In the book of Exodus, chapters 28 and 29, there is a description of the robes that the priests were to wear, as well as a description of how to consecrate the priests to service to the LORD. I’ve seen / read many people trying to give significance to this or that aspect of the clothing or of the ceremony. I’m not going to do that here. Rather I’m going to ask how one became a priest.
To be a priest in ancient (and modern) Israel, one had to be born to the clan of Aaron. To be a Levite (think associate priest, though its a bad comparison), one had to be born to the clan of Levy. By the way, Aaron was of the clan of Levy, so you can say that all Levites are “associate priests”, but only those that can trace their ancestry to Aaron are actual priests.
So, you had to be born into it. There was no room for any self agrandizement, as what choice did you have? You are either born into it or not.
There is a good reason for this. We, as people, love to make ourselves more important then others. If we have the choice, we would. And we’d be proud of it. But God made it clear that pride had no place in the Levites and priests.
In the book of Matthew, chapter 23 verses 5 through 11 (in the Apostolic writings, also known as the “New Testament”) the prophet Jesus made clear what God thinks of such action when we take it upon ourselves. “…call no man your father…”, he called out. In light of what God already said, it makes clear what Jesus was meaning. Don’t set yourself up as a replacement priest. Both God and Jesus said this to help us avoid the trap of pride.
Yet in many Christian churches and Jewish synagogues what do we see? People dressed up in robes as if they are the new priesthood, claiming that they have been chosen. Is this right?