New Believers Series: Priesthood, The #23, by Watchman Nee


According to the revelation of the Scripture, God’s purpose is not to have only one or two persons as His priests. His purpose is to have all His people as His priests.

A. God Choosing the Israelites
to Be a Kingdom of Priests

After the Israelites came out of Egypt, they came to Mount Sinai. God charged Moses to speak to the Israelites, saying, "Ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation" (Exo. 19:6). God told the Israelites that they would be a kingdom of priests. This expression is somewhat difficult to understand. Why did God say that they would be a kingdom of priests? He meant that He wanted the whole nation to be priests. No one in the nation would be an ordinary person; the whole kingdom would be priests. This was God’s purpose.

When God chose Israel to be His people, He set this goal before them. This nation was to be different from all other nations on the earth. It was a kingdom of priests. All the people of this nation would be priests. This meant that every person in the nation would have one unique occupation, the occupation of serving God. God delights in separating men from the earth for His service. He delights in seeing men live solely for His affairs. God wants all of His children to be priests and to serve Him.

God told the people of Israel when they reached Mount Sinai that He would make them a kingdom of priests. This is a wonderful calling. We call England "the kingdom of the navy," the United States, "the kingdom of gold," China, "the kingdom of manners and virtues," and India "the kingdom of philosophers." But here is a kingdom which is called "the kingdom of priests." This is a wonderful thing. Everyone in this nation is a priest. Men, women, adults, and children are all priests. Everyone in this kingdom serves only God. Both adults and children have only one thing as their occupation—offering sacrifices and serving God. This is a wonderful picture.

After God promised to establish Israel as a kingdom of priests, He told Moses to go up the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments which were written upon two tablets of stone. Moses remained on the mountain forty days while God wrote the Ten Commandments on the stone tablets. The first commandment says, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." The second says, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image" (20:3-4). It seems that God was dictating the commandments one by one.

B. The Israelites Serving the Idols

While Moses was up on the mountain, the people at the foot of the mountain wondered about his delay. They said to Aaron, "Up, make us gods, which shall go before us" (32:1). Aaron succumbed to their words, collected gold, and made a golden calf. The people then worshipped the golden calf and said, "These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt" (v. 4).

They began to worship the idol. They sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. They indulged in great celebration. At last they had found a visible golden god for themselves. The God that Moses taught was mysterious; one could not identify where He lived or where He could be located. Even Moses, the one who worshipped this God, was nowhere to be found. Now there was a visible golden calf which they could worship. God had appointed them to be priests, but even before they were able to be His priests, they became priests to the golden calf. God’s desire was for them to be a kingdom of priests. But even before they could do that, they had turned to idol worship and served the golden calf. They established other gods and other forms of worship apart from Jehovah their God.

This is man’s concept of God. Man always tries to make his own god and worship according to his own ways. Man likes to worship a god created by his own hands. He does not accept God’s sovereignty in His creation. He does not like to acknowledge Him as the Creator.

(New Believers Series: Priesthood, The #23, Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)