Present Day Priest

Living Loved When Living Is Hard | Day 5
Reading: 1 Peter 2:9-10

“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. 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.” — 1 Peter 2:9-10 (ESV)

I grew up on a small farm, so my entire childhood was spent around livestock. My grandpa has raised cattle since my dad was a kid, and I’m pretty sure I bottle-fed a calf before I held a bottle for an actual human child. My parents have raised chickens since I was in elementary school. My dad started purchasing cattle to breed when I was in junior high, but I had already been showing cattle at our county fair for a couple years.

There are a lot of things you learn when you spend most of your life around animals, specifically farm animals. I learned hard work and how to groom a steer. I learned that if you can down an attacking rooster, there’s not much that will scare you.

But probably most importantly, I learned that farm animals aren’t pets. Eventually, they have to be food (sorry if I ruined hamburgers for you). And that’s a pretty gruesome, bloody ordeal.

I remember the first time we butchered our chickens. I’ll spare you gruesome details, but the thing that stuck with me the most was the smell. The smell of blood and feathers and just chickens in general reeked. It was so gross. I work with kids, so I’ve cleaned up a multitude of messes. Vomit, bathroom accidents, gross food concoctions – you name it, I’ve probably had to clean it up. But the most gruesome smell I’ve ever dealt with was the stench left over from the dead chickens.

Gruesome Sacrifices

I cannot imagine butchering chickens, or any animal for that matter, as my job. I just can’t get over the smell. It’s a gruesome job, but it’s a job that needs to be done.

I wonder if the Old Testament priests ever felt the same way. Sure, there were perks to their position, but can you imagine helping people offer sacrifices?

During the Old Testament, there were five sacrifices the Israelites would offer to God, and each one had a different purpose. Some sacrifices required that the priest actually dip his fingers into the blood of the animal and sprinkle it. The priest would also have to pour the remaining blood in front of the altar. For the sin offering in particular, the priests were to burn the hide, head, shanks, and dung of the bull. Albeit, they were to do this outside of the camp, but still, can you imagine how terrible that probably smelled?

Obviously, the responsibilities of a priest were huge. This was not a position to be taken lightly. Not only were priests required to help people offer sacrifices, but they had other leadership responsibilities as well. Since Israel didn’t have a king when God first established His priests, the priests were in unique positions of leadership, bringing the Word of God to the people. They held the role of judges, both for ritual purity and civil conflicts, and taught God’s law to the people.

Priests were special people; people chosen by God to serve Him in ways not accessible to everyone within the Israelite camps.

It’s amazing then that Peter refers to us as God’s royal priesthood.

God’s People

Unlike the priests of the Old Testament, we don’t have to help people offer bloody sacrifices anymore, nor do we have to offer animal sacrifices ourselves.

Thank goodness.

But, friends, we need to remember that the only reason why we’re free from that is because of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.

Because of His willingness to be beaten and hung on a cross, Christ fulfilled the requirements of the Old Testament sacrifices. Permanently. Jesus’s sacrificial blood covered every sin, every impurity that our lives held, making us righteous and pure in the eyes of God. Because of that, we now have the amazing privileges of openly coming before God and having a relationship with Him.

Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, we are called God’s chosen people. We are a holy nation, people set apart for God’s possession. Although the entire world is His, although He can do whatever He desires, He has chosen us to be His people (Exodus 19:4-6).

We may not have to smear bull’s blood over furniture or dump it in front of doors, but like the Old Testament priests, our position has responsibilities.

Live Like It

Peter tells us that we have this position with God so that we can proclaim His praises. We are to share the excellencies of the One who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light!

This shouldn’t be new news for us. Jesus gave His disciples the same responsibility: “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8 ESV). The job of a witness is to simply share what they know, share what they’ve seen.

God told Ananias the same thing about Saul: “He is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15 ESV). Saul was a terrible person! He was supporting the arrests and murders of many Christians, yet God chose to bring him out of darkness into marvelous light so he could proclaim the name of Christ.

In Titus 2:14, Paul says, “He (Jesus) gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people for His own possession, eager to do good works” (HCSB).

This is it. This is what we’ve been born for: To proclaim the majesty and the marvelous, sacrificial work of Jesus Christ. We don’t need to know all the answers. We don’t need to be able to argue the finer points of theology. We just need to share Jesus.

Sisters, we’re imperfect people. We’re messy and sinful. We make mistakes. We screw up. But Christ’s sacrifice has covered all of our past, present, and future sins.

The Old Testament priests were required to go through some sort of ceremonial cleansing process before they could enter a part of the temple called the Holy Place. Only the High Priest was allowed access to this section; anyone else who entered would die. Inside the Holy Place was a veil (basically it was a super-thick curtain thing) that blocked off a section called the Holy of Holies. This is where God dwelt amongst the Israelites during their time in the wilderness. God is so holy that He placed the veil there to protect people from His holiness. His glory would kill anyone who looked upon Him. This kept people from having unlimited, direct access to God.

Until Christ’s death, that is.

It is because of Christ’s sacrifice that we now have open access to God. Jesus has taken on the title of the Great High Priest and goes before God for us, saying, “I’ve covered for them. They’re good.”

Because of Christ’s death, we don’t have to clean ourselves up. We don’t have to have someone go to God for us. We don’t have to burn bulls or sheep to pay for our sins.

And because of Christ’s resurrection, He is the foundation of our faith. He is the reason we do what we do. He is the One who chose us as His own personal people.

Let’s live like it.

✌️ – Tonya

REFLECTION

The fact that we now have unlimited access to God blows my mind. We don’t have to wait for a certain time to come before Him or have someone go before Him on our behalf. Jesus made it possible for us to communicate freely with God so we can have an open relationship with Him. Are you taking advantage of this privilege?

Feel free to respond below! Or just leave a nice comment 😉

For more information about the Old Testament sacrifices and how Christ fulfilled the requirements of each of them through His death, check out The Five Sacrifices of Calvary.

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