Tag Archives: Leviticus 8

Priests, Protestants and Me

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Take Aaron and his sons with him, the vestments, the anointing oil, the bull of sin offering, the two rams, and the basket of unleavened bread; and assemble the whole congregation at the entrance of the tent of meeting.
Leviticus 8:1-3 (NRSV)

Aaron was Moses’ right-hand man, and it was Aaron and his sons who were chosen to be the priests in the sacrificial system of the ancient Hebrews. In today’s chapter, God through Moses takes Aaron and his sons through a ritual of ordination to become priests. It is a long ritual filled with metaphor from their priestly vestments to a little dab ‘ill do ya of blood on the ear lobe.

A priest is a mediator between God and man. A priest stands in the spiritual gap. The priest represents God to humanity and represents humanity before God. A priest is spiritually elevated and ordained to handle and serve the sacrifice, to carry our prayers into the presence of the Almighty, and to bestow forgiveness and absolution to the common sinner.

Among Christian institutions, the priesthood is one of the major differences between Roman Catholicism (and Greek Orthodox and Anglican) and the Protestant denominations. Protestants believe that since Jesus death and resurrection there is only one priest and mediator, and it is Jesus:

Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. Hebrews 4:14

“For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all….” 1 Timothy 2:5

Three of the four gospel writers report that when Jesus died the curtain in the Hebrew temple was torn in two. That curtain separated people from the area of the temple where God resided. Only the priest could enter. When the curtain was torn, the way was made for anyone to enter into God’s presence. Jesus was the sacrifice, the mediator, and the priest who stands in the gap.

In my Protestant circles, we think very little of the role of a priest anymore. I have, however, observed along my journey that Protestants often like to unwittingly bestow priestly powers on our pastors and spiritual leaders. It seems there is something innately human about doing so despite what we say we believe.

This morning I’m mulling over my own understanding of the role of priests, the work of Jesus and what that means. The ultimate sacrifice has been made. The curtain is torn. The way is open for me to enter into God’s presence. I need no other emissary, or representative, or priest. I need only approach.

Will I?

 

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Chapter-a-Day Leviticus 8

Moses slaughtered it and smeared some of its blood on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot. Then Aaron’s sons were brought forward and Moses smeared some of the blood on the lobes of their right ears, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet. Leviticus 8:23-24 (MSG)

There are times along the journey when shame attacks. “I’m worthless,” I might whisper to myself when I listen to shame’s deceptive whisper. “I’m a failure,” is another evidence of its toxic presence. “There’s no way God could forgive me. I’ve done [insert any number of shameful acts here].”

When Moses smeared blood on the ear, the thumb and the big toe of Aaron and his sons, it was a word picture of the blood covering the very extremeties – the blood covered everything. Even in the very beginning of God revealing His plan, He wanted to make it clear that the smallest amount of sin affects the entire person, therefore the blood of the sacrifice must cover the entire person. The blood Jesus spilled on the cross was a sin sacrifice once for all:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. Romans 8:1-3a

In a metaphorical sense, Jesus repeats the ritual with each person who places their faith in Him. He smears the blood of His sacrifice on our ear, our thumb, and our big toe. While we tend to think of sin as a problem of individual acts we’ve committed (or omitted), God sees sin a root problem to be dealt with in wholistic way. We are completely covered by His sacrifice. All of our sins are forgiven. The debt of our sin has been paid 0ff by the gracious and sacrificial gift of Jesus.

Today, I’m grateful that I’m forgiven; I’m thankful that Jesus sacrifice covers me completely. I hope and pray that my life and my love reflects my gratitude.