Day 10

A Priest Shepherds His People



Numbers 18:1-7, Malachi 2:7, Luke 2:22-35, Hebrews 4:14-16

A priest cares for the spiritual lives of the people. The job of a priest in the Old Testament was to read the spiritual posture of God’s people and attend to their fears and sorrows. Priests called the people to see themselves as they really were—needy but loved, frail but protected, prone to wander but kept. They served God’s people by reminding them that they were made for worship.

What does it mean to care for someone else? It means to provide for their basic needs. To protect and guard them from hard or dangerous things. To seek their happiness. To create an environment in which they can flourish. And to do these things intentionally, consistently, and without lapse.

That is what the priests did for the people of Israel. They were specifically selected, as a tribe (the Levites), and then appointed individually from there to be spiritual caretakers of God’s chosen people. They bore the responsibility of caring for the spiritual well-being of an entire nation, according to the Old Testament covenant which was closely tied to their physical well-being as well. Keeping the covenant was important for the people’s stability and future, and the priests guided them in this. God’s covenant and law were the foundation of Israel’s government, their safety, and their surety. Being spiritual caretakers of a nation was no small task.

But priesthood wasn’t just a task; it was a gift given by God.

The appointment to priest didn’t make a man any better than the rest of the people, but it did set him apart. Priests served as flawed, sinful men responsible for their own repentance and atonement as they also bore responsibility for the people’s repentance and atonement. They were handed the responsibility and privilege of purifying the people through sacrifice and offerings. By so doing the priests kept the house of God pure, for nobody could enter God’s presence without purification. The priests protected both the people and the temple, each for the sake of the other.

By protecting God’s house, the priests did what caretakers must—they created an atmosphere in which the people could flourish spiritually. They could flourish in worship and knowledge as the priests led them. They could find security by knowing that God was honored rightly and worshiped in His proper place. They could flourish in hope because the priests, foremost of all, looked ahead to the hope of God’s promises—first for a promised land, and then for a promised Messiah.

The priests tended to spiritual needs of the people in every way and they were happy for it, because in doing so they brought people who would otherwise be unclean and wandering, to purity and closeness. They made a way for people to find freedom from sin, knowledge of God, and joy in worship.

Written By Barnabas Piper

Post Comments (5)

5 thoughts on "A Priest Shepherds His People"

  1. Justin Johnson says:

    “Priests create an atmosphere for people to flourish spiritually”. What a great statement! Psalm 90 says “those who are planted in the house of the LORD will flourish…”. Every believer is called to a priestly role of ministry to build up the body of Christ. The role of leaders is to create that atmosphere in the church for people to be fed and led well in order to flourish in every way.

  2. Anthony Stephens says:

    Priests… called out from the crowd to present God to men and prepare men to be presented before God. What a task! All with having to deal with their own junk. As a pastor, I have seen times where it was easy to just focus on the flock’s condition and forget about my own. This devotion was a great reminder that the task of a priest is one that is not to betaken lightly or halfheartedly. As followers of the Great High Priest (Jesus), let us make sure that we are truly following Him as we lead others.

  3. Tyler Hayes says:

    It’s hard to comprehend this role of Jesus sometimes. How awesome it is to have a savior that is sovereign, yet understands our struggles and problems because he was tested in every way. To see such mighty majesty juxtaposed with gracious understanding is a beautiful picture of God, and helps to combat isolation. It reinforces the fact that we are not terminally unique in our struggles or brokenness. Jesus himself was tested in every way that we were. The difference being, he could withstand any test. How great to have the picture of strength and grace as my savior!

  4. Scott Schulman says:

    It always amazes me that Christ was tempted just like we are, yet he had no sin. We have access to the same Holy Spirit that Christ had, and we can choose to ask for his help in times of temptation. I pray that I will do that when I am tempted.

  5. Andrew says:

    “The appointment to priest didn’t make a man any better than the rest of the people, but it did set him apart. Priests served as flawed, sinful men responsible for their own repentance and atonement as they also bore responsibility for the people’s repentance and atonement. They were handed the responsibility and privilege of purifying the people through sacrifice and offerings”

    The Bible is full of encouraging and inspiring examples that back this statement up and just magnify the Greatness of who our father is, and the the measure of Grace we have received.
    God uses and gifts ordinary people.

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