The Law of Prophets--Part 2
Feb 25, 2008
The first prophet mentioned as such in Scripture is Abraham (Gen. 20:7). Later, Moses is called a prophet (Deut. 18:18), but with him were other prophets: Aaron (Ex. 7:1) and Miriam (Ex. 15:20). I do not recall Aaron foretelling the future as such, but all of the types and shadows which he performed under the Old Covenant were prophetic. When we see that the law itself is prophetic, then it is obvious that Aaron was a prophet.
Miriam is mentioned less, but it is plain that she held a very important position in that first administration of the Kingdom of God. She prophesied of the incarnation of Jesus Christ in her song at the Red Sea, saying in Exodus 15:2,
"Yahweh is my strength and song, and He has become my Yeshua; This is my God, and I will praise Him, My father's God, and I will extol Him."
Isaiah 12:1-3 repeats this, adding a "therefore" about drawing water out of "the wells of Yeshua"; and Jesus took this as a prophecy of Himself (John 7:37-39).
Yet Aaron himself was given the ephod, by which much of the will of God was discerned (Ex. 25:7). This was passed down to all the high priests who came after him. In practice, this largely merged the prophetic office with that of the high priest, although not totally, for afterward we read of both Deborah the prophetess (Judges 4:4) and the nameless prophet sent to the people in the days of Gideon (Judges 6:8).
It seems, though, that with Aaron came the Office of the prophet, by which I mean to say that it was officially established by the divine order inherent (at that time) in the Aaronic priesthood. Yet there were others who prophesied independently of the priesthood, just as there were Melchizedek priests who functioned as priests at the same time as the Aaronic priesthood. There were official and unofficial priests as well as official and unofficial prophets, and this has not changed substantially even to the present day.
David, if you recall, was a Melchizedek priest (Ps. 110:4), and for this reason he was able to approach God directly in the Tabernacle of David. In fact, this is also why it was lawful for him to eat of the showbread when he was hungry (1 Sam. 21:6). Later, Jesus silenced the Pharisees of His day by reminding them of this story (Matt. 12:3, 4). They had no answer to this, because they did not recognize a Melchizedek priesthood that had functioned prior to Aaron and which remained valid alongside of the Aaronic priesthood. And certainly they did not recognize Jesus as being the High Priest of that alternate Order of Priesthood.
Seeing this, then, we can say that there were two functioning, valid priestly offices after the calling of Aaron. The Melchizedek priesthood had no beginning and no end, and so we can say that it has been with us from before creation. No doubt Adam was the first of the earthly priests holding the title of King and Priest of the earth. This office was passed down as the Birthright from generation to generation of righteous men, until Shem built the city of Salem (Jerusalem) and became its first Melchizedek Priest-king.
Moses was not a son of Aaron, but his brother. He was not only a prophet, but also a priest of Melchizedek, for we find him approaching God in the Sanctuary regularly, even as David did later. Likewise, in the law we find that when people took Nazarite vows, they entered into this alternate priesthood which we identify as that of Melchizedek.
In later years the Nazarites were even allowed to enter the Holy Place of the temple. For example, James the Just, who was Jesus' brother and who was the head of the Jerusalem church, was a Nazarite. He was well respected in Jerusalem until his martyrdom in 62 A.D. We read the witness of the fourth-century Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea, who tells us that James was a Nazarite. In his Eccl. Hist., II, xxiii, he says,
"He alone [of the Christians] was permitted to enter the Holy Place, for his garments were not of wool but of linen. He used to enter the Sanctuary alone, and was often found on his knees beseeching forgiveness for the people, so that his knees grew hard like camel's knees from his continually bending them in worship of God and beseeching forgiveness for the people."
It was only after his intercession ended in martyrdom that Jerusalem was destroyed.
So from the time of Aaron to Christ there were two prophetic offices and two priestly offices functioning side by side. One was temporary, and the other was without beginning and without end. After Aaron died, the office passed to his son, Eleazar (Deut. 10:6). When he died, the office was given to Phinehas (Josh. 24:33), as God had made a covenant with him to give him an "everlasting" priesthood (Num. 25:11).
During the next three centuries, the priesthood degenerated into corruption, as we read in the book of Judges. They did not teach the law, and so "every man did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25). Finally, in the days of Eli (a direct descendant of Phinehas), this high priest had two corrupt sons who were ministering as priests. One of them was named Phinehas after his forefather. During that time a "man of God' (that is, a prophet) came to Eli and gave him the word of the Lord.
The prophet in question remained nameless, but it is obvious that he was not one of the Aaronic priests. The word he gave to Eli is recorded in 1 Sam. 2:27-36. In verse 30 we find a reference to the "everlasting covenant" that God had made with Phinehas, son of Eleazar:
" (30) . . . I did indeed say that your house and the house of your father should walk before Me forever [olam]; but NOW the Lord declares, 'Far be it from Me--for those who honor Me, I will honor, and those who despise Me, will be lightly esteemed'."
So the "everlasting" covenant with Phinehas was about to end. How can this be? The seeming contradiction is there only if we insist that the Hebrew word olam must mean "everlasting." But olam means "an age, that is, an indefinite period of time." It literally means "obscurity" in the sense that the end of that period of time is obscure, or unknown, or not yet revealed.
The prophet who came to Eli prophesied an end to the priesthood of Phinehas. This was fulfilled two generations later when Abiathar, the grandson of Eli, was replaced by Zadok (1 Kings 2:35). And in this replacement, we find a type and shadow of a greater replacement that was yet to come, when the entire Aaronic priesthood was replaced by the Melchizedek Order.
But getting back to the story of Eli, we see an alternate set of prophetic events emerging, for when Eli died, Samuel was already ministering to God in the Sanctuary. He was of the tribe of Ephraim (1 Sam. 1:1). This was the tribe of Joshua, who was a type of Jesus Christ in His second appearance. Samuel was a Melchizedek priest, a Nazarite who ministered to God directly before the Ark of the Covenant.
In Acts 3:24 Peter says,
"And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days."
He seems to distinguish the prophets beginning with Samuel. The nameless prophet had told Eli that his "arm" would be cut off (1 Sam. 2:31). This was not literal. It meant that the power or strength or calling would be removed from Eli, from the Phinehas priesthood, and ultimately from the Aaronic priesthood itself. That "arm" was the prophetic office, and it was given fully to the alternate order of prophet-priests of Melchizedek.
This is a good lesson to those who think that a divinely-called office cannot be removed or replaced.
This is the final part of a series titled "The Law of Prophets." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones