The Priesthood of Eli: Part 4
May 06, 2006
There are two biblical orders of priest, one greater and one lesser. The lesser is the order of Levi (or Aaron); the greater is the order of Melchizedek, or Melchisedec. Hebrews 7 makes the point that Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, showing that Melchizedek was greater than Abraham (Heb. 7:7-10). Likewise, Melchizedek blessed Abraham, because "the lesser is blessed by the greater" (vs. 7).
Hebrews 5:6 and 10 make it clear that Jesus Christ is our High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. Therefore, the "priests of God and of Christ" who reign with Him on the earth (Rev. 5:10; 20:6) are not of the Order of Levi, but of Melchizedek.
There is a strange doctrine being taught today by those who apparently do not believe that the book of Hebrews is inspired Scripture. They teach that the order of Levi is going to be raised up in the Millennium to minister as priests of God and of Christ. It is further taught that they will revert to the sacrificial system of bulls, goats, and lambs, as if Jesus was the Lamb of God only temporarily.
This view presumes that the order of Levi is greater than that of Melchizedek, and that it has only been temporarily set aside. To such teachers, Melchizedek is a "stop-gap" priest until the Jews get their act together. And so, Jews today are even now forming a new priesthood, made up of Jews named "Cohen" or "Kahn," or "Kagan" (etc), which comes from the Hebrew word for priest. It is presumed that they are descended from the Levitical priests of the Old Testament.
Perhaps many of them are. I see no reason to dispute it. The real question is this: What order are they from? Ask them. They will tell you that these are from Levi. My point is that Levi will NOT be priests in the Age to come. Jesus Christ will not become a High Priest after the order of Levi. Jesus' surname was not Cohen. The Jews know that Jesus could never be a priest after the order of Levi--and they have no intention of making Him their High Priest.
Levi has been replaced by Jesus Christ, even as Abiathar was replaced by Solomon. Abiathar was replaced by Zadok (1 Kings 2:35). Eli and his dynasty of priests are a prophetic pattern of Levi, while Zadok is a prophetic pattern of Melchi-Zadok. So we are told in Ezekiel 44:10-19.
10 But the Levites who went far from Me, when Israel 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. 12 Because they ministered to them before their idols and became a stumbling block of iniquity to the house of Israel, therefore I have sworn against them, declares the Lord God, that they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity. 13 And they shall not come near to Me to serve as a priest to Me, nor come near to any of My holy things, to the things that are most holy; but they shall bear their shame and their abominations which they have committed. 14 Yet I will appoint them to keep charge of the house, of all its service, and of all that shall be done in it.
This is a prophecy to be fulfilled in the age to come--the Age of Tabernacles. Ezekiel speaks in Old Testament terms, but the fulfillment is not to be taken so literally. Literalists say that this proves God intends to reinstate the old sacrificial system, as if the blood of bulls and goats could ever take away sin.
They also point to this passage as proof that the order of Levi will be reinstated as priests of God in the temple that they suppose will also be rebuilt in Jerusalem. But even if they were correct in this assumption, take note that these Levites are being JUDGED. They will not be allowed into the Sanctuary itself, but will be limited to the outer court to minister to the people--not to God. He says specifically that they will be treated as Levites, not as Aaronic priests. Verse 13 says, "And they shall NOT come near to Me to serve as a priest to Me.
So if we suppose that these "Levites" are named Cohen today, we must also conclude that they will NOT be priests to God. The best they could do, if we take the passage literally, would be to do physical labor in the outer court, killing animals. A literalist would have to assume that only Christians of the order of Melchizedek would be allowed into the temple itself. The Levitical Order no longer has access to God's temple.
The next verses show that Ezekiel had in mind the story of Eli and his grandson Abiathar, whose priestly dynasty was replaced by Zadok. Eli's dynasty was idolatrous and therefore disqualified to be priests in Solomon's Kingdom of Peace. So also it is with the greater fulfillment of this story in our time today.
The only way to be a priest of God is to be a "son" of Jesus Christ, the High Priest of Melchizedek. Such priests do not qualify by genealogical descent from Levi. Both David and Jesus were priests of this order, though they were of the tribe of Judah (Heb. 7:14). That is why Hebrews 7 makes the point of telling us that the biblical Melchizedek came without any mention of his genealogy. It does not say that he had no parents, as many teach. It says in verse 6, "But the one whose genealogy is not traced [i.e., not recorded, or genealogically traced].
This is what verse 3 means when it says that he came "without father, without mother, without genealogy." It has to do with the record-keeping, not that he literally had no father or mother or genealogy. Melchizedek was actually the title that Shem took when he built Jerusalem and became its first king. It means "King of Righteousness."
Getting back to Ezekiel 44, the prophet continues,
15 But the Levitical priests, the sons of Zadok, who kept charge of My sanctuary when the sons of Israel went astray from Me, shall come near to Me to minister to Me; and they shall stand before Me to offer Me the fat and the blood, declares the Lord God. 16 They shall enter My sanctuary; they shall come near to My table to minister to Me and keep My charge.
Zadok himself was simply another Aaronic family of the tribe of Levi. It could not have been otherwise, because in the Old Testament time, the priests had to be of Levi. But Zadok was a type of Melchizedek priest. It was an Old Testament story with a New Testament application.
Likewise, when it says that they will offer God "the fat and the blood," it now refers to the blood of Christ, not the blood of bulls and goats. In the age of perfection, the imperfect order of Levi has been replaced by that which is perfect. See Hebrews 7:11, 12.
All of the sacrifices in the law were prophetic of something greater that was to come. They were not to be replaced temporarily during a so-called "Church Age," and then be reinstated in the Millennium.
Pentecost stands between Passover and Tabernacles. It is the great crossroads of spiritual development and knowledge. The Church is Pentecostal, generically speaking. It can revert back to the Age of Passover in its faith, or it can look ahead to the Age of Tabernacles. Unfortunately, great portions of the Church today has been tricked into reverting back to that which was abolished. They have put their faith in the lesser, rather than the greater. In so doing, they have identified with the Levitical priesthood, old sacrificial system, old temple, old Jerusalem and have made these their idols.
Such people are today's order of Levi, as opposed to Melchizedek. And because they have taught the people to go astray, like Eli, they will be replaced by a new order of priests in the age to come. These are the overcomers.
This is the final part of a series titled "The Priesthood of Eli." To view all parts, click the link below.