Part 2—Empowering a Priesthood for Effectual Service
1. Why is information about the heavenly priesthood vital today, and what is meant by their installation?
THE present welfare and future prospects of a great crowd of persons out of every nation, tribe, people and tongue are, in God’s purpose, tied in with a divinely approved priesthood composed of a glorious heavenly High Priest and his underpriests. It should give us strong confidence to learn that the shadow pictures of the law given through Moses point clearly to that priesthood and show that their “being adequately qualified issues from God,” in harmony with the inspired words of the apostle Paul to that effect. (2 Cor. 3:5) Since the empowering of this priesthood is referred to by Jehovah himself as ‘a filling of their hands with power,’ it is of special interest to us to note the next step in this series of shadow pictures enacted under the direction of Moses for our instruction and encouragement.—Lev. 8:33; Heb. 10:1.
2. What is pictured by the waving to and fro before Jehovah of choice portions of the ram of installation?
2 Wave offering of ram of installation. (Lev. 8:25-27) “Then he took the fat and the fat tail and all the fat that was upon the intestines, and the appendage of the liver and the two kidneys and their fat and the right leg. And out of the basket of unfermented cakes that was before Jehovah he took one unfermented ring-shaped cake and one ring-shaped cake of oiled bread and one wafer. He then placed them upon the fatty pieces and the right leg. After that he put all of them upon the palms of Aaron and the palms of his sons and began to wave them to and fro as a wave offering before Jehovah.” The rich, fatty portions of this ram together with its liver, kidneys and right leg, as well as baked offerings, are loaded upon the hands of high priest Aaron and his sons, and by them waved to and fro before Jehovah. The waving denotes continuous action as distinct from a single act. Jesus’ anointed followers have the privilege of sharing with their High Priest in a continuous course of devotion to the service of Jehovah, a service that is marked by zeal for Jehovah’s name and by a giving of the best of their mental and physical efforts. And there must be joy in such a privilege, for the apostle Peter bids them to “go on rejoicing forasmuch as you are sharers in the sufferings of the Christ [for the sake of Jehovah’s name], that you may rejoice and be overjoyed also during the revelation of his glory.”—1 Pet. 4:13.
3. In the reality, how do the baked goods included in the wave offering relate to the ministry of Christ and his underpriests?
3 Members of this priesthood share with their High Priest a ministry that calls for purity from sin and false religion (the unfermented cake), fruitful service marked by the fruits of the holy spirit (the oiled cake), and by workmanship of the finest quality (the wafer). The ministry of the High Priest himself exemplified all these excellent qualities, and he stands ready at all times to aid his underpriests as they strive to follow his steps closely. Such continuous offering of devoted practical works of faith are fitly accompanied by prayer to the builder of the “true tent,” in harmony with the words of the psalmist: “May my prayer be prepared as incense before you, the raising up of my palms as the evening grain offering.”—Ps. 141:2; 1 Cor. 5:8.
4. The smoking of the wave offering on the altar has what significance?
4 Wave offering smoked upon the altar. (Le 8 Vs. 28) “Then Moses took them off their palms and made them smoke upon the altar on top of the burnt offering. They were an installation sacrifice for a restful odor. It was an offering made by fire to Jehovah.” The wave offering is completed by Moses’ taking the portions from the hands of Aaron and his sons and burning them upon the altar on top of the burnt offering. From this it becomes evident that the faithful continuing ministry of Christ’s priesthood must lead all its members to spend themselves and their humanity in its entirety for the interest of the “true tent” of God’s own building. This offering, too, is spoken of as a restful odor, indicating that it now pleases Jehovah to accept the services of this body of priests sponsored by his own beloved Son, and to receive their offerings with pleasure.
5. Moses’ waving of the breast of this second ram points to what in the reality?
5 Wave offering of the breast by Moses. (Le 8 Vs. 29) “And Moses proceeded to take the breast and to wave it to and fro as a wave offering before Jehovah. From the installation ram it became the portion for Moses, just as Jehovah had commanded Moses.” The breast of the installation ram, doubtless including the heart, since it is not otherwise mentioned, was waved to and fro by Moses and then taken to himself as his portion of the offering. Moses here appears to act as the special representative of Jehovah, and in accepting the breast he foreshadows Jehovah’s own acceptance of Jesus Christ and of the priests under Christ on the basis of his Son’s own perfect offering, an offering rendered up with gladness in response to the Father’s invitation: “My son, do give your heart to me, and may those eyes of yours take pleasure in my own ways.” (Prov. 23:26) Jesus’ underpriests must also give wholehearted devotion to the worship at the “true tent” and sing its Builder’s praises with heartfelt joy.
6. The spattering of oil mixed with blood has what application to the Christian priesthood?
6 Sanctification with oil and blood. (Le 8 Vs. 30) “After that Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood that was upon the altar and spattered it upon Aaron and his garments and upon his sons and the garments of his sons with him. Thus he sanctified Aaron and his garments and his sons and the garments of his sons with him.” The spattering of the mixture of blood from the altar and oil upon Aaron and his sons and their garments served to sanctify them. This seems to speak of a more effectual priesthood whose identification and authority from God would be marked by a spirit-filled ministry and whose acceptance with God is founded upon strong faith in the precious sacrifice of Christ Jesus. Both persons and garments being spattered suggests that the members of this priesthood, individually and collectively, inwardly and outwardly, must be identified as depending fully upon the merit of Christ’s atoning blood and bringing forth the rich fruitage of Jehovah’s holy spirit.
7, 8. Complete disposition of all that is left of the ram of installation indicates what as to the real installation?
7 Aaron and his sons boil and eat the flesh. (Le 8 Vs. 31) “Then Moses said to Aaron and his sons: ‘Boil the flesh at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and there is where you will eat it and the bread that is in the installation basket, just as I was given the command, saying, “Aaron and his sons will eat it.”’” The shadow here tells of the complete disposition of the installation sacrifice. So, too, it is Jehovah’s will that the empowering of the priesthood under Christ should proceed to its thorough completion. Also, here we have indication of Jehovah’s ample provision for the spiritual sustenance of this body of priests under Christ. They are also promised sufficient material necessities for each day as they go on discharging their priestly duties, for the apostle Paul declares: “Do you not know that the men performing sacred duties eat the things of the temple, and those constantly attending at the altar have a portion for themselves with the altar? In this way, too, the Lord ordained for those proclaiming the good news to live by means of the good news.” As they busily preach and teach the good news, God puts it into the hearts of appreciative hearers to share with them material necessities of life.—1 Cor. 9:13, 14; Eph. 3:16; Gal. 6:6.
8 Leftovers of installation sacrifice burned. (Le 8 Vs. 32) “And what is left over of the flesh and the bread you will burn with fire.” Whether by eating on the part of the priests or by burning, that installation sacrifice was to be completely consumed. In the reality Christ Jesus applies the merit of his sacrifice to its fullest extent toward those who are formed into a holy priesthood so that they may be fully acceptable to God and fully empowered to extend effectual help to others who seek to approach the Source of life.
9. What is the application of the “obligatory watch” (a) to Christ Jesus, and (b) to his anointed followers?
9 Keeping the obligatory watch seven days. (Le 8 Vss. 33-35) “And you must not go out from the entrance of the tent of meeting for seven days, until the day of fulfilling the days of your installation, because it will take seven days to fill your hand with power. Just as it has been done this day, Jehovah has commanded to be done so as to make atonement for you. And you will stay at the entrance of the tent of meeting day and night for seven days, and you must keep the obligatory watch of Jehovah, that you may not die; for so I have been commanded.” The exemplary High Priest of God fulfilled his period of duty of three and a half years here on earth, and then was raised a spirit creature and exalted to the highest position in the universe under the Creator. His underpriests must also faithfully complete the term of their earthly ministry, devoting themselves wholly to the interests of the “true tent,” so that they may also in due course be raised to life as spirit creatures. While still on earth this priesthood has been given an effective “ministry of reconciliation” on behalf of other life seekers. When its members complete their faithful ministry in the flesh by participation in “the first resurrection,” then truly their hands are filled with power to serve God’s purpose effectually to bless multitudes upon this earth during the Millennium.
A HEAVENLY PRIESTHOOD IN ACTION
10. Why are blessings from Jehovah available even now through the ministry of Christ’s body of priests?
10 Thus blessings for men and women of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues who now turn in repentance to the “true tent” of God’s building do not have to wait until the last members of that body of priests finish their earthly ministry in order to gain benefits. No, for the blood of Jesus’ perfect offering has been applied in behalf of these last members, and by God’s holy spirit they have been given a new birth as his spirit-begotten sons and have been qualified to do what they could not otherwise do as mere imperfect human creatures. Jehovah gives clear indication of this fact by the signal of his approval on the Aaronic priesthood that was made to appear before all Israel. Let us take note of how this came about as we give consideration to the ninth chapter of Leviticus.
11. What is pictured by Aaron and his sons now officiating without the immediate aid of Moses, and what is the meaning of the sin offering and the burnt offering?
11 Sin offering and burnt offering for Aaron’s priesthood. (Lev. 9:2, 7-14) “Then he said to Aaron: ‘Take for yourself a young calf for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering, sound ones, and present them before Jehovah.’ Then Moses said to Aaron: ‘Go near to the altar and render up your sin offering and your burnt offering, and make atonement in your own behalf and in behalf of your house; and render up the offering of the people and make atonement in their behalf, just as Jehovah has commanded.’ Aaron immediately went near to the altar and slaughtered the calf of the sin offering that was for him. Then Aaron’s sons presented the blood to him and he dipped his finger in the blood and put it upon the horns of the altar, and the rest of the blood he poured at the base of the altar. And he made the fat and the kidneys and the appendage of the liver from the sin offering smoke upon the altar, just as Jehovah had commanded Moses. And he burned the flesh and the skin with fire outside the camp. Then he slaughtered the burnt offering and Aaron’s sons handed him the blood and he sprinkled it round about upon the altar. And they handed him the burnt offering in its pieces and the head, and he proceeded to make them smoke upon the altar. Further, he washed the intestines and the shanks and made them smoke upon the burnt offering on the altar.” During the installation of the priesthood Moses had acted as representative of and in the place of God. Aaron and his sons are now officiating without the immediate aid of Moses, for they have been fully installed. Likewise, Jesus Christ was fully installed in his heavenly high priesthood in 33 C.E. by God himself. Later the spirit was poured out upon his followers at Pentecost, and they humbly submitted to its directive power, and thus they began to be installed by God but through Jesus Christ and so undertook their ministry. As he promised them, the holy spirit teaches them all the things that are necessary so that they may go ahead and fulfill the responsibilities with which their High Priest has charged them. But he also promised them that he, their High Priest, would be with them always to the conclusion of the system of things. (Matt. 28:18-20) Again the sin offering shows that this holy priesthood makes every approach to the presence of the Creator with and upon the basis of the one precious sacrifice for sins. Their constant recognition of this is what renders their ministrations effectual. The symbolic burnt offering serves as confirmation of the fact that Jehovah has accepted the sacrifice of his beloved Son and is pleased to apply its merits to the whole household of priests for whom Christ makes special intercession.
12. In fulfillment, when and how did Jehovah demonstrate his acceptance of the services of Christ’s underpriests?
12 That Jehovah did approve of having the benefits from the “one sacrifice for sins” released unto the body of priests under Christ was testified to by the pouring out of his holy spirit upon them at Pentecost, 33 C.E. From then on they have ‘declared abroad the excellencies of Jehovah,’ thereby offering a spiritual sacrifice with which the Most High is well pleased, for this was the very purpose of his sanctifying and qualifying them for priestly duty.—1 Pet. 2:5, 9.
13. The sin offering and burnt offering for the entire people have what meaning in fulfillment, and why is the timing of these important?
13 Sin offering and burnt offering for the people. (Le 9 Vss. 15, 16) “He now went to presenting the offering of the people and took the goat of the sin offering that was for the people and slaughtered it and made an offering for sin with it as with the first. Then he presented the burnt offering and handled it according to the regular procedure.” It should be noted that the offering for the nonpriestly tribes of Israel followed after completion of the offering for the tribe of Levi, the tribe of high priest Aaron. Thus also the merit of the sacrifice of Christ Jesus is applied on behalf of members of the holy spiritual priesthood and brings benefits to them before benefits begin to flow to others of humankind. Indeed, the facts show that, from the outpouring of God’s spirit on that Pentecostal day of 33 C.E. to the time of the calling of the final members making up the full predetermined number of 144,000 of Christ’s body of priests, a period of some nineteen centuries has elapsed. From the year 1935 evidences have piled up showing that benefits are now being made available for an unnumbered crowd of nonpriestly worshipers of the true God. And after Armageddon has brought to its end the present wicked system of things and after Satan has been bound and abyssed, the flow of unhampered blessings for repentant humans will constitute strong evidence that the royal priesthood under Christ is ministering effectually.
14. What is represented by the grain offering here?
14 Grain offering on behalf of the people. (Le 9 Vs. 17) “He next presented the grain offering and filled his hand with some of it and made it smoke upon the altar, apart from the burnt offering of the morning.” This grain offering is in addition to the one already offered that morning with the daily sacrifice. The record says that Aaron “filled his hand with some of it” and then it was placed on top of the burnt offering on the altar. This seems to say that the ministry of Christ Jesus and his anointed followers is a fruitful one, abounding now in benefits for a “great crowd” of persons from all nations. (Rev. 7:9) The bountiful harvest of persons offering homage to Jehovah’s name in this present day is the very tangible evidence of divine blessing upon the ministry of the heavenly priesthood.
15. What does the communion offering for the people signify in the reality, and what will be its eventual effect?
15 Communion, sacrifice for the people of Israel. (Le 9 Vss. 18-21) “After that he slaughtered the bull and the ram of the communion sacrifice that was for the people. Then Aaron’s sons handed him the blood and he sprinkled it round about upon the altar. As for the fatty pieces of the bull and the fat tail of the ram and the fat covering and the kidneys and the appendage of the liver, they now placed the fatty pieces upon the breasts, after which he made the fatty pieces smoke upon the altar. But the breasts and the right leg Aaron waved to and fro as a wave offering before Jehovah, just as Moses had commanded.” Just as the bull and the ram are next slaughtered and their blood applied, so too Jesus’ shed blood and the application of its merit bring benefits to Christ’s underpriests. But now, since 1935 C.E., some benefits begin to flow to a great crowd of persons out of all nations. Such persons are brought into closer communication with Jehovah by having instruction on how to conform their lives to his will. They receive information on how to merit divine approval and protection during the oncoming war of Armageddon. They are taught how to demonstrate their thanksgiving and appreciation to God for all his loving-kindness by sharing with the anointed body of priests in calling upon the name of Jehovah and making known his marvelous works. Through the provision of the symbolic communion sacrifice Jehovah kindly condescends to accept the worship and praise of the “great crowd,” and so there is a measurable approach by them to Jehovah in peaceful relations. Eventually, during the Millennium the communion offering of the great High Priest, Christ Jesus, will bring the worthy ones of all mankind into a full and proper standing before Jehovah.
16. How has the Greater Aaron blessed the people?
16 Aaron blesses the people. (Le 9 Vss. 22, 23) “Then Aaron raised his hands toward the people and blessed them and came down from rendering the sin offering and the burnt offering and the communion sacrifices. Finally Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting and came out and blessed the people.” Before entering into the very presence of Jehovah as a merciful High Priest, Christ Jesus provided for blessing people who shall eventually benefit by his effectual ministry. Did he not leave behind in the care of his underpriests the words or teachings that would mean life to all obedient ones? But after his entry into the heavens, and after he was authorized by the heavenly Father to turn his attention again to the earth, he did send forth from his heavenly throne many more blessings of life-giving knowledge and understanding, first to his body of priests yet on earth, and then through them to the “other sheep,” a great crowd of whom are now joining in pure worship of the Most High.—John 10:16.
17. What striking evidence has Jehovah given of his approval on an installed priesthood in our day?
17 Evidence of God’s approval on the installed priesthood. (Le 9 Vss. 23b, 24a) “Then Jehovah’s glory appeared to all the people, and fire came out from before Jehovah and began consuming the burnt offering and the fatty pieces upon the altar.” Fire evidently proceeded from the direction of the tent and its Most Holy compartment and swiftly consumed the burnt offering and the fat of the communion offering of the people. To all the Israelites this was awe-inspiring but it was an assuring evidence that Jehovah accepted that priesthood and the offering on the altar as covering for their sins, so that now He could indeed be with them as their God. To a modern throng of nonpriestly worshipers, Jehovah has begun to demonstrate acceptance of Jesus Christ and his underpriests, represented in the remnant of these who are still serving here on the earth. Through this heavenly priesthood Jehovah has truly channeled a tremendous flow of spiritual revelations. As we look back on the past fifty years of history of God’s dealings with his anointed servants on earth we can note how he has blessed and protected them in the face of global opposition and hatred. Just how “fire” from Jehovah’s presence will be fully manifested with regard to his heavenly priesthood and Christ’s sacrifice remains to be seen in the not distant future, after full installation of all the heavenly priesthood.
18. What additional evidence is there of God’s use of the services of a Christian priesthood?
18 Additional evidence of Jehovah’s approval upon the remnant of Christ’s underpriests upon earth today may be noted in the way Jehovah is pleased to use them to call attention to the clear division between clean and unclean. Through the pages of this magazine life seekers are taught how to deport themselves in every activity of life in the manner that will bring God’s blessing. Whether it is conduct in the home, or conduct at secular work, or under a great variety of circumstances, there has been no lack of clear direction from God’s Word for those who want to please the Creator. And the effect of all this accurate education is truly amazing! A vast crowd of worshipers of the true God separated as by a great gulf from the confused and warring nations of this system of things, and united in a strong bond of love for Jehovah.
19. What post-Armageddon evidences may we expect of Jehovah’s use of this installed priesthood?
19 Greater evidences of God’s approval and use of the priesthood under Christ Jesus, now almost all installed, await the new order of things upon earth after Armageddon. At that time the new Jerusalem, the holy city of heavenly priests, with its perfected members ruling in power with their High Priest, will extend its influence to men on the earth to an unprecedented degree. Armageddon survivors and those who later are raised from the dead will still be in need of the protective shield of a holy priesthood, for they will still be imperfect and in need of much help so as to be prepared to meet successfully the final test of their integrity when Satan is “let loose out of his prison” for a short time at the end of the thousand years of Christ’s reign.—Rev. 20:7, 8.
20. How do lovers of God’s truth and righteousness today respond to his signal blessing upon his heavenly priesthood?
20 The response of the people. (Le 9 Vs. 24) “When all the people got to see it, they broke out into shouting and went falling upon their faces.” That culminating evidence of Jehovah’s approval on and presence with the priesthood of Aaron produced a demonstration of great joy mingled with godly fear. Does even the preliminary part of the revelation of Jehovah’s approval upon a more effectual priesthood today produce such a demonstration? It surely does. Look at the great throng of sheeplike persons who have gathered around God’s remnant of spiritual priests, and who, having been enlightened as to his merciful provision for their approach to him, heartily join their voices in shouts of praise to him and with godly fear engage in his worship “with spirit and truth.”—John 4:24.
21. How do modern worshipers at Jehovah’s “true tent” view the presence in their midst of a remnant of Christ’s body of underpriests?
21 In this priesthood of Jehovah’s provision they discern “the congregation of the first-born who have been enrolled in the heavens.” All other earthly worshipers of Jehovah rejoice in the fact that, though since 1918 the vast majority of the 144,000 members of Christ’s body of priests have assumed their places that had been reserved for them in the heavens, Jehovah has yet left upon earth a remnant of that holy brotherhood as a nucleus around which men who love God and righteousness may assemble and avail themselves of the expressions of Jehovah’s goodwill. To the great crowd of worshipers out of every nation the presence of that remnant with them gives strong assurance that soon now their hope of relief and deliverance from a wicked system of things is to be realized. This is especially so as they note that each year the numbers of that remnant continue to dwindle. What hope, what expectation, what zeal for active worship this engenders in their hearts!
22. What inspiring vision has been granted to the great crowd of earthly worshipers, and of what does this assure them?
22 Jacob indeed received his encouraging dream-vision of the ladder connecting earth with heaven, with angels ascending and descending upon it. But what a grand vision is today granted to the great crowd of earthly worshipers of Jehovah, as they perceive with the eye of faith the instrumentality that Jehovah will shortly use to extend peace and blessings to them: “The holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God and prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Yes, that composite Bride of Christ made up of its 144,000 members will be fully identified with and subject to its Head and Husband, Christ Jesus, in his divinely given work of rehabilitation of deserving humans.—Rev. 21:2.
23. The composition of the heavenly priesthood furnishes life seekers with what comforting thoughts?
23 How heartwarming to know that the high and holy God of heaven has taken into account the weaknesses and the needs and the limitations of his erring human creatures, in that he has provided “as high priest, not one who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses,” but one who will have perfect insight into all our problems! (Heb. 4:15) Likewise serving under him will be a body of heavenly priests who have also personally experienced all the handicaps and troubles of humankind, and who will therefore also know how to train and help people with patience and love.
24. (a) What future service will be faithfully cared for by the heavenly priesthood, bringing great joy to survivors of Armageddon? (b) How is this indicated at Revelation 21:3, 4?
24 God’s perfect knowledge of the workings of the human mind and His recognition of our love for those who have been separated from us by death are seen in his kind purpose to bring forth from their graves a multitude of persons who will receive opportunity for life. They, too, must bring the evidences of their devotion to God’s righteousness unto the “true tent,” and they, too, must submit to training and direction by the royal priesthood under Christ. During the thousand years of Christ’s restorative reign steps will be taken progressively to remove all causes for tears and pain, for “the holy city,” Jehovah’s loving provision for the reconciliation of repentant humans with Himself, will be operating effectually with the High Priest Jesus Christ. This is what the apostle John describes for our benefit: “With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: ‘Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be any more. The former things have passed away.’”—Rev. 21:3, 4.
25. How should those future happy prospects and present favors affect our worship of Jehovah now?
25 With this happy prospect of near approach unto Jehovah, the holy God, how grateful we should be to that great Provider of every good and perfect present! During the remaining time before the end of this doomed system of things, let us use our time wisely and pleasingly to Jehovah. Let us each one take hold of the opportunities now to gain blessings from him through our association with the remnant of Christ’s underpriests yet on earth. Our associating with and accepting the lead from them in matters of true worship will be laying for ourselves a fine foundation for post-Armageddon works looking to Jehovah’s final approval.
[Picture on page 401]
High priest Aaron with a wave offering including parts of the ram of installation