Principles of Spiritual Warfare--Part 2
Nov 10, 2009
The sacrificial system under the Old Covenant was an ancient way of doing spiritual warfare. This fact was masked, however, largely because we have thought of "warfare" in terms of a battlefield instead of a courtroom. Once we associate sacrifice with the means of satisfying the law (on account of man's sin), it is not hard to picture a scene in the Divine Court.
Jesus (known as Yahweh in the Old Testament) is the Judge. The Holy Spirit is the Comforter, "advocate" (defense attorney). The devil ("accuser") or satan ("adversary") is the prosecutor, who is empowered as long as there are sinners to prosecute. All are subject to the law of the Judge. As long as there is sin to judge, the law remains in force, and the prosecutor has a job. This is how the scene should be pictured.
The Old Covenant rituals and ceremony were earthly acts of spiritual warfare, because the priests were actively involved in dealing with sin before the Divine Court. It was their job to obtain forgiveness of sin through the power of sacrifice. And, in fact, it was also part of their job to act as judges in disputes among the people. It was important that they know the law, so that they could judge righteously, not acquitting the guilty nor condemning the righteous.
When Jesus came as the Ultimate Sacrifice for sin, the old system changed in its outward form, but the basic principles of law remained. We still have sacrifice even today in the form of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, but because of the perfect nature of our Sacrifice, it does not have to be repeated continually. Nonetheless, God did not put away the law of sacrifice, else how could we claim Jesus as the Lamb of God? He only upgraded the manner in which we comply with it.
Likewise, the principle of earthly people doing spiritual work in the Divine Court was not abolished at the Cross. In fact, our ability was enhanced. The Levitical priests were limited by the manner of sacrifice that they were allowed to do. Animal sacrifices could cover sin, but never actually removeit.
Hence we see the two goats of Leviticus 16, where the first was prophesied to cover sin, while the second was prophesied to remove sin. In applying this prophecy to the Old and New Covenants, each of which culminates with a coming of Christ, it is not hard to see that the animal sacrifices covered sin until the big court case took place on the cross.
In seeing this, it is apparent also that the Old Covenant priests were intercessors. When they sacrificed an animal, they were, in effect, filing a petition before the Divine Court to ask for more time to prepare the case for their client. In other words, they asked for a postponement of the trial. That was (and still is) one of the duties of an intercessor in representing man to God and representing God to man.
So the great Trial was postponed until the day that Jesus became the Passover Lamb and was crucified to die for the sin of the world. The final run-up to that Trial was Daniel's 70 weeks (i.e., 70 x 7, or 490 years). In Matthew 18:22, Jesus revealed that the purpose of 70 x 7 is to serve as an extension of the time of forgiveness until the day of reckoning. Thus, Jesus was crucified precisely 490 years after the start of Daniel's 70 weeks began (458 B.C. to 33 A.D.).
But getting back to the animal sacrifices, one must keep in mind that while the animal was important as a prophetic symbol of Christ, the spiritual force that gave it legal weight was FAITH. Since faith without works is dead, we can see this combination at work in the animal sacrifice. Faith comes by hearing, and so when God spoke the revelation of animal sacrifice, the priests responded by faith. They believed God enough to do what God said, even though they had only a dim understanding of the real purpose behind the revelation.
The ritual itself, performed with minute precision, was an earthly act that moved heaven in the Divine Court. The Holy Spirit revealed to Moses each minute detail, because their actions on earth spoke with spiritual knowledge about the Divine Court case that was yet to come. It had to be a lamb without spot or blemish, because Jesus was sinless. No bone could be broken of the Passover Lamb, because bones represent the law (giving structure and support to the body).
Each detail, when obeyed, was an additional act of faith, because the priests acted upon that which they were hearing from God.
So how does this principle speak to us today? We no longer are required to sacrifice animals. But if anyone aspires to be a priest of God today, he must become a priest after the Order of Melchizedek. In this Order, there are no animal sacrifices. Thankfully, also, there is no genealogical requirement to be of the house of Aaron. Melchizedek was not of Aaron, and his genealogy is not recorded in Scripture, so that He might serve as a type of a new Order of priesthood.
Melchizedek appears in Scripture "without genealogy" (Heb. 7:3), because, as verse 6 says, he is "the one whose genealogy is not traced" (i.e., not recorded). God thus was able to tell King David, who was of the tribe of Judah, "Thou art a priest forever according to the Order of Melchizedek" (Psalm 110:4; Heb. 7:17).
Jesus, too, being of the house of David, was not qualified as a priest of Aaron, but was instead qualified as High Priest of the Order of Melchizedek. The Aaronic priests were called to sacrifice animals until the great Court Date arrived. The Melchizedek priests have now replaced the Aaronic priests, having a greater calling under Jesus Christ.
Incidentally, Jesus will not return to Jerusalem to a rebuilt temple to be a High Priest of the Aaronic Order. He was not legally qualified, because He was of Judah, not Levi.
But getting back to our topic, we today function as priests of Melchizedek under the New Covenant. We have our own job descriptions as priestly intercessors in Christ. We are no longer "buying time," as the Aaronic Order was called to do. We function on the authority of that which was decreed at the Cross, proven by the resurrection, and sealed by the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.
The Church does its rituals and sacraments, of course, particularly baptism and communion. If done in obedience to God, these are acts of faith that have heavenly value today, even as the animal sacrifices had value under the Old Covenant. In the Old Covenant, the sacrifice looked back to Adam's sin and found the solution in a future event--the coming of Christ to die on the cross as the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
Under the New Covenant, communion looks back and remembers His death on the cross, yet looks forward to the second coming of Christ to claim the Birthright of Joseph. Paul says in 1 Cor. 11:26,
"For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes."
Aaronic priests looked forward to the coming of Messiah ben Judah; the Melchizedek priests look forward to the coming of Messiah ben Joseph. The prophetic rituals (earthly acts of obedience in response to faith) differ, but both are based upon the unchanging spiritual principle that links heaven and earth.
I recall back in 1989 that God called me to make a 2,000-mile trip to Corpus Christi, TX and back (to Arkansas). My first question was, "Father, can't I just do the work from here?" No, I could not. First of all, Corpus Christi means "body of Christ," and the symbolism was important as a statement in the Divine Court. Secondly, my faith was proven by obedience, and my faith was tested by my lack of finances. See ch. 19 of The Wars of the Lord.
This is the second part of a series titled "Principles of Spiritual Warfare." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones