Therefore you and your sons with you shall attend to your priesthood for everything at the altar and behind the veil; and you shall serve. I give your priesthood to you as a gift for service, but the outsider who comes near shall be put to death (Numbers 18:7, NKJV).
Aaron and his sons were appointed to the priesthood by God to serve Israel under the Law of Moses. God said to Aaron, “And you shall attend to the duties of the sanctuary and the duties of the altar, that there may be no more wrath on the children of Israel” (Num. 18:5). Under the covenant of Christ, the priesthood has changed. Jesus Christ is High Priest, not Aaron. (Consequently, the law has changed, Heb. 7:11-12.) Now, every Christian is a priest who offers up spiritual sacrifices to God in the house of God, the church (1 Pet. 2:4-5, 9). Just as the priesthood of Aaron was a “gift of service,” even so Christ, our High Priest, serves our spiritual needs (Heb. 2:17; 7:24-28). Furthermore, Christians are privileged to approach God in prayer and praise through Christ, not through another man (Heb. 4:14-16). Christians do not go to human priests to confess sin and receive pardon from sin. Instead, we boldly go to “the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,” where Christ intercedes for us (Heb. 7:25; 8:1-2; 1 John 1:9-2:1). Our priestly duty is to “continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Heb. 13:15). As priests, our “gift for service” includes offering our bodies as living sacrifices to Him (Rom. 12:1). Priesthood is about service, not power.
18 For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, 19 for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God (Hebrews 7:18–19, NKJV).
In explaining the superiority of the priesthood of Christ over the Levitical priests of the Law of Moses (Heb. 7:11), the inspired writer emphasizes our ability to “draw near to God” through Jesus Christ, our High Priest “according to the order (likeness, JRP) of Melchizedek” (Heb. 7:15-17). The law that sanctioned the Levitical priesthood could not redeem sinners through the animal sacrifices offered by its priests, the sons of Aaron (Heb. 7:11; 10:1-4). Therefore, God annulled (set aside, abolished) the “former commandment” that installed the Levitical priesthood because its service was impotent, unable to redeem sinners (Heb. 7:16, 18). By contrast, through the priesthood of Christ, we have a better hope (Heb. 7:19). His presence in heaven at the right hand of God assures access to God’s merciful grace (Heb. 7:24-8:2). Serving as High Priest, Jesus offered Himself – his lifeblood – as an offering for the sins of the world (Heb. 7:27). Christ’s offering of Himself appeases God’s wrath against sin (Isa. 53:11-12; Rom. 3:24-25; 1 John 2:1-2). Now, we can draw near to God in faith and be forgiven (Gal. 3:26-29; Heb. 10:11-18). Praise God for His great plan of redemption. Thank God Jesus Christ is our “great High Priest who has passed through the heavens,” enabling us to “hold fast our confession” by “coming boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:14-16).
4 So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground” (Exodus 3:4–5, NKJV).
There was no discernible difference between rocks and dirt on “the mountain of God” and the rest of the wilderness in which Moses tended his father-in-law’s flock (Exod. 3:1). So why was this place “holy ground?” Because God was there. His presence consecrated the ground, demanding reverent respect and obeisance of God from Moses. Later, God called Israel a “holy nation,” foreshadowing the church of Christ (Exod. 19:5-6; 1 Pet. 2:9). The “Most Holy” place of the tabernacle and temple was reserved for the ark of the covenant and mercy seat, and a veil separated it from the “holy place” (Exod. 26:33-34). The hope that anchors our souls is “both sure and steadfast” and “enters the Presence behind the veil” because Jesus our High Priest is in the holiest place (heaven), ministering over the house of God, His church (Heb. 4:14-16; 6:19-20; 8:1-2). God called Israel to holy living because He is holy (Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2). Under the law of Moses, this included distinguishing between what was clean and unclean, profane and holy (Lev. 20:7, 25-26). The gospel calls us to regard the presence and holiness of God our Father fearfully. As obedient children, we must be holy in all our conduct because our Father is holy (1 Pet. 1:13-17). Take off your sandals; The place you stand is holy ground (Eph. 2:21; 1 Pet. 2:5).
1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, 2 who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. (Hebrews 3:1–2, NKJV)
We are exhorted to give careful and complete consideration to the High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus. The high priest under the law of Moses was “taken from among men” and “appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins” (Heb. 5:1). Aaron was called by God to fill this role (Heb. 5:4). By God’s oath, Christ was called by God as High Priest (Heb. 5:4-6, 10). Aaron entered a tabernacle made with human hands, there to offer animal blood for his sins and the sins of the people. But, our High Priest has entered heaven itself (the “true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man”), seated at God’s right hand (Heb. 8:1-2). He offered His own blood to God to atone for sins (Heb. 9:11-14, 23-26). By his freshly killed flesh, Jesus opened the way for sinners to have access to God’s mercy (Heb. 10:19-21). We draw near to God only because our High Priest offered His blood to God as a sacrifice for sins (Heb. 10:22). Now at God’s right hand, Jesus “always lives to make intercession” for “those who come to God through Him” (Heb. 7:25-28). Thus, Christians “come boldly to the throne of grace” and obtain mercy in our time of need (Heb. 4:16; 2:17-18). What an amazing High Priest is Christ Jesus (Heb. 7:26)!
9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, 10 called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,” 11 of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. (Hebrews 5:9–11, NKJV)
The great truth that Jesus Christ is the sinless sacrifice by whom our eternal salvation is offered is fundamental to the gospel of His grace. It is also basic truth that He saves “all who obey Him” – obedience faith is necessary to be saved and go to heaven (Ephesians 2:8-9). Christ’s appointment by God as the High Priest of our confession to serve in heaven of God’s house is crucial to our redemption (Hebrews 3:1; 8:1-2). Understanding the nature and work of our High Priest enlivens our hope and sustains our diligent service to Him. Yet, like the Hebrew Christians, we may not be in a good position to learn these things. We become “dull of hearing” (difficult to teach) if we are not diligent hearers and doers of the word (James 1:21-25). Spiritual growth in Christ requires a heart that is open to Christ’s word and a life that is using His word “to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14). How’s your hearing?