“As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you 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. 6 For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”
“A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense.”
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
9 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. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”
We are not just any priesthood, we are a royal priesthood. We are both royal and priests, ministers to God and for God. The story of Abram and Melchizedek is recorded in Genesis 14:14-24. Hebrews 7:1-3 also talks about this king and priest.
“For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. 3 He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.”
Melchizedek was a type of Christ. That means he was a human prophecy of Jesus Christ, a foreshadow of Jesus.
Hebrews 7:11-19 says it like this,
“Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. 13 For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.
15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is witnessed of him,
“You are a priest forever,
after the order of Melchizedek.”
18 For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness19 (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.”
Jesus can be our high priest even though He is not a Levite, because The LORD who created and called Melchizedek made him a priest by an oath. We are priests, not under the imperfect Old Covenant, but under the perfection of Jesus Christ.
What does our priesthood mean? Under the Old Covenant people could only access The Lord through the priests. Only the High Priest could enter the Most Holy Place, where God’s presence rested. (Leviticus 16:1-5). But when Jesus laid down His life on the cross, the temple veil which separated the Most Holy Place was torn in two. (Matthew 27:51). That meant that from that moment forward, Jesus interceded for us and that we could talk to God directly, that we no longer needed a Levitical high priest because Jesus is our High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. Through Jesus Christ, we have direct access to God. We don’t need appointed priests in order to atone for our sins, Jesus did that for us as our High Priest.
Priests had certain responsibilities as recorded in Numbers 18. Priests ministered to the high priest and kept the tabernacle, and later the Temple so that the high priest could do his part. The high priest guarded the entire priesthood in order that they could serve properly. We minister to Jesus who keeps us holy. We guard and esteem what is holy and sacred as the Old Covenant priests did.
The Levites guarded the holiness of the tabernacle so that Israel would not approach and die from their sin. They taught the people the Torah and interpreted His will. (Deuteronomy 33:10, Deuteronomy 17:9-12). We have been commissioned with ensuring that the world will not die of their sins as well. We don’t save them, God does that. The Father calls them, The Son forgives them, and The Spirit transforms them. But we as priests, show them who God is, we teach, and we safeguard the Gospel and keep it pure.
Verses 8-24 of Numbers 18 describe The Lord’s provision for the priests. They were given the meat and firstfruits of the sacrifices, the best food available was for them as a gift from God. They were expected to be good stewards of that provision. The priests didn’t need the land, the inheritance that the rest of Israel received, their inheritance was the provision of God.
Believer, you are a royal priest. You have a calling, a ministry to do for The Lord God. That is special, it is an honor. He has entrusted you with great responsibility. Are you living up to that calling? Are you blessing the Lord? Are you serving Jesus Christ? Are you enjoying His provision and being a good steward of the blessings, gifts, and inheritance He has given you? Are you consulting The Lord for your needs and those of the world?