Wednesday; A Royal Priesthood

In the book of Exodus, chapter 19, the Lord said to Moses: “‘Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” ’” (Exod. 19:3-6, NKJV).


Image © Jeff Preston

Here’s the gospel message, revealed millennia before the Cross: God redeems His people, saving them from sin and the bondage of sin, and then He commands them to love and obey Him as a special covenant people before Him and before the world.

Read 1 Peter 2:5, 1 Peter 2:9-10 and Exodus 19:6. What does Peter mean when he calls Christians a “royal priesthood” and “a holy nation” (1 Pet. 2:9-10, NKJV)? What does this language say to us as Seventh-day Adventist Christians about our obligations?

“Spiritual house,” “chosen generation,” “royal priesthood,” and “God’s own people” are all terms of honor that in the Bible describe the special relationship that God had with the descendants of Abraham. Now, in the context of the New Testament, in the context of Jesus and the Cross, Peter is using the same covenant language and applying it to members of the church. The covenant promises made to Israel have now been widened to include not just the Jews who believe in Jesus but Gentile believers, as well. Yes, through Jesus, Gentiles, too, can claim to be children of Abraham. “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29, NKJV). Through Christ, anyone, regardless of birth, can become part of this “royal priesthood.”

A holy nation? A royal priesthood? Applied to ourselves, what should terms like this mean in regard to the kind of lives we live, both as individuals and as a community? How can we better live up to this high calling?


Wednesday; A Royal Priesthood — 21 Comments

  1. The kind of lives is 1 Peter 2:1. The Royal Priesthood is a metaphor for building up and maintaining our spiritual temple.

  2. Being called Priests and Holy places some responsibility on us. We are to leave according to the terms of the covenant. Jesus Christ the High Priest set an example for us when he came to earth. He lived a Holy and Perfect life without sin and blemish. We are therefore to live just us he did on earth. Matthew 5:48 says "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect". 1 Peter 1:15 also says "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation". We can live a Holy and Perfect life when we continuously yield ourselves to Christ our example.

    • Well said Boakye A, may the almighty God help and guide us to leave and accept our responsibility according to the terms of the Covenant.
      Dear God help us to accept your ways, because you are the only way to defeat the Evil.Amen

    • Boakye: while it is true that we are called to be holy and to be perfect, the question is how? The answer is not: by our efforts, obedience or keeping of the law. By our efforts we will fail to get even close (Isaiah 64:6).

      It is only by surrender to Christ that He will accomplish holiness and perfection of character in us. It is only when we surrender our will and our lives to Christ that He accomplishes in us what is otherwise impossible for us to do.

  3. Again, we can be a royal nation when we buy real gold to make our garments! What's real? Real is when we appply love to each other, love for others, for ourselves - no more, neither less, but equally, in actions! And above all, love for God! How do we become royal? In this case, our choice is simply to relate to the fountain of all majesty, our friend Jesus!

  4. When anyone accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior of his/her life that one is special in the sight of heaven and earth.All of heaven is interested in us becoming special children of God.

  5. Here is the question, If anyone believes in Christ they are the seed of Abraham. At the end of times, they are going to be saved or have some time to Repent. Jesus died like a lamb in the Sacrificial process just for us to be saved too. Even my parents would never do that for me.

    BY Woodiana

    • Woodiana I am not sure what the question is. If it is a reaffirmation of Gods promises, of that you can be sure. He is willing that none are lost.2 Peter 3:9. We have time to repent till we die. Hebrews 9:27,28 . That is the reason that Jesus came to this earth, matt1:21.

  6. These terms mean God rescued us from sin as the reading said. He then covers us with His righteousness and shines through us giving us strength and power to overcome sin and to reflect Who He is to each other and to the world.

  7. God's character, government and purposes do not change, and it is His desire to have all who serve Him obediently to labor for the lost as He labors for the lost. In calling His people to “be holy, as I am holy”, God is inviting us to be like Him in character, government and purpose. God is love, we are to be love. God forgives, we are to forgive. God set forth Jesus as a propitiation, we are to lift Him up as the worlds propitiation for their sins. This is all the work of the gospel, which God has initiated in Christ “before the world began”. Is our purpose in life the same as God's regarding the salvation of sinners? All who accept the invitation are then to give it. Isa 66:18-21 brings this work of salvation into prophetic view, showing us the purposes of God, that we might become like Him.

    What does this all mean? God states it plainly: “be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). We can only live up to this high calling through faith based on the Word of God, and the indwelling Holy Spirit as the oil in our lamp, being many lights that reflect the Divine Light of the World. This happens by our will being fully surrendered to the will of God, which is to sanctify us(1 Thess 4:3), by the daily process of inscribing His law/character upon our heart(Heb 8:10).

    • Being Holy is like being in love. It is not a state that you arrive at but rather a process that you live in. I am in love with my wife, and because I am in love, I make the bed, vacuum the house and cook meals. I don't earn her love. We worked out that we were in love over 50 years ago. Nothing I do earns that love. Likewise Holiness is an expression of a relationship. God loves us; we do not earn it. In fact he loved us while we were still sinners. Accepting his grace is accepting his holiness and our lives should be a fruit of that grace and acceptance.

      And that does not mean that we can do just as we please. Clearly, if I was stupid, I could do things that would destroy the love relationship with my wife. Likewise, even though God's love and grace it always there, I still have the ability to choose to be stupid and ignore it.

    • Robert, that's a beautiful answer except for the sentence with the word 'propitiation' which, in my humble opinion, does not paint God as a God of love (at least according to the common dictionary meaning of appeasement). I know it's used in the Bible and by EGW, but like many terms it needs explaining!

  8. The question of being Holy, 1 Peter1:16, has been discussed often than anyone. One has to be able to determine if, how, and when, being Holy is accomplished. Applying texts and metaphors may not be satisfactory answers. I usually think of just one, Matt 22:37-40.

    • Is it really our job to determine when "being holy" is accomplished? Is that not a judgment matter that is best left to God?

      It seems to me that Jesus asks us to come to Him, to follow Him, to give Him our hearts. If we do that, then He that has begun a good work in us will surely accomplish it.

      It also seems to me that "being holy" is not a goal to be accomplished, but a journey to be taken. God's children can be holy every step of the way - as baby Christians as well as fully mature Christians, keeping in mind that babies fall more often than adults. It's like Peter walking on water. Jesus will keep us walking as long as we focus on Him. 🙂

      • Yes, being holy is not shown as being some accomplishment, but rather, an ongoing accomplishing through the constant exercise of faith in the promises of God, with any conditions being met through the surrender of self at every point it is required, and while being fallen in nature, this will be often and never ending until Jesus descends from heaven "with a shout" and we are changed.

        In this life, holiness seems to be only a state of constant surrender, which will always be moving us to "higher ground" above the world(the sanctified life). I have found nothing in the Bible to tell me I will reach a state of "holy content" in this life. Only the blessed assurance that my sins are forgiven as I repent, and being cleansed of all unrighteousness as I continue in faith.

        Our only need to "examine [ourselves](2 Cor 13:5)" will be to see if any of this sinful world yet remains in us which we must die to, so we can follow Jesus onward. This examination only comes through the Word and Spirit of God, which "reproves, corrects, and instructs in righteousness".

      • Yes, as Maurice said it so well, being holy is a love relationship. As long as we stay in that relationship with Jesus, we are holy in His eyes. And His eyes are the only ones that matter.

        I say that because I remember that God found "no fault" in Israel when Balaam tried to curse them while human eyes would surely have found fault.

        Our assurance of salvation lies in the fact that Jesus is faithful, not in that we are obedient -- even though a relationship with Christ will result in obedience.

        • Inge, which "Israel" was Balaam shown in prophetic vision? The same Moses was shown from Nebo shortly after, which would end up rejecting their Messiah and be scattered among the nations of the earth "forever"? Or was it those who were also shown to Zephaniah that would "not do iniquity"? What did Balaam see that made him exclaim; "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!"?(see the clue?)

          • Robert, I was referring specifically to Numbers 23:21, "He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel." For context, you can read all of Numbers 23, which makes clear that Balaam was looking at the camp of Israel when he was prophesying. Because the people at that time desired to serve the Lord, God judged them much more favorably than we would probably have judged them.

            Not too long after this, the people forgot their relationship with God and were seduced into sexual immorality with the Midianites. Then Balaam didn't even need to curse them. Sin brought its own curse.

            Thus I repeat: As long as we stay in that relationship with Jesus, we are holy in His eyes. And His eyes are the only ones that matter.

            Our assurance of salvation lies in the fact that Jesus is faithful, not in that we are obedient. Our works of obedience do not determine our salvation. They are an evidence of our relationship with Jesus who saves us.

          • Thank you for clarifying this Inge. I would agree.

            As Paul wrote: "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:"(Rom 9:6) and that those who are God's are not those who hear the law, but those who do(fulfill) the law. These are the blessed ones that Balaam was shown. For God cannot "clear the guilty". Sad to realize what followed shortly after this, which should encourage every believer to greater vigilance.

            When Paul writes "for all Israel shall be saved" he was quoting a promise concerning all who would repent. They are the only Israel God can save.

        • Inge, I read what Jesus looks like, by William Earnhardt, that was inspirational. Some had different opinions or self images, but the only real answer is found in Scripture. To apply our human evaluations based on personal demonstration is probably still lacking a needed faith, our faith. The main reason that I mention our accomplishments, is because this same discussion has been engaged in so many times without satisfactory answers. One is often left with the assumption no one will ever be Holy unless they have concrete proof by what ever method. So the text Be ye Holy remains.

    • Paul, it's a question with some practical implications. There are many good answers already given by others.

      I have found a couple of EGW quotations helpful in undestanding the "how to" of this issue. Here they are:

      "Righteousness is holiness, likeness to God, and “God is love.” 1 John 4:16. . . . Righteousness is love, and love . . .is the life of God". {MB18}. Therefore, holiness = God's love (Reminding myself of a description of love in 1 Cor. 13:4-8 and as demonstrated in the life of Jesus).

      "It is a law both of the intellectual and the spiritual nature that by beholding we become changed. The mind gradually adapts itself to the subjects upon which it is allowed to dwell. It becomes assimilated to that which it is accustomed to love and reverence." {GC555}. I must GET ACCUSTOMED to love and reverence God's character of love. This also means that I should avoid undue fixation on my behavior (actions).

      A few questions are helpful in righting my focus at every step of my life. "Who has the heart? With whom are our thoughts? Of whom do we love to converse? Who has our warmest affections and our best energies? If we are Christ's, our thoughts are with Him, and our sweetest thoughts are of Him." {SC58}.

      Happy Sabbath!


Please leave a comment long enough to say something significant and considerably shorter than the original post. First and last name required.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *