The priesthood of the worldly Sanctuary of the first covenant belonged to the sons of Levi; but that of the heavenly, of the better covenant, to the Son of God. He fulfills both the priesthood of Melchisedec and Aaron. In some respects, the priesthood of Christ resembles that of Melchisedec, and in others that of Aaron or Levi. 1.) He was “made an High Priest forever, after the order of Melchisedec.” Taxis, rendered order, properly signifies “series, succession.” Christ, like Melchisedec, had no priestly descent of pedigree; (See Hebrews 7:3 [margin] i.e.) he never followed nor will have a successor in office; and “because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable Priesthood,” (which passeth not from one to another; margin.) Verse 24. The priesthood of Levi to be continuous had many and a succession of priests, “because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death.” Verse 23. 2.) Being after the order of Melchisedec, He is superior to the sons of Levi because he blessed and received tithes from them in Abraham. Verses 1, 7, 9, 10. 3.) He is King and Priest; a King by birth, being from the tribe of Judah, and a Priest by the oath of His Father. Verses 14, 21. 4.) Being Himself perfect, and His priesthood unending, He is able to “perfect forever” and “save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Verse 25. He was not called after the order of Aaron, i.e. not in his succession but this does not at all prove that the priesthood of Aaron was not typical of the priesthood of Christ. Paul distinctly shows that it is.
1.) After calling upon us to “consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession (religion), Christ Jesus,” he lays the foundation of the investigation by drawing the analogy between Moses over his house (olkos, people) and Christ over His (Hebrews 3:1-6), and says: “Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after.” This clearly shows that the Mosaic economy was typical of the divine. 2.) He shows that He was called of God to be an High Priest “as was Aaron,” Hebrews 5:1-5. 3.) Like Aaron and his sons, He took upon Him flesh and blood, the seed of Abraham, “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin,” was made “perfect through suffering,” and “in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren; that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” Hebrews 2:4. 4.) Both were ordained for men in things pertaining to God: that (they might) offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.” Hebrews 5:1, 8:3
Typical of Christ’s Ministry
5.) Paul evidently considered the Levitical priesthood typical of Christ’s from the pains he takes to explain the analogies and contrasts between them. 6.) “And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death, but this Man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.” 7.) “Who needeth not daily, as those high priests to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins, and then for the people’s for this He did once when He offered up Himself.” 8.) “For the law maketh men high priests which have infimity; but the word of the oath which was since the law, maketh the Son who is consecrated (perfected, margin) for evermore.” Hebrews 7:23-28. 9.) “But now hath He obtained a more excellent ministry” than theirs. Hebrews 8:6 10.) “By how much also He is the Mediator of a better covenant” than theirs; Hebrews 8:6. 11.) “But Christ being come an High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle” than theirs. Hebrews 9:11. 12.) “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, He entered in once into the holy place.” Verse 12. 13.) “For if the blood of bulls and of goats and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; how much more shall the blood of Christ, Who, through the eternal spirit offered Himself without spot to God purge your conscience.” Verses 13, 14. 14.) “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself. Verse 24. 15.) “Nor yet that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;” but now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” Verses 25, 26. 16.) “And as it is appointed unto [the] men [priests] once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Verses 27, 28
17.) “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually, make the corners thereunto perfect;” but “by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” Hebrews 10:14. 18.) “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins,” “but a body hast Thou prepared Me.” Verses 4, 5. These are a part of the contrasts or comparisons the apostle draws between the Levitical priesthood and Christ’s, and there is a resemblance in every instance; but Christ’s is superior to Levi’s.—I add one more. Hebrews 8:4, 5. “For if He were on earth He should not be a priest, seeing that there (many, they) are priests that offer gifts according to the law: who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things.”
The Substance and its Shadow
The features of the substance always bear a resemblance to those of the shadow, hence the “heavenly things” referred to in this text must be priestly service “in the heavens” (see verses 1, 2) performed by our High Priest in His Sanctuary; for if the shadow is service, the substance is service also.
As the priests of the law served unto the example and shadow of the heavenly service, we can from their service learn something of the nature of the heavenly service. “Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle; for, See saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.”
None can deny that, in obedience to this admonition, Moses made or instituted the Levitical priesthood; it was then “according to the pattern” which the Lord showed him, and that pattern was of heavenly things. (See Hebrews 9:23.) If there was not another text to prove that the Levitical priesthood was typical of the Divine, this would abundantly do it. Yet some are even denying this obvious import of the priesthood; but if this is not its import, I can see no meaning in it. It is an idle round of ceremonies without sense or use, as it did not perfect those for whom it was performed; but looked upon as typical of the heavenly, it is replete with the most important instruction. As this is the application made of it by the New Testament, so we must regard it, while we examine the atonement made under the Levitical priesthood.
“Now when these things [the worldly Sanctuary with its two apartments and the furniture in each] were thus ordained, the priests went always [daily, Hebrews 7:27; 10:11] into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.
“But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people.” Hebrews 9:6, 7
Daily and Yearly Services
Here Paul divides the services of the Levitical priesthood into two classes—one daily in the Holy and the other yearly in the Holy of Holies.
Their stated daily services, performed in the Holy and at the brazen altar in the court before the tabernacle, consisted of a burnt offering of two lambs, one in the morning and the other at even, with a meat offering which was one tenth of an ephah of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil; and a drink offering which was one-fourth of an hin of strong wine. The meat-offering was burnt with the lamb, and the drink offering was poured in the Holy. (See Exodus 29:38-42; Numbers 28:3-8.) In connection with this, they burned on the golden altar in the Holy, sweet incense, which was a very rich perfume, when they dressed and lighted the lamps every evening and morning. (See Exodus 30:34-38; 31:11; 30:7-9.) The same was afterwards done at the Temple. 1 Chronicles 16:37-40; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 13:3, 4-12; 31:3; Ezra 3:3.)
This did not atone for sins either individually or collectively. The daily service described was a sort of continual intercession, but the making of atonement was a special work for which special directions are given. Different words are used both in the Old Testament and New to express the same idea as Atonement.
Examples—From the following texts we learn that the words atone, cleanse, reconcile, purify, purge, pardon, sanctify, hallow, forgive, justify, redeem, blot out, and some others, are used to signify the same work, viz., bringing into favor with God; and in all cases, blood is the means, and sometimes blood and water. Exodus 29:36: “Thou shalt cleanse the altar when thou hast made an atonement for it.”—Leviticus 12:8: “The priest shall make an atonement for her and she shall be clean.” Leviticus 14:2: “This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing.” Verse 21: “The priest shall make an atonement for him and he shall be clean.” Leviticus 14:2: The atonement could not be made for him till after he was healed of the leprosy, (see Leviticus 13:45, 46.) Till he was healed, he had to dwell alone without the camp. Then, Leviticus 14:3, 4. “The priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and behold if the plague of the leprosy be healed in the leper; then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean,” etc. The law was the same in cleansing a house form the leprosy. (See verses 33-57.) The stones affected with the plague were removed and the house “scraped within round about” and then repaired with new material.
Physical uncleanness is now all removed and we would call it clean, but not so; it is only just prepared to be cleansed according to the law. Verse 48: “And he shall take to cleanse the house two birds” etc. Verse 48: “And he shall cleanse the house with the blood of the bird” etc. Verses 52, 53: “And make an atonement for the house, and it shall be clean.” Leviticus 16:18, 19: “And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.” Leviticus 8:15: “And Moses took the blood, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about with his fingers and purified the altar round about with his fingers and purified the altar, and poured the blood at the bottom of the altar, and sanctified it, to make reconciliation upon it.” 2 Chronicles 29:29. 2 Chronicles 29:24: “And they made reconciliation with their blood upon the altar, to make an atonement for all Israel,” Jeremiah 33:8: “I will cleanse them from all their iniquities…and I will pardon all their iniquities.” Romans 5:9-11: “Being now justified by His blood….by Whom we have now received the atonement.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-19: “Who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 2:16: “And that he might reconcile both unto God.” Hebrews 9:13, 14: “The blood of bulls sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; but the blood of Christ shall purge our conscience from dead works.” He is the Mediator for the “redemption of the transgressions,” and to “perfect forever them that are sanctified,” Hebrews 10:14. Ephesians 1:7: “In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins.” Acts 3:19: “Be converted that your sins may be blotted out.”
The atonement is the great idea of the Law, as well as the Gospel; and as the design of that of was to teach us that of the Gospel, it is very important to be understood. The atonement which the priest made for the people in connection with their daily ministration was different from that made on the tenth day of the seventh month. In making the former, they went no further than into the Holy; but to make the latter, they entered the Holy of Holies—the former was made for individual cases, the latter for the whole nation of Israel collectively—the former was made for the forgiveness of sins, the latter for blotting them out—the former could be made at any time, the latter only on the tenth day of the seventh month. Hence, the former may be called the daily atonement, and the latter the yearly; or the former the individual, and the latter the national atonement.
The individual atonement for the forgiveness of sins was made for a single person, or for the whole congregation in case they were collectively guilty of some sin. The first chapter of Leviticus gives directions for the burnt offering, the second for the meat offering, the third for the peace offering, and the fourth for the sin offering, which, as its name implies, was an offering for sins, in which he who offered it attained forgiveness of his sins. The trespass offering, Leviticus 5; 6:1-7, was similar to the sin-offering. “If a soul sin through ignorance,” Leviticus 4:2, “when he knoweth of it, then shall he be guilty,” Leviticus 5:3. “And it shall be when he shall be guilty in any of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing.” Verse 5
From Numbers 5:6-8, it appears that confession and restitution are necessary in all cases before the atonement could be made for the individual. “When a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit, to do a trespass against the Lord, and that person be guilty; then they shall recompense his trespass with the principle thereof, and add unto it the fifth part thereof, and give it unto him against whom he hath trespassed.”
Then he or the elders (if it was for the congregation) brought the victim for the sin or trespass offering to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation on the north side of the altar of burnt offering in the court (see Leviticus 4:24; 1:11; 17:1-7); there he (or the elders) laid his hand on its head and killed it. (See Leviticus 4:2-4, 13-15, 22-24, 27-29.) Then, the victim being presented and slain, the priest that was anointed took some of the blood into the Holy, and with his finger sprinkled it before the veil of the Sanctuary and put some of it upon the horns of the altar of incense, then poured the remainder of the blood at the bottom of the altar. Thus he made an atonement for the individual, and his sin was forgiven. (See Leviticus 4:5-10, 16-20, 25, 26, 30-35.) The carcasses of the sin offering were taken without the camp and burned “in a clean place.” Leviticus 4:11, 12, 21
It should be distinctly remembered that the priest did not begin his duties till he obtained the blood of the victim, they were all performed in the court (the enclosure of the Sanctuary), and the atonement thus made was only for the forgiveness of sins. These points are expressly taught in this chapter and the following one on the trespass offering. Here is an atonement, to make which, the priests only entered the Holy; and to make it they could enter that apartment “always” or “daily.” “But into the second [the Holy of Holies] went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people [laos, nation].” Hebrews 9:7. This defines the yearly to be.
The Lord “speaks particularly” of the national Atonement in Leviticus 16: “And the Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron, thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the veil, before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat:” Verse 2. For what purpose and when could he enter it? “To make an atonement for the children of Israel [the whole nation] for all their sins once a year” “on the tenth day of the seventh month.” Verses 34, 29. This was the most important day of the year. The whole nation, having had their sins previously forgiven by the atonement made in the Holy, now assemble about their Sanctuary, while the High Priest, attired in his holy garments for glory and beauty (see Exodus 28:4) having the golden bells on the hem of his robe that his sound may be heard when he goeth in before the Lord, the breast plate of judgment on his heart, with their names therein that he may bear their judgment, also in it the Urim and Thummim (light and perfection), and the plate of pure gold, the holy crown, (see Leviticus 8:9: Exodus 28:36), with “Holiness to the Lord” engraved upon it, placed upon the forefront of his miter that he may bear the iniquities of the holy things, enters the Holy of Holies to make an atonement to cleanse them that they may be clean from all their sins before the Lord.” Verse 30. The victims for the atonement of this day were, for the priest himself, a young bullock for a sin offering (see verse 3), and for the people, two goats; one for a sin offering and the other for the scapegoat, and a ram for a burnt offering. (See verses 5-8. He killed or caused to be killed the bullock for a sin offering for himself. (See Verse 11.) “And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bringing it within the veil; and he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not; and he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy sea eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times,” Verses 12-14. So much, in preparation to make an atonement for the people; a description of which follows:
“Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the veil, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat; and he shall make an atonement for [cleanse, see marginal references] the holy place [within the veil, verse 2], because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for [i.e. atone for or cleanse] the tabernacle of the congregation [the Holy], that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.” Verses 15, 16. “And he shall go out [of the Holy of Holies] unto the altar that is before the Lord [in the Holy], and make an atonement for it; and shall take of the blood [for himself] of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat [for the people], and put it upon the horns of the altar round about. And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.” Verses 18, 19. The altar was the golden altar of incense in the Holy upon which the blood of individual atonement was sprinkled during the daily ministration. Thus it received the uncleanness from which it is now cleansed. Exodus 30:10: “Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements.” We see from Leviticus 16:20 that at this stage of the work, “he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar,” i.e. the Holy of Holies, the Holy, and the altar in the latter.
We have before seen that atone, reconcile, cleanse, etc., signify the same hence, at this stage he has made an end of cleansing those places. As the blood of atonements for the forgiveness of sins was not sprinkled in the court, but in the tabernacle only, the entire work of cleansing the Sanctuary was performed within the tabernacle. These were holy things, yet cleansed yearly. The holy place within the veil contained the ark of the covenant , covered with the mercy seat and overshadowed by the cherubim’s, between which the Lord dwelt in the cloud of divine glory. Who would think of calling such a place unclean? Yet the Lord provided at the time, yea, before, it was built, that it should be annually cleansed. It was by blood, and not by fire, that this Sanctuary, which was a type of the new covenant Sanctuary, was cleansed.
The high priest on this day “bore the iniquities of the holy things which the children of Israel hallowed in all their holy gifts.” Exodus 28:38. these holy things composed the Sanctuary. Numbers 18:1 “And the Lord said unto Aaron, Thou, and thy sons, and thy father’s house with thee shall bear the iniquity of the Sanctuary.” This “iniquity of the Sanctuary” we have learned was not its own property, but the children of Israel’s, God’s own people’s, which it had received from the them. And this transfer of iniquity from the people to their Sanctuary was not a mere casualty, incident on scenes of lawless rebellion, bloodshed or idolatry among themselves, not the devastation of an enemy; but it was according to the original arrangement and regular operation of this typical system. For we must bear in mind that all the instructions were given to Moses and Aaron before the erection of the Sanctuary. Provision was made to make atonement for sins committed in ignorance; but not till after they were known; (See Leviticus 4:14, 5:3-6); then, of course, they became sins of knowledge. Then the individual bore his iniquity (Leviticus 5:1-17; 7:1-8) till he presented his offering to the priest and slew it. The priest made an atonement with the blood (see Leviticus 17:11), and he was then forgiven and free from his iniquity.
Now at what point did the individual cease to bear his iniquity? Evidently, when he had presented his victim slain, he had then done his part. Through what medium was his iniquity conveyed to the Sanctuary? Through his victim, or rather its blood, when the priest took and sprinkled it before the veil and on the altar. Thus the iniquity was communicated to their Sanctuary. The first thing done for the people on the tenth day of the seventh month was to cleanse it, thence by the same means, the application of blood. This done, the high priest bore the “iniquity of Sanctuary” for the people “to make atonement for them.” Leviticus 10:17. “And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place [within the veil], and the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar [or when he hath cleansed the Sanctuary], he shall bring the live goat: and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: and the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities into a land not inhabited (margin, of separation). Leviticus 16:2-20. This was the only office of the scapegoat, to finally receive and bear away from Israel all their iniquities into an uninhabited wilderness and there retain them, leaving Israel at their Sanctuary and the priest to complete the atonement of the day by burning the fat of the sin offerings and offering the two rams for burnt offerings on the brazen altar in the court. (See verses 24, 25.) The burning without the camp of the carcasses of the sin offerings closed the services of this important day. (See verse 27.)