Sometimes, when reading the Old Testament, I imagine what it would be like to be a foreigner-turned-proselyte (what the ESV translates as “sojourner”) in Israel at that time, to put in my lot with the God of Israel. I’d be treated exactly like a native (Leviticus 24:22)!1 But with most of native Israel, I would not have close access to God. Only the priests were allowed to get close, and only the high priest at the heart of God’s presence once a year.
In my reading plan I am again in Exodus, reading about the ordination of the Aaronic priesthood, recorded in Exodus 28-29. The process was meticulous: only the correct actions done with the correct materials in the correct order would establish Aaron and his sons as priests. The priestly privileges were exclusive to them and violations often resulted in death; you don’t mess with God’s worship or holiness!
As amazing as being a sojourner in Israel would be, I think I would miss the close access to God. As a Christian, we have an unparalleled relationship with God! Grafted in, adopted, a royal priesthood!! Unfettered access to the throne room through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit! How much better than being just a sojourner in Israel! And yet, I often don’t realize how much better it really is. I think that being a high priest on the day of atonement, or Moses on Mount Sinai, would be more amazing than my mundane experiences today. But that’s wrong! Those men looked forward to what we look back on now, so I shouldn’t romantically look back to something inferior.
And wow, how much better we have it today! Full revelation of God’s triunity, God dwelling in us (it doesn’t get closer than this), looking back on the cross and basking in all its benefits and blessings! I would do well to ponder it more so that I can appreciate it more.
Do a word search sometime for verses containing both “native” and “sojourner”; it’s interesting! ↩︎