“These are the names of the sons of Aaron. Nadab, the firstborn, and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. These are the names of the sons of Aaron, the anointed priests, whom he ordained to serve as priests. But Nadab and Abihu died before the Lord when they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord in the wilderness of Sinai and they had no children. So Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests in the lifetime of Aaron, their father.”
– Numbers 3:2–4
This chapter in the Book of Numbers, Numbers 3:2–4, gives us a picture of the priests and the duties of the Levites and how they would minister to, serve in the Tent of Meeting and at the Tabernacle, the place where the glory of God, the presence of God, dwelled among His people. Theirs was a uniquely significant role as they represented sinners before a holy God and represented the holiness of God before sinners. The priests were the go-betweens, so to speak, the intercessors who stood in the gap between God’s holiness and man’s sinfulness in the picture of God’s people throughout their history.
That’s what a priest was set up to do, which is why when Nadab and Abihu did not honor God’s holiness with their service, they were immediately struck down dead. Because God does not take lightly this priestly duty of representing His holiness to His people and the responsibility to represent sinners before a holy God.
Jesus paid the price for our sins and has made us right before God. We are commissioned now as a royal priesthood to proclaim the grace of Christ in all the world.
This Verse Praises Jesus as the Perfect Priest
All of this in the Old Testament points to our need for a greater priest than any of these priests could ever be. We need a perfect priest who perfectly displays the holiness of God to us, and who is able to perfectly represent us before God, the father. Jesus, indeed, is the perfect high priest. He is the only one who is perfectly able to represent God’s holiness to us and he is the only one who is perfectly able to represent us before God, the Father, in all of His holinesses.
So we are driven by Numbers Chapter 3 to praise Jesus as our perfect high priest and, at the same time, we are radically challenged by the rest of the New Testament that talks about how we are a royal priesthood. So now we have the responsibility of bringing sinners to know the holiness of God and showing the holiness of God with our lives by the power of Christ in us.
Numbers 3:2–4 Calls Us to Pray
There’s so much here that just compels us to pray. First and foremost, to pray to God, to Christ, and to say, “Thank you. Oh, God, thank you for sending Jesus, the great, the perfect high priest, to pay the price for our sins. To represent your holiness perfectly to us. To represent us and our humanity before you. Jesus, we exalt you as our perfect high priest.
As the one who has paid the price for our sins, who has made the way possible for us to know God, to be forgiven of our sins, to be clothed in your righteousness, to have our sins covered by your blood, the blood of your sacrifice. Jesus, we exalt you as the perfect high priest and we pray that you would help us then as the overflow of your life in us to carry out what Romans 15 talks about. A priestly duty.”
Numbers 3:2–4 Encourages Us to Shout God’s Goodness
We see in 1 Peter, we are royal priesthood. God help us. Help you to represent You well before sinners around us. God help us to represent You before the world around us and all of your holiness. God make as holy as you are holy, we pray. Help us to be holy. Help us to walk in ways that reflect Your holiness. To live in ways that shout Your goodness and Your grace and Your mercy and Your love, Your character in all of these ways. God, use our lives, we pray, to bring others to You.
To bring others to be intercessors to stand in the gap and draw people to a relationship with You. God, help us to share the gospel of Your grace today. That others may draw into a relationship with You. God, please use us toward that end. We pray, today you would give us the boldness to share the gospel with somebody. To share the gospel with somebody who is separate from You in sin and can be forgiven by You through faith in Jesus.
Jesus, we praise you as the perfect high priest. Not just for us, but for many others. We pray, today, that you would use our lives, our families, our churches, to draw many, many more people to know you as the perfect high priest, as the perfect representative before our holy God, and the only Savior of our sin. In your name, we pray this, Lord Jesus. Amen.