The Melchizedek Order--Part 3
Apr 07, 2011
Ezekiel 44 prophesies of a future time, based upon the pattern of change in the priesthood from Abiathar to Zadok. Recall that Solomon had "dismissed Abiathar from being priest to the Lord" (1 Kings 2:27) and had "appointed Zadok the priest in the place of Abiathar" (1 Kings 2:35).
Abiathar was the last of the family of Phinehas to be the high priest, and thus the earlier prophecy to Eli was fulfilled, because he did not remove his corrupt sons from ministering in the temple.
Ezekiel shows us that this change of priesthood was prophetic on a greater level in the future. The prophet speaks of idolatrous priests and righteous priests. The righteous priests are called "the sons of Zadok" (Ez. 44:15). The other family is not named specifically, but by contrasting them with the sons of Zadok, it is plain that he was referring to the Phinehas priesthood of Eli and Abiathar.
(10) But the Levites who went far from Me, when Israel went astray, who went astray from Me after their idols, shall bear the punishment for their iniquity. (11) Yet they shall be ministers in My sanctuary, having oversight at the gates of the house and ministering in the house; they shall slaughter the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister to them.
When the family of Phinehas was replaced, no priest of his family was thereafter allowed to go into the Most Holy Place to minister to God Himself. They remained in the outer court and at the gate, having lesser duties. They were allowed to kill the sacrifices and minister to the people, but that was all.
Prophetically speaking, under the New Covenant, this is fulfilled by ministering justification by faith in the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, for He is the true Sacrifice. All other sacrifices were temporary, ending with the arrival of the final Sacrifice. This administrative change is explained in Hebrews 7:26, 27,
(26) For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; (27) who does not need daily, like those [OT] high priests, to offer sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.
It is clear that under the New Covenant, justification is no longer by the sacrifice of animals, but by the one final Sacrifice of Christ Himself. Animal sacrifices were a feature of the Old Covenant and were not meant to exist forever. Judaism, of course, does not understand this, and they continue to work toward building a physical temple, wherein they plan to re-establish animal sacrifice in Jerusalem. They do this, because they disagree with the book of Hebrews and certainly do not accept Jesus Christ as a Sacrifice for their sin. Hence, they remain tied to the Old Covenant, not knowing that it has become "obsolete" and "is ready to disappear" (Heb. 8:13).
Ezekiel's prophecy, then, is couched in Old Covenant terms, but is to be applied in a New Covenant setting. His prophecy of sacrifice, when applied to the Age to come, does not mean God will suddenly reinstate the Old Covenant with animal sacrifices, but that the priests will minister justification through the blood of that Final Sacrifice.
The idolatrous priests under the Old Covenant were the literal line of Phinehas. But today, the idolatrous priests are those Christian ministers whose hearts are uncircumcised--especially those who manifest the "worthless" character of Eli's sons. The division in the Old Testament between righteous and idolatrous priests has manifested once again under the New Covenant in the Age of Pentecost, for Eli was also a type of idolatrous priest under Pentecost.
Eli and Zadok are contrasting types under the Old Covenant as well as the New. On the larger picture, they portray the contrast between the Old Covenant priesthood in general and the Melchizedek priesthood in the New.
The New Covenant distinction is primarily seen in the difference between Pentecost and the feast of Tabernacles--that is, between the Overcomers and the Church in general. Throughout most of Church history in the past 2,000 years, the Church has given lip service to the New Covenant, but has, in practice, modeled itself after the Old Covenant priesthood.
Likewise, the character of its priests, regardless of denomination, has remained imperfect and sometimes downright corrupt. The "Eli's" of today have resisted the call to remove these corrupted priests from their offices. Priests are sent to other locations. Their actions are covered up "for the sake of the Church." In Evangelical and Pentecostal ministries, women have been paid to keep silent.
The problem in the Church is not entirely a moral issue. It also can take the form of a betrayal of Christ. Christ is betrayed when men teach that the Melchizedek priesthood of Christ will be replaced in the Age to come by the Aaronic priesthood--as if to say that the New Covenant priesthood was a temporary interruption that would last only for the "Church Age." This "dispensationalist" teaching would have us revert back to the Old Covenant forms that were abolished or changed after the cross.
This is precisely what the Apostle Paul fought against in the first century. (See my book on Galatians.) The Dispensationalists of the 19th and 20th centuries betrayed Jesus Christ by teaching people that when Jesus Christ comes, He will establish His capital at Jerusalem--which Paul says is Hagar and cannot inherit the Kingdom (Gal. 4:25). They have taught that Christ will live in a physical temple in Jerusalem, complete with animal sacrifices--whereas Paul tells us that the New Temple is being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Eph. 2:20-22).
The Dispensationalists seek to erect the dividing wall after Jesus Christ abolished it (Eph. 2:14). That dividing wall separates Jews from Christians, making Jews "chosen," and everyone else subservient to them. That wall itself was erected to perpetuate the idea that Jews are citizens, and others are second-class citizens of the Kingdom. Most of Paul's efforts were spent in demolishing that barrier in order to create "one new man" (Eph. 2:15).
Dispensationalism has now become mainstream Christian teaching among Evangelicals, Pentecostals, and Messianics. (See my book: Daniel's Seventy Weeks.) By this teaching, large portions of the Church now expect Christ's second coming to mark the end of "grace" and the beginning of "law." They expect to see the Old Covenant regain its supremacy with Jews reigning in the Kingdom. They expect to see Hagar-Jerusalem be the mother city of the Kingdom, and its children (Judaism) inherit that Kingdom. They expect to see Christ's blood as a relic of the past Church Age, as the blood of bulls and goats becomes effective once more for justification from sin.
What they perhaps do not understand is that they have placed their hopes on Phinehas and Eli, rather than upon Zadok and the Melchizedek Order. And it is for this reason that in the Age to come, such Bible teachers will be among the idolatrous priests who are limited to the "outer court." God will refuse to allow them to have access to the spiritual priestly garments by which they might enter the Sanctuary in heaven to minister to God directly.
The reason is given in Ezekiel 44:10-12: they led Israel astray. Yet there is still time to repent and claim Sarah as our mother, adopting the New Covenant relationship with God.
This is the third part of a series titled "The Melchizedek Order." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones