All materials on the Christian-Family.net website are protected by copyright laws of the United States of America. The Christian-Family.net grants copying and reproduction of the sermons appearing on this site on a ONE-TIME basis and for non-commercial uses only (e.g., preaching, bulletins, journals, news letters, Bible class hand outs, personal files, etc.).
Full credits including author, website address, www.christian-family.net, and copyright notice must accompany any reproduction of articles or sermons for any sort of distribution. For all other uses of material from Christian-Family.net , written permission is required, which may be requested on our contact page.
A. A study of the priesthood of Aaron is basic study in the types and shadows of the Old Testament
1. Heb 10:1 “For the law having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things, can never with the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect them that draw nigh.” (ASV)
2. The word shadow indicates a symbolic and obscure expression of a thing.
3. A tree may cast a shadow in the morning sunlight.
4. One might be able to identify the shadow as a tree but not be able to identify its color or even the kind of tree.
5. A biblical type may be defined as “a figure or ensample of something future and more or less prophetic, called the ‘Antitype” (Bullinger, 768 – Jackson 125).
B. There are three offices in the Old Testament that are types whose antitype are found in the New Testament. They are:
1. Prophets (1 Kgs. ; cf. 1 Cor. 11:4-5),
2. Priests (Ex. 28:41; cf. 1 Pet. 2:9) and
3. Kings (1 Sam. 10:1; cf.Rev. 1:6).
C. The office of priest is of particular interest for this study.
1. What Is a Priest? -- A priest, in effect, is a mediator who stands between God and man.
a. He offers sacrifice to God on behalf of man and administers other worship obligations that people feel unworthy to offer personally.
b. The nearest thing to a definition found in the Scriptures is probably Hebrews 5:1.
“For every high priest, being taken from among men, is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.”
2. The formal priesthood of the Mosaic dispensation was known as the Aaronic priesthood, because all the priests were required to be selected from Aaron’s (Moses’ brother) lineage.
3. The OT priest was a foreshadow of the Christian who is a priest:
1 Peter 2:5 “Ye also, as living stones are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
D. The Biblical priesthood of Aaron consisted of the offices of priest and high priest.
were set in place through Moses, along with the Law and the earthly tabernacle
while the children of
Lord specified only Aaron, of the tribe of Levi, and his
sons to be
3. The other Levites were set apart as assistants to help in the work of the tabernacle and to care for its furnishings (Num. 3:5-10).
A. The priesthood was the ministry of worship as the tabernacle was the place of worship for the Israelites.
B. The priests had a very close connection with the tabernacle in its constitution and…
C. As a complement of it in that ancient religion of types and shadows.
D. The tabernacle would have been useless and meaningless without a priesthood.
II. Aaron was to be the high priest, and his son’s common priests.
A. Viewing the Israelite priesthood in its broadest phase, it contained three classes:
B. The whole tribe of Levi was a priestly tribe, and the Levites were divinely appointed helpers of the priests.
1. The tribe of Levi was chosen because of its
2. They were to assist the priests in caring for and transporting the tabernacle from place to place,
3. And in teaching the law to the people.
of these important duties the Levites were given no regular inheritance in the
C. The common priests were of the sons of Aaron, who was of the priestly tribe of Levi.
1. These were consecrated with Aaron to the sacred service of Jehovah,
2. But it is worthy of notice that in the calling of them with Aaron it is said that "he" may minister in the priest's office.
3. Aaron, who was the High Priest.
1. The HP entered once each year into the holy of holies to make atonement and to intercede before Jehovah for the people.
2. He bore their names ever upon his breast (Ex. 28:15-29; 39:8-21).
3. As far as that ancient service is concerned, there would have been no other priests if he could have performed this service alone.
B. The HP took the blood of an animal into the holy of holies and sprinkled it upon the Mercy Seat to atone for his own sins.
C. He entered a second time with blood to atone for the sins of the people.
1. "Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus." (Heb. 3 :1 ).
2. "We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens." (Heb. 8 :1).
3. As Aaron entered into God's presence with the blood of vicarious atonement, so Jesus intercedes for us by his own atoning blood.
4. As Israel's high priest bore into God's presence the names of his people inscribed in the precious stones upon his breast and shoulders, so Jesus our "advocate with the Father" (1 John 2:1) represents us every one before God's throne in heaven now.
5. Aaron, the high priest, resembled Christ in several particulars and yet was much inferior to him.
a. Aaron was divinely appointed, and so was Jesus (Heb. 5:5).
b. Aaron was ceremonially pure in that he was consecrated;
c. He was not to defile himself by touching any dead thing; and must marry a wife in her virginity, not a divorced woman, a harlot, or a widow (Lev. ):
c. So Christ was intrinsically holy (Heb. ).
“For such a high priest became us, holy, guileless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens”
d. His bride, the church, is to be “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. ).
e. The ancient high priest was to be physically perfect (Lev. 24); but Christ is morally perfect.
6. Christians are represented as priests in the NT:
a. "Ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation" (1 Pet. 2:9).
b. "And hast made us unto our God kings and priests" (Rev.1:6; ; 20:6).
c. Christians offer spiritual sacrifices (Rom. 12:1ff; Phil. ; ; Heb. -16; 1 Pet. 2:5).
d. We offer up service to God through our High Priest, Jesus Christ (Heb. 3:1; 4:14ff).
e. Christ, our HP mediates on our behalf (Heb. 2:17ff; 1 Tim. 2:5).
8. Also as those priests entered that ancient house of God, so Christians have been admitted into the "house of God which is the church."
9. Likewise, Christians are analogous to the Levitical priests in that as they offered the sweet incense in worship to God, so …
10. Christians "offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name." (Heb. 13:15).
11. These offerings to God are acceptable to him because we are chosen of God as priests; we do not become priests by means of such offerings.
12. As those Levitical priests had to wash at the laver before entering the sacred precincts of God's house, so we have become truly holy by obeying the truth:
1 Peter “Seeing ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth…”
13. Every Christian is a priest of God.
a. As such, the Christian serves under Jesus who is the Great High Priest (Heb. 3:1)
b. There is not “clergy/laity” system in NT Christianity.
B. Aaron, the High Priest – Like Christ, Our High Priest
1. The role of high priest was a life-long appointment, and was assumed by the oldest qualified descendant of Aaron.
2. All other male offspring of Aaron served as priests, except in the case of the physically impaired (Lev. -23), or unless he became temporarily “unclean” (Lev. 22:3).
3. Aaron – a type of Christ – Heb. 3:1
Heb 3:1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, even Jesus(ASV).
There are some important points that stress great truths regarding the priesthood of the Mosaic dispensation.
IV. The Holiness of God
A. One of the prime features of the priestly system was to emphasize—and quite graphically—the absolutely holy nature of Almighty God.
1. This is a concept repeatedly affirmed in the Scriptures:
· Isa. 6:3 “And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” (ASV)
· Rev. 4:8 “and the four living creatures, having each one of them six wings, are full of eyes round about and within: and they have no rest day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.” (ASV)
2. This fundamental truth must be grasped, as much as is humanly possible, if one is to be motivated to serve the Ruler of Heaven and Earth.
3. The priestly ministration of the law was characterized by numerous detailed regulations.
4. The high priest, along with the subordinate priests, were required to dress in a particular way so as to reflect the concept of holiness (Ex. 28:4).
5. Some scholars are persuaded that merging lines of evidence indicate that in their official functions priests were required to be barefoot as a token of the fact they were serving a holy God (cf. Ex. 3:5).
6. As noted above, even those men of the family of Aaron who had certain physical deformities were forbidden to serve as priests (Lev. -23).
7. Apparently the unblemished body of the priest was to be a visual expression of the perfection of the God whom he was serving.
8. Think also about the unblemished nature of the sacrifices (cf. 1 Pet. ).
1Pe 1:19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb without spot, even the blood of Christ: (ASV)
B. There were elaborate ceremonies for the “consecration” of priests as they embarked upon their sacred roles (see Ex. 29; Lev. 8-9).
1. The ceremonies lasted for seven days and involved washings with pure water,
2. The adorning of special garments,
3. Anointing with oil,
4. The sacrifice of bullocks and rams, etc.
5. All of this was designed to demonstrate that these men were entering the service of God Most Holy.
6. There is a vast chasm between the perfect purity of our Creator, and the filth of our own transgressions
Prov. 30:12 – “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, And yet are not washed from their filthiness.” (ASV)).
7. In studying the priesthood of the Old Testament, we must constantly remind ourselves of this penetrating and humbling truth.
V. The Priesthood of Aaron was in Preparation for the Arrival of the Great High Priest
1. For example, the arrangement that obtained in the case of Melchizedek, who was both king and priest simultaneously, prophetically foreshadowed the fact that Jesus would serve as king and priest at the same time (Gen. 14:18ff; Psa. 110; Zech. 6:12-13).
2. This circumstance clearly demonstrates that Christ’s reign is heavenly (not earthly) in scope, because Jesus was not genealogically qualified to function as an earthly priest
· Heb. 8:4 “Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, seeing there are those who offer the gifts according to the law;” (ASV)
Heb.7:14 “For it is evident that our Lord hath
sprung out of
1. As the inspired writer noted, those elements of the law were a “a shadow of the good things to come” (10:1; cf. 8:5).
2. Indeed, he says, “a figure for the time present” (9:9).
1. The tabernacle/temple arrangements, in which the priests performed their duties, were typical of both the church (the holy place) and heaven (the most holy place).
2. The blood offerings set forth certain truths concerning him who was offered for our sins (Jn. ; 2 Cor. ; Heb. ).
3. How wonderfully the Old Testament served in preparing the way for the arrival of our High Priest (Gal. ; Col. 2:14ff), who is
a. “great” (Heb. ; ),
b. “merciful and faithful” (Heb. ),
c. “the apostle and high priest of our confession” (Heb. 3:1),
d. and who serves “after the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. ).
1. The Roman Catholic idea of a sacerdotal system of physical priests for today’s church has no support of the New Testament.
a. It is based upon the fallacious notion that the apostles “were clothed with the powers of Jesus Christ,” and that Catholic priests, as “successors” of the apostles, are similarly endowed with their power (James Cardinal Gibbons, The Faith of Our Fathers, Baltimore: John Murphy, 1917, p. 387ff).
b. The idea is closely associated with the delusion that in performing the “Mass,” the priests are sacrificing the body of Christ—a notion completely at variance with the Scriptures.
c. The New Testament teaches that Jesus was sacrificed once, and that was entirely sufficient (cf. Heb. -28).
2. The Mormon theory of priesthood is equally erroneous.
a. Mormonism promotes two priesthoods, without which, supposedly, there can be no salvation.
b. These are the Melchizedek and the Aaronic priesthoods (Doctrine & Covenants 107:1-3,5).
Mormon priesthood dogma has no authority higher than that of Joseph Smith, Jr.,
who claims to have “restored” the ancient order of priests on
d. The error in this is all too obvious to anyone with a more-than-minimum acquaintance with the New Testament.
e. First of all, the Melchizedek priesthood was to belong to Christ, and to none other, until the end of time.
i. The writer of Hebrews says concerning Jesus that: ”. . . he, because he abides for ever, has his priesthood unchangeable” (). The key word is “unchangeable” (aparabatos), which suggests that the Lord’s priesthood is imperishable.
ii. Some suggest that the meaning of the Greek term is simply “permanent, unchangeable” (F.W. Danker, et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Chicago: University of Chicago, 2000, p. 97), which, of itself, would eliminate the Mormon idea.
iii. But even more to the point is the proposed meaning “non-transferable” (C. Spiqu, Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994, 1.143-44). That would specifically deny that it could pass to other persons.
f. Second, the Aaronic priesthood cannot be operative today because it was an integral part of the law of Moses, which law was abolished by Christ (Eph. 2:15), being, in a manner of speaking, nailed to his cross (Col. 2:14).
g. Moreover, the verb rendered “hath taken away” in this latter passage is a perfect tense form, which argues for the permanent abolition of that law.
h. There is no biblical indication that the law was to be, or ever will be, restored. Too, one could not restore the Aaronic priesthood without “of necessity” resurrecting the entire Mosaic law (Heb. ).
the premillennial speculation that the Aaronic priesthood is “to be resumed
nationally, on behalf of Gentiles, in the
a. And it is quite disappointing that this concept was argued so stringently by such a respectable student of New Testament Greek as W.E. Vine (Priest—Expository Dictionary).
b. The passages he cites as proof (Isa. 61:6; 66:21) refer to the Christian dispensation, not a supposed earthly, millennial kingdom.
A. And so we conclude our brief study of the subject of “priests,” we remind ourselves of the numerous valuable lessons that come with this theme.
B. At the same time, as we have noted, this is a subject given to serious abuse.
C. May we keep in mind that Jesus is our High Priest today.
has entered into the
2. Will you accept his sacrifice through faith, repentance, confession and baptism?
Wayne Jackson, Biblical Figures of Speech,
Wayne Jackson, http://www.christiancourier.com/articles/exploring_the_concept_of_priesthood.
©2007 Dan Flournoy, www.Christian-Family.net