GREAT HIGH PRIEST
When Christ is called our Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14) it is because he and he alone was chosen by God to make the perfect sacrifice and intercession for us before God’s merciful throne-and not before an earthly throne, but before the very throne of God’s presence!
WHAT DID A HIGH PRIEST DO?
- God chose the high priest to be the ultimate mediator between God and the Israelites. The high priest needed to be of the priestly tribe of Levi and pure in his lineage as ad descendant of Aaron, who was both Moses’ brother and the first high priest.
- Being the high priest was not a choice a person could make. It was God who set down the regulations for the office (Hebrews 5:1-5), choosing Aaron and his descendants after him.
- Only the high priest could officiate and conduct certain ceremonies, chiefly the duties assigned for the Day of Atonement. The sacrifices on this day, and most especially the prayers of intercession that took place in the Most Holy Place before the mercy seat, could only be done by the high priest and only on this day in the proper manner.
- The high priest had stricter laws of purity than the people even regular priests (Leviticus 4:1-12;10-15).
- The high priest, however, was also in charge of the entire priestly order and involved in superintending the other priests and Levites as well (Numbers 3; 8:14-19; 1 Samuel 2:12-36).
Numbers 25 describes how Israel’s disobedience resulted in a plague. Phineas, a priest, son of Eleazar, killed the disobedient Israelite. Because of Phineas’ faithfulness, God ended the plague. God made a covenant with Phineas. The priestly line would now be through Phineas’ descendants (Numbers 25:12).
Zadok, who served under David and became the high priest under Solomon, was a descendant of Phineas (2 Samuel 8:17; 1 kings 1:8,45).