The Purpose and Power of the Priesthood

Have you given much thought to the priesthood? Some may see it as a waste of time. But I want to suggest to you that a study of the priesthood will enhance your appreciation for God. The story of the priesthood is really a story of us, of sin, of forgiveness, and of service.

The Story of Us

So as you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but chosen and precious in God’s sight, you yourselves, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:4-6 NET).

Christians – all Christians, not a select few – are to be a holy priesthood.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). The reason we have become this royal priesthood is so that we might proclaim the excellencies of God! Understanding the priesthood helps us to understand our role in this marvelous act.

The Story of Sin

The purpose of the priest was to “represent [the people] before God, to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins” (Hebrews 5:1). The patriarch Job acted as a priest when he rose early in the morning to offer sacrifices for his children. His reasoning for it was, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts” (Job 1:5).

Just as the Israelites dealt with sin, so do we. We have sinned and thus need a sacrifice for forgiveness.

The Story of Forgiveness

Over and over in the book of Leviticus, God states that those who sin can be forgiven (Leviticus 4:20, 26, 31, 35). Even though God did forgive, he did so on the basis of something greater (Hebrews 10:1-18). The priests continually offered sacrifices, but Jesus offered a single sacrifice for all time.

The Story of Service

God set aside the tribe of Levi in order to minister to him, to praise him, and to be devoted to him (Deuteronomy 10:8, 9; 18:5). They were to present gifts to God; therefore, the tribe of Levi was to be holy (Leviticus 21:6).

The priest stood daily at his service (Hebrews 10:11). While Jesus does not have to continually offer himself, he does serve us daily. To understand how truly great the service of Jesus is, we have to understand the futility of life without him. If God left us to our own devices, how terrible life would be.

But he is concerned about us. “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest in things relating to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17).

It is in Jesus that we see the ultimate fulfillment of the purpose and power of the priesthood. He is our High Priest, and he offers forgiveness form sins and continually serves on our behalf. Praise God!

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