The apostle Peter referred to struggling Christians as a royal priesthood. Now, I know that the idea of priests may conjure up in your mind images of Roman Catholic leaders, dressed in their robes, or of those leading temple sacrifices in the Old Testament. For some, the idea of Christians being priests seems distant, outdated, or irrelevant. But is that true? What are we to make of this idea that believers in Christ make up a royal priesthood?
In his book Created to Draw Near: Our Life as God’s Royal Priests, Ed Welch seeks to demonstrate the purpose for which you and I were created. We were created, argues Welch, to be brought near to God as a kingdom of priests. Welch traces the priestly theme throughout the Bible. He moves from Eden, Israel, Jesus, and finally, what this means for us today and for our future in the new earth.
We might be deceived into thinking that humanity craves independence above anything else. We struggle with pride and desire freedom. However, “our desire for closeness runs deeper (13).” Welch argues by observing:
- A baby stops crying when held.
- Children want to be a part of a group and have a best friend.
- Face-to-face always beats digital communication.
- To be truly known, with nothing to hide, and to truly know others is life at its best.
- Loneliness is the worst. Solitary confinement remains the most intolerable of punishments. Even a child’s short timeout can feel unbearable.
- When close to death, we want other people to be with us. No one wants to die alone.
Why is this the case? Because we were created for closeness. God created humanity to live in relationship with Himself and with others. The Bible reads, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness (Gen. 1:26).’” We were created to have a close relationship with Him. Through the priestly theme in Scripture, Welch demonstrates that the priestly office reveals something about God—He has a desire for us to draw near to Him.
Consider the Garden of Eden in the book of Genesis. The term garden itself implies something enclosed. The garden was contained within Eden. The world laid beyond Eden, but within its confines lay a garden where God walked and communed with man. Herein lies the reality that the holy place was near God, but the most holy place was nearer to God. It’s here in Eden that we begin to see a foreshadowing of the tabernacle and temple structures. The garden prefigured the tabernacle and temple. There was a task to be accomplished—to work and keep the land. There was a tree of life contained within the garden, and in the tabernacle there was a lampstand, which symbolized life and light (the presence of God).
What does this mean for you and me? These images seek to demonstrate that from the beginning of creation, humanity was meant to be lived out in closeness with God. Throughout Scripture, God desired the closeness of His people. He walked with Adam and Eve, He accompanied the people through their wilderness travel, and he preserved a remnant to be His people throughout the Old Testament.
Fast forward to the New Testament and you will read Jesus saying, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body (John 2:19-21).”
The temple was a copy. Jesus is the original (138). Because of Christ, we can have access to God. What does this mean for you and I as believers in Christ? To answer that question, you’ll need to read the book. What I loved about this book was that it opened my eyes to the beauty of something I have always read, but never truly studied. What does it mean for Christians to be priests? This book changed not only how I viewed the story of Scripture, but how I view my everyday life.
Not only did I gain a fresh view of the Scriptures, but the book spurred my desire to draw nearer to Christ. This book alleviates the seeming burdens of priestly imperatives by shining forth the beauty of the gospel indicatives. I would encourage every believer to grab a copy, read it, and pass it on to others. Prayerfully, this book will have the same outcome as it did for me—a growth in desire to know God greater and draw nearer to Him.
**Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Soli Deo Gloria,
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