The Role of the Priest
The priest would draw near to God and minister on behalf of the people. He is responsible for offering the sacrifices, performing all the ceremonies relating to worship, and for being a mediator between God and man.
Under the Law the people were required to bring their sacrifices and offerings to the priest in the tabernacle. They would go through the gate of the tabernacle with their sacrifice and stop at the bronze altar (note that bronze represents judgment). This is as far as they could go in approaching God. Beyond this point the priests would go on their behalf and carry out what was required in the Holy Place. They did this as representatives for all the people.
The Priests duties fell under three main categories:
- Service: The priests ministered in the sanctuary, which at this time was the tabernacle, but when Israel became a settled nation it would be the temple.
- Teaching: The priests were responsible for teaching the people the law of God.
- Prayer: The priests were responsible to seek God’s will and to pray for guidance for the nation of Israel.
Note: The Priests were also required to wear special clothing whenever they were in attendance at the altar or entered the Holy Place. Their clothing had to be clean and pure before they could approach God.
Jesus our Great High Priest!
Eli and the priests under The Law were ‘a type’ (or shadow) of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is our perfect, high priest:
- Jesus is appointed and chosen by God (Heb 5:5)
- He is consecrated with an oath (Heb 7:20-22)
- He is sinless (Heb 7:26)
- 4) His priesthood is unchangeable and continues forever (Heb 7:23-24)
- 5) His offering is perfect and final (Heb 9:25-28)
- He Intercedes continually because His blood always cries out not guilty (Heb 7:24,25)
- He is the only mediator (1 Tim 2:5)
Heb 2:16-18 (Amp) For, as we all know, He [Christ] did not take hold of angels the fallen angels, to give them a helping and delivering hand], but He did take hold of [the fallen] descendants of Abraham [to reach out to them a helping and delivering hand]. 17 So it is evident that it was essential that He be made like His brethren in every respect, in order that He might become a merciful (sympathetic) and faithful High Priest in the things related to God, to make atonement and propitiation for the people’s sins. 18 For because He Himself [in His humanity] has suffered in being tempted (tested and tried), He is able [immediately] to run to the cry of (assist, relieve) those who are being tempted and tested and tried [and who therefore are being exposed to suffering].
Heb 4:14-16 (NKJV) Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Heb 9:11-12 (NKJV) But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come,with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.