their hearts not just do so as outward window dressing (Pharisees), God would exalt them. This is similar to what Christ does in Philippians. He did have to be Jesus submitted Himself to the will of the Father even to the point of humiliation and the Crucifixion. What did God do? He exalted the Son. His name above all names. (4) Having turned to Him, they will then have a special relationship with Him as they will represent Him as His priests to the world. In this way there is a way for all of humanity to approach God to get back into a correct relationship with Him as there was before the Fall.

What we see in this chance of redemption is God’s grace at work. In the Old Testament we see it in the form of the Law as this is the way God chose to reveal Himself and His perfect will. It is done through the covenant with His people. The demands of the Law are not random. They are exact and they are a reflection of God’s character, his justice, His mercy, His love, etc. We then see this same revelation reflect and embodied in God’s Son. Hebrews states this extremely well.

"Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world." Hebrews 1:1-2

We also see that this relationship is maintained and upheld by faith. Faith that he, Jesus, gave Himself to redeem us from “all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:14

“ yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." 1 Pet 2:5

“…But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Pet 2:9

Through Christ’s sacrifice and redemption we are given the ability as believers in Christ, to do what Israel inevitably has failed to do to this point.

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