A CALL TO HOLINESS
Principles of Priesthood
Jerry A. Collins
Christianity is a personal faith. It is not a collective faith nor is it an institutional faith. We will not represent one another nor will we be represented by a church. Each one of us is and will be personally responsible and accountable to the Lord. In this sense, every believer is a priest. What we represent is our own lives of devotion, obedience and dedication to the Word of God and the God of the Word. We are personally responsible to God. The only head of the church is Christ. The only one with authority in the church is Jesus Christ. He has not passed on any of His authority to pastors, elders, deacons, boards or congregations. That authority rests in the Word of God. We are responsible for one another but none of us has authority over another. Our responsibility for one another is defined in and taught by the Word of God. What kind of representation will you offer to Christ for your life? We can learn about the function of our priesthood today as we view it from the role of an Old Testament priest in Israel.
(1) THE RITUALIn 8:1-36 we see the essential parts of the celebration and consecration of the priest, in this case Aaron and his sons, to the priesthood. There was assembly of the people with appropriate materials 1-4, the priests washed and clothed 5-9, sacred objects and persons anointed 10-13, sin offering 14-17, burnt offering 18-21, ram and blood 22-29, then sprinkling of blood and oil on them 30, finally eating and 7 days duration of the process 31-36. The most significant point is the Ďconsecrationí of vs 12. It is the dedication of the priest for the purpose of ministry. In other words, he is now being set apart in his life to do something with it that will serve people with an eternal and spiritual purpose associated with it, namely representing Godís interests amongst the people.
(2) THE ANOINTING An essential part of this consecration was the anointing in vss. 10-12, 30. The main object of anointing with oil was the preservation of the health and comfort of the body. In hot and arid countries the exposure to sun and sand provoked irritation to the skin which the application of oil relieved. If someone spends too much time in the sun or sand oils are applied today to keep the skin from dryness and irritation. When traveling a guest would be given the opportunity to wash and freshen up but also given oils. Itís use extended to anointing the sick as it served as medicine and refreshment. A person can feel ill in bed but a visit by someone rubbing oil on him is part of the care given them.
From this , it is not so surprising that the custom of anointing priests and kings grew. If a priest or king was anointed at his consecration it indicated to the people that the subject was recognized by the deity of the temple or palace. It was clear to them that god was actually welcoming him into the house with honor and affection.
(3) THE REALITY The Lord used this symbolism in pagan cultures and took it to a new and significant meaning with His people. It not only meant Godís welcoming the priest into his presence but was usually accompanied by the giving of the HS which equipped the person for office and service. For instance, when Saul is anointed Samuel said the Spirit of the Lord shall come upon you (1 Samuel 10:6). When David was anointed the Spirit came upon him and departed from Saul (1 Samuel 16:13-14). Jesus never received an external anointing but we read that the Spirit descended on Him like a dove in full measure (John 1:32). The symbol of anointing was irrelevant with the reality shining through in Jesus Christ. Peter in his speech to Cornelius could say God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the HS and with power (Acts 10:38). So too, Christians are anointed with the HS He who has anointed us is God (2 Corinthians 1:21). This anointing is tantamount to enablement and sealing to our priestly service and our acceptance in the presence of God. Spiritual gifts come with this anointing and the Spirit is given as a pledge that assures us the right to dwell i9n His presence (Ephesians 1:13). So this Old Testament imagery of anointing finds its fulfillment in the work of the HS. By the way, the name Messiah means the Anointed One. This Christ designated Jesus as Redeemer simply on the grounds of His anointing in the spiritual sense as The Messiah. It is in this one on whom all the hopes and expectations of Godís people were hung (Ps 2:2; Dan 9:25-26). He alone serves as the High Priest. For there is one God, one mediator also between God and man, the man Christ Jesus who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony at the proper time (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Hebrews 5-9 teach us that His priesthood has done away with the OT priesthood. His priesthood is better. For us today, it means that we have an anointing, imparting of the HS for service to the Lord, and a dedication, a calling to the work of the priesthood. We received these when we believed. Each one of us are believer-priests in this sense.
(1) THE SACRIFICESIn vss. 1-21 is a description of the work of the ministry of the priests which is something that had never happened before. This is the beginning of their ministry amongst the people. Here it is a ministry in anticipation of a visible experience of the presence of God vs. 6. Hereafter it would be the spiritual presence of God that men would seek when they made their offerings. in vs. 1 we read that on the eighth day of the consecration of the priests, the worship is to begin. Before bringing offerings for the people he is to bring a sin offering for himself vs. 2. Here we immediately see the contrast between Aaron and Jesus, for in Hebrews 7:26-27 it says For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, because he did once for all when He offered up Himself.
(2) THE APPEARANCE The goal of the worship is that the Lord or the glory of the Lord would appear to the people vs. 4, 6, 23. Everything in the offerings and sacrifices is leading up to this moment. This is the moment when the very presence of God settles amongst the people in the Holy of Holies. When the sacrifices are made, the blood applied, the blessing pronounced the divine approval of it all was vividly demonstrated with the appearing of the glory of the Lord. God has now tabernacled in the midst of His people. In the New Testament Jesus tabernacled among his people. John later says that on an occasion, probably the transfiguration, the tent was pulled back and they saw the glory of the only begotten son (Matthew 17).
(3) THE BLESSING Aaron blesses the people when he comes down from the altar vs. 22 and then Moses and Aaron bless the people vs. 23. The word bless means enrichment, endowment, gift. It could be any enrichment that one would give to another, any kind of gift. When God blesses someone it means he enriches them physically, spiritually, emotionally or materially. Here they announce to the people the blessing of God and that blessing was that now the system was working--God had legislated the way of access to his presence, now it was fulfilled and operative. Now they had a high priest who could represent them and make atonement for them. they could go home from this ceremony feeling that they were better off spiritually and in every other way because the program was inaugurated. So too, the greatest blessing we have today from God is through our mediator, Jesus Christ. By him we have access to god, we have salvation. Without that we only have the curse.
(4) THE HOLY PLACE Now this shrine, the tabernacle, is a holy place, a place where God was seen and heard, a place where the presence of God resides. So too, we have become the holy place where God has taken up residence Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the HS who is in you, whom you have from God and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price, therefore glorify god in your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 3:16-17). So we are dedicated to God for which we are to present our bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship (Romans 12:1).
A. Worship is pleasing God with my life while living in His presence. Worship is not a service, music or ritual. Worship is a 24 hour lifestyle. Worship is obeying God. It includes consecration, dedication, humility, the fruit of the Spirit, filling of the HS. It is pleasing God while living in His presence. If I am not pleasing Him, I am sinning, and only through confession and repentance with obedience can I worship him again. Feeling good about my faith is not the same as worship. Those who worship him must do so in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).
B. I represent myself personally before the Lord. Everyone of us will give an account to the Lord to test the quality of each mans work (1 Corinthians 3:13).