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).
36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:36–37, NKJV).
There is a lot of unneighborly conduct these days—all manner of unkindness and cruelty result when hearts are full of jealousy, envy, bitterness, and malice. For example, the woke cancel culture of today shows no mercy to a neighbor. Its virtue signaling, self-vindication, and hypocritical deflection of self-scrutiny are bearing the fruit of injustice, suspicion, and division among us. Conversely, being a neighbor means showing mercy to others when they need it. To do that, we must have hearts full of compassion (Col. 3:12). Being a neighbor is about loving “your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all did that? In this encounter between a lawyer and Jesus (Luke 10:25-37), the critical question was not when the lawyer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor” (Luke 10:29)? It was Jesus’s question back to him, “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves” (Luke 10:36)? The true neighbor actively shows mercy to others (Rom. 13:8-10; 1 Pet. 3:8-9). We ought to look for opportunities to show mercy to others. They are not hard to find. Be a neighbor today. Show mercy to someone in their time of need. You will reap what you sow (Matt. 5:7).
29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.” (Luke 10:29–30, NKJV)
Mr. Rogers sang a children’s song on his television show that asked, “Won’t you be my neighbor?” The expert in the Law of Moses wanted to prove himself innocent in the matter of loving his neighbor as himself (Lk. 10:26-28). So he asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus taught him that loving our neighbor means being a neighbor to others instead of thinking some people are not my neighbors. He told of a man who was robbed, stripped of his clothing, and left wounded on the side of the road. Neither the passing priest nor Levite helped him (Lk. 10:31-32). But a Samaritan saw the man, was moved with compassion, and assisted him. (Remember, Jews did not consider Samaritans as their neighbors, Jno. 4:9.) Compassion for the stranger moved the Samaritan to sacrifice his travel plans, his time, and his money to help the unfortunate man (Lk. 10:33-35). We love our neighbor as ourselves when we act out of compassion and show mercy to others (Lk. 10:36-37). The Samaritan was a neighbor who helped his neighbor. Do not ask, “Who is my neighbor?” Instead, ask, “Am I being a neighbor to others?”
4 For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; 5 who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” (Hebrews 8:4–5, NKJV)
Jesus was not a son of Aaron. Being from the tribe of Judah, he could not be a priest according to the law of Moses. That law “had to be changed” for Jesus to “become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 7:11-14; 6:20). Since the priesthood has indeed changed (Jesus is now High Priest), the law has also changed. The new covenant of Christ is now in force, dispensing redemption and arranging our new life in Christ, including acceptable worship. The old covenant tabernacle worship (offered by the sons of Aaron) served as a copy and shadow of the heavenly things accomplished by our High Priest, Jesus (Heb. 7:24-28). But, even the wilderness tabernacle (the shadow of the “true tabernacle” which is the church, Heb. 8:1-2; 10:21) was built according to God’s revealed pattern. We believe God-given patterns for worship still matters to God (2 Tim. 1:13). The new covenant of Christ contains a pattern of worship to follow (Jno. 4:23-24). We must see that we follow it. What pattern do you follow when you worship? Is it the new covenant pattern, or the commandments of men (Matt. 15:8-9; Col. 1:21-23)?
13 Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is given to covetousness; And from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely. 14 They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace. (Jeremiah 6:13–14, NKJV)
Jerusalem and Judah were headed for destruction in the days of Jeremiah. Covetous hearts – greedy for power and wealth – guided both prophet and priest to speak falsely to a population that loved to have it so. These religious charlatans “healed” the spiritual ailments of the people with superficial dressings. They proclaimed “peace, peace,” even though hostility toward God and men ruled the day. Even now, religious leaders, with many followers, preach messages that fail to heal men’s soul – even as those souls rush headlong toward eternal ruin. Messages of peace that tolerate immorality are proclaimed. “Peace” is advanced at the expense of divine truth. (Indeed, evil is called good, and good is called evil, Isaiah 5:20.) Jeremiah’s warning remains relevant, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it’” (Jer. 6:16). No peace can exist where sin reigns. Changing its definitions and ignoring its reality reveals hearts that are greedy for selfish gains, not selfless hearts devoted to the Almighty.
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (1 Peter 2:9, NKJV)
Peter has developed the point that Christians are “a holy priesthood” because Christ is the chief cornerstone of the house of God, the church (1 Peter 2:4-6). In this summary passage, he says our priesthood is royal or regal. Because we are citizens of the kingdom of God, we share in the blessings granted by the King (Jesus), who has “made us kings (a kingdom) and priests to His God and Father” (Revelation 1:6). Just as priests serve in a temple, Christians compose the temple of God – the church – and serve God in it (Ephesians 2:19-22). (This shows the importance and value God places on the church.) We are privileged to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God which are acceptable through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5). Therefore, our sacrifices and service to God must agree with His will since we are “priests to our God” (Revelation 5:10). The church does not decide what is acceptable service to God. God has done that, and revealed it to us in His word. It is up to us to offer Him the priestly service He expects and deserves (Romans 12:1-2).
12 For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. 13 For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.” (Hebrews 7:12–14, NKJV)
Jesus is “a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Psa. 110:4; Heb. 5:6; 7:17, 21). But, the Law of Moses said priests would be the sons of Aaron, from the tribe of Levi (Num. 3:10; Heb. 7:11). Since Jesus was from the tribe of Judah, the law had to be changed in order for Christ to be a priest (Heb. 7:12). Moses was silent about appointing priests from the tribe of Judah. When the Law of Moses identified the tribe of Levi as the priestly tribe, it necessarily eliminated all the other tribes from priestly appointment. You see, the silence of the Scriptures does not give consent for action. If it did, then Jesus (from the tribe of Judah) could be a priest under the Law of Moses, without changing the law. But, He could not, without violating God’s word. An action or a teaching is not legitimized by saying, “the Bible doesn’t say not to.” Truth is established by what the Scriptures say, not by their silence. God’s word says what is good and right in His sight. If we add to His word, we transgress His will. If this is not true, then why did the law have to change in order for Christ to be a priest?
1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:1–2, NKJV)
Let us ask and answer the question posed by the wise men to Herod: “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” The Scriptures tell us Jesus arose from the dead and ascended into heaven (Matt. 28:1-6; Acts 1:9-11). In heaven, Jesus is at the right hand of God, having been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18; Acts 2:33). At God’s right hand, Jesus is the head of His body, His church (Eph. 1:20-23). There, Jesus sits on the throne of David over His kingdom, just as God had promised (Lk. 1:32; Dan. 2:44; Mk. 9:1; Acts 2:30-31). He is there as High Priest, having presented Himself an offering for the sins of the world. Now, He ministers on behalf of the people of God (Heb. 8:1; 9:24-26; 4:14-16). Where is the King? Why, He is in heaven on His throne, ruling by His truth and blessing with salvation all who believe and obey Him. One day He will return, and judge us all in righteousness (Acts 17:31; 2 Cor. 5:10). The question is: Will you worship Him like those wise men of old? Or, will you deny where He is?