His Priestly Kingdom

The present sovereignty of Jesus is based on his past Death and Resurrection, and His disciples participate in his reign on the Earth. Like him, their position is paradoxical. It is characterized by self-sacrificial service rather than the suppression of unredeemed humanity. The shedding of his blood is what consecrated them as “priests,” and priestly service for others IS how they rule with him.

The mission given to the nation of Israel at Sinai is now being fulfilled by the followers of Jesus - You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” This theme of fulfillment is especially prominent in the Book of Revelation - (Exodus 19:6).

[Photo by Julia Florczak on Unsplash]
[Photo by Julia Florczak on Unsplash]

  • (Revelation 1:5-6) – “Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. Unto him who loves us and loosed us from our sins by his blood; and he made us a kingdom, priests for his God and Father.”

In the Greek text, the term “kingdom” is in apposition to “priests.” That is to say, the latter term defines the former. It is a priestly kingdom, therefore, its members execute their royal duties ASpriests.” There is one group in view, not two; “priestly kings,” not “priests” and “kings.”

In the opening vision, Jesus is portrayed as the glorious “Son of Man,” a priestly figure who serves in the Sanctuary and walks among the “Seven Golden Lampstands.” The image reflects the ancient Tabernacle in which a seven-branched lampstand stood. He is clothed with the full-length linen robe of the High Priest of Israel that was held in place by a “golden girdle” – (Revelation 1:16-20).

This High Priest tends the seven “Lampstands,” trimming their wicks and replenishing oil as needed. The “Golden Lampstands” represent the “Seven Assemblies of Asia” that are overseen by the “Son of Man” from the heavenly Tabernacle – (Revelation 1:12-20).

To the saint who “overcomes,” he promises to “grant him to sit down with me in my throne, just as I also overcame and sat down with my Father in his throne.” To rise to such a high position, the disciple must “overcome” in the same manner that he did, the “Faithful Witness” who “loosed us from our sins BY HIS BLOOD.”

Disciples do not attain this regal status by conquering their persecutors or enslaving other men, but by overcoming sin and Satan, by perseverance in tribulation, and by bearing faithful testimony to the surrounding community and before the nations – (Revelation 3:21).

THE REIGNING LAMB


In the vision of the Throne, only the “slain Lamb” is declared “worthy” to open the “Sealed Scroll.” Though he is the “Lion of the tribe of Judah,” the Messiah destined to “rule the nations of the Earth with a rod of iron,” he fulfills that role as the sacrificial “Lamb” - (Revelation 5:9-12).

The men from every nation redeemed by the “Lamb” constituted “by his blood” as a “kingdom and priests.” Therefore, “they are reigning on the Earth,” present tense. As priests, they mediate his light and Gospel to all men.

In the vision of the “Innumerable Multitude,” John saw men “clothed in white robes” coming out of the “Great Tribulation,” having washed their priestly robes and made them white “in the blood of the Lamb.” They were standing before the “Lamb” in the Sanctuary, and “He that sits on the throne will spread his tabernacle over them.”

The “white robes” worn by the saints are based on the ones worn by Aaron and his sons when they were installed as priests. Thus, overcoming saints are pictured as priests at worship in the Tabernacle – (Leviticus 8:6-7, Revelation 7:9-17, 11:1-2).

This priestly “renders divine service” before the “Throne.” This clause translates the Greek verb latreuô, the same one applied to the service of the Levitical priests in the ancient Greek version of Leviticus, the Septuagint. Moreover, present-tense verbs are used - “They ARE SERVING him day and night” in the Sanctuary.

The priestly role of the saints becomes clearer when John “measures” the “Sanctuary,” the “Altar,” and “those who were rendering divine service” in it (latreuô). The priests conduct their duties before the “Altar.” After he “measured” the “Sanctuary,” the entire “holy city” was handed over to the nations and “trampled underfoot forty-two months” – (Revelation 11:1-2).

This same reality is portrayed in the vision of the “Beast from the Sea.” It was given a “mouth speaking great things” with which it “slandered the Tabernacle, those that dwelt in the heaven.” In the Greek clause, there is no conjunction between “tabernacle” and “they who tabernacle.” The two terms are in apposition and the latter identifies the former.

This understanding is confirmed in the next verse - “it was given to the Beast to make war with the saints, and to overcome them.” The “Beast from the Sea” waged war on the priestly company of saints that was “rendering divine service” (latreuô) before the “Lamb.” This was in deliberate contrast to the “Inhabitants of the Earth” who were “rendering homage” (proskeneô) to the image of the “Beast” – (Revelation 13:4-7).

The “kingdom of priests” is presented once more during the “Thousand Years.” After Satan was banished, judgment was given FOR the martyrs who died for the “Testimony of Jesus and the Word of God, and such as did not render homage to the Beast.”

They “lived and reigned with Christ a Thousand Years… Over these, the Second Death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and reign with him a Thousand Years.” Thus, they qualified to reign with him because they willingly gave their lives in service to his cause.

Daybreak - Photo by Red Zeppelin on Unsplash
[Photo by Red Zeppelin on Unsplash]

In
Revelation, Jesus is a priestly figure. His sacrifice redeems men, and he now reigns as their High Priest. In turn, his lifeblood consecrates his saints as “priests” who rule with him, and they do so in the same manner that he did – Self-sacrificial priestly service.

His priestly kings overcome their enemies by the “blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and because they love not their life unto death.” This is what it means to reign with Jesus on the Earth, and to follow him “wherever he goes.”



RELATED POSTS:
  • The Mission - (The mission of the Assembly of Jesus is to proclaim the Good News of his Kingdom to all Nations until he returns – Matthew 24:14)
  • Redeemed by His Blood - (The men purchased from every nation by the blood of the Lamb become priestly witnesses who persevere in the Testimony of Jesus)
  • Salvation for All - (The Good News announced by Jesus of Nazareth offers salvation and life to men and women of every nation and people)

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