I have been studying the Gospel and praying more fervently recently. As I have done so, my greatest desire is to become like the Savior in all regards. Since Jesus Christ is the great High Priest, I have felt a desire to seek this blessing as Abraham did. I am in my early 40’s, served a full-time mission, sealed in the temple, and have had the opportunity to serve in many callings since my mission. Is it wrong for me to have this desire to be ordained to the office of a High Priest?
You may perhaps be thinking of the account in the Book of Abraham:
I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right where unto I should be ordained to administer the same…I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers. […] I sought for mine appointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers concerning the seed.
Abraham sought for and then attained ordination as a High Priest, which was a righteous desire. So it sounds like you, too, want to seek for this ordination. What you don’t realize is that you already have attained this blessing.
The term “high priest” is used in scripture in at least four ways:
- The leader of the Levitical priests was called the “high priest”. Most Old and New Testament usages of the term “high priest” mean this; for example, Matthew 26 talks extensively of the high priest Caiaphas, who was the leader of the priests in what we would today consider the Aaronic order of Priesthood.
- Similarly, the Book of Mormon describes an office or position of authority among the Nephites called the “high priest”, referring to the leader of the council of priests appointed by the Nephite king and also the leader of the Church established among the Nephites. Thus in Alma 8:23, Alma identifies himself as “the high priest over the church of God throughout the land.”
- In general, any man who holds the high (or Melchizedek) Priesthood is called a “high priest,” to distinguish him from a priest in the Aaronic Priesthood. This usage can be found throughout scripture, though it is not necessarily the most common usage. For example, Alma 13:14 speaks of the great Melchizedek as “a high priest…who also took upon him the high priesthood forever.” (In this context, notice especially verses 8 and 9.) In this same way, Paul speaks of the Lord as “an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.”
- In the restored Church today, there is an office in the Melchizedek Priesthood called “high priest”. This is the way the term is most often used in the Doctrine and Covenants; for example, in D&C 107:79, the term refers to a Priesthood office.
You are thinking of a “high priest” solely in terms of #4 above. But that is a modern office, a matter of your particular calling in the Church, and not of the Priesthood authority and power necessary to act in God’s name. The sense in which your desire should be manifest is #3 above — you must be a holder of the high Priesthood.Alma 13:8-9 speaks specifically to your situation. You have indicated that you are in fact an elder, so you have already attained that state of “high priest” to which Abraham aspired.
In 1975, Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Council of the Twelve delivered an address called “Only an Elder” in which he taught:
Every elder in the Church holds as much priesthood as the President of the Church. No apostle can or will rise higher in eternity than the faithful elder who lives the fullness of the gospel law.
You have already realized your goal, Jonathan. You are a “high priest” in every important sense that you need to be. Let your bishop and stake president determine which office in the high Priesthood you are needed to serve in. You have already received every bit of the Priesthod authority that God has delegated to man on earth. Your aim now should be as Nephi taught to those who had received the saving ordinance of baptism:
Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
All the best,