A Better Priest: Part 2
Parallels. While the astute student of Scripture would certainly be able to mutuply both the parallels and differences between the old covenant priesthood and Christ’s own, I will limit my study to Leviticus and the later chapters in the epistle to the Hebrews (7-10 mostly).
It would go without saying that the Bible presents us with a view of the continuity between the Old and New Covenant. The point being that the Levitical administration was both foreshadowed and was fulfilled in Christ. Here I draw your attention to but a few of the important points of contact. First, let’s start with mediatorial necessity.
Mediatorial necessity. Vern S. Poythress states,
The priesthood represents the fact that God’s relation to human beings in a personal one.” (The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses [Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1991], 60.)
Due to humanity’s moral pollution after the Fall, directly approaching God is rendered impossible. As a result a mediator is necessary.
While the functions of the priests are significant, these functions must be understood as proceeding out of their identity. (Leland Ryken, Jim Wilhoit, Tremper Longman, Colin Duriez, Douglas Penney, Daniel G. Reid, The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery [Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998], 662.)
The Levites were “holy” people, set apart for “holy work.” They were holy because they were separated from the rest of Israel’s tribes in order to devote themselves to God’s work. The Levites received no land, a major benefit of the other tribes, financial and agricultural security. In a mainly agricultural environment the most stabilizing commodity one can possess is land. The reasons are obvious; land 1) provides the necessary shelter needed to survive and 2) when tilled properly provides the much needed food both for sustenance and sale. Priestly mediation is God’s gracious provision for fallen man. Leviticus 16:6 speaks of God providing Aaron the means by which to cleanse both himself and the people of Israel, thus eliminating the enmity between God and man.
Likewise, Christ is portrayed as the Great High Priest who stands between God and those who need representation before Him (Heb. 5:5, 6:20, 7:26, 8:1). As stated earlier, “It is a pervasive biblical principle that nature is determinative of actions not vice verse. The priestly identity was founded not in function but in essence” (Ibid).
Christ is appointed high priest for the people of God because He is who He is. His person and work must never be separated. Only the Son of God is suited to be the ultimate intermediary between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5).