Doctrine of Christ: The Office of Priest
September 19, 2021 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith
Scripture: Leviticus 9
Scripture: Leviticus 9
Review / Introduction
In the last two weeks, we’ve examing the function and purpose of a prophet
- And how Christ perfectly and completely fulfills that role
- How Christ fulfills that role
- Through the Old Testament
- During his days of the flesh
- During these last days
Today we’ll spend time looking at the second office of Christ he fulfills in His role as Mediator
- This is the Office of Priest.
The prophet, as we have seen, is God's representative to the people.
- The prophet comes and speaks the word of God.
- The prophet is God’s representative
- The prophet serves to interpret the will of God to the people
- The prophet was primarily a religious teacher.
- Christ as, prophet, fulfilled all these things.
The priest, as we will see, is the people's representative to God.
- The priest is representative of the people
- The priest has the special privilege of approaching God
- The priest speaks and acts on behalf of the people before God
- Christ as, priest, fulfilled all these things.
The prophets and the priests are similar in that they both taught the people
- prophets taught on moral/ spiritual duties responsibilities and privileges.
- priests taught ritual observances in the proper approach to God.
There is much more to the priest’s role than just teaching.
Our design here is to gain a better understanding of Christ as He fulfills the office of Priest in His role as mediator.
The Westminster Larger Catechism, Question 44, helps us...
44. How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?
A. Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering himself a sacrifice without spot to God,[c] to be a reconciliation for the sins of his people;[d] and in making continual intercession for them.[e]
Here we see some important elements: sacrifice, reconciliation, intercession.
As we did with the office of prophet, let’s first start by understanding the purpose and function of the office of priest.
Purpose and Function of a Priest
As we begin, let's turn to the only place where anyone should turn to learn about the things of God.
We aren’t looking to well-known authors or famous speakers or external books.
We are going straight to the source – the only source – where we can find truth.
- Real truth
We, as a people, sometimes get confused about what is real truth.
- We think we can find truth in the news – but we’ve seen lies and error.
- We think we can find truth in social media – but we’ve seen censorship.
- We think we can find in our leaders – but we’ve seen lies and partisanship.
- We think we can find truth in science...science.
A good friend of mine recently commented on science...and, if you think about it for a minute, you’ll see there is merit to be found...
“Science is the new religion.
Its prophets and priests are the doctors and scientists.”
Now, where is most of society turning?
- Where do they go to find comfort?
- Where do they go to find salvation from sickness and death?
- Where do they go to find answers about life?
You see, when we lose sight of where truth can be found, we’ll go anywhere.
When we trade the truth of God for a lie, we no longer have truth.
No matter what you believe or are told...without God, there is no truth.
“They word is truth” – John 17:17
With that aside, lets us turn to the Word ->
Hebrews 5:1-10 & Hebrews 7:26 – 8:2
In these passages, we can find six functions fulfilled by the priest.
(1) The priest is taken from among men. – (v.1)
- he is taken from among men because he ministers on behalf of men
- it speaks of the ministry that he will perform on behalf of mankind.
- mankind does not refer to mankind, as in all men
- mankind refers to that particular segment of man that the Father has given to Christ
(2) The priest is ordained for/ on behalf of men in things pertaining to God. – v.1
- there is a particular authority
- there is a setting of him in that place. (Leviticus 8)
- It is a place that is on the behalf of others.
- The priest ministers
- sometimes for himself
- sometimes for others
- but never exclusively for himself.
- Aaron, at times, ministered on his own behalf (Leviticus 9:6-24)
- But also on behalf of the people.
- Why? because they are also part of a sinful humanity
(3) The priest offers gifts and sacrifices for sins. (v. 1; Leviticus 9:22)
- this shows the necessity of his work.
- He is bringing a gift
- He is making an offering
- He is making a sacrifice for sin.
- because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
- There is guilt that accrues to us because of our sin.
- the wages of sin is still death, and the death rate is still 100% (Romans 6:23)
- So, there is a need for a priest
- We’ll see this need is only fulfilled for us in Christ. (Hebrews 4:14)
There are no priests today - not in the sense of the Old Testament priest.
- Why? Because we do not make sacrifices for sin anymore.
Christ did that one and for all. Never to be repeated. (Hebrews 10:11-18)
So, those who call themselves priests, placing themselves in the office of priest, are saying they are offering gifts and sacrifices for sin.
- They are betraying their lack of understanding of Christ
- They are attempting to make an atonement to God for sins
- They are saying Christ’s sacrifice was not sufficient
- They are saying the Scriptures are in error...
But it is their error that is exposed.
It is their heresy and false religion that is exposed.
Objection: some might object and say, “Wait a minute. The Bible tells us that we are priests...a royal priesthood”
Response: This is taken from 1 Peter 2:9.
On the surface, it might be as if this teaches the Office of Priest is fulfilled in every believer.
This is referencing the words to be spoken by Moses to the people (Exod 19:6)
But this is not calling all believers to the office of priest – much like Exodus was not calling the entire nation of Israel to the office of priest.
We, believers, are priests because, according to Romans 12, we are to present our bodies as living sacrifices unto God.
But, this sacrifice is a far cry from the sacrifice for atonement that the priest of the Old Testament and that Christ, our great High Priest offered.
(4) The priest also is compassed with infirmity (v. 2)
- he has a feeling of his infirmity
- he has a feeling of the infirmities of those whom he represents.
- Therefore, he can have compassion on those for whom he ministers
- This is part and parcel of being taken from among men.
- There is a difference to remember here (we’ll touch on it again)
- The Levitical priesthood was filled by man who was sinful and defiled
- Christ, as high priest, is free from sin and undefiled. (1 Peter 1:19)
(5) He offers for sins of his own (v.3)
- for his own and also for others -> (Leviticus 8)
- Notice that sins are presupposed of his people.
- sins are something that cannot be left or ignored without consequence
- his work in some sense negates the effects or the guilt of sin
- again, this does not apply to Christ for He had no sins but Christ did pray for Himself in John 17
(6) the priest does not take this honor to himself. (v. 4)
- he doesn't elevate himself to be a priest.
- he is called of God.
- Aaron was called of God (Leviticus 8)
- we'll see in Heb-07 that Christ also was called of God
- He was a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
- the priesthood is not an office that rises out of the calling of men.
- the priesthood is originated by God Himself
- the priesthood is regulated by God Himself
- the priesthood is ordained by God Himself
This should remind us of the sovereignty of God.
We see that God ordains the government of the church.
As we learned about prophets, so we’ve learned about priests.
Leadership in the church. Teaching in the church.
Leading on behalf of God. Teaching on behalf of God.
All of these are to be set up through the means established by God.
No man is to set himself up but is to wait upon the Lord.
There are the six functions of a priest as described in Scripture.
Next week, we’ll look at the necessity of a priest, how Christ fulfills that office, and then we’ll look at the nature and unity of the priesthood of Christ – specifically examining the meaning of the Melchizedek and how it compares to the Levitical priesthood.
More in Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith
January 16, 2022Doctrine of Religious Worship - Holy & Glorious
January 9, 2022Doctrine of Religious Worship: Delighting in the Sabbath II
January 2, 2022Doctrine of Religious Worship: Take off Thy Foot and Delight in the Sabbath