Leviticus 21-22: Expectations for the Priests

Chapters 21-22 spell out God’s expectations for the priests, descendants of Aaron, and their duties. While I don’t normally read 2 chapters in a row, today it was appropriate since both chapters create a special section in the “Holiness code” portion of Leviticus.

What does this tell me about God:

  • God held the priests to a higher standard of being set-apart.

In other chapters, we have seen how specific (and sometimes strange to us) God’s expectations are for the people of Israel. We know that God does this, of course, because

  1. God deserves obedience without explanation.
  2. The Israelites were to reflect God to the rest of the world around them.
  3. God cares about his people’s well-being, and provides for their health needs through His laws.

For the priests, however, the expectations are set up for additional reasons:

  1. Anyone playing the role of mediator must be considered holy, inside and out (much like the expectations for the sacrifices themselves).
  2. The priests were the example to the people of Israel and thus were held to a higher standard.

For the Christian today, we can be grateful that Christ exceeded those expectations as our high priest.

How can I live in light of this:

  • I can take my role in the Royal Priesthood seriously.


1 Peter 2:9 is clear that all Christians now fulfill the role of the priesthood:

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9

We need not adhere to the specific rules and regulations for a Levitical priest; however, the principle of living set-apart lives, as examples of God’s goodness and holiness, remains imperative for the believer today.

Other thoughts or questions:

  • I was intrigued by verses 14-16:

If anyone eats a holy offering in error, he must add a fifth to its value and give the holy offering to the priest. The priests must not profane the holy offerings the Israelites give to the Lord by letting the people eat their holy offerings and having them bear the penalty of restitution. For I am Yahweh who sets them apart.”

We can appreciate that God knows humanities perchance to live in the loophole. “Well, I’ll eat the holy offering just this once and go ahead and pay for it,” was not acceptable, and God made sure that caveat was addressed before it became a trend.

What did you learn from Leviticus 21-22 today?