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“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5,6).

IN THIS AGE OF THE WORLD, “KINGDOM” AND “PRIEST” ARE NOT EVERYDAY CONCEPTS, LET ALONE “HOLY NATION.” But what did God mean by these terms in speaking to Israel at Sinai, and what relevance do they have to us in thinking about the gospel of Christ?

My treasured possession. This is what physical Israel was then, and it is what spiritual Israel is today. Those who have been reconciled to God are uniquely His people, His “special property” (BBE).

A kingdom of priests. In the Law of Moses, the priests were to represent Israel to God, but they were also to represent God to Israel. By extension, then, Israel was to be “a kingdom of priests” — that is, they were to represent God to the rest of the world. Today, it is Christians, coming from both the Jewish and Gentile races, who represent God before the watching eyes (and listening ears) of the world. So, for example, the Book of Revelation begins with this doxology: “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1:5,6).

A holy nation. God wanted Israel to be what His people in Jesus Christ would later be: a group of people who were “holy.” In other words, they would be devoted exclusively to Him, set apart for His use and reserved for the accomplishment of His purposes. 

Writing to Christians, Peter used all of these ideas: “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 Peter 2:9).

Much more could be said about being a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, but I want to end with the most important way in which those who are God’s people represent Him to the world: we are to be those who speak God’s truth to the world. And the ultimate goal is always the same: people who, based on God’s truth, come to share His likeness and enjoy His presence in eternity.

“We are called to be God’s transmitters, to be completely separated from all thoughts which are contrary to his thinking, so that we may transmit his thoughts to others” (Hannah Hurnard).

Gary Henry — +

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