As we have learned in Part I of this series
(CB 115), Eloah has called us to be priests and kings.
From the Old and New Testaments we see our
Now therefore, if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall
be my own possession among all peoples; for all the earth is mine, and you
shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words
which you shall speak to the children of Israel." (RSV)
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own
people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of
darkness into his marvelous light. Once
you were no people but now you are God's people; once you had not received
mercy but now you have received mercy. (RSV)
Revelation 1:5-6 … and from Jesus Christ the
faithful witness, the first-born 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 and made us a
kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever
and ever. Amen. (RSV)
We have learned that we are called to be
priests and kings. In this paper we review the selection,
ordination/consecration of the priesthood, dress or garments of the priesthood
and look at one week in the life of a priest.
Let us now briefly review the priesthood
and roles of the priesthood.
The Priesthood then and now
God and His Law are holy, righteous, goodness, perfect
and truth and have always existed.
God gave us Laws and a priesthood to protect the
understanding of God’s Laws and to teach us how to daily obey and worship God
and how to love our fellow man.
We will briefly review the key points of
the role of the priest.
The Function or job of a Priest:
In summary priests
Teach the Law of
Explain the Law of
Keep or preserve
the Law of Eloah
Judge by the Law
Live by the word
This is how
we, as future priests, become the “Trees of Righteousness and Justice” that
Isaiah 61 describes. See the paper Introduction
to the Priesthood (No. CB 115) for more details.
during the Tabernacle in the Wilderness
In the first
lesson in the series, we covered the time period from creation to Jethro
providing advice to Moses. Let us now look at the priesthood of Eloah from the
setting up the Tabernacle in the Wilderness with its priestly system.
In Part I
we learned that the priesthood passed through the descendants or children of
Abraham. In this lesson we will see how Eloah instructs Moses to initiate or
start the order of the Levitical and Aaronic Priesthood.
Israelite departure from Egypt
Israel went into
Egypt at the time of the famine. While in Egypt they “lost the Laws of God” and
had to be re-taught the Laws their forefathers knew. This is what God did
through Moses and the Angel of Yahovah or the Angel of the Presence, which is
the Being that later became Jesus Christ.
When Moses was on the mount for the first 40 days (Ex.
24:15-18), Yahovah of Israel spoke many details, giving exact orders on how to
construct the Tabernacle, who and how to anoint, how to make the priestly
garments, how to build the Ark and covering, the conduct of the sacrifices, the
Sabbaths and many other details. For more information see the paper The Ascents of Moses (No. 70).
With time, God explained
how the sons of Levi would be the priestly line of Israel.
selection of the priesthood
are allowed to serve in the physical priesthood.
one of the sons of Jacob/Israel. God chose Levi for the
service of the sanctuary.
1Chronicles 15:2 Then David said, "No one but the Levites may carry the ark
of God, for the LORD chose them to carry the ark of the LORD and to minister to
him for ever." (RSV)
The names of Levi’s three
sons are Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.
Each of these 3 sons and their sons had
special duties or assignments within the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. The
family of Gershon was responsible for: “the tabernacle, the tent with its
covering, the screen for the door of the tent of meeting, the hangings of the
court, the screen for the door of the court which is around the tabernacle and
the altar, and its cords; all the service pertaining to these” (Num
The family of Kohath was responsible for
“the ark, the table, the lampstand, the altars, the vessels of the sanctuary
with which the priests minister, and the screen; all the service pertaining to
these” (Num 3:31). And finally, the family of Merari had
responsibility for “the frames of the tabernacle, the bars, the pillars, the
bases, and all their accessories; all the service pertaining to these; also the
pillars of the court round about, with their bases and pegs and cords” (Num 3:36-37).
The families of Gershon were to encamp
behind the Tabernacle on the west, the families of Kohath encamped on the
south, the families of Merari encamped on the north, and Moses and Aaron and
his sons encamped on the east.
For more information on this subject see The Tabernacle in the
Wilderness (No. CB42).
Moses was of the tribe of Levi. His only
and older brother, Aaron, was chosen by God to be High Priest.
The sons of Aaron were appointed to the
office of High Priest by perpetual statute.
29:9 And thou shalt gird them with girdles, Aaron and his sons, and put the
bonnets on them: and the priest's office shall be theirs for a perpetual
statute: and thou shalt consecrate Aaron and his sons. (KJV)
And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify
him; that he may minister unto me in the priest's office. And thou shalt bring
his sons, and clothe them with coats: And thou shalt anoint them, as thou
didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest's
office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations. (KJV)
The Levites were chosen to serve in the
Tabernacle, but only the sons of Aaron were to be High Priests.
Numbers 3:10 And thou
shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest's office:
and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death. (KJV)
Numbers 16:40 To be a memorial unto the children of Israel, that
no stranger, which is not of the seed of Aaron, come near to offer incense
before the LORD; that he be not as Korah, and as his company: as the LORD said
to him by the hand of Moses. (KJV)
Numbers 18:7 Therefore thou and thy sons with thee shall keep
your priest's office for everything of the altar, and within the vail; and ye
shall serve: I have given your priest's office unto you as a service of gift:
and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death. (KJV)
priests could start officiating or carrying out their priestly duties they
needed to be set apart and ordained.
ordination/consecration of the priesthood
The priests had to be consecrated to God. Consecration is the solemn dedication to a
special purpose or service, usually religious. The word consecration
literally means setting apart.
Aaron and his sons
After Moses had set up the Tabernacle in the wilderness, the Lord said to
Moses, "Bring Aaron and his sons, their garments, anointing oil, the bull
for the sin offering, the two rams and the basket containing bread made without
yeast, and gather the entire assembly to the Tent of Meeting” (Lev. 8:1-3,
as he was asked. He brought Aaron and his sons forward and washed them with
water. He put the tunic on Aaron, tied the sash around him, clothed him with
the robe and put the ephod on him. He then placed the breastpiece on him and
put the Urim and Thummim in the breastpiece. Then he placed the turban on
Aaron’s head and set the gold plate, the sacred diadem, on the front of it as
the Lord commanded Moses (vv. 4-9, NIV).
took the anointing oil and anointed the Tabernacle and everything in it, and so
consecrated them. He sprinkled some oil on the altar seven times, anointing the
altar and all its utensils to consecrate them. He poured some of the oil on
Aaron’s head to consecrate him. Then he brought Aaron’s sons forward, put
tunics on them, tied sashes around them and put headbands on them, as the Lord
commanded Moses (vv. 10-13, NIV).
consecration service included a sin offering for atonement, a burnt offering
for worship (v.18) and a "ram for ordination" (v. 22) whose blood was
applied to the high priest (Aaron) on his right ear, thumb and toe (v. 23).
After this was done Aaron offered sacrifices for the people (Lev. 9:15-21).
Then he blessed the people in his capacity as priest, and the Lord accepted his
ministry with the sign of miraculous fire (vv. 23-24). See the notes on
Leviticus 8:14, NIV Study Bible.
It is interesting to think of putting blood
on the High Priest’s ear, thumb, and toe. We can think of this as God wanting
us to hear the word of God (ear), show the word of God in our actions (thumb),
and walk in the way of God (toe).
"God will allow you to enter completely into His
tabernacle service only after you have spent seven days and nights in your
duties at the door," Moses told Aaron and his sons. "Do exactly as
you have been told, or you may have to pay with your lives" (Lev.
eighth day (after the seven days of ordination) Moses told Aaron, his sons and
the Elders of Israel to bring offerings for the first services in use of the
altar. All the people were also told to be present. After the first carcasses
were placed on the altar, Moses, Aaron and his sons went out to stand before
the people while Moses informed the crowd that God was pleased with the
For the procedures of ordination and
consecration see Exodus 29:1-37 and the following papers: The Ordination of Aaron and His
Sons (No. CB43); Lesson: The Ordination of Aaron
and His Sons (No. CB43_2).
Let us now look at what God instructed the
priests to wear when they were officiating in the Tabernacle or Temple.
garments of the priests
God gave clear directions for how the
priest and the High Priest should dress.
Each part of their dress was chosen for a special reason and conveyed an
aspect of symbolism and holiness.
In general, the priests would wear all white
linen garments with a white tunic. The High Priest was distinct. In addition to
the white linen garments, his dress included a blue robe, ephod, curious
girdle, breastpiece, and golden plate or mitre on his tunic.
From Exodus 28 we see how the High Priest
was holy and dedicated to God and took away the sin of the people.
28:36-38 On a narrow strip of pure gold engrave the words: " Dedicated
to the LORD." Fasten it to the front of Aaron's turban with a blue cord,
so he can wear it on his forehead. This will show that he will take on himself
the guilt for any sins the people of Israel commit in offering their gifts to
me, and I will forgive them. (CEV)
28:36-38 And thou shalt
make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet,
HOLINESS TO THE LORD. And thou shalt put it on a blue lace, that it may be upon
the mitre; upon the forefront of the mitre it shall be. And it shall be upon
Aaron's forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which
the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be
always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD. (KJV)
For a more
detailed look at these concepts see Exodus 28:40-43 and
The Garments of the
High Priest (No. CB61); Lesson: Mitre or Turban with the Golden Plate (No. CB66).
There is a lot of detail provided on each piece of
priestly clothing and the symbolism associated with each one. See the following
papers for much more detail on the subject: The Garments of the High Priest
(No. CB61); White
Linen Garments of the Priest (No. CB63); Lesson: Priest's Blue Robe (No. CB64);
Lesson: Ephod, Curious Girdle and Breastpiece of Judgment (No. CB65);
Lesson: Mitre or Turban with the Golden Plate (No. CB66);
Lesson: Ministering with Bare Feet (No. CB67).
one would see the difference in how the nation of Israel, the priesthood, and
especially the High Priest dressed and acted. The same should be said of us.
People should see a difference from the world when they see us, and how we
conduct our lives.
Week in the life of a priest
Once a priest was selected and had been
ordained and consecrated, he would have a certain schedule when he needed to
“work” in the Temple.
In the times of David, there were clearly
24 courses (1Chr. 24:1-9; 28:13, 21; 2Chr. 8:14; 31:2; 35:4-5; Ez. 2:36-39;
Neh. 13:30. Their duties were chosen by lot (Lk. 1:8, 9, 23).
Each course/group of priests and Levites
came on duty for a week, from one Sabbath to another (The Temple Its
Ministry and Services, undated Edition, Alfred Edersheim, 1996, p.62). Each
week, different families had responsibilities for certain days of the
week. On Sabbaths, the whole course was
on duty; and at the Feast of Tabernacles, all the twenty-four courses were
bound to be present and officiate.
The priests began
their day with their assignments of the various jobs or chores that needed to
be done, such as:
- Removing the ashes from the burnt altar and placing them beyond
the camp (Lev. 6:10, 11) and then supplying fresh wood to the burnt altar
- Washing in the laver and putting on their priestly robes (Lev.
- Tending the lampstands: trimming the lamps one by one if
needed, cleaning the lamps if necessary, filling them with fresh oil.
- Tending the altar of burnt incense: getting coals from the altar
of burnt offering, and upon entering the Holy Place dropping the coals on
the altar of incense at the same time as placing a handful of the special
incense on the altar of incense.
- Selecting the lamb for daily sacrifice at 9:00 a.m.
- Getting the meal offering of flour mingled with oil, and the
drink offering of wine ready for the burnt offering (Ex. 29:38-46).
- Offering prayers.
- Singing Psalms for daily worship.
These are just the
basic tasks that needed to be done each day. The priests were also responsible
if a person wanted to make a peace offering etc. Therefore, the priests were
busy the entire day servicing the basic requirements of the Lord plus preparing
the added offerings people wanted to or needed to make.
From the lesson on The Tables of Shewbread (No.
CB111), we learned that the incoming course or group of
priests was responsible for making fresh shewbread for the Sabbath. The course
or group of priests that had finished or completed their week of service
consumed or ate the shewbread they had prepared the week before.
The High Priest
needed to be able to function and do all the jobs of an ordinary priest. Yet,
once he was selected as a High Priest, there were certain things he had to do
that no other priest could do. One of
the most important was to enter the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement and
atone for the sins of the nation.
Other duties of
the priests included:
To act as
scribes or recorders (Ex. 7:1-6; Neh. 8:9).
Be present to
supervise the tithing (Neh. 10:38).
trumpet in calling assemblies and in battle (Num. 10:2-10; 31:6; Jos. 6:2;
unclean (Lev. 15:31).
army on the night before a battle (Deut. 20:2-4).
Carry the Ark
through the Jordan (Jos. 3:15-18).
God’s perfect plan involved a priesthood. In this lesson we
learned how the Levitical and Aaronic priesthood functioned. Messiah qualified
to be our High Priest and is currently functioning in that capacity.
As Christ was appointed a priest so too are
we appointed to follow him in that priesthood. Let us work diligently so we can
all be considered “holy unto the Lord” as Exodus 28:36 explains.
Exodus 28:36-38 And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like
the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD. And thou shalt put it on a
blue lace, that it may be upon the mitre; upon the forefront of the mitre it
shall be. And it shall be upon Aaron's forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity
of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy
gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted
before the LORD. KJV
May we all continue to move forward in doing the work
of the living God so we can rule with Christ as kings and priests in and from