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Qualifications for priesthood

Priesthood is a high calling. It takes a special person to be chosen and ordained to become a priest. It is a Godly appointed office that no man can assume. Unlike the priesthood seen in many churches today, the priesthood of which we shall speak is completely different to its modern day equivalent. The special kind of person to occupy such an office had to meet with stringent requirements to satisfactorily fulfil his priestly duties. In this book we shall investigate such matters and I think that you will be very surprised at the findings.  Our approach will be slightly different in that to understand what it takes to qualify for priesthood, we shall actually look at the things as seen in scripture that disqualify someone from this office.

We shall commence by looking at the Priest of all priests, our Lord Jesus Christ. After that, permit me to take you to the Old Testament to see how He is linked with the Priesthood of the Hebrews and afterwards reveal what it takes to be a priest.
I ask you to stop before continuing and pray that the Holy Spirit will speak to you and give you understanding the way Paul prayed.

Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:  And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,  Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. Ephesians 1:15-23.

Robert Carter

Much  mention is made in the Old Testament about the priesthood. The books of the Pentateuch go into much detail concerning the priesthood and the various laws and ordinances involved and the way of life for God’s people. Everything hinged around the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant and the Priesthood. The positioning of the various tribes ensured that Moses and the priests camped at the entry to the tabernacle complex. Everything about the priesthood speaks about Jesus and the plan of salvation, but mention of priesthood actually begins well before the Exodus.

After Abram came back from defeating Chedorlaomer and his allies, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Shaveh Valley (that is, the King’s Valley). Then King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was a priest of God Most High. He blessed Abram, and said, “Blessed is Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth (the greater blesses the lesser). Blessed is God Most High, who has handed your enemies over to you.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything. The king of Sodom (a type of the devil) said to Abram, “Give me the people, and keep everything else for yourself.” (the devil wants souls. We can have the {world’s} money ... If we let him have the people) But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I now raise my hand and solemnly swear to the Lord God Most High, maker of heaven and earth, that I won’t take a thread or a sandal strap. I won’t take anything that is yours so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ (he had made God his source) I won’t take one single thing except what my men have eaten. But let my allies Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre take their share” Genesis 14:17-21 (emphasis mine).

I personally believe that the man Abraham met may have been Jesus. This requires more in-depth study of course, but it is worth consideration. We know little of him until the book of Hebrews. Little is said of this elsewhere in the New Testament. We read of the priests in the Gospel accounts and the book of Acts, but as for the priesthood we are discussing in particular, little is said until Hebrews chapter two that speaks much about Jesus. The table below shares some interesting facts.


Unsure genealogy
Gave bread & wine
An endless priesthood
He was both priest and King
Greater than Abraham
King of righteousness
King of peace

Old Testament

Micah 5:2
Luke 22:14-30

Psalm 110:4
Zechariah 6:12-13

Isaiah 9:6

New Testament

Hebrews 7:3-6

Hebrews 5:10, 6:20, 7:21-28
Hebrews 7:1
Hebrews 4:7-8; John 8:55-59
Hebrews 1:8, 7:2; 1 Corinthians 1:30

Wherefore in all things it behoved 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 2:17.

A priest's role

Scriptures reveal that a Priest’s role is to offer gifts and sacrifices for sin and that no man assumes this office unless Divinely appointed. Jesus was appointed to be a priest like Melchisedec. God brought Israel out of Egypt with mighty signs and wonders and during their journeys throughout the wilderness instructing Moses to build a tabernacle.

And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midstExactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it. Exodus 25:8-9 (emphasis mine).

God’s instructions were very specific. The tabernacle and everything associated with it had to be constructed in strict accord with His design or pattern. They were not to deviate from the design, because everything about it and its service spoke in some way about Jesus.
It revealed the plan of salvation. If it was the type, Jesus was the anti-type. If it was the shadow of things to come Jesus was the fulfilment of that shadow. This is reinforced in summary form in Hebrews 8:1-5.

Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.  For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.  For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:  Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as 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 shewed to thee in the mount.

The design and construction of the tabernacle is seen in Exodus 25 to 27. God was adamant about the details of its construction. The Priesthood also had strict requirements. Three full chapters are devoted to their appointment and service, also revealing the priestly ministry and service of Jesus. It was a Divinely appointed position that was established with the same stringent requirements and was therefore reserved for a special kind of person.

Then bring near to you Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the people of Israel, to serve me as priests—Aaron and Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. You shall speak to all the skillful, whom I have filled with a spirit of skill, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him for my priesthood. Exodus 28:1-3.

Their consecration for ministry is as follows-

Here is what you are to do to consecrate them for ministry to me in the office of cohen. Take one young bull and two rams without defect, also matzah, matzah cakes mixed with olive oil, and matzah wafers spread with oil—all made from fine wheat flour; put them together in a basket, and present them in the basket, along with the bull and the two rams...

 The bull had to be a young bull in its prime. The lambs had to be without defect and the bread had to be of fine wheat flour. God set a very high standard. The two lambs had to be deemed without defect, so this meant that they had to be inspected and pass the qualifying tests. The actual ordination for service followed the same lines. When talking about the anointing oil, God went into much detail and we need to look carefully at this-

ADONAI said to Moshe, Take the best spices—500 shekels of myrrh [12 1/2 pounds], half this amount (250 shekels) of aromatic cinnamon [6 1/4 pounds], 250 shekels of aromatic cane, 500 shekels of cassia (use the sanctuary standard), and one gallon of olive oil—and make them into a holy anointing oil; blend it and perfume it as would an expert perfume-maker; it will be a holy anointing oil. Use it to anoint the tent of meeting, the ark for the testimony, the table and all its utensils, the menorah and all its utensils, the incense altar, the altar for burnt offerings and all its utensils, and the basin with its base. You are to consecrate them—they will be especially holy, and whatever touches them will be holy. Then you are to anoint Aharon and his sons—you are to consecrate them to serve me in the office of cohen. “Tell the people of Isra’el, ‘This is to be a holy anointing oil for me through all your generations. It is not to be used for anointing a person’s body; and you are not to make any like it, with the same composition of ingredients—it is holy, and you are to treat it as holy. Whoever makes any like it or uses it on any unauthorized person is to be cut off from his people.’ ” (emphasis mine) ADONAI said to Moshe, “Take aromatic plant substances—balsam resin, sweet onycha root and bitter galbanum gum—these spices along with frankincense, all in equal quantities; and make incense, blended and perfumed as would an expert perfume-maker, salted, pure and holy. You are to grind up some of it very finely and put it in front of the testimony in the tent of meeting where I will meet with you; you are to regard it as especially holy. You are not to make for your own use any incense like it, with the same composition of ingredients—you are to treat it as holy, for ADONAI. Whoever makes up any like it to use as perfume is to be cut off from his people.” Exodus 30:22-38

God had a precise image in mind. He had a plan that required precise planning, accuracy; faithfulness and obedience; dedication and consecration and strict rules for application. Quality control had to be of the highest order. The selection of persons and materials used for the job had to be done carefully. Similar principles had to apply for Jesus so that He could qualify to be our Great High Priest.

The bible describes these matters as shadows of things to come, so it is evident therefore that the one who would represent all of mankind as our advocate with the Father met the criteria. We readily accept the nativity story, think of His three years of ministry, trial, execution and bodily resurrection, but forget that He walked the earth as an ordinary man. He was thus subject to all things that affect us. He was tempted in all ways that we are, but never sinned (i). Hebrews 5:8-10 says something worth investigating.
Although He was a Son, He learned [active, special] obedience through what He suffered  And, [His completed experience] making Him perfectly [equipped], He became the Author and Source of eternal salvation to all those who give heed and obey Him,  Being designated and recognized and saluted by God as High Priest after the order (with the rank) of Melchizedek.

In this clear reference to Melchizedek, Jesus (the man) was designated, recognized and saluted by God as Great High Priest! I cannot overemphasize this fact because it is vitally important. Jesus had to meet His criteria! This raises the question, “How”? How could anyone ascertain that the man was fit to represent humanity? After all, the priest inspected the sacrificial lamb to ensure it was worthy ad if Jesus is our sacrificial lamb slain before the foundation of the world, He had to pass similar tests to ensure that He was indeed God’s chosen sacrificial lamb. If not then God would have been unrighteous. He would have shown partiality and the whole plan of salvation thus rendered illegal by God’s own high standards. Please think about this.

I reiterate. Jesus had to be found perfect in the same way that the Old Testament lambs or goats had to be perfect. The animals chosen for sacrifice were thoroughly inspected for purity. If any defects or blemishes of any Kind they were not acceptable, so the priest examined them closely before pronouncing them fit for the sacrifice. I present the following incident to you for your prayerful assessment. Matthew 17, Mark 9 and Luke 9 talk about the Mount of Transfiguration.

The mount of transfiguration

And Jesus said to them, Truly and solemnly I say to you, there are some standing here who will in no way taste death before they see the kingdom of God come in [its] power.  Six days after this, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves. And He was transfigured before them and became resplendent with divine brightness.
And His garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller (cloth dresser, launderer) on earth could bleach them. 

And Elijah appeared [there] to them, accompanied by Moses, and they were holding [a protracted] conversation with Jesus.
And Peter took up the conversation, saying, Master, it is good and suitable and beautiful for us to be here.
Let us make three booths (tents)—one for You and one for Moses and one for Elijah. For he did not [really] know what to say, for they were in a violent fright (aghast with dread).
And a cloud threw a shadow upon them, and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is My Son, the [most dearworthy] Beloved One.
Be constantly listening to and obeying Him! And looking around, they suddenly no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus only.
Mark 9:1-8

Luke’s account reveals something interesting.
And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.
Luke 9:28-31

Luke said that both Moses and Elijah spoke with Him about Calvary. There are two aspects to consider.
The Law came through Moses requiring sacrifice for sin and demanding that the lamb had to meet the criteria! Moses represented The Law. Could it be that he “inspected” the Lamb according to The Law? Having done so, he could declare that the one he spoke with was qualified. What then about Elijah?  He was a prophet and scriptures link the prophet Elijah with the coming of the Lord. John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah to prepare the way of the Lord, calling Him the Lamb of God twice, once calling Jesus-

…the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world. John 1:29

John spoke of the sacrificial lamb! If Elijah spoke with Jesus about His death, this conversation must have touched on the Sacrificial Lamb. Perhaps Elijah inspected Jesus in this light to determine if He met the terms of prophecy and fulfilled what was spoken.

The bible talks about confirmation of things at the mouth of witnesses (1 corinthians 13:9) and there are witnesses in this account. Moses tested Jesus according to The Law and pronounced Him fit for Priesthood and qualified Him as acceptable for the sacrificial lamb. Elijah looked at Him in the light of prophecy. He assessed Jesus as meeting the fulfilment of prophetic injunctions and pronounced Him fit. What about the third witness? It must have been Peter! He saw something extraordinary and said, “It is good”, wanting to build a tabernacle as a memorial. If witnesses see things, he was in essence a witness to something. What was it? By way of answer, please consider that it was by the hand of man that the fall came. Therefore it may have been necessary for man to be witness to the way God intended to restore man. It was as if Peter acted as our representative to say on our behalf, “We accept God’s provision”.

No matter how men think about anything however, the question remains, “Does this satisfy the Father God”? We always need to remember if it pleases God or not. We should always keep such matters in our minds and ask that question if we are unsure. Stop and ask, “What would Jesus do?” The voice that came from Heaven after all those things transpired declared, “I accept your choice”! The voice that came from Heaven ratified their actions. We would do well to heed it today. “This is My Beloved Son. Listen to Him. Obey Him”.

It would seem to me that this is where the Lamb of God was inspected and approved to be the Lamb that met all of Gods stringent requirements. Jesus was a man approved by God (Acts 10:38) to be Prophet, Priest, Sacrificial Lamb and soon coming King.

A royal priesthood

We are now coming to the part that directly relates to us in this study.  I want to say something now that is designed to bless you, in keeping with the instructions given to us by the Holy Spirit.
Blessed (happy, to be envied) is the man who reads aloud [in the assemblies] the word of this prophecy; and blessed (happy, to be envied) are those who hear [it read] and who keep themselves true to the things which are written in it [heeding them and laying them to heart], for the time [for them to be fulfilled] is near.

The apostle John may have been writing to the seven churches of Asia, but he could equally as well be addressing the churches of our day. According to John, you are blessed because you just read it! He continued-
...May grace (God’s unmerited favor) be granted to you and spiritual peace (the peace of Christ’s kingdom) from Him Who is and Who was and Who is to come, and from the seven Spirits [the sevenfold Holy Spirit] before His throne, And from Jesus Christ the faithful and trustworthy Witness, the Firstborn of the dead [first to be brought back to life] and the Prince (Ruler) of the kings of the earth.  To Him Who ever loves us and has once [for all] loosed and freed us from our sins by His own blood, And formed us into a kingdom (a royal race), priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the power and the majesty and the dominion throughout the ages and forever and ever. Amen (so be it).
Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth shall gaze upon Him and beat their breasts and mourn and lament over Him. Even so [must it be]. Amen (so be it) (emphasis mine) Revelation 1:3-7.

There is it in black and white. No matter what you feel or think about it or what you may be going through—you my friend are royalty. You are a priest and no human ordination ceremony, licensing requirement, certificate or diploma can provide that. The precious blood of Jesus did that! You therefore are qualified to offer spiritual sacrifices to God, acceptable to Him.
So as you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but chosen and priceless in God’s sight, you yourselves, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ...

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 1 Peter 2:9  1 Peter 2:5-9.

We qualify through Jesus, but what about the Old Testament Priests?

A Divine plan

God's plans for salvation were thorough and complete.
They include the construciton of the Tabernacle and its worship and in this study, the priesthood

Detailed list

The following list reveals God's strict requirements regarding the priesthood

A blind man A lame man A flat nose Anything superfluous Broken footed A broken hand Crookbakt A drarf Poor eyesight Scurvy Unbroken stones

If a priest was blemished in any of the points we have discussed, he had a diminished relationship with God and was not permitted to come close to God.

Intimacy of relationship is paramount and there is but ONE STANDARD! The standard is Jesus. He gave us Ministry Gifts in Ephesians 4 that have been given to us for specific purposes-

  • For the perfecting of the saints
  • To equip and release the saints into the work of the ministry
  • For the edifying of the body of Christ

They have been put into place until we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ as seen in Ephesians 4:13.

The word Measure is Metron, which is a literal measure  such as a meter, or a degree.
The word Stature is Helikia, which means maturity such as in years or size, sometimes translated as age. 
The word Fulness is Pleroma, describing something filled up, copiousness, completion, multitude and fulfilling.

Christ of course is Christos… the Messiah… the anointed one and His anointing and God’s desire is that you can become like that perfect man who measures up in all those aspects.

It has been my pleasure to present this to you with the hope that you press into God and that you get to know the one who is both hidden and revealed in scripture—the Lord Jesus Christ. Ask Him now to make everything new in your life and to help you qualify. He is waiting!


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