I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his priestly house, and they will minister before my anointed one always.
1 Samuel 2:35 NIV
The role of the priests in the Old Testament were second to no one. They tended the tabernacle and eventually the temple. They were on the front lines of ministering to the LORD. They were both worship leaders and pastors. They were set apart from the rest of Israel just as Israel was to be set apart from the rest of the world. If Israel was to be God’s light to the world, the priests were to be God’s light to Israel.
I’m sure, just as many worship leaders and pastors are looked upon with great admiration in Christian churches worldwide, so to would with the priests of Israel. The role of the priest, in a far greater context, was to point to something greater than themselves. The entirety of their responsibilities were to align the people with the heart of God. They were to be both faithful witnesses of Who God is and mediators for all His broken followers. They were to be both leaders and servants. Leaders of a nation and servants of the Most High God. This image of servant leadership also pointed to something, or someone, far greater than themselves. It was to be a mark of all those who claimed allegiance to Yahweh. And no one demonstrated it better than the Messiah.
The book of 1 Samuel was recorded between 931 and 722 B.C. The central figure of the book is non other than a prophet and priest named Samuel. For his entire life he walked in faithfulness to God and continually pointed Israel back to true worship and obedience. He was arguably one of the greatest figures of the Old Testament. But he too was human. And by extension, he was imperfect. If Samuel had been a perfect representation of the character and mission of God, there would have been no need for a future Messiah. The fact remains, all of the priests down through history have portrayed an imperfect image of our God. Except one. Over 700 years after Samuel, a new prophet and priest would arise. He was and is like no one else. His name – Yeshua (Jesus).
Since the children have flesh and blood, he (Jesus) too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.
Hebrews 2:14-17 NIV
Few books describe Jesus as our faithful High Priest quite like the book of Hebrews. Chapter two explains the reason why God put on flesh in the form of Jesus. It’s a powerful explanation of the need for a new High Priest to fill the role that all the priests before Him only pointed to. Jesus is a merciful High Priest, one Who has faced every form of temptation that you and me have battled with. He knows pain. He knows hardship. He knows homelessness and loss. He knows what it means to be without and to be forsaken by those close to Him. No one has ever experienced betrayal quite like Him. Despite all of this, Jesus was still perfect. His life was the model of servant leadership. Jesus walked in both humility and power. He showed us how true worship should look. And everything He did pointed people to God. Later in Hebrews it goes on to say this:
Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself.For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.
Hebrews 3:1-6 NIV
Moses set the bar for the priests who set the bar for Israel. Then came Jesus, Who set the bar for the world. When it comes to the priesthood, everyone who claims allegiance to Jesus is part of a kingdom of Priests (1 Peter 2:5). Jesus is our bar. Moses, who passed away, along with all other priests from history, have ceased to be priests. Jesus is the priest who continues forever.
Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
Hebrews 7:23-25 NIV
No priesthood was permanent, until Jesus. No priest could unite the nations, until Jesus. No priest could ever save a single soul, until Jesus. No priests could ever change the hearts of God’s children, until Jesus.
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV
Peace in Christ, our Faithful High Priest, brothers and sisters!