Ministry of the Priests
Lesson 10 | Sabbath, 3 September 2022
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” 1 Peter 2:9.
Established by the Lord
- Whom did the Lord choose to perform every aspect of the priesthood, including the worship services and symbolic rites in the sanctuary?
Numbers 3:10 And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest’s office: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.Exodus 28:1 And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons.
“By divine direction the tribe of Levi was set apart for the service of the sanctuary. In the earliest times every man was the priest of his own household. In the days of Abraham the priesthood was regarded as the birthright of the eldest son. Now, instead of the firstborn of all Israel, the Lord accepted the tribe of Levi for the work of the sanctuary. By this signal honor He manifested His approval of their fidelity, both in adhering to His service and in executing His judgments when Israel apostatized in the worship of the golden calf. The priesthood, however, was restricted to the family of Aaron. Aaron and his sons alone were permitted to minister before the Lord; the rest of the tribe were entrusted with the charge of the tabernacle and its furniture, and they were to attend upon the priests in their ministration, but they were not to sacrifice, to burn incense, or to see the holy things till they were covered.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 350.
- Whenever a penitent sinner came to the sanctuary to offer a sacrifice, what was the priest to do?
Leviticus 6:2, 6, 7 If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the Lord, and lie unto his neighbour in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or hath deceived his neighbour;… 6 And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord, a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest: 7 And the priest shall make an atonement for him before the Lord: and it shall be forgiven him for any thing of all that he hath done in trespassing therein.
“Not only the sanctuary itself, but the ministration of the priests, was to ‘serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things.’ Hebrews 8:5. Thus it was ofgreat importance; and the Lord, through Moses, gave the most definite and explicit instruction concerning every point of this typical service. The ministration of the sanctuary consisted of two divisions, a daily and a yearly service. The daily service was performed at the altar of burnt offering in the court of the tabernacle and in the holy place; while the yearly service was in the most holy.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 351, 352.
Services and communication
- What main services did the priests perform, and where?
Numbers 18:7 Therefore thou and thy sons with thee shall keep your priest’s office for everything of the altar, and within the vail; and ye shall serve: I have given your priest’s office unto you as a service of gift: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.
1 Samuel 2:28 And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? and did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel? Numbers 18:1 And the Lord said unto Aaron, Thou and thy sons and thy father’s house with thee shall bear the iniquity of the sanctuary: and thou and thy sons with thee shall bear the iniquity of your priesthood.
“The tribe of Levi was chosen by the Lord for the sacred offices pertaining to the temple and the priesthood. Of the priest it was said, ‘The Lord thy God hath chosen him … to stand to minister in the name of the Lord.’ Deuteronomy 18:5.” –Counsels on Stewardship, p. 70.
“By offering Himself to make intercession for the transgression of the human race, Christ executed the office of priest.” –Fundamentals of Christian Education,p. 403.
- What did the priest do when there was a serious need to consult the Lord?
Exodus 28:30, first part And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron’s heart, when he goeth in before the Lord:…
Numbers 27:21 And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the Lord: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation.
“At the right and left of the breastplate were two large stones of great brilliancy. These were known as the Urim and Thummim. By them the will of God was made known through the high priest. When questions were brought for decision before the Lord, a halo of light encircling the precious stone at the right was a token of the divine consent or approval, while a cloud shadowing the stone at the left was an evidence of denial or disapprobation.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 351.
Teachers in Israel
- In addition, what was another great responsibility of the priests?
Deuteronomy 33:10 They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law: they shall put incense before thee, and whole burnt sacrifice upon thine altar.
Leviticus 10:11 And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.
Ezekiel 44:23, 24 And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. 24And in controversy they shall stand in judgment; and they shall judge it according to my judgments: and they shall keep my laws and my statutes in all mine assemblies; and they shall hallow my sabbaths.
“The Lord had instructed His people that He was the Owner of the vineyard, and that all their possessions were given them in trust to be used for Him. But the priests and teachers did not perform the work of their sacred office as if they were handling the property of God.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 292.
“Had fathers and mothers followed the direction given by Christ, we should not now read and hear of sins and crimes committed not only by adults but even by youth and children. The evil condition of society exists because parents have disregarded this instruction and neglected to train and educate their children to respect and honor the holy commandments of God.” –Mind, Character and Personality, vol. 2, pp. 566, 567.
“Those who have seen the truth and felt its importance, and have had an experience in the things of God, are to teach sound doctrine to their children. They should make them acquainted with the great pillars of our faith, the reasons why we are Seventh-day Adventists–why we are called, as were the children of Israel, to be a peculiar people, a holy nation, separate and distinct from all other people on the face of the earth. These things should be explained to the children in simple language, easy to be understood; and as they grow in years, the lessons imparted should be suited to their increasing capacity, until the foundations of truth have been laid broad and deep.” –Child Guidance, p. 495.
- To whom did the Lord entrust many other responsibilities relating to the sanctuary and for the benefit of the people?
Numbers 1:51; 3:6-9 And when the tabernacle setteth forward, the Levites shall take it down: and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death…. 3:6Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him. 7And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the taber- nacle of the congregation, to do the service of the tabernacle. 8And they shall keep all the instruments of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the charge of the children of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle. 9And thou shalt give the Levites unto Aaron and to his sons: they are wholly given unto him out of the children of Israel.
“The Lord designated a special family of the tribe of Levi to bear the ark; and others of the Levites were specially appointed of God to bear the tabernacle and all its furniture, and to perform the work of setting up and taking down the tabernacle. And if any man from curiosity or from lack of order got out of his place and touched any part of the sanctuary or furniture, or even came near any of the workmen, he was to be put to death. God did not leave His holy tabernacle to be borne, erected, and taken down, indiscriminately, by any tribe who might choose the office; but persons were chosen who could appreciate the sacredness of the work in which they were engaged. These men appointed of God were directed to impress upon the people the special sacredness of the ark and all that appertained thereunto, lest they should look upon these things without realizing their holiness and should be cut off from Israel. All things pertaining to the most holy place were to be looked upon with reverence.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 652.
Symbolic and real
- What do the Scriptures say that the sanctuary, the sacrifices, and the priesthood of antiquity were? Where are the true sanctuary and the true High Priest located now?
Hebrews 9:9-12 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; 10Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.11But 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; 12Neither 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.
“Many have failed to realize the sacredness of the work in which they are engaged. Its exalted character should be kept before the workers, both by precept and example. Let all read the directions given by Christ to Moses, requiring every man to be in his place and to do the part of the work to which he was appointed and set apart. If in putting up or taking down the tabernacle any man was found out of his place, or ventured upon any officious action, in handling the sacred ark or bearing it, that man was put to death.” –(Manuscript 29, 1895) The Publishing Ministry, p. 59.
“Everything worn by the priest was to be whole and without blemish. By those beautiful official garments was represented the character of the great antitype, Jesus Christ. Nothing but perfection, in dress and attitude, in word and spirit, could be acceptable to God. He is holy, and His glory and perfection must be represented by the earthly service. Nothing but perfection could properly represent the sacredness of the heavenly service. Finite man might rend his own heart by showing a contrite and humble spirit. This God would discern.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 709.