THE ROLE OF HIGH PRIEST
Leslie M. John
The LORD said unto Moses to speak to his brother and the LORD gave instructions, to Aaron through Moses, as detailed in the book of Leviticus Chapter 16. This is the sequence of sacrifices that were to be offered by Aaron, the high priest. The sequence was followed by Jews ever since then until AD 70 when the Temple was destroyed. However, there is not much of evidence that they offer the sacrifices, after AD 70, just as the LORD gave commandment through Moses to Aaron.
During the reign of King Jeroboam, who ruled the Northern Province of Israel and King Rehoboam, who ruled over the Southern Province of Israel after King Solomon, the “House of Israel” was scattered. “The House of Israel” was taken captive by Assyrians, and the “House of Judah” was taken captive by Babylonians. Later, some who were under the captivity under Babylonians returned to Southern Province of Israel and some preferred to stay in their regions where they were under captivity, perhaps because of the better life they enjoyed there.
Hebrew language was almost extinct and Israel was destroyed beyond recognition. But then, God promised that He will unite “The House of Israel” and “The House of Judah”. Although Israel came back into existence on 14TH May, 1948, yet there is much to happen. There is no evidence that all the children of Israel have come into the land of Israel.
The Jews have very good knowledge about God and the commandments God gave to them through Moses and they are aware of all the ceremonial laws that were described in the Books of Moses. Yet, it is surprising to note that they neither accept Jesus as their Messiah nor do they offer sacrifices, after AD 70, as detailed in the books of Moses, especially in the book of Leviticus.
Jesus was born as a Jew and God loved Israelites and called them as His People and the nation as His nation, and also because Bible asks us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, I also pray for the peace of Jerusalem, I love them and I love Israel. I wish they all realized that Lord Jesus was divine and fully human when He was on this earth and died for the sake of our sins. He was buried, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. He is seated on the right hand of the Majesty. He comes back again as soon as all His enemies are brought to His footstool. Scriptures say that if they do not believe Jesus as their Messiah now, they will be brought to their knees to acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah during the period of “Great Tribulation”.
Their faith is that on the “Day of Atonement” they remember all their good works done and if the good works done during the past year outweigh their bad works they deem it as their forgiveness of their sins. If they do not sacrifice the offerings just they were asked to do in Leviticus Chapter 16 they owe explanation to the God’s word which says:
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool”. (Isaiah 1:18)
“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away”. (Isaiah 64:6)
Here is how they were asked to offer sacrifices as detailed in Leviticus Chapter 16 on the “Day of Atonement”.
On the “Day of Atonement” the high priest was to be all alone in the Tabernacle while the congregation waits outside the Tabernacle. There would be no priest to assist him in the sacrifices that he offers on that day. Any one assisting him on this day would be doing it outside the Tabernacle. The offerings are to be made by the high priest with high precision and reverence; otherwise his death was sure instantaneously.
The very fact that their present day high priests are not dying instantaneously for not offering the bullock and a ram for themselves and the Lord’s goat as sin offering and confessing upon the live goat the sins of the high priest and the sins of the people followed by its letting loose into the wilderness itself shows that they are in violation of the Mosaic Law.
The high priest starts by washing his flesh in water and putting on linen garments. God commanded to lay aside the beautiful priestly garments of the high priest on this solemn occasion wherein the high priest is seen in a very humble stature, yet performing a very noble and pleasing deed for the Lord, while offering the sacrifices (Leviticus 16:4)
Lord Jesus Christ was stripped and was beaten up to a very humble state, yet performing a very noble and pleasing deed on the cross, while offering his own body and blood for the sake of remission of our sins. God loved us so much so that He gave His only begotten son for this purpose and whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. It is not we who loved Him first but He loved us first.
“And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe”. (Matthew 27:28)
The high priest was to take the bullock of the sin offering and make an atonement for him and for his house and kill it as sin offering on the altar (Leviticus 16:6)
Jesus was without any sin and without any blemish born of the Virgin Mary conceived of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 1:20) and, therefore, he did not need any bullock for himself, but He became the Lamb of God and the sacrifice for our sake. John testified of him that He was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin.
The high priest takes a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and brings it within the veil. He puts the incense upon the fire before the LORD, so that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the ark of the testimony; and if he failed to follow the said method his death was sure.
The blood of the bullock is sprinkled with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward, and he sprinkles the blood before the mercy seat with his finger seven times. He goes back to the altar and kills the goat on which the lot fell as sin offering for the people and takes the blood of the goat within the veil and applies the blood and sprinkles just as he did with the blood of bullock for his own sake (Leviticus 16:15)
Jesus became the propitiation and substitution for our sake and fulfilled two-fold purpose of becoming sacrifice on behalf of us and bearing our sins upon himself as a substitute in our stead.
“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Romans 3:24-25)
Because the Tabernacle remained in the midst of the children of Israel with all their transgressions and uncleanness, Aaron, the high priest makes atonement for the holy place. He brings the live goat and lays both his hands upon the head of the live goat, signifying the transference of the sins of himself, and all the people of Israel on to the live goat, and confesses over the live goat all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all the transgressions and all their sins, and sends it away by the hand of the fit man into the wilderness.
The goat carries the iniquities of all the people of Israel unto a land not inhabited never to return again to the land where the children of Israel lived. The live goat on which the sins are confessed is led outside the camp by a fit man into the wilderness (Leviticus 16:16-19).
He, who lets the goat into the wilderness bathes his flesh in water and afterwards comes into the camp. Notice the shedding of the blood and its sprinkling covered their sins, yet the sins remained in the sanctuary until the high priest transferred the sins onto the live goat which carried the sins far into an uninhabited land. The letting of the scapegoat into the wilderness is after the high priest changes his garments of linen and puts on his priestly garments and offering of the fat of the sin offering to be burnt upon the altar (Leviticus 16:20-22)
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him”. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
After the sin offering is made by the high priest he shall go into the tabernacle of the congregation and changes his clothing. The high priest washes his clothes, and bathes his flesh in water and then he goes into the camp in his priestly garments offers burnt offering. The high priest then offers burnt offering for himself first and then offers burnt offering for the people and makes atonement for himself and for the people. He burns the fat of the sin offering on the altar and then lets the scapegoat go.
He washes his clothes, bathes his flesh in water and afterward goes into the camp. The rest of the blood of the bullock and the Lord’s goat which were killed for making atonement for sin offering will be carried outside the camp. The skins, their flesh, and their dung shall be burnt in the fire. He who burns the skins their flesh, dung washes his clothes and bathes his flesh in water and then shall come into the camp (Lev 16:27, 28).
This ritual is ordered by God as a statute to be observed on the tenth day of every seventh month in every year. God ordered that the children of Israel should mourn on this day. This is only one festival where the children of Israel are asked to mourn instead of rejoicing. It is the ‘Day of Atonement”, which is a national repentance day.
They and the strangers in that land and the sojourners in that land were not supposed to work on this day. The priest whom the high priest anoints on this day will serve as the High priest next in the stead of his father. He shall make atonement for the holy sanctuary, tabernacle, and the altar, and also priests, and for all the people of the congregation. This ritual was ordered to be a statute to be observed once every year and Aaron did as the LORD gave commandment through Moses.
“But 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; Neither 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”. (Hebrews 9:11-12)
“For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 7:17)