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P1. Being a Kingdom of Priests. [Make a Comment]
We are to be a kingdom of priests to bring blessing to the Jewish People and to the Gentile nations of the world.
This precept is derived from His Word (blessed is He):
All Nations to Be Blessed through Abraham
ADONAI said to Avram, 'Get yourself out of your country, away from your kinsmen and away from your father's house, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, I will bless you, and I will make your name great; and you are to be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, but I will curse anyone who curses you; and by you all the families of the earth will be blessed.'
Also the Tanakh, foreseeing that God would consider the Gentiles righteous when they live by trusting and being faithful, told the Good News to Avraham in advance by saying, 'In connection with you, all the Goyim will be blessed.' So then, those who rely on trusting and being faithful are blessed along with Avraham, who trusted and was faithful.
Abraham to Be the Father (& Sarah Mother) of Many Nations.
Avram fell on his face, and God continued speaking with him: 'As for me, this is my covenant with you: you will be the father of many nations. Your name will no longer be Avram [exalted father], but your name will be Avraham [father of many], because I have made you the father of many nations. I will cause you to be very fruitful. I will make nations of you, kings will descend from you. I am establishing my covenant between me and you, along with your descendants after you, generation after generation, as an everlasting covenant, to be God for you and for your descendants after you.
God said to Avraham, 'As for Sarai your wife, you are not to call her Sarai [mockery]; her name is to be Sarah [princess]. I will bless her; moreover, I will give you a son by her. Truly I will bless her: she will be a mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.'
All Nations to Be Blessed through Abraham's Descendants.
The angel of ADONAI called to Avraham a second time out of heaven. He said, 'I have sworn by myself - says ADONAI - that because you have done this, because you haven't withheld your son, your only son, I will most certainly bless you; and I will most certainly increase your descendants to as many as there are stars in the sky or grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants will possess the cities of their enemies, and by your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed - because you obeyed my order.'
(See also, Genesis 26:1-5)
The Covenant Made with Abraham Conveyed through Isaac and Jacob.
Genesis 17:19 and 21
God answered, 'No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you are to call him Yitz'chak [laughter]. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. But I will establish my covenant with Yitz'chak, whom Sarah will bear to you at this time next year.'
Ya'akov went out from Be'er-Sheva and traveled toward Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed the night there, because the sun had set. He took a stone from the place, put it under his head and lay down there to sleep. He dreamt that there before him was a ladder resting on the ground with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of ADONAI were going up and down on it. Then suddenly ADONAI was standing there next to him; and he said, 'I am ADONAI, the God of Avraham your [grand]father and the God of Yitz'chak. The land on which you are lying I will give to you and to your descendants. Your descendants will be as numerous as the grains of dust on the earth. You will expand to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. By you and your descendants all the families of the earth will be blessed.'
God said to him, 'Your name is Ya'akov, but you will be called Ya'akov no longer; your name will be Isra'el.' Thus he named him Isra'el. God further said to him, 'I am El Shaddai. Be fruitful and multiply. A nation, indeed a group of nations, will come from you; kings will be descended from you. Moreover, the land which I gave to Avraham and Yitz'chak I will give to you, and I will give the land to your descendants after you.'
Israel to Be a Kingdom of Priests & a Nation Set Apart.
Moshe went up to God, and ADONAI called to him from the mountain: 'Here is what you are to say to the household of Ya'akov, to tell the people of Isra'el: 'You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now if you will pay careful attention to what I say and keep my covenant, then you will be my own treasure from among all the peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you will be a kingdom of cohanim for me, a nation set apart.' These are the words you are to speak to the people of Isra'el.'
A New Covenant to Be Given to Israel (Prophesied).
'Here, the days are coming,' says ADONAI, 'when I will make a new covenant with the house of Isra'el and with the house of Y'hudah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers on the day I took them by their hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt; because they, for their part, violated my covenant, even though I, for my part, was a husband to them,' says ADONAI. 'For this is the covenant I will make with the house of Isra'el after those days,' says ADONAI: 'I will put my Torah within them and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will any of them teach his fellow community member or his brother, 'Know ADONAI'; for all will know me, from the least of them to the greatest; because I will forgive their wickednesses and remember their sins no more.'
Gentiles & Gentile Nations to Seek God in Jerusalem & Receive Leadership from the Jewish People (Prophesied).
ADONAI-Tzva'ot says, 'In the future, peoples and inhabitants of many cities will come; the inhabitants of one city will travel to another and say, 'We must go to ask ADONAI's favor and consult ADONAI-Tzva'ot. I'll go too.' Yes, many peoples and powerful nations will come to consult ADONAI-Tzva'ot in Yerushalayim and to ask ADONAI's favor.' ADONAI-Tzva'ot says, 'When that time comes, ten men will take hold - speaking all the languages of the nations - will grab hold of the cloak of a Jew and say, 'We want to go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.''
Jewish Followers of Yeshua Instructed to Make Disciples in All the Nations.
So the eleven talmidim went to the hill in the Galil where Yeshua had told them to go. When they saw him, they prostrated themselves before him; but some hesitated. Yeshua came and talked with them. He said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make people from all nations into talmidim, immersing them into the reality of the Father, the Son and the Ruach HaKodesh, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember! I will be with you always, yes, even until the end of the age.'
(See also, Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:44-52; John 20:21; Acts 1:8)
(See Mark 6:7-13 and Luke 10:1-3 for their being sent out in pairs)
Salvation & Reward (but Also Rebuke & Punishment) to the Jew First, but Equally to the Gentile.
For I am not ashamed of the Good News, since it is God's powerful means of bringing salvation to everyone who keeps on trusting, to the Jew especially, but equally to the Gentile.
Yes, he will pay back misery and anguish to every human being who does evil, to the Jew first, then to the Gentile; but glory and honor and shalom to everyone who keeps doing what is good, to the Jew first, then to the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.
To the Jews Were Given the Sh'khinah, the Covenants, the Torah, the Temple, the Physical Descent of Messiah, & God's Trust in Preserving and Exhibiting His Words.
Then what advantage has the Jew? What is the value of being circumcised? Much in every way! In the first place, the Jews were entrusted with the very words of God.
They were made God's children, the Sh'khinah has been with them, the covenants are theirs, likewise the giving of the Torah, the Temple service and the promises; the Patriarchs are theirs; and from them, as far as his physical descent is concerned, came the Messiah, who is over all. Praised be ADONAI for ever! Amen.
(see also, John 4:22).
Jewish & Gentile Believers in Yeshua Likened unto Branches on a Jewish-Owned Olive Tree
Now if the hallah offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole loaf. And if the root is holy, so are the branches. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you - a wild olive - were grafted in among them and have become equal sharers in the rich root of the olive tree, then don't boast as if you were better than the branches! However, if you do boast, remember that you are not supporting the root, the root is supporting you. So you will say, 'Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.' True, but so what? They were broken off because of their lack of trust. However, you keep your place only because of your trust. So don't be arrogant; on the contrary, be terrified! For if God did not spare the natural branches, he certainly won't spare you! So take a good look at God's kindness and his severity: on the one hand, severity toward those who fell off; but, on the other hand, God's kindness toward you - provided you maintain yourself in that kindness! Otherwise, you too will be cut off! Moreover, the others, if they do not persist in their lack of trust, will be grafted in; because God is able to graft them back in. For if you were cut out of what is by nature a wild olive tree and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree!
Gentile Believers in Yeshua Brought Near to God, Connected to the Covenants, & Made Citizens in a Commonwealth of Israel Along with their Jewish Brethren.
Therefore remember your former state: you Gentiles by birth - called the Uncircumcised by those who, merely because of an operation on their flesh, are called the Circumcised - at that time had no Messiah. You were estranged from the national life [NKJ: "Commonwealth"] of Isra'el. You were foreigners to the covenants embodying God's promise. You were in this world without hope and without God. But now, you who were once far off have been brought near through the shedding of the Messiah's blood. For he himself is our shalom - he has made us both one and has broken down the m'chitzah which divided us by destroying in his own body the enmity occasioned by the Torah, with its commands set forth in the form of ordinances. He did this in order to create in union with himself from the two groups a single new humanity and thus make shalom, and in order to reconcile to God both in a single body by being executed on a stake as a criminal and thus in himself killing that enmity. Also, when he came, he announced as Good News shalom to you far off and shalom to those nearby, news that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then, you are no longer foreigners and strangers. On the contrary, you are fellow-citizens with God's people and members of God's family. You have been built on the foundation of the emissaries and the prophets, with the cornerstone being Yeshua the Messiah himself. In union with him the whole building is held together, and it is growing into a holy temple in union with the Lord. Yes, in union with him, you yourselves are being built together into a spiritual dwelling-place for God!
Jewish & Gentile Believers in Yeshua Together Made Priests & a Holy Nation to Offer Spiritual Sacrifices through Yeshua. Once Not a People, but Now a People of God through Their Respective Connections to Israel.
1 Peter 2:4-5, 9-10
As you come to him, the living stone, rejected by people but chosen by God and precious to him, you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be cohanim set apart for God to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to him through Yeshua the Messiah. But you are a chosen people, the King's cohanim, a holy nation, a people for God to possess! Why? In order for you to declare the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; before, you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
To: The seven Messianic communities in the province of Asia: Grace and shalom to you from the One who is, who was and who is coming; from the sevenfold Spirit before his throne; and from Yeshua the Messiah, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of the earth's kings. To him, the one who loves us, who has freed us from our sins at the cost of his blood, who has caused us to be a kingdom, that is, cohanim for God, his Father - to him be the glory and the rulership forever and ever. Amen.
Yeshua Our Eternal High Priest, Comparable with Malki-Tzedek.
Hebrews 7:17 - 8:5
For it is stated, 'You are a cohen FOREVER, to be compared with Malki-Tzedek.' Thus, on the one hand, the earlier rule is set aside because of its weakness and inefficacy (for the Torah did not bring anything to the goal); and, on the other hand, a hope of something better is introduced, through which we are drawing near to God. What is more, God swore an oath. For no oath was sworn in connection with those who become cohanim now; but Yeshua became a cohen by the oath which God swore when he said to him, 'ADONAI has sworn and will not change his mind, 'You are a cohen forever.'' Also this shows how much better is the covenant of which Yeshua has become guarantor. Moreover, the present cohanim are many in number, because they are prevented by death from continuing in office. But because he lives forever, his position as cohen does not pass on to someone else; and consequently, he is totally able to deliver those who approach God through him; since he is alive forever and thus forever able to intercede on their behalf. This is the kind of cohen gadol that meets our need - holy, without evil, without stain, set apart from sinners and raised higher than the heavens; one who does not have the daily necessity, like the other cohanim g'dolim, of offering up sacrifices first for their own sins and only then for those of the people; because he offered one sacrifice, once and for all, by offering up himself. For the Torah appoints as cohanim g'dolim men who have weakness; but the text which speaks about the swearing of the oath, a text written later than the Torah, appoints a Son who has been brought to the goal forever. Here is the whole point of what we have been saying: we do have just such a cohen gadol as has been described. And he does sit at the right hand of HaG'dulah in heaven. There he serves in the Holy Place, that is, in the true Tent of Meeting, the one erected not by human beings but by ADONAI. For every cohen gadol is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices; so this cohen gadol too has to have something he can offer. Now if he were on earth, he wouldn't be a cohen at all, since there already are cohanim offering the gifts required by the Torah. But what they are serving is only a copy and shadow of the heavenly original; for when Moshe was about to erect the Tent, God warned him, 'See to it that you make everything according to the pattern you were shown on the mountain.'
(see also Hebrews 3:1-2, 4:14-15, 5:4-6, 6:19-20, 9:6-12, 24-26, 10:19-23)
Yeshua Our High Priest Sacrificed for Our Sins. A New Covenant Made with Israel That Is Superior to the Mosaic Covenant which Is Growing Old and Vanishing.
But now the work Yeshua has been given to do is far superior to theirs, just as the covenant he mediates is better. For this covenant has been given as Torah on the basis of better promises. Indeed, if the first covenant had not given ground for faultfinding, there would have been no need for a second one. For God does find fault with the people when he says, ''See! The days are coming,' says ADONAI, 'when I will establish over the house of Isra'el and over the house of Y'hudah a new covenant. It will not be like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by their hand and led them forth out of the land of Egypt; because they, for their part, did not remain faithful to my covenant; so I, for my part, stopped concerning myself with them,' says ADONAI. 'For this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Isra'el after those days,' says ADONAI: 'I will put my Torah in their minds and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be my people. None of them will teach his fellow-citizen or his brother, saying, 'Know ADONAI!' For all will know me, from the least of them to the greatest, because I will be merciful toward their wickednesses and remember their sins no more.'' By using the term, 'new', he has made the first covenant 'old'; and something being made old, something in the process of aging, is on its way to vanishing altogether.
This Mitzvah # P2 is formulated from Scriptures distributed throughout the Bible that describe, in detail, how God made Israel (i.e. the Jewish People) into a "Kingdom of Priests". He later continued the Priesthood through those Jews who followed Yeshua and the Gentile believers who joined with them.
Israel's calling to be a Kingdom of Priests was imparted to it by God (through Abraham and later through Moses), so all Jews (regardless of their belief in Messiah) are members of a priestly people. That notwithstanding, in the New Covenant, only those Jews who believe in Yeshua, i.e. who are "born of the Spirit" and consequently reside as branches on the Romans 11:16ff olive tree (a tree that belongs to the Jews), can function in their full power as New Covenant priests; Jews who do not believe in Yeshua have priestly potential and a degree of actual effectiveness, but they cannot serve as New Covenant priests until they do. When Gentiles come to faith they become grafted into the aforesaid olive tree and join their Jewish brethren there as co-priests. Although they (the Gentiles) do not become Jews by virtue of their having been grafted in, the priesthood they become joined to (sometimes called the "Priesthood of Believers") is fundamentally a Jewish priesthood. Yet the Bible makes it clear that Jews and Gentiles in this Priesthood are called to express some aspects of their priesthoods differently from one another.
The origin of this goes back to Genesis 12:1-3, where God gave Avram a covenant whereby through him "all the families of the earth would be blessed". Avram's name was later changed to Avraham (Abraham) and, over several Genesis chapters, we read that God promised that he would become "the father of many nations" that his wife Sarai (whose name was changed to Sarah) would bear him a son, and that through Abraham's descendants "all the nations of the earth would be blessed". (Genesis 17:3-7, 15-21, 22:10-18, 26:1-5, 28:10-14).
The Priestly Covenant given to Abraham was transmitted through Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 17:3-7, 26:3-4, 27:29, 28:12-14, 35:10-12), and declared by God at Mt. Sinai to the entire Nation of Israel by His words: "you will be a kingdom of cohanim [priests] for me, a nation set apart" (Exodus 19:3-6). The Tribe of Levi was set apart from the rest of Israel to serve God in the Tabernacle (later the Temple), and Aaron and his sons were further set apart to serve as priests. This became known as the Levitical Priesthood in the "Order of Aaron" because Aaron was its first High Priest. It was the functioning priesthood for its time here on earth, and the shadow of a heavenly priesthood (later to be revealed) in which Yeshua the Messiah would be High Priest in the Order of Malki-Tzedek (Hebrews 3:1-2, 4:14-15, 5:4-6, 6:19-20, 7:17 - 8:13, 9:6-12, 24-26, 10:19-23). Levites and Levitical cohanim (known descendants of Levi and Aaron) continue to have functions and responsibilities in the synagogues and Jewish Communities of today. These include performing special duties in the Torah service, pronouncing blessings over the synagogue assembly, officiating at Pidyon HaBenim, and several others.
From the time of Abraham to the present time, all the covenants that God made were with the Jewish people, and the priesthoods related to them were Jewish-based priesthoods. The Law given at Mt. Sinai that created and defined the Levitical Priesthood did not allow Gentiles and non-Levite Jews to perform priestly service in the Temple, but the New Covenant opened the way for both to become priests by joining themselves to the Romans 11 tree through faith in Yeshua.
Just as the Levitical priests had duties related to the Temple's animal sacrifices, New Covenant priests have duties related to the sacrificed "lamb of God" Yeshua. In Matthew 28:16-20 and parallel Scriptures, we read that Yeshua directed His eleven remaining disciples (all Jews) to "go and make people from all nations into talmidim (disciples), immersing them into the reality of the Father, the Son and the Ruach HaKodesh, and teaching them to obey everything [they had been commanded]". This commandment to preach the "Good News" of Yeshua to the utmost ends of the earth (commonly referred to as the "Great Commission") is the quintessential priestly duty of the "Yeshua Priesthood". It is the New Covenant counterpart of Temple service but, unlike Temple service, it is open to (in fact it is required of) all disciples of Yeshua, whether they be Jews or Gentiles.
Finally, ministry must be "to the Jew first and then to the Gentile" (Romans 1:16, 2:9-11). This is not because God prefers Jews over Gentiles, but because Jews were caused by God to be His foundational kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:3-6) who must be brought to the place of spiritual capability to where they are able to support the "Priesthood of Believers", and bring God's blessings to the Gentile nations of the world (Genesis 22:16-18). This is the same principle of priestly preparation that we read about in Leviticus 16:3-6, where Aaron the High Priest was required to perform a sacrifice for himself and his family before he could act as a priest for others on Yom Kippur.
None of the classical mitzvah commentators (Maimonides, Meir, nor HaChinuch) include, among their published mitzvot, any obligation to perform priestly duties unconnected with the Temple, except that Levitical cohanim are required to bless the Jewish People (see Mitzvah # P2).
JMm JFm KMm KFm; GMm & GFm (disciples of Yeshua only)
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