"And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron's sons."
(Exodus 28:1 KJV)
Aaron, of the tribe of Levi, brother of Moses, was the first High Priest. He was appointed by Our Awesome God (Exodus 28:1-2;29:4-5) to minister to Him (Exodus 28:41). His sons were to succeed him and the position was to remain in his family (Numbers 25:10-13). It was important to be legitimate so records were kept and, if the High Priest had no son, then the position went to the next oldest brother of age. According to tradition, the High Priest was to be at least 20 years old, but King Herod, who was more interested in politics than ritual purity, once appointed a High Priest at 17 years of age.
Beside the heritage and age qualifications, the High Priest had to meet personal requirements. His wife must have been a virgin of the Israelite nation (1 Samuel 21:13-14) and the High Priest was not to come in contact with a dead body. He did not participate in traditional mourning by leaving his hair uncombed or tearing his clothes. The High Priest could not follow the coffin of his relatives nor could he leave the Temple or his house during the period of mourning. There was a careful ritual that everyone did when the people came to him to offer consolation. It involved, among other things, where each person would sit. The High Priest was surrounded by rituals and directions of what he could and couldn't do and often how he had to do things.
The High Priest's consecration took a whole week (Exodus 28-29) and contained all the rites and rituals that all priests, had to do such as the sprinkling of blood on the altar and priests, the purification and the sacrifices, among others. We know that the consecration of Aaron was done by Moses, but we don't know who did it after Aaron (Leviticus 21:10). We also know that the High Priests were anointed with oil (Exodus 29:29). The High Priest was to minister to Our Awesome God and to represent the people so the High Priest had a distinguished rank and with it, many rules to keep.
Although the Jewish temple and High Priest with all his vestments are long gone, still, God Is Awesome and has provided us with the perfect High Priest in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:14-15). He also has called Christians (as His children) to live differently and more righteously than the rest of society; not unlike the Old Testament High Priest (Philippians 2:15). We as Christians need to remember that we represent Jesus Christ at all times and should act as He would.
Join us this Sunday at 9:30 AM and at 10:30 PM and then at 6:00 PM for Bible Study with AWANA, a children's program, until 7:30 PM. We love people!
Flo & Bill