“And He made us a kingdom and priests to God….” (Revelation 1:6, 5:10).
“But you are a……royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9).
It is the calling of every believer to be a priest unto God. To know what God is calling us to when He tells us that we are to be priests to Him, we must look at the types and patterns set forth in the Word. A priest is for sacrifice and sacrifice acknowledges sin; where there is no sin there need be no sacrifice and where there is no sacrifice there need be no priest.
In Solomon’s temple, the priestly duties all foreshadowed and pointed to fulfillments to be carried out in the life of every believer under the New Covenant, under which was established a priesthood of all believers.
Firstly, they had to maintain the tabernacle where the presence of God dwelt in the Ark of the Covenant; nothing was to defile the temple or its environs and ritual washings were to take place before every activity. What we draw from that today is that our body, being the temple of the Holy Spirit, must be cared for with reverence and respect, with nothing being done to defile it.
Secondly, they were to watch the fire on the altar of burnt offerings and keep it burning continually, night and day. Fire on the altar speaks of the presence of God and what it signifies to us is that we must learn to dwell in His presence continually.
Thirdly, they were to keep the golden lamp outside the veil filled with oil. The lamp is the light of Christ that is to shine forth and the oil speaks of the indwelling Holy Spirit; without the oil there can be no light, as the foolish virgins discovered in the parable that Jesus related in Matthew 25. When the Bridegroom came, they were away buying some oil from the oil sellers and by the time they returned, the door was shut and the Bridegroom was gone. We cannot obtain from others what only God can provide.
Fourthly, the priests trimmed the lamps, that is, the wicks of the lamps which represent the “true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man” (John 1:9). This speaks to us of the light of Christ and each believer is expected to be continually trimming his life so that the life of Christ shines forth from within. The wicks of a lamp must be trimmed each day so that the lamp burns brightly; so too, the bringing of our souls into alignment with the Holy Spirit is a daily activity of those in the priesthood of all believers.
Fifthly, the priests offered the sacrifices, morning and evening. Jesus performed this function in relation to the Church, which Peter tells us is the temple of God, offering Himself, “once for all” (Hebrews 10:10), as a sacrifice “to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28). Each believer, too, has a priestly sacrifice to make, offering the sacrifice of himself so as to be able to take up the life of Christ instead. As priests of the “High Priest for ever of the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 6:20), we are to “offer the sacrifice of righteousness, and trust in the Lord” (Psalm 4:5). Absolute surrender to Christ and complete trust in Him is a sacrifice indeed, a sacrifice of the will of self to the will of God.
Finally, the Levitical priests also ate the showbread that was on the table in the holy place; this speaks of the Word of God and we must figuratively “eat” the Word; isn’t this what Holy Communion signifies? Jesus, after all, is the Bread of Heaven (John 6:51), in the same way as the manna is described as the bread of heaven; and the communion bread typifies His body.