Holy Rollers Part Two: Job Description
How would you summarise your job description? If you are experienced in what you do, you can probably sum it up in a few words, even if the official version is several pages.
For a priest at the time of the Son of Man there were many duties, but their headline role was to “represent people to God and God to people”. They were supposed to be facilitators, making it easier for any individual to practise the rituals of their faith. That was their job.
Before you glaze over, if you are a Christian, this is part of the headline of your job description, whatever your job. More of that at the end.
First have a look at their qualifications. The only qualification to be a priest was unbroken, biological descent from Aaron, the brother of Moses. Demonstrate that and you could be a priest. Without it you could not. Immediately you could spot a flaw in the appointment system. Spirituality, morality, ethics or character were not the drivers, it was inherited status.
For many years before Christ no local altars or shrines were allowed in Israel. You had to go to the capital, Jerusalem, to make your sacrifice and it had to be through a priest. If you had sinned you needed a priest to do his job, in Jerusalem, to fix your problem. Can you see how enormous power is being concentrated genetically and geographically in the hands of one group?
One great Jewish historian estimated that there were around a hundred thousand priests in Jerusalem. The whole of this group was only needed at 3 feasts in the year namely Pentecost, Passover and Tabernacles. This is three weeks work. Further, as a priest, you were one of 24 groups called courses who had to serve a further 2 weeks. So your hours of work were 5 weeks in a year!
During your “course” you were involved in assessing and approving sacrifices and making sure what was offered got to the right places. You are also in charge of the oversight of the Temple’s finances.
When you read the story of the Son of Man you also meet “Chief Priests”. To be a Chief Priest you were either an ex High Priest or a member of the Dynastic family of ex High Priests. Now if you’re still with me you may know that originally a High Priest this was a job for life but at the time of the Son of Man Roman rulers appointed and dismissed High Priests, so the job became a political position surrounded by plots, manoeuvres, intrigue and stealth. Again, at the time of the Son of Man, four families dominated in this ecclesiastical game of thrones and they became known as the Chief Priests.
At Jesus trial Caiaphas was the High Priest and Annas (his father in law) a co conspiring Chief Priest.
So there you have it.
One hundred thousand sons of Aaron concentrated in one city on a 5 week working year holding power over the deepest part of the nation’s soul, lead by a cabal of plotting dynasties generating massive funds.
And into this steps one Son of Man preaching a different Kingdom, 24-7, 52 week service, global access to God, individual not inherited spiritual adoption and that his sacrifice would be the last and that his body was the true temple.
You don’t need me to tell you a clash is coming. But before you consign these words to a history lesson ask yourself where the vested interests are in you.
What is your internal powerbase? Are you making it easier for other people to meet God? Does your approach to money help or hinder spiritual growth in others? Is your work life arranged for service or self interest? Do you try to create elitist groups and exclude others?
The working practices of the priests would be easily recognised in workplaces today. This is because human hearts, including yours and mine, are the same now as they were then.
So is the need for rescue.
Next week, compensations.
For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
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