Lesson 04 – A Kingdom of Priests

Sabbath, January 26, 2019

“God, in His infinite wisdom, chose Israel as the depositary of priceless treasures of truth for all nations. He gave them His law as the standard of the character they were to develop before the world, before angels, and before the unfallen worlds. They were to reveal to the world the laws of the government of heaven. By precept and example they were to bear a decided testimony for the truth. The glory of God, His majesty and power, were to be revealed in all their prosperity. They were to be a kingdom of priests and princes.” –(The Southern Work, January 10, 1905) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, pp. 1180, 1181.

Kingdom of priests


1. Who is the first priest of the Most High mentioned in the Holy Scriptures? What additional position did he occupy?

Genesis 14:18, 19 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth.

“It was Christ that spoke through Melchisedek, the priest of the most high God. Melchisedek was not Christ, but he was the voice of God in the world, the representative of the Father. And all through the generations of the past, Christ has spoken; Christ has led His people, and has been the light of the world. When God chose Abraham as a representative of His truth, He took him out of his country, and away from his kindred, and set him apart. He desired to mold him after His own model. He desired to teach him according to His own plan.” –(Review and Herald, February 18, 1890) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 1093.

“Ask Abraham, he will tell you, It is ‘Melchisedek King of Salem,’ King of Peace. Genesis 14:18.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 578.


2. When Israel was established as a holy people, what was the Lord’s intention for them? What parts of the promise show that the Lord wished to establish a spiritual kingdom?

Exodus 19:5, 6 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

“Their obedience to the law of God would make them marvels of prosperity before the nations of the world. He who could give them wisdom and skill in all cunning work would continue to be their teacher, and would ennoble and elevate them through obedience to His laws. If obedient, they would be preserved from the diseases that afflicted other nations, and would be blessed with vigor of intellect…. God furnished them with every facility for becoming the greatest nation on the earth.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 288.

Consecration of the firstborn and the Levites


3. When Israel was still in Egypt, whom did the Lord choose to be specifically dedicated to Him?

Exodus 13:2 Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.

Numbers 3:13 Because all the firstborn are mine; for on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast: mine shall they be: I am the Lord.

“The dedication of the firstborn had its origin in the earliest times. God had promised to give the Firstborn of heaven to save the sinner. This gift was to be acknowledged in every household by the consecration of the firstborn son. He was to be devoted to the priesthood, as a representative of Christ among men.

“In the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, the dedication of the firstborn was again commanded…. Thus the law for the presentation of the firstborn was made particularly significant. While it was a memorial of the Lord’s wonderful deliverance of the children of Israel, it prefigured a greater deliverance, to be wrought out by the only-begotten Son of God. As the blood sprinkled on the doorposts had saved the firstborn of Israel, so the blood of Christ has power to save the world.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 51.


4. When the people fell into grave apostasy, who took a firm stand for the Lord? Because of this, what tribe was chosen to be dedicated to the holy sanctuary service and maintenance?

Exodus 32:26, 29 Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him…. 29For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves to day to the Lord,… that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day.

Numbers 1:50; 3:10-12 But thou shalt appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony, and over all the vessels thereof, and over all things that belong to it: they shall bear the tabernacle, and all the vessels thereof; and they shall minister unto it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle…. 3:10And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest’s office: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death. 11And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 12And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine.

“By divine direction the tribe of Levi was set apart for the service of the sanctuary. In the earliest times every man was the priest of his own household. In the days of Abraham the priesthood was regarded as the birthright of the eldest son. Now, instead of the firstborn of all Israel, the Lord accepted the tribe of Levi for the work of the sanctuary. By this signal honor He manifested His approval of their fidelity, both in adhering to His service and in executing His judgments when Israel apostatized in the worship of the golden calf. The priesthood, however, was restricted to the family of Aaron. Aaron and his sons alone were permitted to minister before the Lord; the rest of the tribe were entrusted with the charge of the tabernacle and its furniture, and they were to attend upon the priests in their ministration, but they were not to sacrifice, to burn incense, or to see the holy things till they were covered.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 350.

“After the tabernacle service was established, the Lord chose the tribe of Levi in the place of the firstborn of all Israel to minister in the sanctuary. But the firstborn were still to be regarded as the Lord’s, and were to be bought back by a ransom.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 51.

Ministry of the priests


5. What great privilege was entrusted to the priests of the Lord? What knowledge was to be preserved by all who were honored to be His messengers?

Isaiah 61:6 But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.

Exodus 25:22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

Malachi 2:7 For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.

“The sins of the people were transferred in figure to the officiating priest, who was a mediator for the people.” –(Signs of the Times, March 14, 1878) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 1111.

“God has promised that His faithful, obedient servants shall be exalted to be priests and kings.” –Signs of the Times, November 16, 1888.

“Prophets were continually arising and claiming to have special messages to this effect. Judah was to be honored as the place of power and glory. The kingdoms of the world and the riches of the Gentiles were to be placed at their feet, and they were to be exalted as priests and kings unto God. Those who did not believe in these great things for the Jewish nation were pronounced infidels. If their prayers did not abound in these glowing expectations, they were treated as worse than useless.” –(Signs of the Times, January 10, 1900) Lift Him Up, p. 135.


6. In addition to performance of the sacrifices and services in the sanctuary, as well as its maintenance, what other ministry was entrusted to the priests?

Leviticus 10:11 And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.

Deuteronomy 33:9, 10 Who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children: for they have observed thy word, and kept thy covenant. 10They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law: they shall put incense before thee, and whole burnt sacrifice upon thine altar.

“After the settlement in Canaan the divine precepts were to be repeated daily in every home; they were to be written plainly upon the doorposts and gates, and spread upon memorial tablets. They were to be set to music and chanted by young and old. Priests were to teach these holy precepts in public assemblies, and the rulers of the land were to make them their daily study. ‘Meditate therein day and night,’ the Lord commanded Joshua concerning the book of the law. Joshua 1:8….

“Daily the Levites ‘taught the good knowledge of the Lord;’ and those who had prepared their hearts to seek God, found pardon…. The … worshipers determined to spend another seven days in learning more fully the way of the Lord. The teaching priests continued their work of instruction from the book of the law….

“Nearly a century before, during the first Passover celebrated by Hezekiah, provision had been made for the daily public reading of the book of the law to the people by teaching priests.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 464, 465, 337, 392.

A call to God’s people


7. According to the apostolic writings, to whom is the dignity of being a holy and royal priesthood extended? How do you see this privilege of every member, not just of certain selected individuals?

1 Peter 2:5, 9 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ…. 9But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

“Mark the figure presented in verse five: ‘Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.’ Then these lively stones are exerting a tangible, practical influence in the Lord’s spiritual house. They are a holy priesthood, performing pure, sacred service. They offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God.” –Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 461.

“God’s purpose for His institutions today may also be read in the purpose which He sought to accomplish through the Jewish nation. Through Israel it was His design to impart rich blessings to all peoples. Through them the way was to be prepared for the diffusion of His light to the whole world. The nations of the world, through following corrupt practices, had lost a knowledge of God. Yet in His mercy God did not blot them out of existence. He purposed to give them opportunity for becoming acquainted with Him through His church. He designed that the principles revealed through His people should be the means of restoring in man the moral image of God.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 221.


8. Where will those who joyfully and faithfully serve the Lord here on earth have the privilege of serving as priests and kings? How will they receive the grace and honor to serve as kings?

Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen…. 5:10And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth…. 20:6Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

“Before entering the City of God, the Saviour bestows upon His followers the emblems of victory and invests them with the insignia of their royal state. The glittering ranks are drawn up in the form of a hollow square about their King, whose form rises in majesty high above saint and angel, whose countenance beams upon them full of benignant love. Throughout the unnumbered host of the redeemed every glance is fixed upon Him…. Upon the heads of the overcomers, Jesus with His own right hand places the crown of glory…. In every hand are placed the victor’s palm and the shining harp. Then, as the commanding angels strike the note, every hand sweeps the harp strings with skillful touch, awaking sweet music in rich, melodious strains.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 645, 646

For additional study

• Deuteronomy 26:17-19; 28:13

“ ‘Thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God:’ He said; ‘the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth…. It shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which He sware unto thy fathers: And He will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee…. Thou shalt be blessed above all people:…’ Deuteronomy 7:6-14.

“In these words are set forth the conditions of all true prosperity, conditions with which, if they fulfill the purpose of their establishment, all our institutions must comply.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, pp. 222, 223.

“God desired to make of His people Israel a praise and a glory. Every spiritual advantage was given them. God withheld from them nothing favorable to the formation of character that would make them representatives of Himself.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 288.