The Eden story is different to all the other ancient’s creation stories in many ways. The omnipotent creator seeks to dwell with man on earth in an enclosed garden, where all that God created out of chaos is good. God walks and talks with man, and gives man, who is made in the image of the Creator the authority to subdue the earth, be fruitful and multiply, in essence: Continue to do as you have witnessed the Creator do, and created good out of chaos. From the beginning God’s purpose for man was two-fold: governmental kingship and priestly representation.
As a king he is to name the animals and till the earth in order to subdue them, and make them serve his good purposes.
As a priest, he must do good, representing the all good Creator. But also serves as a mediator, a spiritual broker, an exchange agent, an ambassador of the divine to ensure that what is subdued submits ultimately to the divine.
We must understand that everything is spiritual. When work is not spiritual it becomes simply labor, slavery and mere physical activity and toil. If we work to make something beautiful, or meaningful to do good, our work becomes spiritual. A farmer, unlike a robot, who simply follows instructions like a recipe is not putting heart into it. A farmer who plans, thinks, tests and improves what he is planting to yield tasty abundant food will speak for itself of the goodness of God. His work is doing something spiritual.
Teaching people and workers the skill of farming and seeing how they develop as human beings is a spiritual priestly activity. Having a restaurant where people only get their food, need not be decorated, have music, or candles or have pleasant table placements. Like animals, we just line up and eat. No conversations, no laughter and pleasant service. The priestly mandate – representing God role is fundamental to sustained business success.
Furthermore, husbands are not just to marry, and get his wife to only have children, and put food on the table. Paul taught that men should love and cherish their wives like Jesus loved the church and gave his life for her. He should then prepare her perfect and blameless to the coming of our Lord. This is a priestly role. Parents are to teach their children the laws of God, again a priestly role. Teaching and demonstrating the will of God to man.
We think that only some people are elected priests. Yet apostle Peter calls the whole church a royal priesthood. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. (1 Pet 2:9). Again, the king and priest role are intrinsically part of the other.
In our work and labor, we are either creating a hell that alienates people from God, or we are creating an Eden or heaven that draws people to God. In our daily interactions, we are either causing an offense to destroy lives or we are building a bridge to lead people to be reconciled with God. We are either building, healing, reconciling or we are breaking down and destroying lives.
A friend told me people are like ants or they are like locusts. Ants build colonies of safety and protection, nourishment and provision. Locusts build nothing, they can only consume what has not been planted.
Kings and priests together build healthy societies of collective well-being. Faith and love working together. Faith consumes, love conceives. Kings need faith to envision new conquest and accomplishments for the good of all. Priest seeks to love and build healthy lasting relationships. Faith that works through love are mutually dependent on the other. We need both faith and love to conquer life’s challenges and to accomplish good.
Adam’s priestly role was to mediate God’s will, so when the serpent questioned: “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” Eve spoke and explained what GOD said. ““We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ The priestly mandate is thus not to know the letter of the law or command, but to understand the spirit of the law. She obviously only knew the former and was easily misdirected: “saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate”.
Why was being with God, and communing with Him not good for food, pleasant to the eyes, and desirable for wisdom? The word of God is real food (Mat 4:4). It is the knowledge of God, that contains life. Finding knowledge outside of God, leads to death.
5 Duties of NT Believer’s Priesthood
1. Spiritual Education
They are to teach God’s laws, His statutes and His ordinances. “And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith Yahweh of hosts. My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my Name… For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of Yahweh of hosts.” Malachi 2: 4-5. “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.” (Ezra 7:10).
2. Demonstrate His Righteousness
We are mediators of the new covenant (Heb. 12:21; 1 Peter 2: 9; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20). Jesus commanded us to disciple and teach all that He had commanded us to others. For this we have been anointed by the Holy Spirit. (John 16:13; 1 John 2:27; Matthew 28:19-20). We are also to teach and admonish one another exercising our priestly function within the Body (Colossians 3:16; Romans 12: 5-8; 1 Corinthians 12:7-8; 14:26). Some like the Aaronic priests have a specific full-time teaching ministry – the Five-fold Specialized Gifts of Ephesians 4:11.
In view of the fact that the Aaronic priests knew God’s law, they were best able to officiate as judges and to specify the divinely ordained penalties for various sins and breaches of the law. “… you shall come to the priests, the Levites, and to the judge there in those days, and inquire of them; they shall pronounce upon you the sentence of judgment.” Deuteronomy 17:9-11.
He has called His saints to not only judge according to His Word the things of this life, but also to reign with Him and execute His judgement with a “rod of iron” in the age to come, and also to judge angels. We are to judge righteous judgement according to His Word. 1 Cor. 6: 2-4; 2:15; Rev.5:9-10; 20: 6; 2:26-27.
4. Be a blessing to the people
The priests were to bless the people and put God’s Name upon them and in so doing, He would bless them (Numbers 6:27; 2 Chronicles 30:27; Leviticus 9:23-24).
In the new covenant we bless His people by waiting and hearing God from an open Bible and receiving an impartation of His Spirit for them – we receive from Him and serve the people. We direct people to God by impartation of His Spirit in the ministry of the gifts as well as by the words of our mouth (1 Corinthians 12: 7, 27-28 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Romans 14:19; Ephesians 4:29).
5. The Spiritual Reality
The service of the Old Covenant priesthood constituted a type-and-shadow of our service and sanctuary in the new covenant era. “…which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” (Colossians 2:17). As the substance is superior to a shadow, so is the present new covenant system superior to that which preceded it (i.e. the Levitical). But by looking at the Levitical order we can understand the pattern for priesthood on a natural level in those types and shadows and apply it to the spiritual.
When Moses received the pattern for the physical Tabernacle, he was told to make everything according to the spiritual reality. So we have in a natural form, the exact representation of the spiritual reality which is now functioning in the Melchizedek priesthood. Hebrews 8:5: “The sacrifices which were natural are now spiritual, and the tabernacle/temple in which they were performed is now also a spiritual temple of living stones to be inhabited by His Spirit.” 1 Peter 2: 5