As the intermediaries between God and His people, the priests are called to a higher standard. The high priest to an even higher one.
God has given His people the Ten Commandments and examples of each of them. He has called the whole nation to be holy as He is holy. I’ll tell you right now that we don’t stand a chance of meeting that standard, even today. We know that is the truth or God wouldn’t have had to send Jesus to do for us what we couldn’t do ourselves.
But God STILL requires us to pursue that ideal. With His priests He called them to a higher standard. He outlines His standards in today’s reading. This is not the total of His teaching for the priests, it is only the beginning.
The first thing mentioned is that the priests are only allowed to go into the presence of their immediate blood relatives after they die. He is not even allowed to stand in the presence of his wife’s body or his own children’s. The regular priest could visit the bodies of his mother, father, brothers and sisters. NO ONE else. The high priest wasn’t even allowed to be in the presence of his own father or mother’s bodies after death.
This is interesting to me because it is usually the minister or priest in our society who performs the funeral. We don’t see funerals in our society the same as the Jews did. Quite often the minister officiating over funerals today will make an impassioned plea to those who have not accepted Christ yet. The priest wouldn’t be able to do that because he wouldn’t be allowed in the same proximity as the body.
The next thing addressed is priest’s choice of a wife. God has already put down rules and regulation regarding marriage. The most important part was the two becoming one. The priest’s marriage was to be more pure than the average person’s. The high priest was only allowed to marry a virgin but the regular priest could marry a widow too. This kept the marriage bed clean. Their relationship had to be free of “extra souls” as part of it. The two halves of the whole were to come together and form one complete whole. This is the ideal for all of us but we know how short we come in this measure, even in the church.
The last restriction God put bothers me. I understand it in principle but I don’t like how it is put forth. I personally have a disability. I DO NOT want to be excluded from the presence of God. But He stated that NO ONE with any kind of disease or deformity could serve Him directly. That person or persons could possibly help in other temple matters but they could not go into the holy of holies nor could they perform any of the sacrifices. They were allowed to partake in the meal offerings just not serve in the capacity. I supposed it is because He had to keep His Tabernacle pure but I still don’t like it. I’m SO glad Jesus’ sacrifice addressed this issue. He welcomed the sick, lame, blind and deformed. No longer are we left on the fringes.
Jesus is our high priest now so we KNOW He fits all God’s requirements. He welcomes us into our new bodies and makes our dead spirits alive. He is waiting for His bride, the church, for His wedding night. He is also perfect in every way. I just thought of something. Jesus still carries the scars of His crucifixion on His hands, feet and side. What does God think about that? His Spirit is without blemish even if His physical form bears the reminders for us.
Thank You Lord Jesus for being my great High Priest. There is NO WAY a man or woman could ever fill this role as well as You. Thank You that You are always there to make my relationship with the Father possible. Without You I would be lost and standing on the other bank of the river shouting to be heard. And my voice would float off in the wind instead of reaching the Father, without You.