To the one who loves us and has set us free from our sins at the cost of his own blood and has appointed us as a kingdom, as priests serving his God and Father – to him be the glory and the power for ever and ever! Amen. (Revelation 1:5-6 NET)
As John’s great revelation begins to unfold in pictures made out of words, he wrote a few things at the beginning that we would to well to take note of. There are such things as the time frame of his revelation (“what must happen very soon” (1:1); “the time is near” (1:3) – repeated twice more in the final chapter) and that this prophecy was meant to be understood (“blessed are those who hear and obey the things written in it” (1:3)). Note that the “what must happen very soon” was in relation to the time it was written – it was not written about the 21st century!
The phrase of interest for our consideration is that he “has appointed us as a kingdom, as priests serving his God and Father.” Just to be sure who John was writing about, verse 4 identifies the recipients of this letter as “the seven congregations in Asia” (1:4, McCord’s Everlasting Gospel). Although there were seven literal congregations in the Roman province of Asia, as listed in chapters 2 and 3, this would seem to have a wider application than just those seven groups of Christians.
Being a very figurative book, full of numbers and symbols, we are to look in this type of writing beyond the literal to discover what is meant. The number ‘7’ is the number of perfection and completeness. John would seem to be saying that this is written to the complete ekklesia – to all Christians. This would be backed up by his statement in verse 5: who is it that Jesus set free from sin at the cost of his own blood? The answer is obviously ‘all Christians.’
This same group are the ones Jesus “has appointed … as a kingdom, as priests serving his God and Father.” This tells us two very important truths.
1) Christians are now God’s kingdom.
This fits in very well with the illustration of the tree that Paul used in Romans 11:17-24. God has only ever had one kingdom, represented by the olive tree. In his analogy, Paul points out that God broke off the natural branches in order to graft in branches from a wild olive tree. In this way, Christians became God’s kingdom.
2) Christians are now priests of God.
That all Christians are priests tells us we are all equal in God’s sight. It tells us that no one is any higher or any lower than anyone else. It tells us that we all have equal access to God, that we don’t have to approach God through any other person (except our mediator, the one who made all this possible at the cost of his own blood, 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 9:15; 12:24). Our worship is not through any man, be he an elder, preacher, minister, or pastor. We each are able to directly approach God through Jesus who loves us.
What a great privilege it is to be a Christian, to be priests serving our God and Father!
Readings for next week
1 December – Revelation 12-13
2 December – Revelation 14-16
3 December – Revelation 17-18
4 December – Revelation 19-20
5 December – Revelation 21-22