Our story as priests aims for the time when Christ will unite all things in himself (Eph 1:10). The heavenly Holy of Holies will descend to earth (Rev 21:2-3), and “the dwelling place of God [will fully be] with man.” Awe and intimacy, which are ours now in Christ, will be ours even more.
When we think about priests in the Bible, we imagine bearded men burning incense and sacrificing animals. However, the priesthood is a premier theme throughout Scripture, and ultimately it is a role shared by all believers—men and women from every tribe and nation. The church doesn’t talk much about this role, but it is central to our identity as God’s people.
Here are 10 things you should know about the priesthood.
1. Priests are invited to draw near to the Lord.
The Levitical priests had a full job description, but the essence of their work was that they were invited to come into God’s house (the tabernacle). Could there be anything better? Of course, priests didn’t just casually wander into the Holy of Holies—the throne room itself—that was reserved for the high priest, once a year. But otherwise, the Lord cleansed and dressed his priests and they could wander around all other parts of the tabernacle, confident in his earnest invitation and blessing.
Who among us feels worthy of such an invitation to be this close to God? No one. Our sin and shame suggest that we should be far from him. But he created us to draw near, to be priests, and he makes a way for all of us to do that.
2. Adam and Eve were the first priests.
Priest is an important human identity, so it appears early in Scripture. In fact, Eden was the first tabernacle, and the garden within it was the first Holy of Holies—the place where God dwelled on earth. Adam and Eve were commissioned to work and keep the garden, and they enjoyed God’s presence. They were a royal priesthood. This same language is used for the priests who worked in the later wilderness tabernacle.