Snapshots: Day 88
The Snapshot: “So he consecrated Aaron … and his sons.” (Lev 8:30) Why priests? Why all these intricate instructions about what they wear and what they do? Perhaps it was to build a bridge between Israel and God, a communication bridge that said, ‘God is holy, and you are not; stay at a distance otherwise you might die. Do not be casual about your relationship with God’. Perhaps it was that there would be those whose lives were to act as constant reminders of this holy God. Perhaps they were to be temporary stand-ins until Jesus came as God’s real priest who drew each of us into his priesthood (joining him in showing that God is holy, acting as reminders of God’s presence in His world, and showing the way to Him. A holy priesthood? (1 Pet 2:9) That is you and me.
Further Consideration: I have, in the snapshot above, suggested that the priesthood acted as a division between God and the people, and I believe that is true, but there is another side to this particular coin: their role was also to bring the people to God. Admittedly the people could not come close, for only the priests could minister in the Holy Place, and the high priest only once a year in the Holiest Place (or Holy of Holies), the innermost room where the presence of God was said to dwell. Nevertheless the role of the priesthood was to teach the Law and be there to oversee the sacrifices, encouraging the people to come to God in the ways stated in the Law.
I have asked the question, why all the intricate instructions about what to wear and what to do? The first simple thought is that having established such paraphernalia, it would be unlikely that anyone else would seek to invade and become part of the priesthood, who were outside the priestly family of Levi. Anyone wearing less than these clothes would never be accepted by the people. Thus the clothes marked them out as special. Similarly all the rules relating to their activities separated them from the ordinary. Summarizing this, these things reinforced or emphasized this barrier / bridge that we have spoken about and made it a very obvious part of the Jewish life and community. It was only in later centuries in the life of Israel was all this diluted so that the priests became worldly in outlook and in Jesus’ time the Sadducees with their limited and liberal theological views held control of the priesthood with a Sadducee eventually judging Jesus.
Now when Peter says we, “are a chosen people, a royal priesthood,” (1 Pet 2:9) he reminds us that our lives are holy, reflecting a holy God, but that we are also there to act as His intermediaries in this world. We are to convey the heart and will of God and teach whoever will be taught. What a privilege!