Israelís system of priests lasted for about 1500 years, so, of course, there had to be many of them. God provided for this when he appointed a whole family (not just one person) to be priests. All the future male members of that family would be priests.
That family was Aaronís family. And during the centuries afterwards, Aaronís family became very large. So, Ezra 2:36-39 mentions 4289 priests who returned to Judah from Babylon. At the time of the first Christians, about 24000 priests were living in Jerusalem. And even more priests lived elsewhere. They were all from Aaronís family.
The reason why a whole family needed to be priests was, of course, death. It is Godís enemy, the devil, who has the power of death (Hebrews 2:14). And the devil causes people to live their whole lives as slaves because of it (Hebrews 2:15).
Only a priest who could overcome death would be able to serve God in a perfect manner. And Jesus Christ was the only priest who did that.
When we know about Jesusí work as priest, we can understand better the reasons for his death. It was necessary to offer a sacrifice to God so that he can forgive our sins (evil deeds). A sacrifice means a gift that God considers valuable. And the sacrifice that Jesus, our chief priest, offered was his own blood. That one sacrifice is enough for all time (Hebrews 9:26). His work to save us from our sins is complete.
But Jesusí work as our priest never ends. He is still our chief priest. He is our priest in heaven. There, he has the place of greatest honour, on the right side of God the Father. And there, as our priest, he speaks on our behalf.
That is a wonderful fact. If we are Godís people, then God is for us! (see Romans 8:31).
Next part: Jesus intercedes for us (Hebrews 7:25)
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© 2014, Keith Simons.