Lesson 7 | Sabbath, 14 August 2021
“As referring to the temple at Jerusalem, the Saviour’s words, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,’ had a deeper meaning than the hearers perceived. Christ was the foundation and life of the temple. Its services were typical of the sacrifice of the Son of God. The priesthood was established to represent the mediatorial character and work of Christ. The entire plan of sacrificial worship was a foreshadowing of the Saviour’s death to redeem the world. There would be no efficacy in these offerings when the great event toward which they had pointed for ages was consummated.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 165.
1. Whom did the Lord designate to serve in the ancient priesthood? What was done before they could begin to serve in the tabernacle?
Exodus 28:1; 40:12, 15. 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….40:12And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water….15And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.
“After the dedication of the tabernacle, the priests were consecrated to their sacred office. These services occupied seven days, each marked by special ceremonies. On the eighth day they entered upon their ministration. Assisted by his sons, Aaronoffered the sacrifices that God required, and he lifted up his hands and blessed the people. All had been done as God commanded, and He accepted the sacrifice, and revealed His glory in a remarkable manner; fire came from the Lord and consumed the offering upon the altar. The people looked upon this wonderful manifestation of divine power with awe and intense interest. They saw in it a token of God’s glory and favor, and they raised a universal shout of praise and adoration and fell.”
Sacred services and laws
2. Although Aaron and his sons ministered before the Lord, in favor of whom did they carry out their continual ministry? Whom or what did the Levitical priests and their service symbolize?
Leviticus 9:7. And Moses said unto Aaron, Go unto the altar, and offer thy sin offering, and thy burnt offering, and make an atonement for thyself, and for the people: and offer the offering of the people, and make an atonement for them; as the Lord commanded.
Hebrews 5:1; 8:1, 2. For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:…8:1Now 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; 2A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.
“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 first-born 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.
3. In addition to their sacred service in the tabernacle, in what other important area did the priests serve?
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.
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.
Malachi 2:7. For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.
“Even religious teachers have failed to present the holy standard by which character is measured, because they have ceased to respect every one of the precepts that God has given, which are holy, and just, and good. Men have taken upon themselves the responsibility of erecting a standard in harmony with their own ideas, and the law of Jehovah has been dishonored. This is why there is so great and widespread iniquity. This is why our days are becoming like the days of Noah and Lot.” –(Review and Herald, May 2, 1893) Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, p. 567.
“‘The priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.’ The people should counsel with him, for he is God’s appointed messenger. They should not only hear, but they should ask questions, that they may have a clear knowledge of truth. He is not to withhold his knowledge from them, but is to regard it as a sacred trust, to be imparted to others. His mind is to be a treasure-house of good things, from which, whenever occasion demands, he can draw a ‘Thus saith the Lord.’” –Review and Herald, October 13, 1904.
Communication with God for the people
4. What did the priests do in specific emergencies when there was an urgent need to consult with the Lord for the benefit of the people?
Exodus 28:30. 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: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the Lord continually.
1 Samuel 28:5, 6. And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled. 6And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.
Ezra 2:63. And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim.
“At the right and left of the breastplate were set two larger stones, which shone with great brilliancy. When difficult matters were brought to the judges, which they could not decide, they were referred to the priests, and they inquired of God, who answered them. If He favored, and if He would grant them success, a halo of light and glory especially rested upon the precious stone at the right. If he disapproved, a vapor or cloud seemed to settle upon the precious stone at the left hand. When they inquired of God in regard to going to battle, the precious stone at the right, when circled with light, said, Go, and prosper. The stone at the left, when shadowed with a cloud, said, Thou shalt not go; thou shalt not prosper.” –The Story of Redemption, pp. 183,184.
5. When there were difficult problems, where did the children of Israel go to obtain correct judgment?
Deuteronomy 17:8-10. If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the Lord thy God shall choose; 9And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and inquire; and they shall show thee the sentence of judgment: 10And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the Lord shall choose shall show thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee.
“In searching the Scriptures, in feeding upon the words of life, O consider it is the voice of God to the soul. We may be confused sometimes over the voice of our friends; but in the Bible we have the counsel of God upon all important subjects which concern our eternal interests, and in temporal matters we may learn a great deal. Its teaching will be always suited to our peculiar circumstances and calculated to prepare us to endure trial and fit us for our God-given work.” –A Call to Stand Apart, p. 69.
“The question may be asked, How can he get wisdom that holdeth the plow, and driveth the oxen? By seeking her as silver, and searching for her as for hid treasures. ‘For his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him. ’‘This also cometh forth from the Lord of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.’” –Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, p. 355.
Ministry for the sick and the people
6. In case of plague or sickness, what was the priest’s work in the healing of the sick?
Leviticus 13:2-3, 6. When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a rising, a scab, or bright spot, and it be in the skin of his flesh like the plague of leprosy; then he shall be brought unto Aaron the priest, or unto one of his sons the priests: 3And the priest shall look on the plague in the skin of the flesh: and when the hair in the plague is turned white, and the plague in sight be deeper than the skin of his flesh, it is a plague of leprosy: and the priest shall look on him, and pronounce him unclean…. 6And the priest shall look on him again the seventh day: and, behold, if the plague be somewhat dark, and the plague spread not in the skin, the priest shall pronounce him clean: it is but a scab: and he shall wash his clothes, and be clean.
“God commanded that the children of Israel should in no case allow impurities of their persons, or of their clothing. Those who had any personal uncleanliness were shut out of the camp until evening, and then were required to cleanse themselves and their clothing before they could enter the camp. Also they were commanded of God to have no impurities upon the premises within a great distance of the encampment, lest the Lord should pass by and see their uncleanliness.”–Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4, pp. 141, 142.
“By the ritual law the leper was pronounced unclean. Whatever he touched was unclean. The air was polluted by his breath. Like one already dead, he was shut out from the habitations of men. One who was suspected of having the disease must present himself to the priests, who were to examine and decide his case. If pronounced a leper, he was isolated from his family, cut off from the congregation of Israel, and doomed to associate with those only who were similarly afflicted. Even kings and rulers were not exempt. A monarch attacked by this terrible disease must yield up the scepter and flee from society.” –The Ministry of Healing, p. 67.
7. What other task did the priests have?
Numbers 6:23-26. Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them,24The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: 25The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:26The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
“In the typical service the high priest, having made the atonement for Israel, came forth and blessed the congregation.” –The Great Controversy, p. 485.
“God intended that these great leaders of His people should be representatives of Christ. Aaron bore the names of Israel upon his breast. He communicated to the people the will of God. He entered the most holy place on the Day of Atonement, ‘not without blood,’ as a mediator for all Israel. He came forth from that work to bless the congregation, as Christ will come forth to bless His waiting people when His work of atonement in their behalf shall be ended.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 426.
For additional study
“Christ was the foundation of the whole Jewish economy. In the service of the Jewish priesthood we are continually reminded of the sacrifice and intercession of Christ. All who come to Christ today are to remember that His merit is the incense that mingles with the prayers of those who repent of their sins and receive pardon and mercy and grace. Our need of Christ’s intercession is constant. Day by day, morning and evening, the humble heart needs to offer up prayers to which will be returned answers of grace and peace and joy.” –(Manuscript 14, 1901)Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1078.
“Mark the figure presented in verse five (1 Peter 2:5): ‘Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.’ Then these lively stones are exerting a tangible, practical influence in the Lord’s spiritual house. They are a holy priesthood, performing pure, sacred service. They offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God.” –Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 461.