For a number of years now, I’ve been trying to read through the whole Bible in a year. I was fascinated this year, as I read the description in the book of Leviticus of the establishment of the Levitical priesthood. Priests in the Levitical priesthood came only from the tribe of Levi, and within that tribe it was only the descendants of Aaron who qualified for the priesthood. Even then there were strict requirements for qualification.
Priests had to be male, between thirty and fifty years of age, without any physical disability or blemish, and meet strict requirements in their choice of a marriage partner. The role of a priest was to be a holy minister to God on behalf of the rest of the Israelite nation. Duties included teaching the people, serving as judges in disputes, offering sacrifices, burning incense, blessing the people, blessing God, and caring for the holy things of the Tabernacle. Failure to observe requirements for ceremonial purity on the part of the priests could, and for some did, result in God’s judgement and even death.
As I read through the various regulations and duties set out by Moses for the priests, I felt a growing excitement as I saw the parallels in the role all of us play as worshippers and followers of Jesus. Under the Old Covenant we would almost certainly all have been excluded from being priests on the grounds of our failure to meet the strict requirements for acceptance, but our verse for today tells us that in Christ we have all become members of a new royal priesthood.
When Aaron and his sons, and all those who succeeded them, were ordained, they were sprinkled with the blood of sacrifices and anointed with oil. We, as those chosen by grace and not through any natural privilege, have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus, our High Priest and anointed by His Holy Spirit. The priests who served at the Tabernacle wore special robes as they served. We have been clothed in the robes of salvation and Jesus’ own righteousness.
There’s so much more, which the writer of the book of Hebrews seeks to address. But, if the truth of God’s choosing and qualifying of each one of us, as royal priests, reaches our hearts, it can change the way we see ourselves. We are each special and have a high and holy calling. Like the priests at the Tabernacle, we too can pass on the truths of God’s word to others and receive wisdom from Him to help them. We can offer up the sacrifice of praise and the incense of prayer and intercession. We too can bless God and others and play our part in serving in the new Tabernacle, the Church.
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