And the Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: ‘None shall defile himself for the dead among his people, except for his relatives who are nearest to him: his mother, his father, his son, his daughter, and his brother; also his virgin sister who is near to him, who has had no husband, for her he may defile himself. Otherwise, he shall not defile himself, being a chief man among his people, to profane himself. ‘They shall not make any bald place on their heads, nor shall they shave the edges of their beards nor make any cuttings in their flesh. They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God, for they offer the offerings of the Lord made by fire and the bread of their God; therefore they shall be holy. They shall not take a wife who is a harlot or a defiled woman, nor shall they take a woman divorced from her husband; for the priest is holy to his God. Therefore you shall consecrate him, for he offers the bread of your God. He shall be holy to you, for I the Lord, who sanctify you, am holy. The daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by playing the harlot, she profanes her father. She shall be burned with fire. (Leviticus 21:1-9)
Understanding The Will Of The Lord
The Law of Moses was very specific in the regulations concerning those who would serve as priests before the Lord. These were not suggestions or matters to be ignored. Moses was to instruct those who were the sons of Aaron of the regulations required by the word of the Lord and that all who served as a priest were to adhere to every part of the law. A priest could not defile himself by being in contact with a dead body except it was a relative like his mother, his father, his son, his daughter, and his brother and virgin sister. The Lord allowed a man to mourn for his immediate family and to care for them without defiling himself. He was forbidden to come in contact with anyone else who had died that was not part of his immediate family. It must be pointed out that biologically speaking there is no difference between the body of a dead relative and a dead stranger. A distinction is made by the Lord to allow a priest to mourn for his immediate family but could not come in contact with the body of an uncle, friend, neighbor or fellow priest. If he did he would be unclean and disobey the word of the Lord. Why did God allow the priest to touch the dead body of his father but not his neighbor? That is in the mind of God but that is the word of the Lord which man could not argue with or decide to disobey. Whether a man understands the reasons God allowed the priest to touch the dead body of one person and not touch the body of another person is a test to understand the will of the Lord.
Moses was further instructed to tell the sons of Aaron they could not make any bald places on their heads as those who followed idols would do. In addition, they were not to shave the edges of their beards and the priests were forbidden to make any cuttings in their flesh including tattooing the flesh. These injunctions were practiced by heathens in their mourning of the dead and the priests were forbidden to follow such practices. As a priest of God, the men were to be set apart and to be an example of holiness before the Lord and before the people. They were to be holy in their service to God and not profane the name of the Lord. Refusing to follow these instructions would bring the wrath of God because they did not honor the will of the Lord. Is there something immoral in making bald places on the head, trimming the beard or tattooing the skin? In truth, these matters are not immoral but they are prohibited because the word of the Lord said the priest was not to engage in such matters. Priests were allowed to marry but they could not marry just any woman. The law forbade the priest from marrying a woman who was a prostitute or a woman who had been defiled. If a woman had been divorced she could not marry a priest. The priest was holy to the Lord and the law required the priest to take a wife in her virginity (not a widow, divorced woman, defiled woman or a harlot) and the woman must be a Hebrew. These requirements were handed down by the Lord to Moses for the sons of Aaron. A final note in this portion of the law declared that if the daughter of a priest plays the harlot, she profanes her father and she would be burned to death with fire. These are only a few of the regulations regarding the conduct of the priest and his obedience to the will of the Lord.
The Law of Moses has been taken out of the way and nothing in the old covenant is binding today such as the laws concerning priests. There are great lessons gleaned from understanding the nature of the laws given by God to the sons of Aaron. They were allowed to touch the dead bodies of their immediate family yet forbidden to touch the bodies of others. There were certain things the priest was forbidden to do with his body. He was not allowed to marry certain women and the law regarding a rebellious daughter was very strict and harsh. The will of the Lord remains as constant as it was in the days of Moses. God expects men to obey His word whether they agree, understand or see the value in the law. There is nothing lacking for man to know the complete will of God as the Bible has given all things that pertain to life and godliness. Everything man needs to know to find salvation is contained within the pages of holy writ. The problem lies in the refusal of man to follow the teachings of God. If the law regarding priests was in force today (and it is not) there would be many religious people that would disregard the law of defilement and say a man could touch any dead body they wanted because they love all men and they wanted to help all men. There is nothing to suggest an immoral act is done by shaving the head, trimming the beard or putting tattoos all over the body and the modern man would teach salvation by grace and churches would be filled with balding, beard trimmed, tattooed men and women praising the Lord. Marriage is viewed today as if there is no law of marriage and marrying anyone is accepted because God is love and love makes the world go round and two people in love (sometimes the same sex) is not wrong. The church would be filled with religious folk who believe they are worshiping the Lord God in truth and yet profaning the name of the Lord because of their rebellion against the word of the Lord. If the word of angels proved steadfast in the Law of Moses how can we neglect the word of God as true today? Not everyone who proclaims faith in Jesus Christ will be saved. Only those who do the will of the Father will be saved and this includes all the words of the Father.