Friday, May 09, 2008

The Great High Priest

A friend of mine asked why the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ordains high priests; isn't Christ supposed to be the great and last high priest, and His sacrifice to be the great and last sacrifice?

No where in the Bible does it explicitly say that other high priests were not supposed to be called in Christ's church. Paul in Hebrews beautifully teaches that Christ is our Great High Priest. Yet to begin the epistle Paul also calls Christ the Apostle. Yet that didn't prevent Christ from calling and ordained other Apostles. Paul also calls Christ the Shepherd and Bishop, but other bishops where called to shepherd the body of Christ. Christ is also called King and Lord. But that doesn't prevent the Bible from calling Christ the King of kings and Lord of lords at His second coming. In the same way Paul considers Christ the Greatest High Priest. But that doesn't mean others have not been called to follow Christ and to be ordained and set apart to this holy calling.

Heb. 3:1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;

According to the textual, biblical, and cultural context of scripture, God is a God of gods (Ps. 136:2), King of kings, Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16), Apostle of apostles (Heb. 3:1), Judge of judges (Ps. 82:1), Bishop of bishops, Shepherd of shepherds (1 Pet. 2:25), Holy of holies, and High Priest of high priests (Heb. 3:1); the Most High God, and the Most High Priest (Gen. 14:18-20, 22).

What Paul is saying to the Hebrews is that high priests, who before offered their own daily sacrifices, are no more. Now high priests are ordained to represent the Great High Priest Jesus Christ, and administer the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Christ set the table, prepared the feast (trod the winepress alone), but allows us to participate with Him in serving the flesh and blood of His great and last sacrifice. So the point of the epistles was to teach that Christ's sacrifice was to be the last and infinite sacrifice and not that there were to be no more high priests.

And just as we follow Christ down into the waters of baptism, we should follow Christ into being made high priests so that just like Christ was said to have learned obedience from the things he suffered and was made perfect (Heb. 5: 8-9), so by exercising the God's authority of the Melchizedek priesthood we can be be sanctified through participating in Gods work with Him by the Holy Ghost.

Again, LDS high priests do not offer their own sacrifices. They offer Christ's sacrifice and represent Jesus Christ. Everything done in by the priesthood is done in the name of Jesus Christ as if he were doing it Himself. Christ is acting through us by the power of the Holy Ghost and the authority of the priesthood because no man can do good of himself. Therefore, man merely becomes a chosen vessel filled with His love, and instrument in His hands, and a mirror that reflects His perfect image and countenance. It is a sanctifying honor that God works through us, and allows us to serve one another in His name.

And this fits in-line with our concept of Eternal Life and Exaltation that just as we are enabled to participate with God in His work of administering Christ sacrifice here as high priests, we will be enabled to participate with God in His work of creation in Heaven.

Matt. 16:19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Christ in Matthew 16 tells Peter that he would give Peter the Keys of the kingdom. Christ had already called and ordained Peter and an Apostle (John 15:16). So, what are these keys that Peter didn't yet have and when and how did he receive them.

Those keys where the authority of the Melchizedek priesthood. Peter received those priesthood keys soon after from those prophets who had exercised them previously on the Mount of Transfiguration. This was the purpose for the appearance of Moses and Elijah; neither of which had tasted death but were translated beings so that they could pass the authority on to future dispensations by the laying on of hands even though the Christ had not initiated the resurrection yet.

Matt. 17:3-4 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.

[Moses and Elijah will not be the the 2 witnesses in Jerusalem during the tribulation because they will be killed and resurrected. You can't kill a translated being like Moses and Elijah (was taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire).]

These same Melchesidek preisthood keys are the same keys which were restored to Joseph Smith when Peter, James and John appeared and ordained the newly called prophet. So, in the last days, there wouldn't just be one high priest ordained, but thousands and even millions. Because of the preisthood of all believers, all believers could be endowed with this authority and from every tribe of Israel; not just Levi.

These are the 144,000 who are sealed before the tribulation. 144,000 being symbolic for a huge number. These will be high priests of the LDS church, from every tribe of Israel, who have been called by prophecy and by the laying of hands, and who have been washed, annointed on their foreheads, and clothed in the undergarments and robes of the priesthood as was Aaron in modern LDS Temples.

Rev. 7:3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

Rev. 7:4-8 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.

Despite the biblical evidence, some insist that there is only supposed to be one high priest at a time. Because, this was how it was during the Law of Moses. In a way that is true. Christ is the Great High Priest and all those who are called high priests in the church represent Him and His final sacrifice. However, before the Law of Moses during the times of the Patriarchs there were multiple high priests at the same time. Melchizedek, the Prince of Salem, was considered the greatest high priest over his house until Christ. And Abraham went to Melchizedek and was given the Melchizedek priesthood and ordained a high priest over his house at the time he gave his tithe offering. Abraham then bestowed this priesthood right (birthright) onto his son Isaac who then bestowed it upon Jacob (Israel), who ordained Joseph (clothed him in the temple robe and garment of the priesthood or 'coat of many colors") and then adopted and ordained Ephraim with the same birthright priesthood.

Later, Israel was in a state of apostasy and oppression, Moses was led to the tent of Jethro and was given the Melchizedek priesthood. Jethro, the high priest of Midian, ordained Moses in the same way that Moses was later commanded to wash, anoint, and ordain Aaron high priest over the House of Israel. So, we see, when the Melchizedek priesthood was in full operation it was used to spiritually govern over a family and household. Only in the Law of Moses was it important that there by only one high priest because the detail pointed to and was a type of Christ, The Greatest High Priest.

When Aaron and subsequent High priests were ordained, they were washed, annointed, and clothed in an undergarment and robes of the priesthood. These robes were purple, red, and blue like Joseph's coat of many colors. Now, through the atonement of Christ, Christ's blood has washed our robes white and modern high priests are dressed in all-white in LDS temples.

Many it seems, cannot stand anything that elevates the worth of man. Yes, without Christ man is nothing. But man is not worthless. If evangelicals persist in teaching the worthlessness of man, than how are they any better than evolutionists who teach that man is evolved from slime and not much better than the bonobo.

However, the worth of man is endless and infinite becasue within him are the seeds of divinity because all men are literal spirit children of God. God is love. And God's love is not making more worthless, degenerate beings to circle your throne. God's love and His glory is to give all He has to His children. And for those who put their faith in Jesus Christ, the power of Christ's Atonement will elevate man to become like our Heavenly Father. Christ promises, to those that overcome, will be blessed not only just circle His thone but to sit in His throne with Him, to be dressed in white robes, to be given a new name, and to be heirs of god, kings and high priests unto the Most High God and Most High Preist forever (Rev. 2-3).


rameumptom said...

The atonement of Christ is what elevates man. When we repent and believe on Christ, we are forgiven. Then, we are filled with the Holy Spirit, a member of the Godhead. This indwelling of God allows us to become a holier being, filled with light and truth. Thus, we grow from grace to grace, receiving grace for grace until the perfect day (D&C 93).

As Christ indwells in us, we give him our sins (or rather the pains of our sins), and he forgives us, filling us with his light. In this way, he dwells in us, and we dwell in him - even as the Godhead is indwelling (John 17). Since Christ is God, to the extent we allow him to indwell in us causes us to be divine to that level. Thus we are "heirs of God, and co-heirs with Christ."

BRoz said...

Well said.