“Mother . . .” Phinehas called, running to his mother who was coming up the path to their home, balancing a jar of water on her head. “Mother, where is Father? I want to show him this beautiful stone I found. Look! Isn’t it pretty?” He held out his hand so she could admire his find, and then repeated impatiently, “Where is Father?”
“It is lovely, Phinehas, my son,” his mother replied in a gentle voice. “But your father is not here. Did you forgot? Today is a very special day—the Day of Atonement. He went early to the Temple to perform his duties as high priest before the Lord and before the people. He will not be home before sunset.”
“Oh . . .” Disappointment clouded the young lad’s face. “I forgot, Mother.” He sighed, then held up the rock in his hand once more and studied it closely. “I did so want to show Father my rock now, while it is new.”
His mother set down the jar of water outside the door to their dwelling, and smiled at her son. “Why don’t you polish your stone very carefully, Phinehas? Come inside with me and I will give you a small cloth. Then, when you are done, you may put your rock on the shelf inside the door. When your father returns, you may show it to him.”
She picked up the water jar. Phinehas sighed again, and then slowly followed his mother inside. Watching her as she tore a strip of cloth for him, he asked, “Mother, why is my father a priest? Ebahu’s father isn’t. His father takes care of sheep. And Jothram’s father works in the fields. Ebahu and Jothram can go to their father any time they wish. But my father is so often at the Temple, and it is forbidden for me to go to him there. Why is it that he must be a priest?”
His mother sat on the bench beside the door, and drew her small son close to her side. “Phinehas, many years ago the Lord Jehovah called your grandfather Aaron to be the first high priest of our people. This is a very important thing, for the high priest stands between God and the people. And Jehovah himself commanded that Aaron’s sons were to be the priests after him. Your father, Eleazar, has served our God as high priest for twelve years now.” She paused, and then hugged her young son gently. “And someday, my son, you will also take on the responsibilities of the priesthood.”
“I don’t understand, Mother,” said Phinehas as he looked up into her face. “What do you mean, that the high priest stands between Jehovah and the people? I have never seen Jehovah standing anywhere!”
His mother smiled. “No, you have not seen our God with your eyes, Phinehas. But His presence is with us, even if we cannot see Him. Jehovah is pure and holy, and man is not. Many times people do things which are not right in His sight. We call this sin, or a trespass against the Law of God.
“Because a price must be paid for sins, Jehovah gave His people a high priest to make offerings for the atonement of their sins. That is your father’s job, Phinehas. And someday . . . someday it will be your job also.”
Aaron, the first high priest of the Children of Israel, really did have a grandson named Phinehas. Perhaps he had some questions like these when he was a young boy, for the job he was called to do was a very important one.
Many years after the time of Phinehas, Jesus came to earth. He came as a little babe in Bethlehem, and grew up as the son of a carpenter. But He had a very important mission. He was to be our High Priest, and the offering He made to atone for sins was His own life. When Jesus came, He fulfilled the Law that had governed the Children of Israel for so many years. The sacrifices and atonements that had been required before were no longer necessary.
Today, Jesus is our High Priest. When we have sinned, we can go to Him. He will forgive us and take away our sin. He is a wonderful God.