The Overcomer Priests
In Deuteronomy 9:17 Moses told how he had broken the first set of Commandments when he came off the Mount and found the Israelites worshiping the golden calf. In Deuteronomy 10, Moses again gives his account about how the second set of Commandments were given.
1 At that time the Lord said to me, “Cut out for yourself two tablets of stone like the former ones, and come up to Me on the mountain, and make an ark of wood for yourself. 2 And I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets which you shattered, and you shall put them in the ark.”
The main difference between the two sets of stone tablets was that God cut them out of the mountain the first time, whereas the second set Moses had to cut for himself. The words on each set were the same. As I have said, these two sets represent the two covenants, both of which involved the same law. The fact that Moses had to cut the stones himself suggests that it represented his own heart—and by extension, the heart of the church in the wilderness as a whole.
Thus, while the first set was broken through sin and rebellion, the second set was written on the heart so that it would not be broken.
The Stone Kingdom
But there is another side to this. We read in Daniel 2:34 and 35 that after the series of beast kingdoms had run their course, there would be a stone cut out of the mountain not by human hands. This stone would strike the image on its feet (end of days) and crush the entire image. The stone would then replace those four beast kingdoms with a fifth kingdom—that is, the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
This stone is prophesied by the first stone tablets that God cut out of Mount Horeb and gave to Moses in order to establish the Kingdom of God in Israel. However, because the people were rebellious, those stones were broken and the Kingdom postponed to another time. Israel was indeed a kingdom, but not in the fullest sense of what God intended. Because of rebellion, the perfected Kingdom was postponed to a future time after the beast kingdoms ran their course.
Meanwhile, the people were given a second set of Commandments on stone tablets that Moses himself cut, in order to know that the New Covenant was to be written on their hearts in order for the Kingdom of God to be truly manifested in the earth. In a reversal of order, the New Covenant would have to do its work first, in order to prepare the hearts of the people for the Stone Kingdom cut from the mountain by God Himself. As the law was written on the hearts of the church, their rebellion would cease, and then the Stone Kingdom could emerge as God intended from the beginning.
The Second Law and Tabernacles
Moses continues in Deuteronomy 10:3-5,
3 So I made an ark of acacia wood and cut out two tablets of stone like the former ones, and went up on the mountain with the two tablets in my hand. 4 And He wrote on the tablets, like the former writing, the Ten Commandments which the Lord had spoken to you on the mountain from the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly; and the Lord gave them to me. 5 Then I turned and came down from the mountain, and put the tablets in the ark which I had made; and there they are, as the Lord commanded me.
Moses received the second set of Commandments on his eighth trip up the Mount. The first set had been given to him on his sixth trip, and he had interceded for the people on his seventh trip. The eight ascensions of Moses are recorded as follows:
1. Exodus 19:3
2. Exodus 19:7
3. Exodus 19:20
4. Exodus 20:21
5. Exodus 24:9
6. Exodus 24:15
7. Exodus 32:31
8. Exodus 34:4
These eight trips foreshadowed the eight days of the feast of Tabernacles, in which the manifestation of the sons of God is prophesied to occur on the eighth day of that feast. This is why Jesus prophesied of the outpouring of the Spirit on that same day in John 7:37-39. Even as Moses' face was glorified upon his return from his eighth trip up the Mount, so also the sons of God will be fully clothed with the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ when they return to the earthly dimension after being presented to the Father in heaven. (See chapters 8 and 9 of my book, The Laws of the Second Coming.)
The Scribal Entry Interrupting Moses' Speech
Deuteronomy 10:6-9 is a parenthetical statement inserted by a later scribe (probably Ezra, who later compiled and canonized the books of the Old Testament). It is plain that this short passage was not part of Moses' original speech.
6 (Now the sons of Israel set out from Beeroth Bene-jaakan to Moserah. There Aaron died and there he was buried and Eleazar his son ministered as priest in his place. 7 From there they set out to Gudgodah; and from Gudgodah to Jotbathah, a land of brooks of water. 8 At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to serve Him and to bless in His name until this day. 9 Therefore, Levi does not have a portion or inheritance with his brothers; the Lord is his inheritance, just as the Lord your God spoke to him.)
This explanation by the scribe, inspired by the Spirit, was to let the readers know that this was how the family of Levi came to be the priests of God and to bear the Ark of the Covenant when the camp moved from one location to another. Recall from Exodus 32 that when the people worshipped the golden calf, Moses asked them, “Who is on the Lord's side?” (Ex. 32:26). The Levites stepped forward, having refrained from participating in that false worship—even though Aaron himself, a Levite, had actually built the calf.
So the tribe of Levi was set apart on account of their refusal to worship the golden calf. “Therefore, Levi does not have a portion or inheritance with his brothers; the Lord is his inheritance.”
The Priests of Christ
There were two classes of people in Israel: the Levites and the rest of the tribes (church). This distinction continues under the New Covenant, except that a new and better priesthood has been given the authority that had previously rested upon the tribe of Levi. That new priesthood is the Melchizedek Order, whose high priest is Jesus Christ. It is not based upon genealogy (Heb. 7:6), for Jesus was of the tribe of Judah, not Levi. Likewise, before him, King David, of the tribe of Judah, had been a priest after this same order (Ps. 110:4).
Both orders existed side by side, but that of Melchizedek was older, tracing back at least to Shem, the builder and king of Jerusalem, who met Abraham with bread and wine in Genesis 14:18. However, Levi was given temporary authority of government and priesthood under the Old Covenant, until Jesus Christ would take the office of high priest under the earlier (and better) priestly system.
The priesthood of Levi, then, foreshadows the better priesthood that was to come. For this reason, what Ezra said about the tribe of Levi prophesies of the Melchizedek priesthood under the New Covenant. John says in Revelation 5:9 and 10,
9 . . . Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its seals, for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. 10 And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.
Again, John tells us in Revelation 20:6,
6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
If these were merely called to be “priests of God,” one might have grounds to interpret it in the Levitical sense. But to be a priest “of Christ” proves that this is the Melchizedek priesthood, of which Christ is high priest. The blood of Christ, John says, has purchased “men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” to be priests unto God. This is a clear departure from the priesthood of Levi, where a particular genealogy was an absolute requirement.
The point is that the New Covenant has retained a distinction between Israel and Levi, though it is now a distinction defined by the rules of the Order of Melchizedek. The new priests of God and of Christ are those who inherit the first resurrection, while the rest of the church must await the general resurrection at a later time. See my book, The Purpose of Resurrection.
The inspired scribe who inserted Deuteronomy 10:6-9 prophesies that the priesthood is distinguished in that they do not worship the golden calf (the love of money). These do not have the same inheritance as the rest of the church. The priests were to have God as their inheritance, and the meaning of this is seen more clearly in the New Testament.
Whereas this was fulfilled partially and more carnally under the Old Covenant, it has a greater fulfillment under the New Covenant in the overcomers. These priests of Christ are the first to receive their inheritance, for they are the first to become spiritually mature. These are the ones who not only have placed their faith in the blood of the Lamb of God as a Passover experience, but they have also experienced the infilling of the Spirit through Pentecost. More than that, they are the ones who allow Pentecost to have its full work within their hearts, as they are guided by the Spirit and the voice of God into “Truth” (John 16:13).
Faith is the evidence of the true church. Revelation of Truth is the evidence of the overcomer.
Under Moses, the church in the wilderness had a Passover level of faith that was sufficient to be redeemed from Egypt. However, they refused to hear God's voice at Pentecost, and thus did not have the revelation of Truth sufficient to eradicate their heart idolatry.
Yet first the Levites and later those of the Order of Melchizedek qualified for priesthood and rulership over the rest of the church in the Kingdom of God. Not every believer will rule. Most believers will enjoy the benefits of citizenship, but will not rule the Kingdom. This is the distinction made under Moses and continued under Jesus Christ in its altered form.