Israel Holy to Jehovah: 12. Defective Priest

Leviticus 21:16‑24  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 9
The law made nothing perfect. Priests and people were alike liable to blemish of all kinds. Hence, even if of Aaron's line, such might be forbidden to serve in the sanctuary.
16 And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, 17 Speak to Aaron, saying, Whoever of thy seed throughout their generations that hath a defect, he shall not approach to present the bread of his God. 18 For whatever man hath a defect, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or one limb longer than the other; 19 or a man that is broken-footed, or broken-handed; 20 or humpbacked, or a dwarf, or that hath a spot in his eye, or is scurvy or scabbed, or hath his testicles broken. 21 No man of the seed of Aaron the priest that hath defect shall come near to present Jehovah's fire-offerings: he hath a defect;. he shall not come near to present the bread of his God. 22 He shall eat the bread of his God, [both] of the most holy and of the holy. 23 Only he shall not come in unto the veil, nor shall he draw near unto the altar, for he hath a defect; that he profane not my holy things (or sanctuaries); for I Jehovah sanctify them. 24 And Moses told [it] to Aaron, and to his sons, and to all the sons of Israel” (vers. 16-24).
The sons of Aaron were thus compelled to take note of that which became the presence and service of their God. They had no immunity from the effects of sin over a ruined world and in a ruined race. Their descent from Aaron or Abram availed not against the rights of Jehovah. They shared the consequences of the fall with the Gentiles, even the most debased and idolatrous. Some defects might be life-long; others only for a season; but while these defects lasted, they were bound not to approach, and their brethren not to suffer it, if themselves were impious enough to presume.
But the N. T. brings before us an incomparably higher standard. Aaron himself (however free from the specified defects, and if he had never been compromised in the molten calf which he had fashioned with a chisel from the gold the people gave him to make them a god, yea, if he had never been guilty of a single fault) was wholly beneath the Anointed Priest whom God had in view, the great High priest passed as He has through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, who sits on the throne of grace, that we approaching with boldness may receive mercy, and find grace for seasonable help. In Heb. 5 the distinction is pointed out with a firm and precise hand. “For every high priest being taken from among men is constituted for men in things relating to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; being able to exercise forbearance toward the ignorant and erring, since he himself also is compassed with infirmity; and on account of this he is bound, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. And no one taketh this honor to himself, but one called by God even as Aaron also.”
Think of the blind temerity in reputed Christians of great learning and ability, who applied this to the Lord Jesus, instead of perceiving that it is the contrast of the Jewish high priest, who was only man and needed to offer a sin-offering for himself quite as much as for the people. Whatever the analogy, here as elsewhere, the express aim is to mark His blessed superiority. Even He did not glorify Himself to be made a high priest, but after His worth was saluted by God as such forever according to the order of Melchizedek (Psa. 110), as He was owned to be His Son when begotten in time (Psa. 2:7, 127I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. (Psalm 2:7)
12Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. (Psalm 2:12)
), being Son in the Godhead eternally as shown in the Gospel and Epistles of John. His priesthood was founded on His Person, born here, as Son of God; as Psa. 110 declares His office as addressed to Him with the oath of God, and connected with His sitting at God's right hand. Here it may be observed that His being man is, as before in chap. 2:17, 18, introduced most touchingly to show how eminently fitted He is from His experience in the days of His flesh to feel for His tried and needy ones whom He is not ashamed to call His brethren. No one fathomed the anguish as He who never spared Himself but glorified God at all cost; He who as a Divine Person spoke and it was done, commanded and it stood fast, learned (how new a thing to Him!) obedience, and in the deepest way, from the things which He suffered, and, having been perfected, became author of eternal salvation to all those that obey Him.
Nor is it different now with those that are His, notwithstanding their old nature of enmity against God, aggravated by wicked works, and having still that old man which never improves and needs to be mortified as it was also crucified with Him. Yet this same Epistle testifies that both He that sanctifies (Christ) and those sanctified (Christians) are all of one; as other epistles develop, in varied terms appropriate to the bearing of each, the abundant grace in which we stand by Him, having had it by faith and still having it. For we received not a spirit of bondage again (as once) to fear, but a spirit of sonship whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit Himself, that convinced us of our guilt and of indwelling sin, bears witness with our spirit, that we are children of God; and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.
Hence, through His redemption and a new creation in Him, we are entitled to say, The old things are passed; behold, new things are come in; and all things are of the God that reconciled us to Himself through Christ. The same death of Christ has rent the veil, which, instead of keeping us without, is to the Christian a new and living way in. We have therefore boldness for entering into the sanctuary in perfect peace, which even Aaron never possessed typically, having to take the utmost care on rare occasion lest he should die.
Nor is it only the Epistle to the Hebrews which thus affirms for Christ an incomparably better priesthood, and implies our own priestly access in chap. 10. The apostle Peter also in the second chapter of his First Epistle distinctly says that, coming to the Lord, the true and living Stone, we as living stones are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Christ. Indeed the N. T. now acknowledges no other priesthood besides. Gentile priesthood never had a divine sanction; and Jewish priesthood now has emphatically His curse, through despising that blood which has blotted out our manifold defects. For whatever we were (and we were, each in His own way, all far from God, hateful and hating, false and foul), we are now washed, sanctified, justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
Indeed the Epistles of Paul as a whole, from one to the Roman saints to that for the Hebrews, are explicit that every Christian has a far better title of nearness to God than the sons of Aaron, or Aaron himself. But it is spiritual yet most real; whereas the Jewish was type and shadow, and has now lost all value in God's sight. Ignorance and unbelief set up a vain imitation in Christendom.
Our last surviving apostle attests the same priestly privilege for the believer now. “To him that loveth us, and washed us from our sins in his blood, and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father: to him be the glory and the might unto the ages of the ages. Amen” (Rev. 1:5, 65And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1:5‑6)). Christ is the High priest; Christians the priests. Any priesthood besides is now grievous sin and mere imposture. By one offering Christ has perfected continuously the sanctified. There is no defective or blemished person in the Christian priesthood. He was ever perfect morally; we are perfected by His one offering. It is not a question of flaws in walk.