Summary: The Church serves as “Priests of the Kingdom” by standing in the gap between the lost and God.
PRIESTS OF THE KINGDOM: STANDING IN THE GAP
Rev. 5: 10
Sermon Objective: The Church serves as “Priests of the Kingdom” by standing in the gap between the lost and God.
6Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."
We began discussing the priesthood of the believer a couple of weeks back. I think a better description, at least from the vantage point of The Revelation is “the priesthood of the Church.”
In any respect we discovered:
1. It has always been God’s plan for His covenant people to be priests to the nations.
a. In the Old Testament (which means “covenant” by the way) Israel was designed by God for this ministry. While speaking to the nomadic Israelites through Moses (Exodus 19:5-6) YHWH said, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation …” (emphasis added).
b. This desire / intent carried over into the new covenant too. In 1Peter 2, Peter says, “5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 9… you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
2. Being a priest means, in large part, that we represent God to humankind. We are His ambassadors or representatives; to use another image.
a. We do this by our lifestyle
b. We do this by our proclamation of God’s available atonement
BUT THERE IS ANOTHER IMPORTANT ASPECT TO OUR PRIESTHOOD. NOT ONLY DO WE REPRESENT GOD TO HUMANKIND … WE STAND BEFORE GOD ON HUMANKIND’S BEHALF.
This aspect of the priesthood is as important as the other and deserves attention this morning.
The Bible speaks of God’s people “standing in the gap.” Humanity is fallen and in need of restoration. Our sinfulness creates a separation; a chasm if you will, that the redeemed covenant people are qualified and required to span. Yes, of course, this span was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ who is the mediator between us and God but, we, on behalf of humanity stand at the ready to intercede and stay God’s wrath.
In Ezekiel 22 God says,
29 The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the alien, denying them justice.
30 "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. 31 So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign LORD."
It is a privilege and a responsibility to stand before God on behalf of humankind.
And it is a privilege and responsibility that you, as a Christian, will be held accountable for whether you like it or not.
So let’s unpack these two opportunities that you and I have as Priests of the Kingdom.
Let’s see what is involved in standing in the gap.
AS PRIESTS BEFORE GOD WE:
I) INTERCEDE FOR THE SOULS OF HUMANITY.
The Bible is full of people who interceded for others.
Abraham interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18)
26 The LORD said, "If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake."
27 Then Abraham spoke up again: "Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28 what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city because of five people?"