A priest represents God to the people and the people to God. Read Exodus 3:7-17 and consider why God asks Moses to represent him.
After God delivers the Israelites from Pharaoh’s oppression, he calls them to be a kingdom of priests. Read Exodus 19:3-6. What must the Israelites trust and do to represent God to other nations?
What do the Israelites trust and do instead? Read Exodus 32:1-5.
The Israelites are in trouble. How does Moses act as a priest for Israel? Read Exodus 32:30-32 and consider how Moses’ actions point to Jesus (e.g., Heb. 3:1-6; Rom. 5:6-8; John 10:14-18; 1 Pet. 3:18). How does Jesus complete what Moses foreshadowed?
Take time to discuss other themes, questions, or key takeaways from what you learned together.
Jon: The story of the Bible begins in a garden temple with a couple, Adam and Even, as God’s royal priests.
Tim: They are supposed to partner with God to take care of creation. And this place where Heaven and Earth are one is filled with God’s blessing.1
Jon: But Adam and Eve were led astray by a deceptive creature and exiled from God’s presence. Their vocation as priests is lost, and with that, all humanity descends into violence. But God promises that a new royal priest will come to lead them back into the blessing of Eden by sacrificing himself.2
Tim: And so later on, we meet a new couple, Abraham and Sarah. God promises that through their family, the royal priest will come to restore the Eden blessing, not just for them but for all the nations.3 And so it’s this family that grows to become the Israelites, and they eventually journey to Egypt and then become enslaved under the violent rule of King Pharaoh.4
Jon: So God appoints a man named Moses to represent him to Pharaoh and to mediate on Israel’s behalf.5
Moses and the Kingdom of Priests [01:03-02:15]
Tim: Moses confronts Pharaoh and then leads Israel out of slavery and into the wilderness, where they eventually come to Mount Sinai.6 And here God appears to all the Israelites, inviting them to become “a kingdom of priests.”7
Jon: So he’s inviting everyone to be priests like Adam and Eve were priests in Eden.
Tim: Right. But it turns out, the people are afraid of God, and they don’t want to come close to God’s presence.8 And so Moses goes alone up to the top of the mountain.
Jon: And up there, Moses famously gets the ten commandments, the first two being worship Yahweh alone and don’t make idol statues.9
Tim: And Moses sees some really amazing things up there. First, he sees God’s heavenly temple, and then also a blueprint of it called “the pattern.”10
Jon: Ah right, the plans for the construction of the tabernacle.11
Tim: Yes. It’s designed as a symbolic model of Eden, a place where Heaven and Earth are one. Then Moses sees something else, the pattern of a glorious human figure.12
Jon: The high priest who will work in the tabernacle.
Tim: Right. And only this priest can go in and out of the sacred space on behalf of others. He’s dressed in white, he wears a crown and is glowing with jewels. He’s an image of the royal priest that we’re waiting for.
The Kingdom of Failed Priests and a Shining Intercessor [02:16-03:07]
Jon: And yet the man who’s called to be Israel’s first high priest is the brother of Moses, a man named Aaron.
Tim: And while Moses is up seeing all this, down at the foot of the mountain Aaron is misleading the people by making an idol statue of God.13
Jon: So the soon-to-be high priest is breaking the first of the ten commandments.
Tim: Yes. And so God gets angry, and he tells Moses that he is done with these people—he’ll just start over with Moses. But Moses stands before God, and he intercedes for the Israelites. He even offers his own life as a sacrifice for their sins.14
Jon: And while God doesn’t take Moses’ life, he does forgive the people like Moses asked.15
Tim: And so when Moses comes down from the mountain, he’s shining, just like the high priest that he saw in his vision! It’s like he’s the real priest that his brother was supposed to be but failed.16
Aaron’s Family and the Failed Priesthood [03:08-04:01]
Jon: And from here the tabernacle is built.
Tim: And then Aaron’s family is installed to the priesthood.17
Jon: But really? Even after this bad start?
Tim: Yeah, and actually things get even worse. God gives Aaron and his sons really precise instructions on how to act as the priests. And then on their first day on the job, Aaron’s two sons violate God’s commands. And because they’re in a place of great privilege and responsibility, God deals severely with them.18
Jon: They die inside the tabernacle. Things are not looking good for the priesthood of Aaron.
Tim: Right. Both Aaron and his sons have failed in their priestly role, and this begins to make us think: maybe God’s people need a different kind of priesthood.
Jon: Maybe one that’s more like Moses, who surrendered his very life over to God.
Tim: Yes, and while Moses is great, he also fails to be fully obedient to God, and so both he and Aaron die outside the land promised to Abraham.19
Jon: So Moses was only an image of the kind of priest that God’s people will need.
Tim: Right. We’re still waiting for this ultimate royal priest who will intercede like Moses and offer his life for the failures of others.
Jon: The Israelites eventually make it into the promised land, and there they appoint a king and establish a kingdom.20 Perhaps now God’s royal priest can arrive.
Tim: And this brings us to King David, and his story is what we’re going to look at next.21