The Dangers of Leadership
Lord, what a gift it is to call You Father. I rejoice to realize that You, my Heavenly Father, know best.
Read Exodus 28:31-43
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“The descendants of Aaron did not always live up to their priestly function. Only a High Priest greater than Aaron could restore the priesthood to God’s original intention” (Richard Harvey). Jesus is that High Priest.
A priest’s work was dangerous. We find the death threats startling (35,43). Clearly, the status and responsibilities of priesthood was not something to be taken lightly. The priest must focus on spiritual things, not bodily matters. The prescribed underwear (42) covered his “flesh,” which symbolized what was not spiritual, not of God, or “mortal” (Gen. 6:3). Scripture continues to connect “flesh” with sin, especially in Paul’s “sins of the flesh” (Col. 2:11, TNIV “sinful nature”). These the priest must turn from absolutely. The priest, after all, was invested with enormous power. Whenever entering the Holy Place, he bore on his body the ephod, bringing all Israel into the presence of God, and the breastplate, holding the means to determine God’s will for them.
The bells on his robe had to ring so that the people could hear when he was bringing them before God (vs. 33-35). They were not unlike the sanctus bell, still used in some churches, which before the advent of modern sound systems signaled the progress of the service so that those unable to fit in the building could follow from outside. Similarly, outside the tabernacle, the faithful were joined to the rituals by the sound of the bells. The repeated threat of death again emphasizes that these are urgent, fearful duties, vital for the community and risky for the priest.
Warnings to church leaders in the New Testament are no less severe. They should not lightly presume to the privilege of leadership in the church: God will judge them more strictly (Jas. 3:1). Paul sets out standards of morality, temperance, honesty and self-control for all who aspire to leadership (1 Tim. 3:1-13), stricter standards than those he sets out for others.
What sort of “priestly role” are you called to play today? How does Jesus help you?
Lord, remind me that You call me to serve rather than be served. I also pray that that truth be known to the church leaders close to me.
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