Federico Fellini has been called the High Priest of Italian Cinema. Bill Hicks the High Priest of Stand-up Comedy. And Prince, the High Priest of Funk, Soul and Rock n Roll.
It’s the idea of being an authority. One who mediates the genre out into the world. They are the go-to person when it comes to their own speciality.
Well in the bible, Aaron is appointed as High Priest of God. What an awesome honour! What human being could possibly fulfil the role??
Surely not Aaron. Not the one who presided over the Golden Calf debacle. But astonishingly, this sinner is dressed up in the special robes and consecrated as God’s go-between. How should we understand this?
Well it’s all a part of the elaborate, multi-media dramatizations of Old Testament worship. When the Israelites were saved out of Egypt and brought to Mount Sinai, they received all sorts of representations of heavenly truth. First they received the ten commandments – the Good Life intended for God’s son. But that’s just a part of this model of ultimate reality. Next come instructions about building a tabernacle.
This tent would be a portable model of heaven and earth in which spiritual truths are acted out. Again and again Moses is told that these things are not the spiritual realities themselves – they are copies and patterns of heavenly things. (Exodus 25:9,40; 26:30)
Through the tabernacle the people would see many things dramatized – the nature of God, heaven and earth, the problem of our estrangement from God, the cost of atonement and just how we get back into His presence.
And presiding over this earthly model of heavenly truth would be Aaron – the High Priest. Of course, sinful Aaron was in no position to be God’s ultimate go-between. But He was play-acting the role of One who the Israelites already knew. Just as the divine Angel of the LORD – Christ – had brought the people from slavery and darkness to God Most High, so Aaron would perform the role of go-between. And he would point the people to that ultimate work of Christ in the future when He would effect the true mediation.
Let’s just think of one way that Aaron did this. Consider his clothing, in particular his breastplate. On his breastplate were precious stones which had engraved upon them the names of the children of Israel. (Exodus 28:9) Aaron was to identify completely with his people. The people are on his heart.
Then, on the day of atonement (which we will shortly consider), Aaron makes the blood sacrifices that point to Christ’s ultimate atoning work on the cross. Then he moves through the tabernacle to the inner sanctum, representing heaven. He displays the blood before the throne of God, demonstrating that the price for sin has been paid. He fills this Most Holy Place with incense – a symbol of prayer being made for the people. And, crucially, throughout this mediating work, he bears his people on his heart.
And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually. (Exodus 28:29)
So it is with Christ.
Through all of Christ’s work from incarnation to cross to resurrection to His ascension into heaven – even on into all eternity – He carries His people on His heart.
Right now we are waiting for that future face to face with Christ. But today we can know that the One who is face to face with the Father has carried us with Him. We have a Friend in a very high place. And He bears us on His heart.
As Charitie Bancroft has written so wonderfully:
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.