Priesthood: 12. The Priest's Due

Leviticus 10:12‑15  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 9
The next direction is positive rather than negative; it expresses, first, the communion of the priests, of the high priest and his sons, as far as this could be with the offerings to Jehovah; then of their families. Eating is the well-known sign of fellowship, as none can deny.
“And Moses spoke to Aaron, and to Eleazar and Ithamar his sons that were left, Take the meal-offering that is left of Jehovah's fire-offerings, and eat it with unleavened bread beside the altar; for it [is] most holy. And ye shall eat it in a holy place, because it [is] thy due and thy sons' due, of Jehovah's fire-offerings; for so I am commanded. And the breast of the wave-offering and the shoulder of the heave-offering ye shall eat in a clean place, thou and thy sons and thy daughters with thee; for thy due and thy sons' due [are they] given of the sacrifices of peace-offerings of the children of Israel. The shoulder of the heave-offering and the breast of the wave-offering shall they bring with the fire-offerings of the pieces of fat to wave as a wave-offering before Jehovah; and they shall be thine and thy sons’ with thee for an everlasting statute, as Jehovah commanded” (vers. 12-15).
As the priests were those chosen for the services of the sanctuary, their failures and their dangers were measured by that standard in a way peculiar to themselves. Again also had they privileges, or dues, in which others could not share, suitable to such as drew near into the divine presence. The measure for an Israelite was what Jehovah claimed from man; for the priest, there must be fitness for God. Certainly no less than this is the holiness of the Christian; for he is a priest more really and fully than Aaron himself, for whom the office was but shadowy and ceremonial. Christ is the truth; and as in all other respects, so evidently and expressly in priesthood for the heavens now, as by-and-by for the earth also when He sits on Zion's throne. He therefore makes priesthood as real for the Christian as sonship is, though unbelief in Christendom makes the priestly place a vague name for all but the clergy.
Thus is confounded priesthood with ministry, which is in its worst form to repeat the gainsaying of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Of this imposture the Epistle of Jude declares the woe and end. But unbelief cannot alter or efface the truth; and Christians are shown in the N.T. to be the only persons on earth who now exercise priestly functions. They, having the only Great Priest over the house of God, are exhorted to approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, “sprinkled as to our hearts from a wicked conscience, and washed as to our body with pure water” (Heb. 10:21, 2221And having an high priest over the house of God; 22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:21‑22)). Who but they have the entrance with boldness into the holies in the power of the blood of Jesus? For any minister to claim this as the title, and the exclusive title, of his class, is to convict himself of presumptuous ignorance and profanity. It is meddling with Christ's rights, and His grace to His own.
Christ as the Burnt-offering rose up wholly consumed to Jehovah. Man was in no way to partake: “It shall be accepted to make atonement for him” (Lev. 1:44And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. (Leviticus 1:4)). “The priest shall burn all on the altar” (9). With Christ as the Meal-offering or Oblation, it was different; for here it is He as alive in flesh and obedient in holy love, yet offered up to Jehovah. Of the fine flour with the oil, but all the frankincense put on it, the priest took his handful, and burnt it on the altar to Jehovah. The remainder was for Aaron and his sons, who were the priestly company and symbolize “all the saints” here below. “Most holy” as it is, and thus rebuking all thought that adheres to lowering the Word become flesh, it was priestly food. Jehovah has the memorial thereof, a Fire-offering no less than the Burnt-offering; but the priest partook of the rest. If Jehovah had His delight in that blessed life of absolute devotedness to His will, have not we who believe and know ourselves brought to God, purged from every sin, the privilege of enjoying that oblation in peace and thanksgiving?
But it was to be eaten “in a holy place,” as only the priests partook of it, not even their families. It is only in God's presence that we can enjoy in communion what Christ was each day on earth and all through to God: elsewhere we reason or imagine, and in either way must sully what is “most holy.” Only the power of the Spirit enables the believer to appropriate Christ thus without mingling his own thoughts. For none rightly know the Son but the Father; and before Him we presume not, but receive what He gives in unfeigned faith and worship. All the frankincense was for Jehovah.
On the other hand while ver. 13 restricts the remainder of the Meal-offering to the eating of the priests “in a holy place,” ver. 14 opens participation in their portion of Peace-offerings, for their sons and daughters to eat freely, but “in a clean place.” For this they had the wave-breast and the heave-shoulder. In Lev. 7 we see a more widely extended fellowship; for the offerer and his guests had the remainder as a feast. Thus Jehovah, the offering priest, the priestly house as a whole, and the offerer with his company had each the appropriate part, in a communion large and varied, yet nicely ordered of God. Christ in His fullness answers to its every part, the striking contrast with the first and sinful man in his narrow selfishness or vain lavishness. Only “cleanness” was indispensable. “As he who called you is holy, be ye also holy in all conduct, because it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.” The simplest believer, however unintelligent of his high and holy privileges, is responsible to cleanse himself from every pollution of flesh and spirit, in order to enjoy it. Grace when believed produces vigilance in our new responsibilities as God's children; when forgotten or abused, admits of license and leads to lawlessness.