January 18, 2008

Priestly Justice

Deuteronomy 17:8-13

Act according to the law they teach you and the decisions they give you.
Deuteronomy 17:11


Not all courts of law are equal. Courts of appeal hear disputed cases from lower courts. Some decisions are so difficult to resolve that they receive a final solution only at the highest court of the nation. Then the matter is settled. No further appeal is possible.

Israel's priests, whose specialty was teaching and interpreting God's law (see Leviticus 10:10-11; Ezra 7:10; Nehemiah 8:8), had the last word on interpretations of God's Word. They would decide anything that the lower judges and elders could not decide. Because they were interpreting God's Word and not their own, priests decided such cases at the places where God revealed himself. The decisions were final and to be obeyed.

These priests were far from perfect. Aaron's sons offered unauthorized sacrifices (Leviticus 10:1-3); Eli was weak, and his sons were corrupt (1 Samuel 2:12-26); the New Testament Pharisees and Sadducees argued bitterly among themselves.

But now we have a Priest with authority straight from God's presence: Jesus Christ, "who serves in ... the true tabernacle set up by the Lord" (Hebrews 8:2).

Where can we find Christ's will for our lives? Scripture is that final authority. Read it often, that the mind of Christ the Savior may shape your faith and conduct. This is divine instruction that you can't afford to ignore.

Heavenly Father, grant us wise understanding of the word of our heavenly High Priest, that we may discern your will for our lives. Help us to trust and obey. In Jesus, Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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