A Study on the Priesthood: Leviticus and Hebrews

I admit I’ve struggled since reading Leviticus. I was fine with Genesis and Exodus, and this is my second go of it, in earnest. Yet it was even harder, I think, this second time around. The only word that comes to mind every time I think of it is “tedious” and that’s not the word I’d like to use when it comes to the word of God.
You see, I know that every word of God is valuable. Profitable for correction and instruction in righteousness.

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

But Leviticus? Admittingly, I’ve been doubling up the chapters to get through the book quicker. The laws are mind-boggling. I’d fail. I’d just start and I’d fail. I’d likely be gungho to begin with, but sure enough I’d fail. Come on! It’s seriously intense. If you have a boil, and the hair turns white…
Eh?
If you are on your woman’s time you are unclean.
Say what?
Ok, so they probably didn’t have the sanitary conveniences we do now, but still!
On and on it went.
And I thought the chapters of how to build the temple were laborious. Details! God is a God of order, right down to minute detail. There’s no doubt about it.


One thing has come to mind, though. Did God purposely make it this intense and difficult to prove a point, for lack of a better term? Did He do it this way to show that we are utter failures at trying to redeem ourselves? That we are in no way or form sufficient in and of ourselves? Nevermind that the priests themselves were flawed and had to offer sacrifices for themselves as well! Did He deliberately make it a point to make it “Tedious” so that we’d come to the end of ourselves “in a hurry”, casting ourselves upon Him as unfit without Him?


As I continue to plod along in Leviticus, one thing that comes to mind over and over is how grateful I am that Jesus is now my High Priest. (Hebrews 4:14-15) He did what I cannot. The law serves as a schoolmaster to show me my despair, and well, it does! But it doesn’t leave me grovelling in the pit, it points to Jesus.

Galatians 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Praise the Living God! He lives and pleads for me!

Why would anyone ever want to go back? To deny Christ’s sufficiency and continue to attempt to fulfill every jot and tittle? Do they not realize if one tiny thing is broken, you are condemned as if you screwed up on all?


James 2:10-11 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.


It, not surprisingly, gets me also thinking about future events. I know from the Word of God that sooner or later (I say sooner) there will be a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. The third one. Animal sacrifices will resume. (Daniel 9:27)


Why?

Because they refuse, and are blinded to see that Jesus has fulfilled the law in one sacrifice for all!

In building the temple, it fulfills prophecy, and it will be the announcing place of anti-christ. (Matt 24; 2 Thess 2; Daniel 11,12) The abomination of desolation. The horrendous sin that sparks the time of the end, the last 3 1/2 year before Christ comes. The sacrifices that were resumed will be forbidden. (Daniel 9:27) It’s going to be a heinous sin.

But having a temple and resuming a sacrifice already paid for by the Holy One is a sin too!

Jesus, He is our Passover Lamb, it’s by His blood….not the blood of bulls and goats and turtledoves that we are saved. (Hebrews 9:13-10:18)

Oh for the blindness to be remedied. Oh for the scales to fall off.

What a slap in the face of the Almighty to resume sacrifices of old as if His work meant nothing.

But so it will be.
It’s been written, so it will happen.
It saddens me.

Given as how I believe that this will commence very soon, by the state of things, the popularity of the Hebrew movement, and (my) fleshly tendencies to think I can do it all by myself/works based salvation, I think it would be wise to look into the difference between the high priests of old and our High Priest. (I will reference the Old Testament, but in reality, it can go for future as well, as the Levitical priesthood will resume- in fact, it already is, sans temple…), and why the old Levitical order was never/will never be sufficient.

Levitical Priesthood- a Foreshadowing

Hebrews 9:1-10 Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. (wordly=temporary.) 2 For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. 3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; (the veil was a seperation). 4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; 5 And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. 6 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. 7 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 veil served to keep all but the Priest out, and only he could come in at specific times) 8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: 9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; (Animal sacrifices and gifts couldn’t atone, it was a work-based salvation through various ordinances to clear guilty minds until a change came) 10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.
(Notes my own).

And then, Jesus Came and Fulfilled what Only He Could Do


Hebrews 9:11-28 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (His Blood, once for all, replaced sacrifices of animals. He alone clears our gilt so that we now can serve God, no longer bound in sin.) 15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. 16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. (If Christ had no shed His blood we would still be in sin) 18 Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. 19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,20 Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.21 Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: (Everything now is just a shadow of things to come) 25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; 26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (Christ’s blood is still powerful to save… it doesn’t need to be shed again! Because of His blood and sacrifice we all now have access to the throne of grace through Him. When He comes He will complete our salvation and redemption.)

Since the beginning, we see that blood had to be shed for the remission of sin.

Matthew 26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Remission means to cancel and pardon. In the Old Testament, the Levitical priesthood would sacrifice an animal for both them and the people, because they themselves were sinners. They also were mortal, when one would die, another had to take his place. There was a need for a new Priesthood, blameless and eternal.

Hebrews 7:11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

And again,

Hebrews 8 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: Who serve unto the EXAMPLE AND SHADOW of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. But now hath he obtained A MORE EXCELLENT MINISTRY, by how much also he is the mediator of a BETTER covenant, which was established upon BETTER promises.
(Emphasis mine.)


Look at verse 7!


7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.

But it wasn’t sufficient, a mere shadow of what was needed through Jesus Christ as we read on.


Hebrews 8:8 FOR FINDING FAULT WITH THEM, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

Their efforts were of no avail because they broke parts of the law, by going after other gods, and murmuring against God! David said similarly, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” (Psalm 66:18)

Hebrews 8:10-13 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

What Israel did of old was a mere shadow of what was to come. The law in itself made nothing perfect or righteous, but because of the sacrifice of Jesus as our High Priest we are made righteous in Him. If we could be righteous on our own by fulfilling the law, we’d have no need for Jesus and the New Covenant. But the old order was leading us to the fulfilment of all in Christ. Jesus had to die for the New Covenant to come. He had to die for the sins acommitted in the Old Testament and now. His Blood had to be shed for the spiritual kingdom.

Hebrews 10:1-14 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can NEVER with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can NEVER take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God (denoting the power of God); From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by ONE offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

(emphasis and notes mine).


God didn’t want the sacrifice but the heart of man. And now that He has made the ultimate sacrifice we can come to Him and offer our heart.

To sum it up, the Levitical priesthood was/is not sufficient because the priests are mortal. The law, nor the Levites couldn’t save. The priests themselves were sinners. It was faulty and just a shadow.


The ministry of Christ is a more excellent ministry then the Levitical priesthood because it purges all of us in Christ vs. just partially. Christ is eternal, His are better promises. It is once for all vs repeated. And best of all, we can come to the throne of grace ourselves. In Him, now, we have a Mediator, our sins are put away, and we are sanctified.

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