Laws Concerning the Priesthood


Verse 1-9  And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto the priests the sons of Aaron, and say unto them, There shall none be defiled for the dead among his people: {2} But for his kin, that is near unto him, that is, for his mother, and for his father, and for his son, and for his daughter, and for his brother, {3} And for his sister a virgin, that is nigh unto him, which hath had no husband; for her may he be defiled. {4} But he shall not defile himself, being a chief man among his people, to profane himself. {5} They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh. {6} They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God: for the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and the bread of their God, they do offer: therefore they shall be holy. {7} They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he is holy unto his God. {8} Thou shalt sanctify him therefore; for he offereth the bread of thy God: he shall be holy unto thee: for I the LORD, which sanctify you, am holy. {9} And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire.

I.   Laws concerning the priests, the sons of Aaron.

A.     Verse 1-6 - The funerals they are to attend.

1.       Only the immediate family.  Mother, father, son, daughter, brother, virgin sister.  The wife is not mentioned.

2.       The reason he can't go to funerals.

a.      Verse 1,2 - He is defiled and cannot go into the sanctuary or near the altar to offer for Israel.  He must wait until he has washed his flesh in water and for the even to come.

b.      He had declared the worship of God is not so important as the death of people.  He puts off the worship of God because of a death.

c.      He is a chief person (verse 4), a leader of the people.  If they see the priest forsake the worship because of a death, they will do worse.

3.       There shall be no outward signs of grief like the heathen have.

a.      Verse 5,6 - See I Thess. 4:13-18 - Our sorrow should not be like the sorrow of the world for we look forward to the resurrection.

b.      God is not meaning that there will be no grief, but only that grief that is befitting to "Christians".

4.       Some examples:

a.      A woman and a man who would always fall apart at a funeral.  They were both supposed to be a "Christian", but their actions left that in doubt.

b.      A woman who said not to cry at her husbands funeral because she knew she'd see him again.  (This may be going too far.  There is ample reason to grieve, but do not grieve too much.)

B.     Verse 7-9 - The family of the priest.

1.       Verse 7 - Who to marry.

a.      Not a whore.

b.      Not a profane woman (profane means a secular woman or a woman that cares more for worldly things than for Godly things.)

c.      Not a divorced woman.

d.      A lot of folks forsake these laws today.  But see I Tim. 3:1-7.  I have never been to an ordination service where these qualifications were asked to the one being ordained.  Doctrinal qualifications are always on the forefront.  Shouldn't we be concerned with the preachers character?  There are two main things that will cause a preacher to fail.

1)      money.

2)      women.

2.       Verse 9 - The daughter of the priest.

a.      If she is profane, it makes her father profane.  She shall be stoned with stones, then burned with fire.

1)      The family of a preacher does influence the community with the kind of person the preacher is.

2)      Brother ______ who is a good preacher, but his drug-addict son caused him no end of trouble in the church.  Not in the community, but in the church.

b.      It is amazing that the son is not mentioned.

1)      You would think that is the son profaned himself, the father would also be profaned.

2)      The daughter is under the authority of her father, who turns this authority over to the husband when she marries.  (Remember at our wedding ceremonies when the minister asks, "Who gives this bride away?"  The Father answers, "I do."  {Sometimes in weddings today the father answers, "Her mother and I."})

3)      Numbers 30 - When the wife or daughter makes a vow the father can disallow that vow.  There is no mention made of what will happen if the son makes a vow.

c.      The son is the male and God has put him in authority.

1)      The example of Eli.

a)      I Sam. 2:12-17 - The sons of Eli forced the people to give them raw meat, thus effectively nullifying their pure sacrifice to God.

b)      I Sam. 2:22 - The sons of Eli were indecent with the women which came before the tabernacle.

c)      None of these things disqualified Eli from the priesthood.

2)      The example of Samuel.

a)      I Sam. 8:1-7 - When the sons of Samuel were wicked, this didn't disqualify Samuel from the priesthood or from good communications with God.

b)      Verse 7 - When the people asked for a king instead of another prophet, this meant they had rejected God, not Samuel!

3.       Why does the priest have these more stringent requirements?

a.      Verse 8 - He is to be sanctified (set aside).

b.      For (because) he offereth the bread of the Lord.  The bread of the Lord is like rightly dividing the Word of God.  The Word of God is the Bread of Life.

c.      He is to be holy for he is the representative of the Most Holy God who is holy.


II.   Verse 10-15  And he that is the high priest among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil was poured, and that is consecrated to put on the garments, shall not uncover his head, nor rend his clothes; {11}  Neither shall he go in to any dead body, nor defile himself for his father, or for his mother; {12}  Neither shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God; for the crown of the anointing oil of his God is upon him: I am the LORD. {13}  And he shall take a wife in her virginity. {14} A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife. {15} Neither shall he profane his seed among his people: for I the LORD do sanctify him.  The High Priest.  These are the laws concerning one man.  These regulations are very strict because he is the earthly representative of Jesus Christ.

A.     Verse 10-12 - Laws concerning his funeral attendance.

1.       Verse 11 - He shall attend no funerals at all.  If he was to attend a funeral, he would be unclean because of coming into contact with a dead body.  He would be unclean until the even and after washing in running water.

2.       All religious worship would stop for the entire tribe of Israel while the High Priest was unclean.

3.       Christ will attend no funerals.  His attention to  this world and our eternal salvation will not stop while He attends a funeral.

4.       The High Priest cannot attend the funeral of his immediate family.  This is a type showing us that there is no real death to the believer.

B.     The wife of the High Priest.

1.       He must take a wife in her virginity.

2.       He cannot take a widow.  All the other priest could marry a widow, but not the High Priest.

3.       Cannot marry a divorced woman,

4.       Or a profane (secular) woman,

5.       Or a harlot.

6.       Must marry a virgin of his own people.

7.       Why is this so?

a.      The High Priest represents Jesus Christ and His holiness to Israel.

b.      Jesus Christ will not take what another man discards or pays a price for.

c.      II Cor. 11:2 - The church at Corinth is a chaste virgin to Christ.  When Israel rebelled against God and went a whoring after other gods, she forfeited her right to the Bride of Christ.  This was given to the Gentiles in the form of the chosen church (local).

C.     The family of the High Priest.

1.       His seed shall not be profaned.

2.       His children should not be secular children.  (This doesn't mean that they have nothing to do with this world, for as long as they live, they must live in this world, but this world should not live in them.)


III.   Verse 16-24 - And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, {17}  Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God. {18}  For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, {19}  Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded, {20}  Or crook backed, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken; {21}  No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer 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 go in unto the veil, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I the LORD do sanctify them. {24}  And Moses told it unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel. The blemishes of the priestly tribe.  These blemishes are not self-inflicted, but things they are born with.

A.     Priests with blemishes in the body cannot serve at the altar or within the vail.

1.       The sacrifices must be pure because they represent the purity of God.

2.       The priest must be physically without defect because they represent a God who is free from defects.

B.     These things do not apply today because the sacrifices are no longer given.  We talk about a spiritually pure sacrifice, Jesus Christ.  Therefore those physical defects in preachers (as are mentioned here) no longer apply.  We no longer have a "Levitical Priesthood".

C.     The defects listed.

1.       Verse 18 - blind, lame, flat nose (a Jew normally has a long nose!!).  Anything superfluous (something that stands out that makes him different.)

2.       Verse 19 - broken footed or broken handed - Christs' bones were not broken when He was crucified for us.  A broken footed, or broken handed priest would not be able to physically handle the job of offering sacrifices.

3.       Verse 20:

a.      crookbackt, dwarf, bad eyes (because he can't see to examine the purity of the offering).

b.      scurvy - (if he don't take care of his own body, how can he care for somebody else?) 

c.      scabbed - with a sore that makes him unclean.

d.      stones broken - sexually deficient.  incapable of producing offering.  Christ was able to produce many offspring (by giving salvation).

D.     Verse 21-25 - The work of these "defective" priests.  They are not cast out of the priesthood, but are used in a capacity other than offering offerings or going into the vail.

1.       They are fed by the bread (holy and most holy).

2.       They do other work.

a.      All of the tribe of Levi worked in moving the tabernacle from place to place.

b.      There would be some upkeep on the wagons used to move the tabernacle.

c.      In short there was many, many jobs that a priest who was "defective" could perform that would make the work of the ministry much more effective.

d.      I do not believe it would be wrong for the "defective" priests to teach young priests how the basic principles of service, just as it would not be wrong for unqualified preachers to teach basic principles of Christian service.

e.      In the New Testament, some preachers were not ordained as pastors or missionaries.  "Deacons" also preached: Stephen and Philip are recorded for our instruction.

f.       Somebody had to supply the wood for the burnt offerings.  In Nehemiah 10:34, the people chose lots between the priests, the Levites and the people.


IV.   When the requirements of the ministry of not upheld, the entire people suffer.

A.     I Kings 12:31 - Jeroboam not only made idols for Israel to worship, he also made of the lowest of the people to be priests, those who were not even Levites.

B.     II Kings 17:32 - When Israel (the ten northern tribes went into captivity, the king of Assyria replaced them with people from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and Sepharvaim.  Because they didn't know the Lord, the Lord send lions among them.  The king then commanded a priest to teach the people the ways of God.  Then those inhabitants worshipped not only God, but also the idols they had been worshipping!  They made priests of the lowest of the people, thus the truth of God became compromised, finally corrupted.


V.   As far as I can find in the Bible, there was only one priest that took two wives.  He is Jehoiada, and he was a good priest all the days of his life.  He was a great help in restoring the worship of God in Israel.  II  Chronicles 24:3 - Jehoiada took two wives and he was a good priest under Joash, the king of Judah.  II Chronicles 24:15-19 - Joash remained faithful to God all the days of Jehoiada, but when he died, Joash went away from God.  II Chronicles 24:25 is a picture of what the people in that day thought about the end days and ways of Joash.


VI.   Applications to today.

A.     The reason these blemished priest cannot serve in some places is because of the danger of secularizing the priesthood.  (See verse 23).  This is what has happened today.  Preachers are not counted as special ambassadors for God because so many of them have gone the way of the world.

1.       Today, a lot of "preachers" are more interesting in building a large church membership rather than serving God.

2.       Today, a lot of "preachers" are more interested in making "a show" than they are in pleasing God.

B.     Note the chain of command:

1.       God told Moses (verse 1).

2.       Moses told Aaron (verse 24).

3.       Aaron told the Priests (verse 24).

4.       The Priests told all the people (verse 24).

5.       Today, this thing is reversed. Many people rear up their heads and attempt to give directions to God instead of listening to what God has to say to them.