We can find much information about the priests in Exodus 28-29 and Leviticus 8-10, and about sacrifices in Leviticus 1-7. Aaron and his sons were consecrated to the priesthood, and the Aaronic priesthood performed sacrificial and other rites, while Levites were responsible for maintenance of the tabernacle (e.g. Num. 1:47-54).
The destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE put an end to sacrifices and priestly intervention. In keeping with the biblical theme and a care for others, Jews have, in important ways, replaced sacrifices with mitzvot of charity and service. The kohanim are men who are descended from Aaron and who have honors in the synagogue, including the first aliyah (being called to the Torah) when the Torah is read, and in some services, they give the priestly blessing (the well-known Numbers 6:24-26). Many Jewish men surnamed Cohen or Katz or Kahn are kohanim.
Different Christian traditions have a priesthood, although the theology and duties of Christian ministers, as well as the theology of their ordination, varies widely among denominations.
Likely writing before the destruction of the Temple, the author of Hebrews writes of the priesthood of Jesus, of the order of Melchizedek (based on Psalm 110:4) rather than the Aaronic priesthood (since Jesus was of the tribe of Judah rather than of Levi). This passage is comforting.
In Bible times, the Israelite priests entered the holiest place of the Temple on the Day of Atonement and sprinkled blood on the cover of the ark of the covenant, and thus the sins of the people were “covered.” In the New Testament, this image also becomes significant in the person and work of Jesus, understood to be both high priest and also the sacrifice whose blood covers our sins.
1.How are ministers chosen and ordained in your denomination?
2.Some older hymns praise the power of Jesus’ blood. “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood” and “There is Power in the Blood” are two examples. Does the sacrificial death of Jesus play a significant role in your faith? Does “the power of the blood” have mostly to do with individual salvation, or also with society?