Drawing Near (1) – The Levitical Priesthood

After Yahweh divided the nations at Babel in Genesis 11, He chose Abram and cut the everlasting Abrahamic covenant with him.

And the Lord said to Abram, Go forth out of thy land and out of thy kindred, and out of the house of thy father, and come into the land which I will shew thee. And I will make thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and magnify thy name, and thou shalt be blessed. And I will bless those that bless thee, and curse those that curse thee, and in thee shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed. ~ Genesis 11:1-3 LXX

This promised nation in Genesis 11 was to be set apart from all the other nations as it was Yahweh’s own portion. While the other nations were allotted to the rulership of the sons of God. [Read more on our God Governs From Heaven series].

Yahweh then renewed the covenant with Abraham’s descendants – Issac and then Jacob and his sons, who would form the 12 tribes of Israel and later inhabit the land that became known as Israel.


A Nation Set Apart/Holy

Ye have seen all that I have done to the Egyptians, and I took you up as upon eagles’ wings, and I brought you near to myself. And now if ye will indeed hear my voice, and keep my covenant, ye shall be to me a peculiar people above all nations; for the whole earth is mine. And ye shall be to me a royal priesthood and a holy nation: these words shalt thou speak to the children of Israel. And Moses came and called the elders of the people, and he set before them all these words, which God appointed them. And all the people answered with one accord, and said, All things that God has spoken, we will do and hearken to: and Moses reported these words to God. ~ Exodus 19:4-8 LXX

At Sinai, the newly fledged nation of Israel became Yahweh’s covenant people. Israel was supposed to become a nation of priests, mediators between Yahweh and the other nations. As priests, they were to represent Him as image-bearers so that the other nations under the jurisdiction of the sons of God would come to acknowledge Yahweh as God most High.

But while Moses was up on Mount Sinai, learning from Yahweh, the people at the base of the mountain began to get very restless.

Moses had told them that he would be up on the mountain for 40 days. But he had been delayed and hadn’t come back down. The people were convinced he had died up there. In their eyes, they now had no God or Moses and there was no such thing as being an atheist in those days. They needed a god to worship just like all the other nations that surrounded them.  So they asked Aaron to build them an idol. They had just come out of Egypt and all they knew was Egyptian culture, so Aaron fashioned the idol to look like an Egyptian cow god.

Eventually, Moses came down from the mountain and he was so angry when he saw the people dancing naked around this golden calf idol. In his anger, he broke the two tablets of stone. He then asked who was on the Lord’s side and men from the tribe of Levi came forward to declare their allegiance. They were then told to kill many of the people who were worshipping the calf and three thousand men were killed that day.


The Levites Are Mine

Again the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,  “Now, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the sons of Israel instead of every firstborn, the first issue of the womb among the sons of Israel. So the Levites shall be Mine. For all the firstborn are Mine; on the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the firstborn in Israel, from man to beast. They shall be Mine; I am the Lord.” ~ Numbers 3: 11-13

The Levites were now given the role of being the only tribe allowed to draw near to Yahweh instead of the firstborn from every tribe. 

However much later in Israel’s history, the Prophet Isaiah prophesied that all Israel would become priests one day in the future.

But ye shall be called priests of the Lord, the ministers of God: ye shall eat the strength of nations, and shall be admired because of their wealth. Isaiah 61:6 LXX


The Old Covenant Was Temporary

The first process in Israel becoming a mediator to the nations was to have a conditional covenant – The Old Covenant/ Mosaic Covenant. This covenant was always to be temporary as it would prepare the people for the ‘good things to come’ – Jesus, His temple and His priesthood of all believers.

The Tabernacle Was Temporary

Yahweh wanted to dwell with His people so He gave Moses very concise instructions on how to build a Tabernacle in the wilderness, also known as ‘The Tent of Meeting’. In Hebrew the word Tabernacle is Mishkan and it means ‘residence’ or ‘dwelling place’.

This tabernacle was mobile so that as the people traveled through the wilderness for the next 40 years Yahweh could dwell with His people.

tabernacle

The Tabernacle was never as elaborate as the later temples in Jerusalem but it still had a veil separating the Court of the Tabernacle from the Holy place and a second veil separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies.

The Levitical Priesthood Was Temporary

Not all Levites were priests but only those who were direct descendants of Aaron. The Priests were consecrated while the Levites were purified.

Drawing Near to Yahweh

  • Only the High Priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies, behind the 2nd veil once a year to be in the presence of Yahweh.
  • The Levitical priests made sacrifices on behalf of the nation of Israel and only had access to the Holy Place in the Tabernacle.
  • Those Levites who were not direct descendants of Aaron assisted the priests in the running of the tabernacle but were only allowed as far as the Court of the Tabernacle and couldn’t pass the veil at the entrance to the Holy Place.
  • While the closest the rest of the Israelites could get to Yahweh was outside the entrance to the Court of the Tabernacle.

Paul wrote in Hebrews that the Levitical priesthood could never attain perfection whereas Jesus as their new High Priest from the order of Melchizedek could.

However, Jesus was from the tribe of Judah not the tribe of Levi and the Law stated that kings could only come from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10) and that priests could only come from the tribe of Levi.

Therefore, the Law had to be changed.

When the early church circulated this, they came up against terrible opposition from the Jews.

Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. ~ Hebrews 7:12

Please read my blog post Who was Shiloh and what was the scepter in the Last Days? for more information on this law change.


Jews had been turning to Christianity in their tens of thousands as the early church was able to show how Jesus had fulfilled the promises in the Old Testament by using the Alexandrian Septuagint/LXX.

Now ALL believers through Jesus could become priests fulfilling Yahweh’s promise of becoming a royal priesthood.

you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ… But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.~ 1Peter2:5,9 ESV

The believers now had all the right credentials to enter the Holy place and draw near to Yahweh which fulfilled Yahweh’s promise in Exodus and Isaiah:

And ye shall be to me a royal priesthood and a holy nation ~ Exodus 19 LXX

But ye shall be called priests of the Lord, the ministers of God: ye shall eat the strength of nations, and shall be admired because of their wealth. ~ Isaiah 61:6 LXX


Anti-Christ Revisionism by the Jewish Rabbis

However, the Jews were so opposed to these messianic prophecies that they destroyed the original copies of the Alexandrian Septuagint from every Synagogue in the Old Covenant world. They then made sure that when they redacted their new anti-christ Greek Septuagint versions and the Masoretic Text that they changed words and added verses into the text that were not in the original Septuagint. They did this to obscure Yeshua from the text and try to stop more Jews from becoming Christians. [Read more in the series: The Alexandrian Septuagint versus The Masoretic Text].

In their eyes, there could only be one priesthood – the Levitical priesthood and it was to be forever. But those verses were not even in the Alexandrian Septuagint that the 1st-century church used or written in the Dead Sea Scrolls either!

Not only did rabbinical jews redact, taking away important verses, but they also added some too. A prime example would be in Jeremiah 33  where they added 13 additional verses – 14-26, with one particular verse stating that there would always be a Levitical priesthood.[1]

For thus says the Lord, ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; 18 and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man before Me to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to prepare sacrifices continually.’” ~ Jeremiah 33:17

Yahweh Can’t Lie!

This was a rabbinical conspiracy to counteract the idea that there had been a change in the order of the priesthood from the Levitical priesthood to the order of Melchizedek as explained in Hebrews 7:12.

Dispensationalists use all of these 13 extra verses in Jeremiah 33 to support their man-made doctrine that one day a new temple will be rebuilt, the Levitical priesthood will be re-established again, animal sacrifices will once more commence in Jerusalem and that Yahweh will be pleased.

But unfortunately, the dispensationalists don’t know the history behind how we got our Old Testament. In fact, it was the anti-christ rabbis that added all those verses of text to counteract the huge numbers of Jews joining the 1st-century church.

The dispensationalists exclaim that ‘God can’t lie’, so if the Prophet Jeremiah said that the Levitical priesthood was to remain forever and the writer of Hebrews says that the Levitical priesthood was superseded by the Melchizedek order of priests, in the person of Christ – someone is lying!


Further Resources:

To read how the rabbis changed even more of the book of Jeremiah read: World Domination – The Destiny of the Jews


Footnotes:

The extra verses that are not in the LXX or Dead Sea Scrolls:

[1]“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

17 “For thus says the Lord: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, 18 and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings, and to make sacrifices forever.”

19 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 20 “Thus says the Lord: If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night will not come at their appointed time, 21 then also my covenant with David my servant may be broken, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and my covenant with the Levitical priests my ministers. 22 As the host of heaven cannot be numbered and the sands of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the offspring of David my servant, and the Levitical priests who minister to me.”

23 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 24 “Have you not observed that these people are saying, ‘The Lord has rejected the two clans that he chose’? Thus they have despised my people so that they are no longer a nation in their sight. 25 Thus says the Lord: If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed order of heaven and earth, 26 then I will reject the offspring of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his offspring to rule over the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them.” ~ Jeremiah 33: 14-26

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