A New Kind of Priest
Can you imagine taking a lamb to worship with you on Sunday morning and giving it to the preacher, to offer it on an altar outside the front door of the church building? That would be very strange; in fact, it would almost be scary to us. But in the Old Testament, that was the way things were done. The priests were the only ones allowed to offer sacrifices to God in the Temple or the Tabernacle. In fact, it was a very special thing to be a priest under the Old Law. Only men from the tribe of Levi could serve as priests (Hebrews 7:5). One evil king named Jeroboam decided he wanted to allow anyone to be a priest. The Bible says that he “made priests from every class of people, who were not of the sons of Levi.” Because of this sin, and many others that Jeroboam committed, God punished him severely. In the Old Testament, only the sons of Levi could go before God and offer sacrifices.
But the New Testament tells us that things are different today. The book of Hebrews explains that Jesus came and changed the priesthood (read Hebrews 7:11-12). Now, everyone who believes and obeys Christ is a priest of God (1 Peter 2:5,9). People from every tribe or nation can be priests, regardless of their skin color or nationality (Galatians 3:28). God also changed the sacrifices that His new priests offer. The followers of Christ do not offer up bulls and goats on a stone altar, because the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross has the power to cleanse all sins (1 Peter 2:24). So, what do the new priests offer to God? The book of Hebrews tells us: “Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (13:15).