So...what's the point? Why does it matter? Why should we, who live in the shadow of the Cross, care about such outdated, weird Old Testament concepts as the Temple and the Priest?
Because these are not Old Testament concepts. These are not concepts that have been replaced or repealed by the Cross. These are, just like the Law, things that Jesus came to fulfill, not to eliminate. And, in fact, when we look at the New Testament, we see these two ideas coming back in a powerful way.
Have you heard this one? Don't you know that your bodies are living temples?
How about this one: You are a royal priesthood.
These are the titles that Jesus, through His disciples/apostles, gives us in the New Testament. These are the things that God says are true about who we are now, on this side of the Cross. This is what God calls us to live out in the world - the Temple and the priesthood.
Don't you think, then, that we ought to understand what these things actually mean?
Too many of us are operating under our misunderstandings about what the Temple and the priest really were, historically, for Israel, and it's negatively impacting our witness in the world.
If we think that the Temple is a place where persons come to experience a killer worship service, a great bit of music and a powerful sermon, then we do our best to put on a religious show. We do our best to entertain those who come to us, to make them want to be in our midst because they have so much fun with us.
If we think that the Temple is a place where you offer sacrifices, we will expect something of everyone who comes to us looking for Jesus. We will expect them to come atoning for their sins, but not to God - to us. After all, we are the Temple, right?
If we think that the priest was primarily responsible for delivering a great sermon, we will try to always have a few really good talking points in our heads.
If we think that the priest's job was judgment, then we will be quick to put a high standard on others.
Are you seeing how the things that we think we know about the Temple and the priest directly impact the way that we are acting out God's calling on our lives in the world? When we believe these are the things these words meant, something inside us tells us that that is how we are supposed to live. Because we know, even if we don't remember the words for us, that we've been called to be Temples and priests; our souls just understand this and start living it out.
But what if we could improve our definitions? What if we studied this Temple and this priest, not as a way simply to get us to the Cross and to throw all of these things on Jesus's shoulders, but as the very foundation of our calling as Christians? What if we looked at them as the way that we are supposed to live in this world?
What if we lived up to them in our bodies and our hearts? In our witness?