Free to Serve
A daily devotion for April 23rd
Rules for Priests
21 The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: ‘A priest must not make himself ceremonially unclean for any of his people who die, 2 except for a close relative, such as his mother or father, his son or daughter, his brother, 3 or an unmarried sister who is dependent on him since she has no husband—for her he may make himself unclean. 4 He must not make himself unclean for people related to him by marriage, and so defile himself.
5 “‘Priests must not shave their heads or shave off the edges of their beards or cut their bodies. 6 They must be holy to their God and must not profane the name of their God. Because they present the food offerings to the Lord, the food of their God, they are to be holy.
7 “‘They must not marry women defiled by prostitution or divorced from their husbands, because priests are holy to their God. 8 Regard them as holy, because they offer up the food of your God. Consider them holy, because I the Lord am holy—I who make you holy.
9 “‘If a priest’s daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she disgraces her father; she must be burned in the fire.
10 “‘The high priest, the one among his brothers who has had the anointing oil poured on his head and who has been ordained to wear the priestly garments, must not let his hair become unkempt or tear his clothes. 11 He must not enter a place where there is a dead body. He must not make himself unclean, even for his father or mother, 12 nor leave the sanctuary of his God or desecrate it, because he has been dedicated by the anointing oil of his God. I am the Lord.
13 “‘The woman he marries must be a virgin. 14 He must not marry a widow, a divorced woman, or a woman defiled by prostitution, but only a virgin from his own people, 15 so that he will not defile his offspring among his people. I am the Lord, who makes him holy.’”
16 The Lord said to Moses, 17 “Say to Aaron: ‘For the generations to come none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God. 18 No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed; 19 no man with a crippled foot or hand, 20 or who is a hunchback or a dwarf, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles. 21 No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any defect is to come near to present the food offerings to the Lord. He has a defect; he must not come near to offer the food of his God. 22 He may eat the most holy food of his God, as well as the holy food; 23 yet because of his defect, he must not go near the curtain or approach the altar, and so desecrate my sanctuary. I am the Lord, who makes them holy.’”
24 So Moses told this to Aaron and his sons and to all the Israelites.
They must be holy to their God and must not profane the name of their God. Lev 21:6a
the Gospel according to Leviticus, we come to a section which is specifically addressed to priests, to Aaron the high priest and his sons. This family was set aside in Israel to do a specific work of ministry in relationship to God. All the members of Aaron's family were priests by birth. They did not become priests by choice or by desire on their part, but by being born into the family of Aaron. There was no other way to become a priest. No other family was ever recognized as having valid membership in the priesthood.
But even though they were members of the family of Aaron they could serve as priests only if they met certain qualifications. So there is a difference between merely being a priest and serving as a priest. That is important and instructive to us because this priesthood of the family of Aaron is a picture of the ministry that we have uniquely as believers in Jesus Christ. Every one of us who is born again, born into the family of our great high priest Jesus Christ, is by that fact inescapably a priest. But whether we can serve as a priest or not depends upon the qualifications in our life. Membership in the family is by birth; service in the family is by qualification.
In order to exercise this priesthood, a priest must be holy. Once again let me remind you that this word holy, like so many other words from the Bible, has been twisted and distorted in our thinking so that it is usually taken to mean something which is not very attractive. We are likely to think that being holy is to be long-faced and solemn and sour, but it isn't that at all! Holiness means
wholeness. It means to be healed.
How can you help someone unless you yourself have been helped? How can you encourage someone when your own heart is discouraged and defeated? How can you help somebody to cheer up, and be joyful and genuinely glad in the midst of pressure, unless you have learned how to be glad in the midst of pressure and struggle? How can you deliver somebody from a loathsome moral sickness if you are a victim of the same thing yourself? How can you help somebody who has a blemish in their spiritual life unless you have been delivered from that blemish yourself and thus know how to say the delivering word?
You must be set free first. You must have experienced the joy of God, the life of liberty in the spirit of God, in order to help. You must be whole in the area in which you are attempting to help. You may not be whole in every way, but you must be whole in that area where you are trying to help, by the redeeming work of Christ indwelling.
Lord Jesus, how often I have found renewed ministry when I have dealt with these areas which were wrong in my life! Teach me now to draw strength from you, to be holy, and to set aside my blemishes.
Life Application: What are the incredible privileges and attendant responsibilities of being born into the family of the Lord Jesus Christ, our High Priest? Are we healed, whole, and free to serve the One who heals and makes whole?
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Daily Devotion © 2014 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.