Priests at the Temple

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The Priest class

An interesting statement is made in the Bible regarding some of the fruit generated by the early New Testament church. Acts 6:7 states that a great number of PRIESTS repented and became believers in Jesus Christ. This was a partial fulfilment of what was written by the prophet Malachi.

7 It is the duty of priests to teach the true knowledge of God. People should go to them to learn my will, because they are the messengers of the Lord Almighty. (Malachi 2:7, TEV)

We can imagine how the priests who served, when the house of God was empty of worshippers, gathered to discuss the things of God and tell of the awesome things which had happened in the city.

Jesus' arrest, his trials, and at the bequest of the religious leaders he being given to the Gentiles must have consumed many a discussion at the temple. There were always a great quantity of priests in the city. Tradition states twelve of the twenty-four priestly courses were at all times living in Jerusalem.

The Symbolism

The priest and everything they wore and did were to be symbolic. In fact, Israel itself was to be to God "Now if you will faithfully obey me, you will be my very own people. The whole world is mine, but you will be my holy nation and serve me as priests" (Exodus 19:5 - 6, CEV). This goal was realized when the time was right.

Entering Israel cost a man a half-shekel, which over the course of time became a regular offering.

12. "When you count the children of Israel, of those who are to be counted, then they shall each man give a ransom for himself to the LORD . . . 13. They shall give this, every one that passes among those who are counted, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary (a shekel is twenty gerahs) . . .

 
 
 
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Map of where ZION located in ancient Jerusalem
Be Holy

Ancient Israel was meant to be a nation that was holy to God and brought near to him. Everything from the anointing oil, the vessels in the temple, the altar, the laver and so on was designated as holy to God (Exodus 40:9 - 13).

The Temple Courses

The first peculiarity of the time after the days of Moses is how the priests were divided into courses, initially by King David. Such a division existed until captivity. When the captivity ended only 4 of 24 courses came back to serve.

7 - 18 This is the order in which the twenty-four family groups were given their assignments: 1) Jehoiarib; 2) Jedaiah; 3) Harim; 4) Seorim; 5) Malchijah; 6) Mijamin; 7) Hakkoz; 8) Abijah; 9) Jeshua; 10) Shecaniah; 11) Eliashib; 12) Jakim; 13) Huppah; 14) Jeshebeab; 15) Bilgah; 16) Immer; 17) Hezir; 18) Happizzez; 19) Pethahiah; 20) Jehezkel; 21) Jachin; 22) Gamul; 23) Delaiah; 24) Maaziah. (1Chronicles 24)

5. There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest of the course of Abijah, Zacharias by name; and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.

During the days of King David the Levites had been arranged into 24 courses which were to act as assistants to the priests, provide music, serve as guards and keepers of the gates and act as officers (1Chronicles 23:4, 28, 25:6, 26:6, etc.). These also looked after the sacred vestments and vessels (1Chronicles 23:28 - 32).

Breastplate, Mitre, Phylacteries, Ziz

Of the four distinctive articles in the high priest's dress, the breastplate, alike from its square form and the twelve jewels on it, bearing the names of the tribes, suggest the description of the city of Jerusalem in the book of Revelation (see Revelation 21:16 - 21)

Priestly income

Tradition states priests received their income from offerings made at the temple and elsewhere (Leviticus 7:12, see also 22:29 - 30). Of the ten offerings which might be used throughout the land for their support, five could be given at will to any priest - the tithe of the tithe, the heave-offering of the dough, the first of the fleece and the priest's due of meat (see Numbers 15:20, Deuteronomy 18:3, Romans 11:16). The other five were given to the priests of the special course on duty for the week. Ultimately, however, the high priest had the right to take whatever part of the offerings he decided he wanted.

The officiating priesthood ultimately went away and did not leave behind any of its arrangements (Hebrews 10:1).

17. Therefore, if anyone be in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2Corinthians 5:17)

20. Where Jesus has entered for us as a forerunner, having become a High Priest forever according to the order of Melchisedek. (Hebrews 6:20)
Additional Study Materials
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