As believers in Christ, we have been made a priest unto God (1 Peter 2:9; Revelations 1:6,5:10). But what does that actually mean? As a priest unto God, what are our obligations to Him in this position of honor? Because it is a position of honor. Hebrews 8 gives us a good understanding of this. Though it’s not complete on it’s own, its a good starting place.
Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man. – Hebrews 8:1-2 NKJV
The writer of Hebrews is talking, not about us as priests, but about Jesus Christ as our High Priest. But if He is our example, there are some things that we can learn from this. First, notice that the true tabernacle was erected by the Lord, not by man. The first thing we can learn as that in all things, look to God, not to man. What does God say? What has God done? What does God desire? You align your will, your desires, your opinions with God’s and not man’s. There are consequences for both sides, which we’ll see.
Gifts And Sacrifices
For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. – Hebrews 8:3 NKJV
Though the writer is talking about the natural priests under the law, he is showing the similarities between them and Jesus, our High Priest. But as priests unto God, we need to get some things out of this. It says that every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Are we called, as believers and priests, to offer gifts and sacrifices unto God? Yes!
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. – Romans 12:1-2 NKJV
It is our good and acceptable sacrifice to bring our bodies – our entire lives – to God and present them to Him. And this is not a one time thing. The problem with living sacrifices is that they keep crawling off the altar. You have to continually do it. Continually offer up that sacrifice. Continually renew your mind. Continually crucify the flesh.
Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. – Hebrews 13:15 NKJV
Your praise is a sacrifice. Your body, your entire life, is a sacrifice, and the praise you give God is a sacrifice. It’s like a two-for-one deal because they’re both coming from you. Those are your gifts and sacrifices that you give unto God. That’s not all though. There’s more as you study the Bible. In fact, there’s one in the next verse: “But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased (Hebrews 13:16 NKJV).” Doing good and sharing is a sacrifice to God. You know, doing what comes supernaturally (because you’ve been redeemed, transformed, born again) is a sacrifice.
The Heavenly Pattern
For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” – Hebrews 8:4-5 NKJV
Notice that it says that Jesus is not on earth. He’s not. God is not on earth. The only agency (part) of the Godhead trinity at work in the earth is the Holy Spirit. He lives in us. He leads us and guides us. He shows us things to come. He empowers us. It would do us good to study up on all that the Holy Spirit is doing for us today. It’d also be good to do a study on the present-day ministry of Jesus Christ. If He’s not here on earth doing something, He’s in Heaven doing something.
Notice the words that God spoke to Moses in verse five: “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” God gave Moses a pattern from Heaven on how to build the tabernacle. And you see that God clearly instructed him to follow that pattern accordingly. That hasn’t changed. Today we have been given a heavenly pattern by God that came through His Word and through His Spirit. The pattern delivered by His Spirit will always agree with His Word, it is simply more detailed and specific to your life and calling.
So why do we follow that pattern and not stray from it? Simply put – there are consequences to either choice. When we choose not to follow the pattern that God has given to us about how to be a priest, how to be a Christian, and live this life – it opens us up to consequences and attacks.
Look at what happened to the priests Nadab and Abide, sons of the high Priest Aaron.
And these are the names of the sons of Aaron: Nadab, the firstborn, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. These are the names of the sons of Aaron, the anointed priests, whom he consecrated to minister as priests. Nadab and Abihu had died before the LORD when they offered profane fire before the LORD in the Wilderness of Sinai; and they had no children. So Eleazar and Ithamar ministered as priests in the presence of Aaron their father. – Numbers 3:2-4 NKJV
If you go back and study, God has given specific instructions on how sacrifices and offerings were supposed to be done, and Nadab and Abide disregarded those instructions and just did what they wanted. And they ended up dying from it. Bring that into today. God has told us specific ways to do things, and when we end up doing them our way, it can lead to illness, stress, depression, accidents, broken relationships, and even death.
You can open yourself up to attacks from the enemy simply because you don’t do things according to the way God commanded. And God can’t do anything to help you because you have already said, by your actions, that you don’t want anything to do with Him in that area.
On the other hand, if we do things according to the pattern of Heaven, look what happens:
Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. – Exodus 40:34-35 NKJV
Because Moses and the children of Israel followed the heavenly pattern to build the tabernacle, the glory of God showed up. The presence and blessing of God was there. This happens all throughout the Bible. When we do things according to the pattern and plan of God, the blessing of God shows up. If the blessings of God are not showing up in your life, check out the pattern and plan you are following.
The Better Covenant
But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. – Hebrews 8:6 NKJV
Jesus Christ, our High Priest, is the Mediator of a better covenant. We are not priests under the old covenant, under the law. We are priests of a better covenant. Some of us might want to check out the benefits of this better covenant. Go back and find all the good things in the Old Covenant, under the law. Then start at the point of knowing that no matter how great those things are, your covenant is even better. That may shock some people. If you didn’t know you were under a covenant with God, you might want to study up on what one is and what ours is. Again, you may be surprised. Then, once you have found out what belongs to you under the covenant, stand firm on demanding it. No, you’re not demanding anything from God. You’re demanding it from the covenant. It’s your right as a covenant person and a priest of God. Stay with the Word and the Spirit.