Priests That Can Help Us
IT IS commonly acknowledged among medical men that the spiritual and mental welfare of the patient is as important to his recovery as is the medical therapy. Accordingly, there is a need for priests of God who can give aid and comfort to the sick as well as the healthy.
Of course, a priest on earth can do little to help a sick person physically. Neither can he remove the physical imperfections of the normally well person. For we are all imperfect, sinners. A priest of God, however, can give spiritual aid.
But God has arranged for priests who will restore to mankind both physical and spiritual health. How do we know?
We can know without doubt by taking a brief look into the arrangement that God has made. There we find such strong, conclusive evidence that it leaves no doubt that God’s true priesthood is a reality and a surety, and that these priests will provide the help humans need. God preserved this record in the Bible for the very purpose of assuring us.
Of first interest to us is the High Priest. God’s real High Priest is unique, because this One gave his own human life as a sacrifice. (John 6:51) By this means he could have something of real value as a purchasing price for mankind. That is, he could obtain the right to stand in the place that Adam had stepped aside from by his disobedience, giving his children a heritage of death. (Rom. 5:15, 17) Then, being resurrected in the spirit, Jesus Christ could become a regenerative Father to those of the human race who would accept his sacrifice in faith and obedience.—1 Cor. 15:45; Isa. 53:10; John 3:16.
THE ANOINTING OF THE PRIESTHOOD
God established a priesthood with ancient Israel, primarily in order to foreshadow his real heavenly priesthood. He selected Aaron the brother of Moses, of the tribe of Levi, as high priest. Moses anointed Aaron with oil. Aaron could then be called “the anointed one” or “Messiah.” After this Moses proceeded to anoint Aaron’s four sons as underpriests. (Ex. 40:1, 2, 12-16) Thereafter, as the priests died and were succeeded by their sons, only the high priest was anointed; the one anointing of Aaron’s sons counted for all later underpriests. Just being invested with the official garments of an underpriest was considered sufficient.—Num. 3:1-3.
Now, all this was pictorial of the fact that Jesus Christ, at the time of his baptism, was anointed, not with oil, but with God’s holy spirit. (Matt. 3:16; Acts 10:38) This anointing never had to be repeated, as in the case of ancient Israel’s high priests, since Jesus has no successors, due to his being resurrected to immortal life by his Father.—1 Tim. 6:14-16.
Jehovah God, through his Son, poured out holy spirit upon his disciples on Pentecost day of 33 C.E., anointing them. (Mark 1:7, 8; John 1:33; Acts 2:1-4, 16, 17) Thereafter, through Christ, God’s spirit continued to flow, and others came to be immersed into the body of Christ, thereby also becoming anointed ones and underpriests. (Rom. 6:3) The apostle John wrote to fellow Christians: “You have an anointing from the holy one; all of you have knowledge.”—1 John 2:20.
When selected by God for the priesthood and anointed by God’s spirit they are also spirit-begotten, with prospects of life in heaven. They are “sealed” with that holy spirit. The apostle Paul was one of such and he wrote to other anointed ones: “He who guarantees that you and we belong to Christ [Anointed One] and he who has anointed us is God. He has also put his seal upon us and has given us the token of what is to come, that is, the spirit, in our hearts.”—2 Cor. 1:21, 22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13, 14.
The total number of anointed ones upon whom the “seal” is finally found to be permanent is 144,000, according to Revelation 7:1-8. (Rev. 14:1-4) These are a “royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for special possession.” They are the ones whom Christ, by his blood, bought for God “out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,” and “made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God.”—1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 5:9, 10.
Just as the ancient Hebrew priests had authority to eat certain portions of the sacrifices offered, so these “priests to our God” have authority to eat from the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the altar of God’s “will,” which right the Jewish Levitical priests did not have because they rejected Jesus as the Messiah or Christ.—Heb. 13:10-15; John 6:48-58.
IN THE “COURTYARD”
This means that, while yet on earth, they are in the condition pictured by the courtyard (of the tabernacle and temples approved by God in the past) in which the copper altar of sacrifice was located. This is the condition of being declared righteous by God on the basis of their faith in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. The apostle wrote: “We have been declared righteous as a result of faith,” and “we have been declared righteous now by his blood.”—Rom. 5:1, 9.
These priests, while on earth, are still in the imperfect, sin-laden flesh, yet are counted as righteous because of the application of the merit of Christ’s sacrifice. They have a righteous, uncondemned standing. Paul exclaims: “Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So, then, with my mind [the renewed Christian mind] I myself am a slave to God’s law, but with my flesh to sin’s law. Therefore those in union with Christ Jesus have no condemnation. For the law of that spirit which gives life in union with Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”—Rom. 7:25–8:2.
Since their righteousness is not in their own merit they cannot add anything to the merit of Christ’s sacrifice. It alone has power to atone for sins. But they can offer to God through Christ the ‘sacrifices of praise’ and the doing of Christian good.—Heb. 13:15, 16.
IN THE “HOLY”
Being accounted as righteous humans, they are accepted by God and begotten as spiritual sons. In this way they are in a standing with God as priests, serving in the Holy compartment of the true spiritual temple not put up by human hands. (Heb. 9:11) While still in the flesh they enjoy spiritual enlightenment, as pictured by the Holy’s golden lampstand. They eat spiritual food as typified by the two stacks of loaves of presentation on the golden table. They offer up prayers and fervent service to God as though offering incense on the golden incense altar in the Holy.
Also, while yet on earth, they perform priestly services for others, just as did the ancient Hebrew priests. Being spiritually enlightened and fed, they enlighten others in the understanding of God’s Word, and feed them spiritual nourishment. They build up and encourage one another, and now help hundreds of thousands of others to clean up their lives and serve God with the hope of living on earth forever under the thousand-year reign of Christ and his kingly and priestly associates in heaven.
Many people are discouraged, downtrodden, despondent—in a very bad state spiritually. Many see the hopelessness of looking to this present system of things with its worldly religious priests, just as it got to be before ancient Jerusalem was destroyed. (Ezek. 9:4) The good news of the Kingdom as proclaimed by the true priests of God as they offer up zealous service to Him helps others to a hope of life. They are taught how to renew their lives to come into harmony with God. As ambassadors of God these priests help others to become reconciled to him. (2 Cor. 5:20) Thus they do a very valuable, beneficial spiritual healing work.
RESURRECTION TO HEAVEN
These spirit-anointed ones look forward to an actual entrance into heaven in due time. As one of their fellow priests expressed it: “This hope we have as an anchor for the soul, both sure and firm, and it enters in within the curtain, where a forerunner has entered in our behalf, Jesus, who has become a high priest according to the manner of Melchizedek forever.”—Heb. 6:19, 20.
Jesus died, giving up his flesh, as represented by the ancient high priest’s entering through the curtain into the Most Holy. “Therefore, brothers,” says the inspired writer at Hebrews 10:19-22, “since we have boldness for the way of entry into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, which he inaugurated for us as a new and living way through the curtain, that is, his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with true hearts in the full assurance of faith.”
When, after serving faithfully until death, they are brought to life in the “first resurrection,” they will be admitted into the heavenly Most Holy. They will enter into the presence of God, not to do like the High Priest Jesus Christ in presenting the merit of his perfect human sacrifice, but to serve with their High Priest in extending the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice to needy mankind. (Rev. 20:6) Then they will administer to earthly persons, not only spiritual healing, but also physical healing.
BENEFITS TO ALL MANKIND
This is good news for all mankind, for themselves and for their dead ones, who will be resurrected to live again on earth. For the apostle John wrote assuringly to fellow underpriests: “My little children, I am writing you these things that you may not commit a sin. And yet, if anyone does commit a sin, we have a helper with the Father, Jesus Christ, a righteous one. And he is a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, yet not for ours only but also for the whole world’s.”—1 John 2:1, 2.
Accordingly, Jesus Christ is not going to stop with the application of the merit of his sacrifice to his 144,000 underpriests. He, like his Father, is not partial. (Acts 10:34) He has purchased the entire human race. He will not let any of his sacrifice go unused. The scales of justice would not be balanced if he applied his sacrificial benefits to only a few. Since he purchased all, it is his joy and obligation to help as many from all mankind as will express faith and obedience to attain to everlasting life in perfection.—John 3:16.
What joy is in store, therefore, for the whole earth, when the righteous, perfected kings and priests minister to mankind! All of them, including their High Priest, have experienced all that living as a human means. (Heb. 4:15) They fully realize mankind’s situation, their feelings and desires. No matter what kind of life a person may have lived in the past, he can, when he hears of God’s arrangement through Christ, receive priestly help. For “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8) When on earth, his underpriests preached to all sorts of people, including some very vile sinners, who listened to the truth and changed their lives. They were made clean by faith and they manifested that faith in works according to God’s Word.—Col. 3:5-9.
So the priests that God has anointed and whom he glorifies in heaven know mankind’s every need. The underpriests have the compassion and mercy that Christ has, because they have been conformed to his image. (Rom. 8:29) They will have the power to see that God’s will is carried out, to have the earth peopled in righteousness. (Gen. 1:28; Ps. 150:6) Therefore all who love life and desire what is right and good will receive the full benefits of this priesthood. This means everlasting life.—Rev. 21:1-5.
Right now we need the help of this priesthood to survive the coming “great tribulation,” which will destroy this system of things. (Matt. 24:21) If we wish to be among those who start off the new, righteous human society that will receive back the dead and see the earth become a paradise, we must cooperate with God’s priestly representatives now. This we can do by listening to the good news of the Kingdom as proclaimed by them, learning of God’s purposes and taking action in conforming our lives thereto.