There’s a really neat device Scripture uses to show us just how good God is: a dichotomy, or contrast. One example of the kind of love found in today’s reading–at a casual glance, you may think, “this is a really cool picture of God!” Yet what we’re seeing is only a fraction of the reality.
The entirety of Leviticus 8–9 is a beautiful rendering of God inaugurating a priestly ministry for His people, and Moses executing it, ordaining his older brother, Aaron, into service to the Lord. The people were gathered at the tent of meeting, the door of the tabernacle, the place where God dwelt with His people in the wilderness. Moses, following God’s instructions, washed and cleansed Aaron, and dressed him in specialty clothes, ornate and beautiful, kitted out with accessories created for this special purpose of setting him apart. A massive ceremony followed, consecrating the tabernacle and the priests. Reading this passage, my imagination is just filled with the glory of God.
So the dichotomy presented? As great as these rituals were, and as “clean” as Aaron and the consecrated priests became, they still carried the blood of Adam in their veins: on their own, they’re still sinners. It’s probably not fair of me, but every time I read the name Aaron, I think of the golden calf he lead the Hebrew people to worship, or the sons he raised, Nadab and Abihu, fellow priests even, who were consumed by fire for going their own way moments after ordination in the passage we’ll read tomorrow. Even as perfect and beautiful and set apart as these earthly priests were, they still had serious flaws. But our High Priest didn’t.
Hebrews 4:15 teaches that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.” I’m grateful that the High Priest we have now isn’t one with an inherent flaw. The throne God sits on, the one Jesus gave us direct access to, is one that isn’t just beautiful on the outside, but has the power of perfection behind it. It’s not a throne of looks only, devoid of meaningful action, it’s one where we “may receive mercy and find grace” (v.16) when we need it.
Compare the High Priest to the priesthood in Leviticus. See how the Scripture today illuminates so perfectly. It shows us good, and then does even more with what’s perfect. After tasting and seeing, how can I not take advantage of the invitation to draw near to God every moment of every day?