Friday: Every Christian a Priest: Leviticus 8:1-10:20

Leviticus 8:1-10:20 In this week’s lessons, we learn about the Israelite priesthood, and see that because the Lord Jesus Christ is our great High Priest, we, too, have been made priests who glorify God and serve other
Every Christian a Priest

This was a very important time for the Israelites because it was the very beginning of the public worship by the people. This has a parallel in the New Testament, at a point near the beginning of the early church. Ananias and Sapphira were also struck down by God. What had they done? They had noticed that people were selling their possessions and donating it to the church, which was a very noble thing. They wanted to be praised as well. They sold a field, but they kept back part of the money, while they pretended that what they had offered to God was the whole amount.

Now they didn’t have to give it all; it was their field. They could have kept a portion of it. Peter recognized that when he spoke to them and revealed their sin. They sinned by lying to the Holy Spirit. We say, “Yes, but everybody lies.” That is true. But at the beginning of the early church it wasn’t tolerated, and God judged their sin to show how seriously He takes it.

Does this mean that in the long history of Israel there were never any other priests who ever violated the laws that were laid down in the book of Leviticus? No, of course not. In the minor prophets, especially Malachi, the priests are denounced because they are very unrighteous. They were offering blemished animals before the Lord. They would take the animals that nobody else wanted, make the sacrifices with them, and sell the other ones for a lot of money. Yet, they weren’t struck down.

In today’s church, certainly there are many, many Christians who lie about their spiritual lives and they’re not struck down for it. But in these two instances, God indicates that He takes sin seriously. And even as He is also merciful and spares us, it doesn’t mean that He thinks less of the wrong we do. Moses understood the message and explained it to the people. He said to them: “This is what the LORD spoke of when he said: ‘Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored’” (Lev. 10:3).

The remainder of chapter 10 has a few details for the people. Priests are not to be drinking alcohol when they are conducting the service. Although the text doesn’t say it, since this appears here, it has been suggested that Nadab and Abihu were intoxicated when they sinned. Scripture doesn’t forbid the drinking of alcohol; it doesn’t even forbid it to the priests. But they were not to drink as they were serving.

The next section shows how much Aaron was affected by the death of his sons. Moses told Aaron and his two sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, that they were not to mourn, seemingly because it would indicate displeasure over the judgment God had rendered against Nadab and Abihu. But their relatives and their fellow members of the house of Israel could mourn. We are told in verse 3 that after his two sons had been consumed, Aaron was silent.

After this, Moses later needed to chastise Aaron’s two remaining sons because in their grief they had not eaten the required part of the sacrifices for the sin offering. Aaron replied to Moses, “Today they sacrificed their sin offering and their burnt offering before the LORD, but such things as this have happened to me. Would the LORD have been pleased if I had eaten the sin offering today?” (v. 19). Then we are told that “when Moses heard this, he was satisfied” (v. 20). Moses was satisfied because he saw that the attitude of Aaron’s heart was right.

At the beginning of this study I said that all Christians today are priests. Therefore what we learn from these chapters is to be applied for us. Peter makes a great deal of that, using Old Testament language to talk about Christians. He writes, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pet. 2:9).

In the Old Testament, the people had a high priest, under-priests, and eventually the tribe of Levi, from whom all the priests needed to come. But not all the people were priests. And here Peter says that every Christian in the church is a priest. We are a holy nation called and drawn to God in order that we might show forth His glory to a world that is perishing without Him, and that we might exercise the function of priests by praying for those who are lost.

Do you do that? Do you recognize that high calling? We say, “Look at how important Aaron was.” And he was important, right up there next to Moses. But our responsibility is no less great. All the challenges that are given in Leviticus 8-10 are for us as well. Jesus Christ was accounted a faithful priest before God (Heb. 2:17). May we who follow Him be accounted faithful as well, so that one day when we stand before Him we’ll hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.”

Study Questions
  1. What parallel to the story of Nadab and Abihu do we find in the New Testament? What happened in that story, and what can we learn from it?
  2. Why were Aaron’s two other sons chastised by Moses with respect to their handling of the sacrifices? What reason did Aaron give, and why was Moses satisfied with his answer?

Application: Since every Christian is a priest, what privileges and responsibilities do you have as a priest before God?

For Further Study: Download and listen for free to Donald Barnhouse’s message, “Serving as Priests.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

Tagged under
More Resources from James Montgomery Boice

Subscribe to the Think & Act Biblically Devotional

Alliance of Confessional Evangelicals

About the Alliance

The Alliance is a coalition of believers who hold to the historic creeds and confessions of the Reformed faith and proclaim biblical doctrine in order to foster a Reformed awakening in today’s Church.

Canadian Donors

Canadian Committee of The Bible Study Hour
PO Box 24087, RPO Josephine
North Bay, ON, P1B 0C7