Mormonism teaches that the LDS Church alone possesses the authority of God on earth - through its two priesthoods:
Aaronic. "Worthy men" ordained at age 12.
Responsibilities: Preparing & blessing the sacrament and collecting contributions for the poor called "fast offerings" as well as performing water baptisms. These young men are known as "deacons."
Melchizedek. "Worthy men" ordained at age 18.
A man receives the title "Elder" with this higher priesthood office. Responsibilities: Missionary work, praying for the sick & overall church leadership.
According to The Restoration, Study Guide 3, page 3, published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "John the Baptist, who had authority to baptize the Savior, restored the authority he held to Joseph (Smith). This authority is called the Aaronic Priesthood." The following passages of scripture from the Bible are used by Mormons to support this: (Bible quotations taken from the New International Version)
"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name" (John 15:16).
"No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was" (Hebrews 5:4).
Then a reference from the Book of Mormon...
"And it came to pass that king Limhi and many of his people were desirous to be baptized: but there was none in the land that had authority from God. And Ammon declined doing this thing, considering himself an unworthy servant. Therefore they did not at that time form themselves into a church, waiting upon the Spirit of the Lord. Now they were desirous to become even as Alma and his brethren, who had fled into the wilderness" (Mosiah 21:33-34).
If Joseph Smith really had received the "Aaronic Priesthood" (known in the Bible as the Levitical Priesthood), it would have to be in strict accordance with Holy Scripture.
"I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed" (Malachi 3:6).
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" (James 1:17).
"He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind" (I Samuel 15:29).
"God is not a man that he should lie, nor a son of man that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill" (Numbers 23:19)?
The God of Heaven does not change. He has given us His Word and does not depart from what He has spoken. If we are to have faith and trust in the promises God has made, it would be impossible if He changed.
QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE AARONIC PRIESTHOOD
The Old Testament Priesthood was strictly limited to Aaron and his sons!
"Have Aaron your brother brought to you from among the Israelites, along with his sons Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, so they may serve me as priests" (Exodus 28:1; 42-43).
"The Lord said to Aaron, "You, your sons and your father's family are to bear the responsibility for offenses against the sanctuary, and you and your sons alone are to bear the responsibility for offenses against the priesthood. Bring your fellow Levites from your ancestral tribe to join you and assist you when you and your sons minister before the tent of the Testimony. They are to be responsible to you and assist you and are to perform all the duties of the sanctuary or the altar, or both they and you will die. They are to join you and be responsible for the care of Tent of Meeting-all the work at the Tent-and no one else may come near where you are. You are responsible for the care of the sanctuary and the altar, so that wrath will not fall on the Israelites again. I myself have selected your fellow Levites from among the Israelites as a gift to you, dedicated to the Lord to do the work at the Tent of Meeting. But only you and your sons may serve as priests in connection with everything at the altar and inside the curtain. I am giving you the service of the priesthood as a gift. Anyone else who comes near the sanctuary must be put to death" (Numbers 18:1-7).
* Note that the Levites were only to assist. If anyone even dared come near the sanctuary who was not a descendent of Aaron, they were to be put to death.
"The Lord also said to Moses, "This is the offering Aaron and his sons are to bring to the Lord on the day he is anointed: a tenth of an ephah (about 2 quarts or 2 liters) of fine flour as a regular grain offering, half of it in the morning and half in the evening. Prepare it with oil on a griddle; bring it well mixed and present the grain offering broken in pieces as an aroma pleasing to the Lord. The son who is to succeed him as anointed priest shall prepare it. It is the Lord's regular share and is to be burned completely. Every grain offering of a priest shall be burned completely; it must not be eaten" (Leviticus 6:16).
When Joseph Smith received the Aaronic Priesthood, did he make this offering? Has anyone else since that time who has been ordained to the LDS priesthood made this offering? Note that the scriptures say, "The son who is to succeed him as anointed priest." This priesthood is hereditary, from father to son and only the descendants of Aaron.
Failure for not proving your lineage resulted in denial of the priesthood.
"The following came up from the towns of Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Kerub, Addon and Immer, but they could not show their families were descended from Israel: the descendants of Delaiah, Tobiah, and Nekoda. And among the priests: the descendants of Hobaiah, Hakkoz and Brazillai (a man who had married a daughter of Brazillai the Gileadite and was called by that name). These searched for their family records, but they could not find them and so were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. The governor, therefore, ordered them not to eat any of the most sacred food until there should be a priest ministering with the Urim and Thummim" (Nehemiah 7:61-65).
"The Lord said to Moses, "Bring the tribe of Levi and present them to Aaron the priest to assist him" (Numbers 3:5-6).
"Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people-that is, their brothers-even though their brothers are descendants of Abraham" (Hebrews 7:5).
Note that the writer of the Book of Hebrews, being a Jew, understood what the law required concerning the priesthood. There was punishment for those that attempt to become bearers of the priesthood that were not sons of Aaron (See Numbers 16: 1-35).
"Then all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in place of his father Amaziah. He was the one who rebuilt Elath and restored it to Judah after Amaziah rested with his fathers. Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years. His mother's name was Jecoliah; she was from Jerusalem...But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God, and entered the Temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. Azariah the priest with eighty other courageous priests of the Lord followed him in. They confronted him and said, "It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord. That is for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful: and you will not be honored by the Lord your God. Uzziah, who has a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the Lord's temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead. When Azariah the chief priest and all the other priests looked at him, they saw that he had leprosy on his forehead, so they hurried him out. Indeed, he himself was eager to leave, because the Lord had afflicted him. King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in a separate house-leprous, and excluded from the temple of the Lord. Jotham his son had charge of the palace and governed the people of the land" (II Chronicles 26:1-3; 16-21).
"Even after this, Jeroboam did not change his evil ways, but once more appointed priests for the high places from all sorts of people. Anyone who wanted to become a priest he consecrated for the high places. This was the sin of the house of Jeroboam that led to its downfall and to its destruction from the face of the earth" (I Kings 13:33-34).
Note that the sin of the house of Jeroboam was appointing priests from all sorts of people, anyone that wanted to become one. We must remember that God placed the rights of the priesthood upon the descendants of Aaron only! No one else has a right to minister in the Aaronic priesthood.
Was Joseph Smith a descendant of Aaron? Was he the son of John the Baptist? (See Leviticus 6:19-23) Are all holders of the Aaronic Priesthood descendants of Aaron today? When did God change His mind concerning this? Also, if the priesthood is hereditary, are all Aaronic priesthood holders descendants of Joseph Smith? That's the way it has to be in order to be consistent with Scripture.
PHYSICAL QUALIFICATIONS OF THE AARONIC PRIESTHOOD:
• No physical defect allowed (blind, lame, disfigured, deformed etc.) (Leviticus 21:16-24).
• Must avoid dead bodies (except for close relatives who die) (Leviticus 21:1-4).
• Cannot shave their heads or the edges of their beards, or cut their bodies (Leviticus 21:5).
• Priests must be between the ages of 25 and 50
Going back to a Book of Mormon passage pointed out earlier; (Mosiah 21: 33-34) we read in this verse that no one had authority to baptize. If baptism authority came from the Aaronic Priesthood, then no one in the Book of Mormon account would ever have authority to baptize. Remember, according to Scripture you have to be a descendent of Aaron to hold the Aaronic Priesthood. According to the Book of Mormon, Lehi, the prophet that was led out of Jerusalem was a descendent of Joseph (see I Nephi 5:14; II Nephi 3:4; and Alma 10:3). The tribe of Joseph did not have the rights to priesthood, therefore none of Lehi's descendents did either. The other leader that came out of Jerusalem with Lehi was Ishmael. According to the Book of Mormon index page 632, Ishmael was an Ephraimite. Again, we have the wrong tribe. None of his descendants had rights to the priesthood. They would need to trace their lineage back to Reuben, (see Exodus 6:11-27), not Joseph. Therefore, no one had the authority of the Aaronic Priesthood in the Book of Mormon account and no one had the right to administer any ordinance of the temple according to the Law of Moses. They would have had knowledge of this because they had the first five books of Moses on the brass plates, including genealogy, and the prophesies of Jeremiah (I Nephi 5:10-16), which means that they had the majority of the Old Testament as we know it today. See also page 537 of the Book of Mormon index under the heading Aaron-brother of Moses...there is no reference in the Book of Mormon.
The ordination of the Aaronic Priesthood is revealed by God to Moses in Exodus 29. In Leviticus 8, Moses carries out God's command by performing the ordination:
• Washed with water (vs. 4).
• Dressed in priestly robes (vs. 5-6).
• Anointed with oil (vs. 7).
• Laid hands on the head of a bull (vs. 10).
• Bull is killed, its blood is poured out on altar (vs. 11-14).
• Laid hands on the head of a ram (vs. 15).
• Ram is killed, its blood sprinkled on the altar (vs. 16-18).
• Laid hands on the head of another ram (vs. 19).
• Second ram is killed, blood put on right ear, thumb, toe, and the altar (vs. 20).
• Blood sprinkled on alter, anointing oil sprinkled on priests (vs. 21).
• Wave offering of parts of the ram & bread, then burnt on altar (vs. 22-25).
• Breast of ram given to the one who ordained them (vs. 26).
• Ram & bread eaten by those being ordained (vs. 30-33).
• For next 7 days, one bull and two lambs are offered daily (vs. 35-44).
Is this the way that Joseph Smith was ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood? If this priesthood was really lost and needed to be restored, it would have to be restored to its original form... anything else would be a counterfeit. This would also hold true for anyone being ordained forward. All original guidelines revealed by the Lord would have to be restored in order for the restoration to be complete and authentic. If these requirements are ignored, then the "priesthood" is apostate, and not of God.
We also know from Scripture that perfection cannot be attained by the Aaronic Priesthood:
"If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical Priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come-one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when there is a change of priesthood, there must also be a change of the law. He is whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." The former regulation is set aside because it is weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without an oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him, "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: You are a priest forever." Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need-one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak, but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever" (Hebrews 7:11-28).
Even our Lord Jesus Christ did not hold the Aaronic Priesthood. He was also of the wrong tribe. In conclusion, there is no need for a restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood- it ended with Jesus Christ. The law and its ordinances ended when He died on the Cross of Calvary (See also Galatians 3:19; 23:25, Colossians 2:14-17, Hebrews 10:1-10).
[Taken from The Priesthood, by Carma Naylor]