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Bible verses about New Covenant Priesthood
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Exodus 19:22-25

Deuteronomy 5:4-5 further expounds on this. The people's rejection was at least partly based on their own accurate recognition of their sinfulness. Despite the fact that they were cleaned up, their recognition of their sinfulness—when confronted with God's holiness, which was demonstrated by the mountain quaking, lightning cracking huge peals of thunder, and the trumpet blaring—was why God accepted their proposal immediately. "Stop them from coming any closer," He told Moses. Therefore, their refusal to draw near to God was based on a correct assessment of their unacceptability to do the job of a priest—despite the fact that they had cleansed themselves and their clothing, externally.

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part 1)


 

Leviticus 19:2

Here the word holy means "pure," "clean." This verse is repeated verbatim in I Peter 1:15-16, an application that cannot be denied, especially when connected to the subject, priesthood, of I Peter 2. Priests must be pure in the conduct of their lives because God is pure. We must be pure to be acceptable to Him, for it was immorality that defiled us in the first place. We must be pure to offer acceptable sacrifices to Him.

God begins the process by cleansing us by the blood of Jesus Christ, but He expects us to continue it through the keeping of His Word. We are purified through the keeping of His Word in the power of His Spirit (see, for instance, Ephesians 5:26-27). This requires the sacrifice of our lives in every aspect of life, and the whole aim is to produce the fruit of God—love.

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part 1)


 

Leviticus 22:1-2

The word "separate" could be better translated as consecrate, meaning they dedicate themselves.

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part 2)


 

Leviticus 22:3

This verse is not referring to those who bring the offering (what is devoted to God), but those who are going to receive it, the priesthood. Those who receive the devoted things are not allowed to be unclean.

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part 2)


 

Deuteronomy 8:6-7

Think of this in its metaphorical, spiritual intent. When God comes into our lives, He begins to bless us. He will bless us in ways that we have not been blessed before. The Israelites in this situation were not blessed with the liberties and the prosperity that true liberty could bring. Their blessings and prosperity were going to be physical, and thus, God is using physical examples of how blessings will come into their lives.

Now what about those that come into our lives? Sometimes the blessings will be physical to some of us, and perhaps prosperity will come, but the main thing that He wants with us is the relationship between us and Him. He is looking for it to grow and develop until we are blessed spiritually by becoming like Him, allowing Him to create Himself in us so that we reveal to Him and to others His characteristics in our lives. He is telling us that blessings like these will come.

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part 3)


 

Deuteronomy 8:11-14

What is written in this chapter is one of the things that led to the break-up the Worldwide Church of God, and why its members are scattered all over. Its members forgot a great deal about God's requirements of obedience. This theme of not forgetting runs through the book of Deuteronomy.

Virtually every family of people on earth considers themselves to be the recipients of God's favor. They usually designate themselves by a title to indicate this, especially to themselves. The Germans call themselves Herrenvolk. The Japanese call themselves "sons of heaven." China calls itself "the good earth," and Americans, "God's country."

The Israelites were the recipients of the knowledge of God's purpose, then they were given a land in which to prosper and to use that knowledge. However, whatever Israel received, it was miniscule by comparison to what the church was given. Yet, Israel forgot what God had so graciously bestowed, and what happened to the Israelites? They were scattered to the four corners of the earth. Is it possible, then, that the church forgot what God had given it? It became less and less aware that it, too, had been given the knowledge of God and of His purpose being worked out in its members lives. What did we call ourselves? "God's church"!

However, there is a common byproduct of prosperity: "Lest when you have eaten and are full, and have built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; then your heart be lifted up, and you forget. . . ."

Yes, a common byproduct of prosperity—one that could destroy the gift of knowledge of God's purpose for mankind—is forgetfulness! Pride in one's prosperity can gradually persuade a person that he gained it himself, but the fact is that the real reason for the prosperity is what he was given.

There are a number of reasons for the Old Covenant rituals, but undoubtedly, one of them is to remind the sanctified ones who they are and what they are to do with their lives. They are a separated people, called to make right use of their gifts and to glorify God in the use of them.

Being aware of our separation is supremely important to us because it is one of the few ways that gives sense to why God requires certain things. The laws of clean and unclean meats should be a constant reminder of this separation. So should the removing of leaven from our homes before Unleavened Bread. It is clear from the Old Testament rituals that cleanliness—spiritual, moral, and physical cleanliness—and purity are the realities that differentiate us from the world, making us distinctive from others.

This is something, though, that is so easy to forget or to overlook, which is why God gives this warning in Deuteronomy 8. Being spiritually undefiled or uncontaminated is a responsibility because it is in maintaining the cleanliness that a visible witness is made—one that can be seen and evaluated by the world. If we allow ourselves to run amok with the rest of the world, then we share the world's contamination through sin, and no witness is made. Who can see the difference? There is no difference, or so little difference that it is unrecognizable.

Thus, it is in the efforts to be made clean and to maintain cleanliness that many of the sacrificial aspects of priesthood are most clearly seen.

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part 2)


 

Deuteronomy 8:11-14

Why does God have to warn us, admonish us, of something like this? Because it is so easy for us to lose sight of God in the shuffle of our lives. What results? What does "heart being lifted up" indicate? Pride.

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part 3)


 

Deuteronomy 23:9

Do we have any idea how dirty warfare is? Yet, even then, God required cleanliness among His people. Though we do not know the reason why God gave every regulation, we do understand the overall principle involved here. There is no doubt that religion draws those devoted to it together, but inevitably, a line of separation will be drawn between the faithful and the unfaithful. Under the Old Covenant, these lines were shown in physical terms.

To many, this might smack of a narrow exclusiveness, but there is a fundamental truth contained within these regulations. Religion does make a difference! God demands—for our good and for the outworking of His purpose—that there be absolute loyalty in the people whom He has cleansed through the blood of Jesus Christ. The loyalty is not merely seen in how one feels inwardly about certain things, but also is manifested outwardly in one's behavior—in how we relate to one another. A Christian must never step out of character, and he must not step aside from what he agreed to in making the covenant with God.

Every time we baptize a person, we make sure that we go through Luke 14 (beginning in verse 25)—where Christ essentially says, "Do I have your loyalty? Am I going to come before your father, mother, sister, brother, wife or husband? Are you willing to forsake all that you have for Me?" And we could add, "Are you willing to keep yourself uncontaminated and undefiled from contact with this world?"

This book of Deuteronomy shows that God's purpose can be worked out only if we are separated from the world around us to a fair degree. It is this separation that greatly aids in keeping us clean and unspotted. Know this, there are not "many ways to God." The people of the earth are not worshipping the same God in different guises and different names. The universalism of Catholicism has no part in God's plan. There is only one way. If there were many ways, each way would produce something different. God's way—His one way—reproduces Himself. Anybody who worshipsa false god will not reproduce in himself the image of the God of Creation.

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part 2)


 

Deuteronomy 28:45

Hearken means "to listen," but listen does not merely mean "to hear." It means to hear and process, to meditate upon, to come to conclusions, to understand.

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part 3)


 

Deuteronomy 28:45-47

These verses are directly related to verse 15, "But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you, and overtake you." Then all the curses are listed. Verse 45 continues the thought that ends with "and overtake you" in verse 15, but they are also directly related to much of the context of Deuteronomy 8.

God's concern in this context is for the attitude of heart and mind in which the Israelites carried out their part in keeping the covenant. It is actually a prophecy of what they were going to do. What can we learn from this? The very fact that this warning—"because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of heart"—is in here means that these things are going to come on us. He is telling us that obeying in an obligatory fashion, while it is a great deal better than sinning, does not come close to what God is seeking for in us. That kind of obedience does not produce an internalized character that permits one to live an abundant life full of every good quality. Instead, it will produce joyless, hopeless, robotic automatons.

The word "gladness" is particularly interesting, literally meaning "good," or "goodness." However, when it is taken with the intent of this and other biblical contexts, especially Deuteronomy 8, it indicates "gratitude." In fact, The Amplified Bible inserts the word "gratitude" in brackets next to the word "gladness" as an explanation of what God is driving at.

In other words, God is saying that, if we do not approach life with an understanding recognition of the awesome significance of His calling, we cannot serve Him satisfactorily. There are reasons for this. He wants people who understand what life is about, not to approach life with a resigned, "Oh, well, I have to do this" attitude, but rather to approach it with a rejoicing, wholehearted understanding, gladly and gratefully yielding themselves to its completion in our lives.

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part 3)


 

Psalm 14:1-3

The fool is a man who is dominated by his pride. The person of pride also has desires, even as we have desires, but his thoughts are not related to God. "The fool has said in his heart, there is no God." He cannot relate his thoughts to God, and so his needs are not related to God and His purpose.

"God is not in all of his thoughts," and thus there is no gratitude and thanksgiving. He thinks with all his being that he did everything himself, whereas someone like Paul says, "What do you have that you did not receive?" (I Corinthians 4:7). He challenges us to try to think of something that has not ultimately come from God.

Our pride does this. Pride forces a person to think only about himself, his world, and what is important to him. It is pride's power that largely blinds us to the reality of God's intimate involvement in our individual lives. We tend to see God as only generally involved, which inhibits us from more fully understanding much of what He has to reveal of Himself to us. It is this revelation that God wants to give to us that should lead to thanksgiving.

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part 3)


 

Psalm 19:1-4

In Psalm 19, we have the example of a man who is really tuned into God, which resulted in him writing about one-half of the 150 Psalms. To David, the immense size, radiance, and regularity of the heavenly bodies spoke to him of the wisdom, power, and steadfast character of the God of creation, and he was thankful because he knew that God, and God only, had given to him this perspective.

Recall that in Deuteronomy 8:2-3, the reason that God humbled the Israelites—and now humbles us too—is because He wanted to test them so that they would know that "man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." That was His ultimate reason. In other words, He did what He did so that they would listen to what He said. Here in Psalm 19, David demonstrates that he had been listening! He heard the "voice" of God revealing Himself, not in audible sound, but in what can be observed in the creation, and it resulted, among other things, in greater understanding, praise, and thanksgiving.

All too often, we allow the events of life to distract us from the glory of God in what He has made and in what He is doing, permitting them to divert our attention from Him and His purpose. Because of a lack of faith, we look away from the light and focus our attention on the dark, and we soon become unthankful. We would do well to imitate David in this regard.

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part 3)


 

Isaiah 43:15

God is speaking to Israel, but in spirit, He is also speaking to the church, though it is not His primary objective. The primary objective is Israel, and it is a time yet future. This has not yet been fulfilled.

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part 1)


 

Isaiah 43:22-24

Compare this with I Peter 2:5 and 9 and the responsibility of the church: 1) to bring sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ and 2) to proclaim the praises of God.

Peter sees the church as part of the fulfillment of this prophecy—focusing on a people who will truly serve and glorify God in contrast to disobedient Israel. The church is a forerunner of what is to come. This also confirms, in a general way, that we have been formed for the purpose of proclaiming His praises, which is what a priest does! Thus, Peter writes that we are to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

This priesthood is not yet fully formed, but rather, it is one that is being formed. As such, we nonetheless are expected to perform certain functions in preparation for our formal installation that will not occur until Christ returns and establishes the Kingdom of God on earth. Then, that priesthood will appear suddenly, fully formed.

God has spent 6,000 years forming it. We are called to be kings and priests (Revelation 5:10). And even now Peter makes sure that we understand that we are already a priesthood—a priesthood in training. Yet, even though we are in training, we have priesthood responsibilities, for he says in verse 5 that we are—now, presently—to offer up spiritual sacrifices.

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part 1)


 

Matthew 5:3

When poor is used this way, it means "to be destitute, without resources; weak, powerless; spiritually bankrupt." Being poor in spirit is the platform on which is built all of the other beautiful attitudes that please God and motivate Him to respond with spiritual and sometimes physical blessings. Our being poor in spirit is the recognition of our spiritual need that causes us to cry out to God for what He can and will supply. This same recognition also motivates us to think about God from the proper perspective, causing us to give Him praise and thanksgiving. It forces us to see Him for what He is and what He has and makes us long to be the same, just as the financially poor see and desire to be like the rich.

None of us can honestly say that we have never looked at those who are wealthier than we are and not desired to be like them, to be in their same position, to wear exquisite clothing, to live in large homes, to drive expensive cars, and to be recognized as a powerful influence in the community.

Being poor in spirit forces us to evaluate ourselves honestly against God. He is the exemplar of every good characteristic, the possessor of intelligence, wisdom, and power of such capacity that He can produce us and every other good and beautiful thing needed for a wonderful, abundant life. For us to have this point of view, God must prepare a great deal of groundwork because human nature with its pride is always standing in the way to guard its territory, its place in our thinking and decision-making.

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part 3)


 

John 6:63

Here, the difference between God's Holy Spirit and our spirit is noted. God's Spirit (His Word, His thoughts, His way) always produces life—eternal life—the way God lives. Jesus was made a life-giving Spirit, and He is the High Priest. As High Priest, He is in charge of the administration of life (see II Corinthians 3). The difference between the two covenants is that the priesthood under the Old Covenant could not administer life, but the Priesthood under the New Covenant administers life by providing the Spirit of God to the mind of man. Demons and men cannot truthfully claim what Jesus claimed here, that His Spirit is life. Man's spirit, like the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, produces death, because it produces sin.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 1)


 

Romans 12:1-2

Paul exhorts us to consider a principle that applies to two areas of priestly conduct, offering sacrifices and praising God. In Greek, the emphasis in verse 1 is on the word "therefore." Why? Because Romans 12:1 begins the summary of the practical application of the principles, the teachings, the instruction that Paul gives in the first 11 chapters. He is preparing to draw practical conclusions to all the doctrinal things he taught, that is, about justification, sanctification, our calling, and the Holy Spirit, including the glorious things about Israel and what will happen in the future. It is as if he is saying, "In light of everything that I have given you thus far, here's what you are to do, priests! Sanctify yourselves by being a living sacrifice."

He means that, due to God's great gifts to us, it is "reasonable" for God to expect us to sacrifice ourselves. Sometimes modern Bibles will render this word as "spiritual," which is a correct alternative. The Greek word underlying it appears only one other time in the Bible, and in that place it clearly means "spiritual." Here, though, it means "reasonable," that it is right that we should be a sacrifice. It is logical, rational, to do this.

The "therefore" brings an exciting conclusion to his thought. He is saying that everything we do, every activity in all of life, is to be an act of worship in service to God. Everything! We are to live our lives as living sacrifices—except on those days that we want to do our own thing? No, not at all. God owns us, and He wants our lives lived all the time—every day, 24/7—as a living sacrifice. We are to sacrifice our lives to Him because it cost the life of His Son to give us the privilege of drawing close to Him.

So, He has every right to ask this of us. It is logical. It is rational for Him to demand it of us. In this case, even as Jesus is portrayed in the offerings of Leviticus 1-7, we, as His brethren, are both the priest making the offering and the offering that is being sacrificed.

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part 1)


 

Hebrews 12:18-26

We have no excuse for refusing the obligations that God's calling puts us under. God clearly accepted Israel's refusal at Mount Sinai, but He cannot accept ours, because we have been cleansed internally to be acceptable. We cannot claim to be unacceptable because He has cleansed us. Not we ourselves, He did it. By doing so, He put us into a position where we cannot refuse. Sure, we can be hardheaded and stiff-necked and say "No." But no one in his right mind will refuse the privilege that God has given us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part 1)


 

2 Peter 1:4

Christians are called of God. We are separated from the rest of mankind, redeemed through the blood of Jesus Christ, and cleansed from sin's corruption. Then we are made partakers of the divine nature—all to make us acceptable for the performance of our duties as priests. We have no excuse for drawing back: We have a perfect and eternal High Priest and we have been cleansed and are part of the same Divine Family that He is. Do we not want to draw close to our "Dad"—which is what it amounts to—and do what He says?

Now the priesthood no longer stands before God on behalf of just Israel; now it draws near to God in behalf of all humanity. The purpose of the priesthood is essentially the same as under the Old Covenant, but its labor has been elevated to a spiritual level. We no longer have to burn bulls, goats, sheep, and turtledoves on a burning fire at the door of the Temple. We are the temple! And, in a secondary way, we—like Jesus Christ who went before us—are also the sacrifice that is put on the altar (see Romans 12:1).

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part 1)


 

 




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