According to Kevin DeYoung, Greg Gilbert. What Is the Mission of the Church?
‘Some argue that the language of “kingdom of priests” indicates that we are intermediaries for the presence of God in the world.’
But, say these authors, while it may seem attractive to think of Israel as mediating God’s blessings among the nations, this is not the best way of understanding the phrase:
1. ‘The primary function of the priests in the Old Testament is to mediate between God and man by administering sacrifices. The book of Hebrews understands the priestly office of Christ in largely the same way (4: 14– 5: 10; 7: 1– 28; 10: 1– 18).’
2. ‘“Kingdom of priests” is best understood as a designation for Israel’s call to be set apart from the world and belong to God…The image of a royal priesthood in the Old Testament and in the New Testament suggests holiness and privilege, not incarnational presence.’
3. ‘The rules and regulations of Sinai say nothing about a mission to the Gentiles. There are commands for Israel to express care for sojourners and foreigners in its midst, but not explicit instructions for Israel to go into the world and meet the needs of the nations.’
4. ‘The Israelites conquer the surrounding nations by military force, not by any kind of incarnational mission. The nations are more often threats to Israel’s religion than they are opportunities for service, even if God’s design all along is to save more than ethnic Jews (see Isa. 42: 6; 49: 6; 60: 3).’
5. ‘The prophets never fault Israel for neglecting its missionary or international blessing mandate. God certainly cares about how his chosen people will be an attraction or a byword among the nations. But the direction is “come and see” not “go and tell.”’