17. (a) What will members of the Israel of God be called? (b) What is the only sacrifice needed for forgiveness of sins?
17 What of the Israel of God? Jehovah tells them, through Isaiah: “As for you, the priests of Jehovah you will be called; the ministers of our God you will be said to be. The resources of the nations you people will eat, and in their glory you will speak elatedly about yourselves.” (Isaiah 61:6) In ancient Israel, Jehovah provided the Levitical priesthood to offer sacrifices in behalf of the priests themselves and their fellow Israelites. However, in 33 C.E., Jehovah ceased using the Levitical priesthood and inaugurated a better arrangement. He accepted the perfect life of Jesus as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind. Since then, no other sacrifice has been needed. Jesus’ sacrifice is valid for all time.—John 14:6; Colossians 2:13, 14; Hebrews 9:11-14, 24.
18. What kind of priesthood does the Israel of God form, and what is their commission?
18 How, then, are the members of the Israel of God “the priests of Jehovah”? Writing to fellow anointed Christians, the apostle Peter said: “You are ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for special possession, that you should declare abroad the excellencies’ of the one that called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9) Hence, as a group, anointed Christians form a priesthood with a specific commission: to tell the nations about Jehovah’s glory. They are to be witnesses of him. (Isaiah 43:10-12) Throughout the last days, anointed Christians have faithfully discharged this vital commission. As a result, millions now share with them in the work of witnessing about Jehovah’s Kingdom.
19. What service will anointed Christians be privileged to perform?
19 Further, members of the Israel of God have the prospect of serving as priests in another way. After their death, they are resurrected to immortal spirit life in heaven. There they serve not only as rulers with Jesus in his Kingdom but also as priests of God. (Revelation 5:10; 20:6) As such, they will be privileged to apply the benefits of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice to faithful mankind on earth. In the apostle John’s vision recorded in Revelation chapter 22, they are again described as “trees.” All 144,000 “trees” are seen in heaven, producing “twelve crops of fruit, yielding their fruits each month. And the leaves of the trees [are] for the curing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:1, 2) What a wonderful priestly service that is!