Have you ever wondered how to intercede for your family with power and authority? In the midst of the world we are living in today, we can stand firm as intercessors for our families and for our communities when we understand our identities as members of a royal priesthood.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.1 Peter 2:9
What does it mean to be part of a royal priesthood, and how can we, as chosen people, intercede for our families and for our world? To better understand what it means to be part of a royal priesthood, let’s look at what it meant to be a priest in the Old Testament by looking at the example of Joshua the priest found in the book of Zechariah.
What does it Mean to be a Royal Preisthood? A Look at Joshua the Priest
When we get to the book of Zechariah, this prophet of God encouraged the people of Israel to continue to live in obedience to God, despite their circumstances and feelings of doubt and discouragement. During that time Israel had been freed from their captivity to the nation of Babylon. The people were allowed to return to Judah and could begin rebuilding their lives again.
Zechariah urged them to rebuild the temple that had been destroyed by the Babylonians. God used Zechariah to encourage his people not to give up through a series of visions.
Chapter 3 in the book of Zechariah reveals a compelling vision of the high priest Joshua. Let’s take a look at this vision more closely and how we can be encouraged to intercede and pray for our families:
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him.Zechariah 3:1
Let’s stop here for a moment. Have you ever felt that you were unworthy to serve God? Have you ever felt that the sins of your past are too great to be forgiven? Have you ever felt that you have to earn God’s favor in order to be accepted by him? These are lies spewed from the mouth of the accuser. Sometimes his lies may sound something like this:
“You will never be good enough.”
“God doesn’t really love you. He could never forgive someone like you.”
“No one wants you. God doesn’t care.”
Here Joshua is a high priest—the highest position of service to God, and Satan has the audacity to accuse him! Satan is the father of lies—everything that comes out of his mouth is filled with venomous deception. Revelation 12:10 calls him the “accuser of our brothers”—and reveals his ultimate fate. Satan will be hurled down—overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of the testimony of those who are secure in Christ (Rev 12:11).
Notice also in Revelation 12:10 that Satan is relentless in his accusations:
“For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.”
Not only does Satan accuse God’s people in the presence of God (in the book of Zechariah he accused Joshua in the presence of the angel of the Lord), but he accuses “day and night”. Our enemy is not a part-time devil. He works overtime, day and night to deceive, discourage and to destroy God’s people. Remember, Jesus tells us in John 10 that the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).
But when we are secure in the arms of the Good Shepherd, we have nothing to fear.
One way to combat the enemy’s continual attempts to accuse us is to do what the four creatures described in Revelation 4:8 do regularly,
Day and night they never stop saying:
“Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come.”
Day and night the enemy hurls lies at God’s people—but what if day and night, we as members of the royal priesthood lifted up praises to our great God? Praise proclaims the truth of God. Truth overpowers the deception of the devil every time. Psalm 1 describes the righteous as those who meditate on the Word of God “day and might” (Psalm 1:2).
When you feel the attacks and accusations of the enemy come against you, keep your mind focused on the truth of God through his Word, and proclaim the truth of God by praising his name—day and night. If we have a continual heart of praise and thanksgiving, the accusations of the enemy will fall on deaf ears. We will be too busy thanking God for what he has done to even bother thinking about the lies of Satan!
Read God’s response to Satan in the rest of Zechariah’s vision:
The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”Zechariah 3:2
A rebuke is a strong scolding, a reproach, or chastisement. Satan tried to accuse God’s servant—but the Lord defended Joshua by silencing Satan’s accusations with a forceful rebuke. And you know what? Satan shuts up and is not mentioned in the rest of the passage. The devil himself must submit to God Almighty! Whenever you sense the false accusations of Satan regarding the situations in your life, know that God is on your side.
He is your Defender; and will send the devil packing!
Like Joshua the high priest, your Savior has snatched you from the fire and scorching heat of the eternal punishment of sin—the unquenchable fire of hell is the pending fate of the deceiver, Satan himself (Revelation 12:12). When you start to think condemning, accusatory thoughts that do not line up with the truth of God’s word, stop yourself and ask, “What lies am I believing?” Then rebuke those lies. Reject them; resist the devil, and he will flee (James 4:7).
Related: Take a look at how you can demolish strongholds and live in victory in this post.
The next part of Zechariah’s vision displays the tremendous love, grace and mercy of our great God:
Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.”
Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by.
The beautiful act of God taking off the “filthy clothes” of our sin and clothing us with the rich, clean garments of his love and forgiveness is the main thread within the fabric of this blog. It does not matter what you have done, where you have been, or what your current shortcomings are. God through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus has removed your sin like dirty laundry.
Instead of living lives of sorrow and defeat, God has clothed us with shimmering garments of his freedom and holiness. We are clothed with strength and dignity. We are now heirs of the rich inheritance of Christ, and are decked out in priestly garments of royalty. We are now qualified to serve the Lord with joy and heartfelt gratitude.
Being clothed is not a feat we can perform on our own. Try telling a one-year-old to change his own diaper, take off his clothes and get dressed by himself. Not happening! Infants and toddlers are completely incapable of doing this on their own; and so it is with us.
We are not able to save ourselves from the eternal punishment of our sin, nor are we able to live victorious lives of freedom without the radical act of being clothed by Christ. Like Joshua, all we need to do is stand humbly before the Lord. He takes care of the rest.
The angel of the Lord gave this charge to Joshua: “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘If you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among those standing here.’Zechariah 3:6-7
How to Intercede for your Family as Members of the Royal Priesthood
After Joshua had been clothed in clean garments, he was given the charge from God to take action as a priest on behalf of the people of Israel. When we are clothed in the garments of Christ he not only bestows on us his salvation, but equips us to walk in obedience to his Word. Then he gives us the high calling of priestly ordination.
The priests in Israel not only performed the daily duties of offering sacrifices, but they were given authority by God to make decisions for the Israelites (Ex 28:30). The priests were also consulted by the kings of Israel and Judah concerning the affairs of the temple (2 Kings 12:7, 23:4). The priests also protected God’s people from their enemies.
The priest Ahimelech provided David with consecrated bread and Goliath’s sword when David fled from Saul (1 Samuel 21:4, 8-9). Jehoiada the priest even anointed Joash king and summoned troops to overthrow Athaliah the wicked ruler (2 Kings 11:9-15).
The priests had authority to do incredible things for God.
We as members of the royal priesthood through Christ may not perform specific duties in a temple, but the Lord has given us authority to govern our homes and to impact our communities for his glory. I have observed at least three primary ways we can live out this high calling through the three “I’s”:
1.) Invest time in building and managing our households well.
Joshua (not Joshua the priest, but Joshua who served with Moses) boldly declared to the people of Israel that they should choose who they would serve—the idols of the surrounding nations or the God of Israel- the Great I Am. “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). We must also make this decision for our own households. When David instructed Solomon to build the temple of the Lord, he made sure to include responsibilities for the priests (1 Chronicles 28: 13, 21).
Not only are we called to maintain our physical homes to make sure that they are clean, tidy places for our families to live, but we ought to govern the spiritual affairs of our homes as well.
2.) Influence our families and communities with the truth of the Gospel.
We all have been given a sphere of influence. This circle can include your immediate and extended family, work environment, neighborhood and city where you live. King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 17 sent out officials, priests and Levites (Levites were appointed to serve the Lord with the priests) to go throughout the towns of Judah and teach the people the Word of God (2 Chronicles 17:7-9).
We as members of the royal priesthood also have been called by God to teach those in our sphere of influence the powerful truth of God. The next verse explains that when the priests, officials, and Levites went out to teach God’s Word, “the fear of the Lord fell on all the kingdoms of the lands surrounding Judah, so that they did not make war with Jehoshaphat” (2 Chronicles 17:10).
What powerful influence they had to impact their communities—so much so that the surrounding communities began to fear the Lord! This is the power of influence! Just imagine the powerful impact we can have in our families and communities when we serve the Lord as his ambassadors. There is amazing power in God’s Word. It is our job to teach it to those in our sphere of influence!
3.) Intercede for those around us.
Jesus is not only the great High Priest, but is also the Lamb of God who sacrificed himself for the sins of the world once and for all (Hebrews 7:27). Scripture tells us that he now sits at the right hand of the Father and intercedes for us (Heb 7:25, Rom 8:34). The Greek word for intercede means to confer with, to offer requests, or to entreat on someone’s behalf. It is the act of meeting someone with the purpose of conversation, consultation, or supplication (source).
Isn’t it amazing to think that Jesus has regular meetings with the Father and intercedes on our behalf? God already knows all of our requests and concerns—he has already discussed them at length with his Beloved Son. Since we have such a great High Priest who can empathize with our weaknesses, we can confidently approach His throne of grace to receive mercy, hope and help in our greatest times of need (Heb 4:15-16).
If Jesus, our great High Priest intercedes for us, how much more should we as members of the royal priesthood intercede for those around us? Job operated as the priest and intercessor of his home by rising early each morning to sacrifice burnt offerings for each of his children (Job 1:5).
The prophet Samuel called the people of Israel to turn from their wicked ways and to return to the Lord, and he interceded for them. When the Philistine army came to attack, the Israelites pleaded with Samuel to continue interceding for them.
“Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines” (1 Samuel 7:8).
Samuel offered a burnt offering to the Lord, and God delivered his people. Our families and communities would be powerfully impacted when we call on the name of the Lord and intercede for them with fervor!
The priests also burned incense before the Lord in the morning and at twilight as a form of intercession (Exodus 30:7-8). Since then the burning of incense has also been associated with prayers of believers. David in Psalm 141:2 intimately calls out to the Lord by saying,
“May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.”
Zechariah, the priest and father of John the Baptist burned incense as the worshippers stood outside the temple praying (Luke 1:8-10). Twice in the book of Revelation incense is mentioned in reference to the prayers of the saints (Rev 5:8, Rev 8:3-4).
So who are you praying for?
The prayers of God’s people are precious to him; the aroma of our faith and persistent prayer life is like the sweet aroma of incense being lifted up to his throne of grace. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 we are urged by Paul to pray continually; constantly; unceasingly and without wavering.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Day and night and all throughout the day, offer your prayers to him. Put on your priestly garments of splendor and serve the Lord through intercession!
Identify a core group of people in your sphere of influence you desire to pray for on a regular basis. Do you have a prodigal child or an estranged spouse? Pray without ceasing. Is a friend or family member struggling with an issue? Send your prayers to the Father on their behalf. Send them up like sacred incense.
Are you up for the high calling of the royal priesthood? Whatever season of life you find yourself in, God is calling you to actively serve him wherever you are. Whether you are married or single, widowed or divorced, God has appointed you to serve him as a royal priestess. You have been washed. You have been clothed. You are anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit. Now it’s time to take your appointed position in the royal priesthood. Put on your priestly garments of splendor dear sister, and serve the Lord with joy!
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.Revelation 1:5-6
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