The following facts about the officers of the Bible should be familiar to all Bible students.
1. The Priests. They represent the people to God. The head of the household was the first priest. Gen. 8:20. Later the first born or oldest son became priests of the chosen people, Ex. 28:1. They served in the tabernacle and later in the temple where they conducted religious services, offered sacrifices for public and private sins and were teachers and magistrates of the law.
2. The Prophets. These speak for God to the people. They received revelations from God and made them known to men. They were selected according to God’s own will to impart his spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:11) and extended down through those who wrote prophetic books to Malachi. They were philosophers, teachers, preachers and guides to the people’s piety and worship. Abraham was the first to be called a prophet (Gen. 20:7) and Aaron next (Ex. 7:1).
3. The Scribes. The word means a writer and Seraiah is the first one mentioned, 2 Sam. 8;17. As writers they soon became transcribers, then interpreters and teachers or expounders. They became known as lawyers and were accorded high standing and dignity. In the time of the kings they were supported by the state as a learned, organized and highly influential body of men. In Christ’s time they were among the most influential members of the Sanhedrin.
4. The Apostles. These formed the beginning of Christ’s church. They were separate from the old order and were, therefore, under no obligation to any caste. Nor were they tied to the old administration of divine things. The word means a messenger or one sent. They were, therefore, to be with him and to be sent forth to preach. Twelve were chosen, and when Judas, one of them, betrayed him, Matthias was chosen in his place (Acts 1:15-26). Paul was appointed in a special way (Acts 9:1-43) and perhaps others. Barnabas was called an apostle (Acts 14:14).
These men led the new movements (Acts 5:12-13) and devoted themselves especially to ministerial gifts (Acts 8:14-18). They had first authority in the church (Acts 9:27; 15:2; 1 Cor. 9:1; 12:28; 2 Cor. 10:8; 12:12; Gal. 1:17; 2:8-9).
5. Ministers or Preachers-They are: (1) Those who minister to or aid another in service, but as free attendants, not as slaves; (2) They became the teachers and hence our term ministers (Acts 13:2; Rom. 15:16); (3) Today they are preachers and teachers of the word and minister to the spiritual needs of God’s people and of others.
Note. Read all the scriptures here referred to and invite others to be given by the class. Then drill on these facts until they are familiar.
The Sacred Occasions.
1. The Sabbath. For the meaning and use of the term see Lev. 25:4; Math. 28:1; Lu. 24:1; Acts 25:7. The first mention is Gen. 2:2-3 and the first mention of the weekly Sabbath is Ex. 16:22-30. It is suggested in the division of weeks. Gen. 8:10-12; 29:27-28, and Israel was directed to keep it, Ex. 20:8-11.
2. The New Moons. They were special feasts on the first day of the month (Num. 10:10) and were celebrated by sacrifices (Num. 28:11-15). Among the ten tribes it was regarded as a time suitable to go to the prophets for instruction, 2 K. 4:23. 3. The Annual Feasts. There were several of these. (1) The Passover, April 14 (Ex. 12:1-51), commemorating the exodus from Egypt and the saving of the first born. (2) Pentecost, June 6 (Ex. 34:22; Lev. 23:15-16; Deut. 16:9-10; Num. 28:26-31), commemorating the giving of the Law.
(3) The Feast of Trumpets, October 1 (Lev. 23:23-25; Num. 29:1-6), the beginning of the civil year. (4) The Day of Atonement, October 10 (Lev. 16: 1-34; 23:27-32), atonement made for the sins of the people. (5) The Feast of Tabernacles, October 15, lasting a week (Lev. 23:34-43; Ex. 23:16; 34:22; Deut. 16:13-15), commemorating the life in the wilderness. (6) The Feast of Dedication, December 25 (1 Kings 8:2; 1 Chron. 5:3), commemorating the dedication of the temple. (7) The Feast of Purim, March 14 and 15 (Esth. 9:20-32), commemorating the deliverance through Esther.
4. The Sabbatical Year. The land of Israel should rest every seven years as the people rested every seven days. No seeds must be sown or vineyards pruned. All that grew was public property and the poor could take it at will. All debts must then be forgiven except to foreigners (Ex. 23:10-11; Lev. 25:2-7; Deut. 15:1-11).
5. The Year of Jubilee. Every fiftieth year was known as Jubilee, Lev. 25:8-55. It began on the tenth day of the seventh month and during it the soil was unfilled just as on the Sabbatical year. All alienated land went back to the original owner and the Hebrew bondmen became free if they desired.
6. The Lord’s Day. It is the first day of the week and commemorates the resurrection of Jesus and the finished work of redemption as the Sabbath commemorated the finished work of creation.
Note. Find other scripture references to each of these occasions and become familiar with the name, date and import of each.