THE LEVITICAL PRIESTHOOD.
Reading: Hebrews 10:1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
Reading: Hebrews 8:5 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.
The priests had to be from the tribe of Levi only. Levi was the third son of Jacob and Leah. In general the priesthood was to show the people God’s holiness and Man’s sinfulness. Priesthood would show the people that they are on probation. A willingness on God’s part to continue to be with His people - on the condition that the people would acknowledge their sin, waywardness, rebellion , and unbelief.
Psalm 95:10 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways:
Psalm 106:24 Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word:
25 But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the LORD.
The whole Levitical priesthood should be seen as God’s provision for a sinful people that he might remain amongst them - for their blessing. This can easily be seen in the work of the priesthood.
1. To offer up sacrifices to God. Ex.30:10... Heb.8:3.
2. To mediate between God and Man. Heb.9:7... Ex.29:42.... Heb.5:1.
3. To purify the unclean. Lev. 15:30,31.
4. To teach the law. Deut. 33:10.
1. To offer up sacrifices to God.
In Hebrews 8:3 we read that every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices - for the sins of the people. All the sacrifices ever made should be a constant reminder that God’s penalty for sin is death. Every sacrifice offered on Man’s part is the recognition that because of sin he has forfeited right to life. To regain that life he needs a substitute. On God’s part He would accept the animal sacrifice, as if on credit, until His Son would come and by One Perfect Sacrifice, the Perfect Substitute, would Forever pay and put away Sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
2. To mediate between God and Man.
Hebrews 9:7 tells us that the High Priest went into the holiest of all, past the Second Veil, alone once every year with the blood which he offered for Himself, and for the errors of the people. A mediator is a go-between, that is between two parties. That’s why it says in Gal.3:19 " a mediator is not a mediator of one," that is of One Party, but of Two Parties. In this case between God and Man representing both parties. Neither is a mediator a referee, or a solicitor. A solicitor only represents one party, usually himself. No Aaron as high Priest had a very extraordinary position. There was no position above him in the Levitical Priesthood. The High Priest alone was between God’s Holiness - and the Sinfulness of all the people of Israel. The people stood afar off - only Aaron went into the presence of God.. The High Priest, Aaron, was called by God to this office. He alone was to represent the people of Israel before God. NO ONE ELSE. He alone was to represent God to the people.
When he did go into the Holiest with the blood of the sacrifice, he went there alone on behalf of the people. He had bells on his coat for that purpose. He would not stand still for a moment so the people outside would know that he was still alive and not struck dead like his two sons, Nadab and Abihu. He alone was authorized to come into the presence of God - but not without blood. To venture into the Holiest, God’s dwelling place, without blood would bring immediate death.
3. To purify the unclean Lev. 14:15.
God’s provision included remedies for the "unclean" the word for sickness and diseases from leprosy to women’s troubles, there was the provision for healing. That all may be clean, pure, and holy. Luke 4:27 tells us that many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. It was the priest’s job to seek out the leper and get him cleansed. The reason they were not cleansed in the time of Elisha was their blasé attitude and unbelief towards God’s word, instructions and prophet. That kind of healing does not apply for today simply because you are not a Jew neither are you under the law of Moses. At present we are in the dispensation of Grace. Anyone who teaches different is a deliberate liar, perverting the Grace of God regards this dispensation we live in. I suggest that if you have any doubts about this to read Sir Robert Anderson’s book titled the "Silence of God," which will make it quite evident why for the last 1900 years heaven seems like brass.
4. To teach the law, Deuteronomy 33:10.
They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law. Judgments to Jacob, the unsaved man, but the law to Israel the saved man who is a prince with God.
Malachi 2:7 For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. "Feed my lambs" was the Lord’s instruction to His disciples. I hope you can see that there was a definite work to be performed and undertaken by the priesthood. The priest was the Messenger of the Lord, working on God’s behalf, - for the benefit of God’s people.
The biggest event for the High Priest was once every twelve month called the Day of Atonement on the tenth day of the seventh month. You read of this in Lev. 16:4....... He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.
5 And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering.
6 And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house.
7 And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
16 And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.
17 And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel.
34 to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year.
The day of Atonement was a day of humiliation and verses 21,22 it was a day of substitution. Sin would be covered for twelve month. Aaron’s job, his work on the Day of Atonement would guarantee another 12 month history for Israel. You see without Christ in view, God would have to pass judgment immediately and all would disappear like Korah and his sons. Theoretically speaking, from man’s point of view, Aaron and the Levitical Priesthood at that time kept World History to continue. No different than in the case of Noah or Lot. As long as Noah was preaching and not floating - that world continued. As long as Lot was in Sodom, Sodom and Gomorrah were allowed to continue, till the day that angels ushered Lot out of that city. So Aaron had a very high earthly position.
Yet the Bible tells us that there was someone with a greater position than Aaron. A man forgotten in the pages of history. Especially in a Jewish mind when speaking of great men there would be Samson, David, Solomon, Moses, Jacob, Isaac and Abraham. But there is one greater than all of these - Melchizedek. Where does he fit in ? Well the greatest man in the Jewish faith is Father Abraham but Abraham was paying God ordained taxes to someone greater than himself - he gave the tenth part to Melchizedek who was Priest of The Most High God. Heb.7:1-4
1 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;
2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;
3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.
4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.
Melchizedek is the greatest man revealed to us in the Word of God. No other man ever was Priest and King at the same time. No other King ever was King of Righteousness and King of Peace at the same time. But this man, Melchizedek, was King of Righteousness, King of Peace and Priest of the Most High God all at the same time. And that’s not all - Heb.7:8 says it is witnessed that he liveth. You know the Bible speaks of Enoch not seeing death - for God took him, - Heb.11:5 Enoch was translated. Elijah took off in a chariot of fire, and here is a third person spoken of that liveth.
I hope you realize how the Holy Spirit wants you to see the greatness of this man called Melchizedek - without father, without mother, without descent, - no genealogy, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God. Now consider how great this man was, but our Saviour the Lord Jesus is greater. Heb.9:11
11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;
12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
Heb.10:11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God. Melchizedek has never sat there. Melchizedek, as great as he was could never do this Heb.7:24 but our Saviour, because he continueth forever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them, 26 For such an high priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher that the heavens, - he does not have to offer sacrifices, first for his own sins and then for the peoples; for this He did once, when He offered up Himself. Therefore, we have such an high priest, who is seated on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens. A minister of the sanctuary, which the Lord pitched, and not man.
It takes Melchizedek and Aaron and all the Old Testament sacrifices to cast just a shadow for the eternal greatness of our Great High Priest the Lord Jesus.
Melchizedek is King of Righteousness and king of Peace by interpretation, but our Saviour’s name is King of Righteousness and King of Peace not by interpretation but by reality. Melchizedek is assumed without father and mother like unto the Son of God. But our Saviour is the Son of God. He is without father according to His Humanity, and He is without mother according to His Deity. Because He is human He can have compassion on the ignorant, and on those that are out of the way. Because He is Divine He has an endless life. Because He is Human and Divine he can represent God to Man perfectly and Man to God perfectly. Now there is no other person like that in the entire universe. Regards the question of sin, salvation, eternal life remember there was only one volunteer good enough and great enough. All the redeemed can look to Jesus Christ and say He is My Substitute. He took my place, He sacrificed Himself for me.
F.J. Revink. 28.9.1997