Monday, June 16, 2008

Kingdom of Priests

The Fifth Sunday of Pentecost
Exodus 19:2-8
Bror Erickson

And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, these are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.

I think a few things have to be answered here to fully understand the great blessings God is bestowing on you, when he proclaims you to be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, for you now are the people of Israel.

Election campaigns are frustrating for faithful pastors and theologians. It seems for some reason, (I suppose it has to do with the powers of darkness in this world,) that very bad, awful, yet sensationalist preachers, who wouldn’t know the Gospel if it hit them over the head, make the news for endorsing candidates. I personally feel that pastors ought to keep their yaps shut as much as possible when it comes to endorsing political candidates. Of course, I’m not much of a sports fan myself. I don’t have much to talk about except politics and theology. So sometimes I slip up, and talk about politics. Tell you the truth though I don’t care who you vote for. Realize it is a man you are voting for, and one should be wary of putting their trust in any earthly prince, I don’t care what party they claim. (Psalm 118). So I can’t say I much felt bad for the rotund Hagee, when his theology was distorted to make him out to be an anti-Semite. His theology isn’t much better when it isn’t distorted. I don’t think it is anti-Semitic, but neither is it good. The millennialism he preaches is a subtle yet awful attack on the true gospel of Christ. It is so on many accounts: that it looks to predict the coming of Christ, that it offers a false hope of a second chance for salvation, that it tells Christians they will be able to avoid persecution if they are true believers, that it teaches works righteousness, and self-righteousness, and that Jews don’t need to hear about Christ to be saved. But one of the worse aspects is that he confuses the modern political nation of Israel, with the kingdom of priests and holy nation of Exodus. I myself was once called and anti-Semite for disagreeing with this hypothesis. Even though I am by far the most ardent supporter of the nation of Israel I know of, yet for political and not theological reasons. I just thoroughly enjoy their pluck, and determination. I love a nation that doesn’t wait for UN approval to bomb a nuclear reactor in a hostile country. Sorry, I just do. And I love the Jewish people. I believe they have just as much a right to live in peace as I do. But I do not believe they are still the nation of priests, or the holy nation of Israel any longer. I believe they renounced that when they renounced their God on the cross. That is save for those who are Jewish by ethnicity, and are Christian by faith. A distinction for which I was once called a Nazi, by an ignorant fool who thought that there was no such thing as a Jewish race, like there is no such thing as a Christian race. Not that I care much what a person’s race or ethnicity is, but I’ll be the last person to tell a converted Jew, he is no longer Jewish. The great apostle Paul never stopped considering himself to be a Jew, though he renounced being a Pharisee.
See the problem with Hagee, and other millenialists, confusing these, the modern state of Israel with the Old Testament kingdom of priests, is he robs you and other Christians of your inheritance.
[13] For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. [14] For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. [15] For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
[16] That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.” (Romans 4:13-16 (ESV)
Or as Peter says:
[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. 1 Peter 2:9-10 (ESV)
So you see, Moses wasn’t just talking to the people of Israel who had left Egypt, but he was making a prophecy that would last forever, those who believe in God, those who believe in their savior Jesus Christ, they are kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. It is faith in Jesus Christ, and not nationality, ethnicity, or race that makes you part of God’s holy nation, but faith, and faith alone. And that faith has been given to you in the waters of baptism, where you were anointed with the blood of the lamb, and given your priestly robe of righteousness, where you were set apart for service to God.
You see, that is what priests do; they serve God, and God’s people. In the Lutheran Church, it is not very common to refer to clergy as priests. It is done in some Scandinavian countries, but, more often than not, this would confuse the Lutheran. The Lutheran knows that no matter who they are, what family they come from, what gender they possess, He or she is a priest, for Christians are a kingdom of priests. They are not pastors, that is a different matter all-together and ought not be confused with the priesthood of all believers. Pastors are called for a particular job in the church. They are set aside by the church in accordance with the word of God for that job. There are certain requirements for that job, requirements that aren’t there for being a Christian. You don’t have to be male, or able to teach to be a Christian. Pastors are called to preach and administer the sacraments. That is it. That is their job. They are no more special, or higher, or holier than the priests they serve, but neither are they less.
You see a priest is holy, consecrated, set apart for the Lord, and that you are. God has called you out of the world of sin, death and the devil, and into His kingdom of grace. God has made you Holy. God has set you apart for Him. You belong to Him, and HE has consecrated you for Himself. All this He did in baptism through the work of the Holy Spirit.
And a Priest sacrifices. This was one of the main jobs of a priest in the Old Testament. And so you are called to sacrifice, you are a living sacrifice to the Lord. Your whole life is a constant sacrifice to the Lord. Every thing you do, barring blatant sin, you do to the Glory of God. As it says: So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Cor. 10:31 (ESV) Such mundane things as eating and drinking are done to the glory of God! Your nine to five is done to the glory of God. The Christian sacrifices. And in so far as the pastor is a Christian He too sacrifices, but the pastor as a pastor does not sacrifice, that is not what distinguishes him as a pastor. A pastor proclaims the gospel, and administers the benefits of the one and final sacrifice, the sacrifice that made us holy, and without which all of our sacrifices would be nothing. That is he administers the sacraments that flow out of the side of Christ on the cross in water and blood. You see, we Christians don’t sacrifice to earn God’s favor. That is a pagan practice and an abomination to God. Our sacrifices go for the most part unnoticed by us, and flow naturally out of love for God, love inspired by His Son’s high priestly sacrifice for us, through which we were made to be his priests, who serve Him in His kingdom in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness. Our sacrifices go unnoticed by us because they pale in comparison to the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the one true, and final sacrifice for the forgiveness of your sins. The blood from which has been poured over our heads in baptism, and poured over our hearts in communion, sanctifying us, consecrating us as priests in His kingdom, to serve, honor, and eat with Him for all of our lives throughout eternity.
Now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus Our Lord Amen.

1 comment:

steve martin said...

"You see a priest is holy, consecrated, set apart for the Lord, and that you are. God has called you out of the world of sin, death and the devil, and into His kingdom of grace. God has made you Holy. God has set you apart for Him. You belong to Him, and HE has consecrated you for Himself. All this He did in baptism through the work of the Holy Spirit."

That's the gospel!!!
Nice job, Bror.

Keep em' comin' just like that one.(well, not exactly the same...but the same!)

- Steve M.