Thesis: God has always wanted all his people to be priests.
1. < Read Exodus 19:1-8 >
a. God is ready to make Israel his covenant people.
b. God's intent was for Israel to be "a kingdom of priests."
2. That didn't happen--why not? < Read Exodus 20:18-21 >
a. Twice we are told: "The people stayed at a distance."
b. Wanted to shove Moses between themselves and God.
c. People have been doing that ever since! (clergy/laity)
3. Over the next two-three weeks we are going to be reminded of God's original intent for his people: God has always wanted all his people to be priests!
a. This AM: Crash course on OT priesthood. (Yes!)
b. Crucial that we see NT teaching in light of the Old.
I. PRIESTS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT.
A. Who were the priests in Israel?
1. Men (not women) who served in Tabernacle and later the Temple.
2. Strictly speaking only Aaron and his sons (Ex. 28:1).
a. Aaron was a Levite, but many other Levites were not priests.
b. Levi had 3 sons: Gershon, Kohath (--> Aaron), Merari.
c. Other Levites assisted sons of Aaron (Num. 18:1-7).
d. "All priests were Levites, but not all Levites were priests!"
B. What were the qualifications of priests?
1. GENEALOGICAL: direct descendant of Aaron; able to est. fact.
2. PHYSICAL: without defect (Lev. 21).
a. No blind, lame, disfigured, midgets, eye defect, sores.
b. Defectives received priest's ration but not part. in service.
c. Couldn't shave heads or trim beards, no lacerations, not allow hair to hang loose or go to places where dead were.
3. MARITAL: could marry (Lev. 21).
a. Only an Israelite maiden if she was a virgin.
b. Could NOT marry widow, divorcee, (former) prostitute.
c. Later he could marry widow of another priest (Ezek. 44:22).
C. The ordination of priests.
1. Even though a priest might be qualified, he could not serve until he was officially ordained (Ex. 29 and Lev. 8).
2. Outstanding items of this procedure:
a. Bull sacrificed as a sin offering (cf. Christ).
b. Washed in water, priestly robes put on (cf. Baptism).
c. Anointing of oil.
d. Blood from one of two rams applied to tip of right ear, right big thumb, right big toe (God's man head to toe!).
e. Period of consecration that lasted 7 days.
II. WHAT PRIESTS WERE SUPPOSED TO DO. (Five Things)
A. TAKE CARE OF THE TABERNACLE.
1. Dismantling and moving it (with help of Levites).
2. When temple built they lived around it & opened it every morning! (1 Chron. 9:27).
B. OFFER DAILY SACRIFICES.
1. Each day 2 male lambs offered.
2. One at 3rd hour; one at 9th (Nu. 28:3-6; cf. Acts 3:1).
3. On sabbath these sacrifices doubled (Nu. 28:9-10).
4. Other sacrifices:
a. Special sacrifices that began each new month ("new moon").
b. Offered sacrifices at 3 great annual feasts.
c. Individual sacrifices: guilty presents sac. to priest.
C. TEND THE FIRE ON THE ALTAR.
1. Divinely kindled at Aaron's consecration (Lev. 9:24).
2. This fire was not to go out! (Lev. 6:12-13).
3. Coals of this fire used in burning incense (Lev. 16:12).
4. Nadab & Abihu's "strange fire" an innovation (Lev. 10:1 ff.)
D. TEACH THE PEOPLE.
1. Dt. 33:10 speaks of sons of Levi teaching the people.
2. Read the Law every 7 years at Feast of Tab. (Dt. 31:10).
3. Admonition to priests of Malachi's day (Mal. 2:1-9).
E. BLESS THE PEOPLE (Num. 6:22-27).
a. We've packed a lot about priests into this one lesson. The significance of all this data is this: Priests were busy people! God expected them to DO something!
b. The force of Biblical teaching about priests is not about the STATUS they possess, but rather the TASK they perform!