God’s Priests, Old vs New Testament

Aug 4, 2023 | Articles

“Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called upon his name. They called to the LORD, and he answered them.”
-Psalm 99:6

Psalm 99 is speaking mainly about God’s holiness, but within its content we are reminded of one of the privileges given to the priests in the Old Testament. Verse 6 of Psalm 99 (above) specifically names Moses, Aaron and Samuel and tells us that when they called upon the Lord, He answered them. In that day, the priests were the intercessors for the Hebrew people and were the only ones allowed into the most holy place of the Temple to offer sacrifices and prayers for the forgiveness of sins.

Today, as believers, we are referred to as a “royal priesthood” and have the privilege to come into the presence of our God without any priestly intercession. Jesus opened the way when He shed His blood on the cross and reconciled us with God the Father. Peter writes about the royal priesthood we’ve been given in I Peter 2:5-9. Pastor John MacArthur, gives a fascinating commentary in his study Bible, when he compares the characteristics of the Old Testament priests with the New Testament “believer-priests” and what the two have in common. If you possess a copy of “The James Macarthur Study Bible” published by Word Publishing, you can review the scriptural references Macarthur uses as the basis for his comparison. This commentary can be found in the notes for I Peter 2:5, and here is a summary of the observations:

  • Both are by elect privilege
  • Both are ordained to obedience
  • Both are cleansed from sin
  • Both are to honor God’s Word
  • Both are clothed for service
  • Both are to walk with God
  • Both are anointed for service
  • Both are to impact sinners
  • Both are prepared for service
  • Both are to be messengers of God

The priests in the Old Testament prayed and God answered, The royal priests in the New Testament (i.e., the first believers) prayed without a priestly intercessor and God answered them. The same is true for the royal priests in the here and now. We can pray without any priestly intercessor and we can know that God will hear, and He is faithful to answer.


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