No descendant of Aaron who has a defect may not approach the altar to present special gifts to the Lord. – Leviticus 21:21
In this passage of the book of Leviticus, God speaks to Moses about the restrictions placed on the priests, including the high priest. Of note is one regulation which prohibits any priest, descendant of Aaron, with any type of physical defect or handicap from offering special gifts to the Lord. God says that those who approach his holy altar have to be perfect and without spot or blemish. Thus, any descendant of Aaron who has a malady, sickness, or birth defect is prohibited from serving in the capacity of priest.
If I were born of the tribe of Levi of the house of Aaron, then I would be prohibited under the Mosaic Law from serving as a minister. I have a blemish on my upper right arm and scars from prior injuries and other dis-qualifiers and am therefore unfit for priestly service. However, God has seen fit to choose us, believers, to serve him in a priestly role and to be able to offer to him special gifts. I know this because Peter stated that we, the followers of Jesus and children of God, are a peculiar people, a chosen generation, and a royal priesthood. John the Revelator stated in Revelation that all children of God are kings and priests in his service.
Jesus, our high priest after the order of Melchizedek, was without spot or blemish. He was a perfect sacrifice and was one who knew no sin. Thus, he was the perfect sacrifice and the perfect priest. Although he was of the tribe of Judah (rulers) and not Levi (priests), he still was able to offer up his perfect blood sacrifice for the payment of our spiritual crimes – sin. He was a priest not after an order of man, say Aaron, but after the order of the “Righteous King” (Melchizedek), who had no beginning or end, was without father or mother, and resembled the Son of the Most High. Who else could this Melchizedek be other than Jesus himself? Does it not render a logical conclusion that the Son of God would be a priest unto himself, given that Jesus as the Son of God offered his blood sacrifice to God the Father and that we know that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”?
Yes he was the Son of Man, as the descendant of David, but this disclaimer disqualifies him from priestly service in an earthly temple. However, as the Son of God, he is high priest from a divine perspective. As a priest of man, he would have to offer sacrifices for himself and be reminded annually of the sin committed as man; thus, the Aaronic priesthood did just that. On the other hand, as the Seed of the woman and fathered by the Spirit of God, Jesus was born of humanity but possessed all the divinity of the Father. Born without sin and never sinning while in human form, Jesus became the better priest under a better covenant through his sacrificed body and blood and was able to secure for us a restored relationship with God for eternity, if and when we accept his love gift by grace through faith.
Yes, the Aaronic priesthood had to be without physical defect, but they suffered spiritual defects through their mortality and sin. They could only make atonement, a covering, for the sins of man and perpetuate the need for salvation. Jesus, however, could do more than just atone for sin; he paid for sin. His total perfection made us right with God. We should be grateful to our God that he loved us enough to give us his Son to die on a tree of cursing and to be raised again to life three days later. What man and animals couldn’t accomplish, God did through himself, as a priest of the order of Melchizedek forever.
Father, wow, what a lesson. Today you’ve taken me through the OT and NT simultaneously and given me a much clearer understanding of the roles each played in the course of history and our lives. One prepared us for the other and showed that the OT brought death while the NT brought life. Man introduced death into the world, but You removed it. Where man might have to have been perfect outwardly, you showed us that it is more important to be perfect inwardly. I am truly grateful that my Savior, Jesus, was perfect in both form and spirit, never wavering. My eternity depended upon it. Thank you. Your ways are truly higher and more complex than ours. You are amazing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.