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In the Gates


Abiding Principles from the Ceremonial Laws: Introduction (5)


Israel understood that they needed a mediator to bring them to God.

This is to the end that the people of Israel may bring their sacrifices that they sacrifice in the open field, that they may bring them to the LORD, to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and sacrifice them as sacrifices of peace offerings to the LORD. And the priest shall throw the blood on the altar of the LORD at the entrance of the tent of meeting and burn the fat for a pleasing aroma to the LORD.” Leviticus 17.5, 6

In order for Israelites to gain the benefit of the system of sacrifices and offerings, graciously provided them by the Lord, they needed to come through the priest. They were not to offer their sacrifices on their own, or anywhere other than at the place God had appointed for them. Thus they would understand that mediation was required to bring their offerings to the Lord and to receive His blessings in return.

We shall be looking at the role of priests more fully in a subsequent installment. Let us note for now, however, that the priests and Levites , who assisted them, were indispensable to the proper functioning of the ceremonial system. They approved, received, and offered the people’s sacrifices and offerings. They shared in the benefit of those offerings and served those who offered them as they partook of the sacrifices as well.

The priests represented the people before the Lord as intercessors, just as Moses had interceded for Israel in the wilderness. Only the high priest could pass beyond the veil into the presence of God’s glory, and that only once a year. But in so doing he brought the nation with him and restored them to their proper relationship with God in His Covenant.

We need someone to stand between us and the Lord, to offer appropriate sacrifices, to intercede on our behalf, and to reassure us of the Lord’s favor. We dare not presume to be able to approach the Lord in glory apart from the mediation of His priest. Jesus Christ is our great High Priest, interceding for us, showing His own blood to the Father as our offering, and offering His own blood and body for us to feed on in the sacrament of His Supper.

At the same time, all the people of God are His priests and have access to Him through the means He has appointed – His Word and Spirit, in prayer, meditation, and worship. We too, in the day of grace, have ceremonial laws which God has prescribed for us. And while each believer fulfills a priestly function in the Covenant, none of our offerings would be acceptable to the Lord if we tried to bring them to Him apart from our great High Priest, Who has passed beyond the veil and ever lives to intercede for us.

Pastors, we’re getting ready to start the next season of The Pastors’ Fellowship. Write to me today at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for information about how you join in these online discussions. Our theme for the coming series is “The Worldview of God’s Law.” There is no charge for participation, but you must reserve a place for these monthly gatherings. Subscribe to Crosfigell, the devotional newsletter of The Fellowship of Ailbe.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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