Hebrew Roots/Holy Priesthood/Define
PRIESTS OF THE MOST HIGH GOD
What is a Priest?
The Dictionary definition of a priest is "one especially consecrated to the service of a divinity and through whom worship, prayer, sacrifice, or other service is offered to the object of worship - and pardon, blessing, or deliverance is obtained by the worshipper." (Funk and Wagnall Vol. 21 p.273)
The first priest on earth was Adam and the concept of priesthood has not changed from its first institution with him. It is only the order of priesthood which has changed. There have been several changes in the form of priesthood which Yahweh God has ordained for man to approach Him and with each change in priesthood a change came in the sacrifices that were offered and the type of "tabernacle" in which they were offered. A priesthood is always established on a covenantal agreement between the worshippers and their God and that is inaugurated by a sacrificial offering.
Why is a Priest Required?
A priest is required to act as a mediator. He is one who represents the Divine being to His subjects and in return from them to their God. He acts as an ambassador, a chosen vehicle through whom Yahweh God has chosen to serve the people and represent Him, on His behalf. He also mediates between the people and their God. Adam was ordained as the first king/priest of the earth to represent Him and serve Him on earth. Yahweh's original purpose was that Adam grow up into the full maturity of the image and likeness in which he was created as a son of God. Although Adam was created perfectly in God's likeness, his character was unformed and untested and he was without the wisdom which is gained by knowledge and understanding from experience in life. While he obeyed Yahweh's directions he remained in his original state of purity. But he needed to grow up into Him and come to the maturity of a son of God. But he failed in his priesthood. Instead of every "man" being born into His kingdom as a king/priest, the priesthood was handed down to the firstborn of a family that spiritually qualified to take on the role and thereafter in the nation of Israel, the Aaronic and Levitical priesthood was established.
What is the Function of a Priest?
A priest is ordained for the purpose of --
1. Ministering on behalf of the Godhead as His representative - i.e. to receive from Him, speak for Him and minister/serve the people on His behalf.
2. Offering the appropriate sacrifices as required by the terms of the covenant/agreement.
1. MINISTER AS HIS REPRESENTATIVE For a priest to be a representative of the Godhead, he must first know Who he is representing. There needs to be a personal knowledge that gives him greater intimacy and revelation than those he is serving so that he can be a faithful witness to the people.
2. OFFERING SACRIFICES TO GOD A priest is called to represent the people and their needs back to God and make propitiation for them according to what is acceptable according to the terms of the covenant which He has been established.
What are the Requirements for Priesthood?
To understand priesthood, we need to look at the scriptures to see what was established in the Aaronic/Levitical order which gives us a pattern for all the functions of priesthood. Israel (Jacob) had 12 sons and each became the progenitor of one of the 12 tribes of Israel. The descendants of Levi, Jacob's third son, were selected by the Almighty for duties relating to the Tabernacle when the rest of Israel went astray and did not fulfill the original covenant which He made with them. (Ex. 32) The Aaronic/Levitical Priesthood replaced the Patriarchal priesthood which began with Adam and was a shadow or blueprint of the Melchizedek Priesthood which Y'shua the Messiah established and is an eternal, unchanging priesthood. Y'shua the Messiah is the High Priest in the Melchizedek Priesthood. He was chosen by God for this purpose of fulfilling the role of the original priesthood of Adam, as a Second Man, a second (replacement) son of God functioning in the priesthood given to the first Adam. 1 Corinthians 15:47 We derive our priesthood from Him as ministers (servants) together with Him. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20
The Qualifications for Priesthood
1. By order of birth. Priesthood then became the mandate of the tribe of Levi within which there were several categories of function within the temple service, but all born into the tribe were classed as priests. To be a priest, one had to be born into the office. A person of another tribe could not function in the priestly office.
It was not a matter of personal preference or ability, it was a matter of divine will. In the new covenant we must be born into the kingdom of priests by the Spirit of God. John 3: 3-5
Needless to say, in view of the sacred duties that were to be performed, all priests were to be men of good character with holiness being their first priority. The word 'holy' means set apart for sacred use, something dedicated to Yahweh and His work. Holiness is often confused with qualities of character or a sacred bearing. Holiness doubtless encompasses these things, but is much more. Holiness is spiritual purity, dedication, total commitment and a setting apart for Yahweh, His Son and His kingdom - being set apart for the calling and work of priesthood. Psalm 132: 9; 29:2
In Messiah we have been made righteous - 1 Corinthians 1:30; and we are to present ourselves in righteousness for His service - Romans 6:19; 14:18 We are a royal priesthood (of the Melchizedek king/priest order), a holy nation. 1 Peter 2: 9
3. By Ordination/Consecration
When they came of age, priests in the Aaronic Priesthood were ordained by the Holy Spirit of the Most High, symbolized by the anointing oil poured on their heads.
"And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office." Exodus 30:30 "Also let the priests who come near Yahweh consecrate themselves, lest Yahweh break out among them." Exodus 19:22. Another example is in Ezra 6:20.
There needs to be a cleansing from all defilement - 2 Corinthians 7: 1. His promise of tabernacling in us is based on our separation from all that is "unclean" which involves being joined in relationships with unbelievers and thereby with worldly interests and purposes. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 We are to present our body which is His temple/tabernacle in holiness for His service in the new covenant. Romans 12: 1-2 Our anointing comes from the Holy Spirit which the oil represents. The priests were anointed after they had sanctified themselves. We need to cleanse ourselves from all sin to have the anointing flowing through through us in order to serve under our High Priest. James 4: 8; 1 John 1: 7
The Duties of Priesthood
Yahweh designed Israel to be a theocracy, a nation governed by Himself through His priests, prophets and divinely appointed governors. The Aaronic/Levitical Priesthood was responsible for carrying out the following duties of educating, blessing, performing sacrifices and exercising judgement of Torah.
They were to teach Israel Yahweh's laws, His statutes and His ordinances. "And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith Yahweh of hosts. My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my Name… For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of Yahweh of hosts." Malachi 2: 4-5 "For Ezra (the priest) had prepared his heart to seek the law of Yahweh, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments." Ezra 7:10
Our responsibility is to declare the good news of salvation and of His kingdom and to teach His laws.
We are mediators of the new covenant (1 Peter 2: 9; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20). This honour have all His saints. Y'shua commanded us to disciple and teach all that He had commanded us to others. For this we have been anointed by the Holy Spirit. John 16:13; 1 John 2:27; Matthew 28:19-20 We are also to teach and admonish one another exercising our priestly function within the Body. Colossians 3:16; Romans 12: 5-8; 1 Corinthians 12:7-8; 14:26 Some like the Aaronic priests have a specific full-time teaching ministry. Ephesians 4:11
The priests were to officiate at the Temple sacrifices and offer the prescribed sacrifices according to the law. The Israelites were NOT allowed to offer sacrifices themselves in places of their own choice. They were commanded by Yahweh to bring their sacrifices to the door of the Tabernacle (and later the Temple) where ordained priests officiated and explained the spiritual lessons concerning sin, sacrifice and forgiveness (Leviticus 17:1-7). There had to be a specific preparation of the sacrifices according to instructions given before they could be offered - Leviticus Ch. 1.
We offer up spiritual sacrifices to God, our words honouring Him in thankfulness for His goodness and blessings to us, praying and praising Him in all things. Hebrews 13:15; 1 Timothy 2: 8; Psalm 141: 2 Our sacrifices must be prepared and presented in the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18-20
In view of the fact that the Aaronic priests knew God's law, they were best able to officiate as judges and to specify the divinely ordained penalties for various sins and breaches of the law. "And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment… And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which Yahweh shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee: According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, you shalt do… " Deuteronomy 17:9-11
He has called His saints to not only judge according to His Word the things of this life, but also to reign with Him and execute His judgement with a "rod of iron" in the age to come, and also to judge angels. We are to judge righteous judgement according to His Word. 1 Cor. 6: 2-4; 2:15; Rev.5:9-10; 20: 6; 2:26-27
Bless Israel in Yahweh's name.
The priests were to bless the people and put His Name upon them and in so doing, He would bless them. Numbers 6:27; 2 Chronicles 30:27; Leviticus 9:23-24
In the new covenant we bless His people by waiting upon Yahweh and receiving an impartation of His Spirit for them - we receive from Him and serve the people. We put His Name upon them by the impartation of His Spirit in the ministry of the gifts as well as by the words of our mouth. 1 Corinthians 12: 7, 27-28 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Romans 14:19; Ephesians 4:29
The Spiritual Reality
The service of the Old Covenant priesthood constituted a type and shadow of our service and sanctuary in the new covenant era. "They are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Messiah" Colossians 2:17. As the substance is superior to a shadow, so is the present new covenant system superior to that which preceded it (i.e. the Levitical). But by looking at the Levitical order we can understand the pattern for priesthood on a natural level in those types and shadows and apply it to the spiritual.
When Moses received the pattern for the physical Tabernacle, he was told to make everything according to the spiritual reality. So we have in a natural form, the exact representation of the spiritual reality which is now functioning in the Melchizedek priesthood. Hebrews 8: 5 The sacrifices which were natural are now spiritual, and the tabernacle/temple in which they were performed is now also a spiritual temple of living stones to be inhabited by His Spirit. 1 Peter 2: 5