Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.” Exodus 19:5-6 NLT
But you are not like that [i.e. stumbling over Christ], for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. 1Peter 2:9 NLT
At the very outset, at the foot of Mt. Sinai, when Yahweh was preparing his people to receive and accept his covenant, he gave them a vision of what he wanted for them, and indeed, for all his people forever, as Peter recognized. That vision involved a status, a character, and a function. First, they would be his “special possession,” a phrase that speaks of the way he views each of us who hear his voice and give our hearts to him. We are dear to him, like an engagement ring to a bride; something to be treasured and protected and delighted in. Don’t ever forget that; you are not his employee, or worse, his tool. In all his world, you are priceless to him, not because you are useful, but because you are.
But besides a precious status, Yahweh envisioned a particular character. That character reflects his character. Who is he? He is the transcendent sovereign of eternity; the holy king. To belong exclusively to him, the holy king, means to share his distinctive character: God’s people act like he acts as his royal emissaries in the world.
But are we only emissaries? No we are much more than that; our function is to be his royal priests. But what does that mean? What is a priest, particularly in the Biblical context? It is to be a mediator, a go-between, someone who brings sinful people to a righteous, but forgiving God, and someone who brings a forgiving, but righteous God to sinful people. We are to be windows through whom the world can see God as he really is, and through whom the life-giving rays of heaven’s Sun can shine into darkened lives.
For much of its history, Israel only remembered the first of those three. May we, as those who have not stumbled over Christ, not make the same mistake.