Then bring near to you Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the people of Israel, to serve me as priests—Aaron and Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. 2 And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. 3 You shall speak to all the skillful, whom I have filled with a spirit of skill, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him for my priesthood. 4 These are the garments that they shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a coat of checker work, a turban, and a sash. They shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons to serve me as priests. Ex 28:1-4 (ESV)
Welcome back! Last week we started to explore God’s tabernacle and temple. This week we will look at some of the procedures God set into place for man’s worship. Why did God make rules for worship? Man needed a representative to mediate between himself and God. Of all the tribes of Israel, God picked Aaron and his descendants, the tribe of Levi, to be the mediators – the priests. Before Jesus’ sacrifice, a priest was called to make sacrifices for man, and these men were carefully trained to do everything in the way God described, for without that attention to detail, man’s sacrifices would not satisfy our holy God. We will see how God designed priestly worship, and we will find out why ancient worship matters to us in 2012.
And Moses said, “This is the thing that the Lord commanded you to do, that the glory of the Lord may appear to you.” 7 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Draw near to the altar and offer your sin offering and your burnt offering and make atonement for yourself and for the people, and bring the offering of the people and make atonement for them, as the Lord has commanded.” Lev 9:6-7 (ESV)
Moses told Aaron that he needed to offer specific sacrifices to atone for himself and for the people. Atonement means to cover. We use the word to describe the blood sacrifice that allows a sinful person to approach a holy God. Before Jesus, atonement was made through an animal’s blood. Jesus’ death on the cross took away the need for an animal sacrifice. Jesus was the “once for all” blood atonement demanded to take away our sins. We no longer needed a high priest from the Aaronic tribe of Levi. Jesus became our High Priest.
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. Heb 4:14 (ESV)
And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. Heb 5:9-10 (ESV)
Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. Heb 8:1-2 (ESV)
We see that under the Old Covenant of the Law (before Jesus came), Aaron and his descendants served as priests. Under the New Covenant of grace (Jesus’ sacrificial and voluntary death), Jesus became our High Priest and serves in heaven – the true tabernacle of God.
Are there priests today? If we are believers, our body has been designated a temple by God, but there is no formal structure as there was in Moses’ and Jesus’ time.
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Rev 1:4-6 (ESV)
As believers we are priests and our temple is our body. How does that change the way you look at worship? What things do you do to defile God’s temple and cause harm to God’s priesthood? If we look at the news on just about any day we can find a story of one of “God’s priests” (or Rabbis, or Pastors, or Youth Counselors…) doing something that brings dishonor to God. It doesn’t take a seminary degree to be a priest! We become priests when we accept Jesus as our savior.
On Wednesday I will begin to explore the temple with you. In the next couple days, ask God which areas of your temple need to be cleaned out. I know I have a few (more than a few if I’m really honest).
If you have questions, or need prayer or support as you work to clean out your temple, feel free to email me. If you have not accepted the free gift of salvation offered by our Great High Priest, I can tell you more (or call a pastor if you’d prefer).
I would love to hear from you via blog comment or email. We are in this together!
See you Wednesday!