Nevertheless, not everything has been lost by the fall of humanity into sin. Human beings are still created in the image of God. And we still have the right and the capacity to make our own choices. God desires for human beings to choose Him as their King, so that His Kingdom rule and blessings may be manifest on earth through them (see Mark 6:9-10).

Stage 2: Ministry from Within

The Lord begins the plan of redemption—the Levitical priesthood.

In the Old Testament, God prepares to introduce His King, setting the stage for the redemption of earth. He begins with Abraham, through whose offspring He intends to recover the planet and bless all its nations (see Genesis 17). But His chosen people—the children of Israel—wind up enslaved in Egypt. He then summons Moses, using him to deliver Israel, and declares His desire to make Israel "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:6).

God's original intent was that all Israel would be "priests." This plan was short-circuited, however, when the people rebelled against Moses' leadership following the fashioning of the golden calf. Only the Levites stood by Moses. As a result of this key incident, priesthood in the nation of Israel became restricted to this one tribe (see Exodus 32). (By the way, we should not give the Levites too much credit for their loyalty on this occasion, since they were prompted mostly by tribal affiliation to Moses.)

In the New Testament, we learn that Jesus desires for all those who name Him their Lord to be His ministering "priests." In an interesting parallel of the Old Testament experience, Church tradition singles out the "priesthood" as a select few. So instead of all the people of God reaching out to minister to the world, we end up with a segment of the Church ministering to itself—just as the priests of Israel ministered only to Israel.

Yet look at what the Scriptures say about the Church serving as ministering agents of Jesus Christ: "To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen" (Revelation 1:5-6, emphasis added).

Some people take these verses to mean that we will reign on earth when Jesus returns. But John is speaking in the past tense: The text says that "He loved us and washed us"—and we know this has already happened. Then John says, "He has made us kings and priests"—again, the tense of the verb indicates that this has already happened. We are His kings (who have dominion) and His priests (who worship) now. (This is not to discount the millennial rule; simply speaking, we do not have to rule all the earth to rule some of it.)

Stage 3: The Lessons Begin

The Lord introduces the role of worship.

When the Lord God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, He told him, "When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain" (Exodus 3:12, emphasis added). The Hebrew word that is used here for serveabad—also means to be a servant of, or to worship. By saying they would "serve God," He meant that His people would worship Him. It took only one day for God to deliver the Ten Commandments, but His people remained at Mt. Sinai for more than a year, building the Tabernacle and being taught by God how to worship. As we have seen, God's plan for redemption, recovery of fellowship and resumed dominion was that His people would be priests, and priests lead worship.