Old Testament Sacrifices Replaced With A Better Plan
In the Old Testament, the high priest used to go into the Holy of Holies once a year in order to cover the sins of the people for the next year. Before he could do that though, he went through an elaborate ritual where he had to first be cleansed. For us under the new covenant of Jesus Christ, it is different.
A Priesthood Not of Aaron
In Hebrews Chapter 7 we learn about Melchisedec who Abraham paid tithes to. His descendants because they were still “seed” in Abraham paid tithes as well, including the priestly line of Levi. Like Melchisedec, Jesus Christ was a high priest who did not come through the lineage of Aaron.
The writer then goes onto say that under the New covenant, or New Testament, we have a new high priest, Jesus Christ who became a high priest, not in the Levitical Law of the Old Testament In the Old Testament, sacrifices had to be made by the high priest continually for sins, but that Jesus because he was not a high priest in that sense because he was not of the tribe of Levi. The priesthood changed. As the high priest, Jesus didn’t have to continually give sacrifices he provided the ultimate sacrifice which lasts forever.
A Forever Sacrifice
The old Levitical Law was weak and didn’t go far enough. It made nothing perfect, but it did point to a better way which Christ in himself fulfilled. Jesus fulfilled this by becoming a priest after the order of Melchisedec who did not have the lineage of a priest. His sacrifice replaced the Old Covenant Sacrifice and was the better sacrifice in that it was did not atone from year to year, but was a permanent solution.
In the temple there was a piece of furniture called the laver. The laver, or basin, was a large bowl filled with water located halfway between the brazen altar and the Holy Place and was made totally of bronze. The priests used it to was their hands and feet before entering into the Holy Place. It stood as a reminder to the people for the need of cleansing before approaching God. The priests aloned for their sins through sacrifice at the brazen altar, but htye cleansed themselves at the laver before serving in the Holy Place, so they would be pure and not die when approaching God.
Baptism in water is not a new concept that originated with John the Baptist. Baptism has been a part of Jewish tradition since God first gave the law to the Israelites. People are cleansed in full immersion in a number of religious ceremonies where there is a major change. When a woman is married, she is cleansed from her past. When a proselyte comes into the Jewish faith, they are cleansed. They stand before the congregation, denounce their old ways and their old gods, vowing to follow the one true and living God.
John the Baptist was born to be a priest, but he was a priest who was different from any other priest. John in his priesthood became Jesus first evangelist and was an evangelist to the Jewish people. He pointed the way to Christ Rather than living like the rest of the priests, God chose for him to go out to the people and become “the voice crying in the wilderness”. He took the laver out to the people. He went out to where the people were to prepare them for “the coming of the Lord” by physical and symbolic cleansing through the act of immersion baptism. He prepared the people so that their hearts and minds would be open to God’s word through Jesus Christ.
When Jesus came to John, John recognized that Jesus did not need to come to him for cleansing because he was already pure and holy. Jesus, however, knew that because he was the second Adam he had to go through everything that his future followers would have to go through, so he insisted that John baptize him in the river of living (moving) water.
In Ephesians 5:25-27 it says “…Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”
In Hebrews 10:22 the writer says, “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled [with blood] to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
Donna Brown is an ordained minister. As Author Cygnet Brown, she has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener
She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her book, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .