Where do priests get their authority?

Soon after my wife and I married, we visited a relative of hers who, along with a son and daughter had joined the Mormon Church. While visiting these relatives on my way to my assignment in the Philippines, we were visited by Mormon Missionaries, who told us that the Mormon Church was the only true church because they had a priesthood. Because of that visit, I began studying the cults with an emphasis on Mormonism. As I studied other cults, I was struck by the similarly of all the cults with each other.
Three years later I was assigned to Hill AFB Utah. Where I had the opportunity to study Mormonism up close and the Mormon people also. One tract, written by an ex-Mormon focused on the rebellion of Korah and applied it to the Mormon priesthood.
Korah was a descendant of Levi, but not of Aaron. He, along with 250 leaders of Israel, came to Moses and Aaron with an accusation. They accused Moses and Aaron of taking too much authority and said that they could be priests just as well as Aaron. Moses fell on his face and told Korah to take the censers and put incense and fire in them. Aaron would do the same.
When the people brought the incense to the tabernacle, the LORD spoke to Moses and said, “Tell the people to get away from Korah and the other leaders’ tents.” Then the earth opened up and swallowed Korah and his followers. Fire also came out from the LORD and consumed the others who had put incense into their censers.
Usually the story teller stops here, but there is more to the story. God told Moses to have Eleazar, Aaron’s son, scatter the fire from Korah and the other rebellious leaders, since the incense had been offered to the LORD, the censers were holy. Then Eleazar was to hammer the censers into a covering for the altar. The covering was to be a memorial, that no outsider who in not a descendant of Aaron come near to offer incense to the LORD lest he become like Korah and his followers.
Soon after I arrived in Utah, there was an article in the Salt Lake Tribune telling about a fault line that ran through the Salt Lake Valley. One offshoot of the fault ran directly under the Mormon Temple. A visitor’s guide at Temple Square, told us that the site where the Temple was located had been told to Brigham by God.
Years later, I was telling this telling this story to my Sunday School Class in a lesson about the cults, when an Elder raised his hand and asked, “What about the Catholic Church? They have a priesthood.”
A simple search online turned up the answer. The headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church is located in Vatican City, Rome, Italy. The nation of Italy is divided into four quarters by two major faults. One runs north to south just east of Rome and the other east to west just south of Rome. These two faults make mapping the fracture lines impossible because they run all over Italy and make Rome the most earthquake prone city in the world. As I talked to others about my discovery of Salt Lake City and Rome, a friend asked, “What about the Eastern Orthodox Church? They have a priesthood also.”
The Church of St. George in Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, is the principal Greek Orthodox cathedral still in use. Since about 1600, it has been the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Istanbul, the senior patriarchate of the Greek Orthodox Church and recognised as the spiritual leader of the world’s Eastern Orthodox Christians.
The city of Istanbul lies near one of the most active seismic fault lines on the globe. Since the fifth century, Istanbul has suffered serious quake damage 12 times, most since the end of the 19th century. More ominously, from 1939 to 1999 there have been seven earthquakes in Turkey with a magnitude of more than 7 on the Richter scale, all on the Anatolian fault and with each major quake, the epicenter moves westward toward the city of Istanbul.
God’s Old Testament pronouncement concerning the priesthood is still in valid today. “Let no one who is not a descendant of Aaron come near to offer incense to the LORD lest the wind up like Korah and his companions.” But, you say, Jesus is our High Priest who is from the tribe of Judah. How can He be a priest? According to the writer of Hebrews, Jesus was made an high priest after the order of Melchizedek.
But, more about that later.

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