The Old Testament Priesthood as compared to the New Testament Priesthood

In my earlier post, we explored the women mentioned in Jesus Christ’s Genealogy from Matthew 1:1.  We explored the lineage of the Virgin Mary as given in the first five chapters of the Protoevangelium of James and discovered that she carried both the bloodline of the Tribe of Judah (King David) from her Father; and, the bloodline of the Tribe of Levi through her Mother Anna who was of the daughters of Aaron.

In ancient Israel, one tribe of the 12 tribes of Israel was set aside to perform priestly functions.  This was the tribe of Levi (Numbers 3).  Specifically, within the Levi Tribe, the sons of Aaron were further set aside to be the Liturgical Priests.  The Levites taught the people about the Hebrew faith and therefore lived within the other 11 tribes.  They did not inherit property from their father Jacob (later called Israel),  their sole responsibility was to live within the other tribes and teach the faith (Joshua 13:33).

Exodus 29 and Leviticus 8 speak of this priesthood.  The Old Testament priesthood was one of progeny.  To clarify, just Aaron was the first anointed Priest within the tribe of Levi and was known as Christos (the anointed one).  His sons were then acknowledged by a sprinkling.  Whenever the anointed priest died, his next eldest son became priest and so forth.

Jesus Christ, carries both the bloodline of the tribe of Judah (as foretold in the Old Testament) and the tribe of Levi (the tribe of the Priestly class) as discussed in the previous post.  Jesus Christ’s relative, John the Baptist (Luke 1:36)  (Son of Priest Zachariah (of the sons of Aaron) and Elizabeth (of the daughters of Aaron) were relatives to the Virgin Mary through her mother, Anna, who was of the daughters of Aaron.  Therefore, Zachariah and Elizabeth were of the Levi tribe and the sons and daughters of Aaron.  John the Baptist is referred to as the Forerunner, because he was approximately 4 months older than Jesus Christ, and he went before the Messiah to prepare them for Jesus Christ’s Ministry when Jesus became of age according to God’s plan.

In the Old Testament, it was prophesied by Isaiah and Ezekiel that the Lord God would come as a shepherd to His flock (Isaiah 40:11) (Ezekiel 34:12, 34:23) which is something the Old Testament priesthood was not – they did not go forth to evangelize and bring all into the faith.  The Old Testament priesthood promoted good works and proper teachings. and although the New Testament priesthood is all that, it is also now a shepherding task to bring  the flock back to God the Father – the salvation of mankind.

In John 10:7-16, Jesus Christ declares himself as the Shepherd and Jesus Christ’s ministry is precisely that, not only good works and proper teachings but also the shepherding of the people, the body of the Church – it is a priesthood of evangelism that reaches out to all people.   The New Testament priesthood is also a sacrificial priesthood in that the Shepherd lays down his own life for the salvation of his flock.   Jesus Christ is the New Testament High Priest (Heb 9:11).  Not one of progeny as the Old Testament Priesthood was, but one of the New Testament Priesthood, as High Priest and Shepherd so that God’s people may obtain salvation and inherit the Kingdom of God:

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. ….. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.   “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 …….. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.  And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.    John 10:7-16

  Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32 NKJV

Related blog post :  The veneration of the Mother of God in the Orthodox Christian Church

Sources:  NKJV Holy Bible; The Ministry of the Church, Image of Pastoral Care by Joseph Allen, Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture; The Life of the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, Holy Apostles Convent, Buena Vista, Co; Protoevangelium of James from Apocryphal Gospels, Acts and Revelations: Ante Nicene Christian Library translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to AD 325 Part 16. Reverend Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson

 

Women in Jesus’ Genealogy

Women are mentioned throughout the Old and New Testament, but the only New Testament scripture which mentions women in Jesus’ Genealogy is the Book of Matthew 1:1.

At that time in the world, only the males were listed in the genealogy of children, but Matthew took the time to include some of the women even though he is writing his Gospel for the ancient Israelites who were a strict paternally focused society.    Because women are mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy, many biblical scholars believe that the genealogy in Matthew 1:1 is that of the Virgin Mary.  Since Jesus took his humanity from his mother’s lineage, then, it may be assumed that this is the direct bloodline of Jesus’ humanity.

Women mentioned in Jesus’ Genealogy:

Tamar.  Tamar was the wife of Judah’s eldest son who was killed.   Judah had given her to his second son, but the second son did not want to conceive a child with her, so Judah promised Tamar to his youngest son as a wife to raise up children for the dead son, but this did not come to pass. Because societal norms at that time deemed that this was Tamar’s right, she disguised herself as a prostitute and tricked Judah thereby conceiving (Genesis 38) twin boys Perez and Zerah.  Perez is listed in the Old Testament Book of Ruth as an ancestor to King David (Ruth 4:18-22)

Rahad.  Rahab saved three spies of Israel who entered Jericho and as a result, she and her family were saved from the destruction of Jericho.  She begot Boaz who is listed in Jesus’ genealogy.

Ruth was united with Boaz and gave birth to Obed.  Obed gave birth to Jesse and Jesse gave birth to David the King.

Wife of Uriah (Bathsheba) and King David.  Bathsheba gave birth to Solomon and Nathan.

The holy fathers of the church believe the inclusion of some women in Jesus’ genealogy  implicates the important role women would play in God’s plan for mankind’s salvation and the Virgin Mary’s special place in that plan.

Virgin Mary.  In the book of Matthew, Joseph is mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy because Old Testament  marriage laws bestowed hereditary rights on both adopted and biological sons.

Although the Virgin Mary’s mother (Anna) and father (Joachim) are not mentioned in the Holy Bible, the Virgin Mary is also of the lineage of King David on her father, Joachim’s, side as written in the Protoevangelium of James. Interestingly, the Virgin Mary’s mother Anna is of the daughters of Aaron which indicates the mother was from the tribe of Levi, the Priest tribe.  Although not generally practiced in ancient Israelite society, the tribes did sometime intermarry.  So, of the 12 Tribes of Israel, the Virgin Mary contained both blood lines:  the line of Judah/King David and the line of Levi, the Priest Tribe – this is Jesus’ humanity bloodline.

Although much of the Protoevangelium of James is disregarded in the Eastern Orthodox Church, the first five chapters are generally accepted concerning Joachim and Anna’s conception of the Virgin Mary.  The hymnody in the Eastern Orthodox Church reflects this acceptance in the Hymns chanted in Church during the Feast days of the Virgin Mary and Joachim and Anna.

Sources:

Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture, New Testament Ia, Matthew 1-13;  The Life of the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, Holy Apostles Convent, Buena Vista, Co;  Holy Bible, NKJV.

Sunday School Advent/Christmas program for Orthodox Christian Youth.

This is a Sunday School Advent/Christmas program that effectively includes all children in the Catechism program of the church, First Grade through Teens.
The purpose of the program is to create anticipation and preparation in awaiting the birth of our Savior during the 40-day Christmas Lenten period. “The Services of Christmas in the Orthodox Church” by Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann in the book The Services of Christmas: The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, by David Anderson and John Erickson; together with the book, Making God Real in the Orthodox Christian Home, by Rev. Fr. Anthony Coniaris, inspired the design of this Sunday School program.
Using Fr. Coniaris’ idea of an Advent Wreath in his book, “Making God Real in the Orthodox Christian Home” and applying appropriate adaptations to his suggestions to turn it into a program for all children to present to the adults of the parish during Advent, the program that was developed was entitled “PREPARING FOR HIS COMING”

Click the following link to view the program detail:  Christmas Advent Program for Orthodox Youth.  

Orthodox Christian Youth Craft for Christmas Lent – Christmas (Advent) Wreath

For Orthodox Christians, the fast period for the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ begins on November 15 and extends through December 25. Orthodox Christians often refer to this time as the Christmas Fast or Christmas Lent. This is a spiritual period of moderate fasting, prayer, scripture reading and reflection on the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the USA, other Christian traditions often use what is called an Advent Wreath to enrich the spirituality of the Christmas Lenten season as they await the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. According to those Christian traditions, a candle is lit every Sunday during the Christmas Advent (Lent) season marking the passing of time until the Nativity of the Lord. This craft project borrows that Advent Wreath Christian tradition and adapts it for use in the Orthodox Christian home during the forty-day (40 day) Christmas Lenten fast period while providing appropriate scriptural readings for each lighting.

Click this link for detailed information: A SAFETY Orthodox Christian Advent Wreath.

Orthodox Christian Safety Advent Wreath Orthodox Christian Safety Advent Wreath