By Corina Medina
In the book of Hebrews we see the Lord our Savior, is also our great High Priest. Hebrews is a book of better things. Jesus is better than angels, better than Moses and it is certainly a better covenant–grace, not the Law. He is a better sacrifice, the perfect sinless Son of God and we have a better hope. We put our trust in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Here are some comparisons with the Aaronic priesthood and Jesus Christ’s priesthood. The sons of Aaron, the high priest were Levites (priests). Aaron was the son of Levi, who was the third son of Leah and Jacob. And now Jesus Christ, who is our High Priest, is the Son of God.
These high priests offered the sacrifices. Going back to Gen. 3:8, Adam and Eve walked in the garden and “they heard the voice of the Lord God…and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam…Where art thou?” God knew! Verse 21, “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” The first animal or animals that died spoke of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ that had been in the purpose of God from before the foundation of the earth. When God clothed them in skins of the sacrifice He was, in type, clothing Adam and Eve in the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is nothing of our selves that we should boast. That first sacrifice was made to cover the sin of our father, Adam. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ covered the sins of “whosoever will” in the whole world.
The sons of Levi, who were also High priests and offered sacrifices we see in Heb. 5:1-3: “For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity, and by reason thereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.” The priest also needed a sacrifice.
Hebrews 9:6-7: “Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people.” The high priest was to be a compassionate man, having compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.
Were all high priest compassionate? In Samuel 1, we read of Elkanah going up with his two wives to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts. One wife, Hannah was barren and was provoked or mocked by her adversary, the wife who had children. Hannah was grieved and wanted a child. She was loved by her husband who gave her worthy portions, but the Lord had shut up her womb, so she had great grief and sorrow and did not eat. Vs. 8-14: “Then said Elkanah, her husband, to her, Hannah, why weepest thou: and why eatest thou not? And why is thy heart grieved? Am not I better to thee than ten sons?” Even her husband could not understand her. “So Hannah rose up after they had eaten…and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the Lord. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow and said, O Lord of host, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head…as she continued praying before the Lord, Eli (the high priest) marked her mouth. Now Hannah, spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. Eli said unto her How long wilt thou be drunken? Put away thy wine from thee.” Was Eli a compassionate high priest? Did he know all about Hannah’s suffering? No. He was a human who offered sacrifices for the people and also for himself. He was unable to understand or to be compassionate.
In Acts 23:1-5: “Paul earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. And the high priest, Annanias, commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall; for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law: And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest? Then said Paul, I wist not brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.” This man was not understanding of Paul. Was he God’s high priest? No, according to that time, Jesus Christ had died for our sins, he was buried, rose again and ascended to heaven and He is sitting at the right hand of God interceding for us. So this high priest was usurping the office of high priest. Was he compassionate? No.
The first point was that the Old Testament high priest offered sacrifices for the people and for himself. Now compare Christ’s priesthood: Heb. 7:26-28: “For such a high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needed not daily, as those high priest, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s; for this he did once, when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; (they died) but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.” So we see an ETERNAL priesthood, NOT a sacrifice for himself and for the people!
The second point was that the Levitical high priest was to be compassionate understanding, caring - Heb. 5:1-2 – having “compassion on the ignorant, and those out of the way, for he himself also is compassed with infirmity. So he should be compassionate and gracious. We see in Acts 23:5 that the Aaronic priesthood had been set aside. Paul (standing before Annanias) knew Jesus, who is the believer’s High Priest. In Heb. 4:14-16 concerning Jesus, our High Priest: “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. He is compassionate, He cares, He understands. We have at least these two men, Eli and Annanias, who were examples of those that were not. There probably are many more examples in the Old Testament showing they were simply fallible, human men.
To be continued next month: The duration of the priesthood and his garments