In Exodus 19, the Lord leads the Israelites to the wilderness of Sinai where they remain for nearly a year. While they encamped, Moses went up the mountain to God and the Lord spoke to him:
“You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19: 4-6)
What a tremendous promise to the nation of Israel! God tells Moses that they will be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation if they obey the Lord. As we know from reading the Old Testament and as the Lord foreknew, the people of Israel would be unable to keep up their end. Their own sinfulness led them repeatedly to reject God and disobey His voice.
But, thankfully, God did not stop there. Through Jesus Christ, His Son, who lived a perfect life of obedience to the Father, God provided a way. By Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection, those in Christ are clothed in His righteousness. On our own we will fail to obey God’s voice. We, who are in Christ, still continue to sin every week, day, and hour. Praise God, that rather than my sin, He sees Christ’s perfect obedience.
And so, we see the fulfillment of this great promise in the church today. The church of God, the body of Christ, is a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Peter writes to the church,
“You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ…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. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people.” (1 Peter 2: 5, 9-10)
In Revelation, John connects the atoning blood of Christ to the fulfillment of God’s promise in Exodus 19 in the church, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever.” (Revelation 1: 5b-6) Without Jesus, there would be no hope of receiving the great promised blessing of Exodus 19, but through Christ this is exactly what God accomplishes.
What a great and marvelous thing, church! We are a holy nation and a kingdom of priests to the Lord! Let us proclaim God’s glory, share His gospel, declare how he saved us out of darkness, pray fervently for those who do not know salvation in Jesus! These are a few of your spiritual sacrifices. As the Lord’s royal priesthood, it is our priestly duty to minister to a lost people for His glory.