Last Updated on :Thursday, November 20, 2014










The sectarian idea is that after John and Jesus proclaimed repentance there would be no temple service performed by Levites that God would accept. But this is contrary to the sure word of prophecy, which testifies that "the Messenger of the Covenant shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto Jehovah (Yahweh) an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years" (Mal. 3:3,4). And again the prophet records Jehovah's (Yahweh's) declaration, that "David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel: neither shall the priests, the Levites, want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually... Thus saith the Lord, If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, that there should not be day and night in their season; then (and not before) may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests my ministers". (Jer. 33:17-21) From this it is manifest that the perpetuity of David's throne, and the perpetuity of the Levitical ministrations, are parallel.

Some say that David's throne is now occupied in heaven will these same visionaries affirm that the Levites are offering sacrifices there? For the testimony says, "They shall do sacrifice continually"! The truth is that this testimony has regard to the time when the kingdom shall be restored again to Israel. At the time the prophecy was delivered there were unbelievers who, like some in our day, declared that the Lord had cast off the house of Israel and the house of Judah. Therefore said Jehovah (Yahweh) to the prophet, "Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, saying, The two families which the Lord hath chosen, he hath even cast them off? Thus they have despised my people, that they should be no more a nation before them. But, if my covenant be not with the day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth: then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them" (Jer. 33:17-26). It is from the time of this return, then, that the perpetuity begins in relation to David's son, and the Levites. Both houses of Israel are still in captivity; therefore the return is yet future. When that return is accomplished, then henceforth even to "the end" appointed, shall these gracious promises obtain as notable realities in the land of Israel.

It is therefore a principle of the kingdom of God that the Levites shall be priests in that kingdom under the New Covenant, or constitution, as well as under the Old. As it is written, "Thus saith the Lord, They shall be ministers in my temple, having charge of the gates of the house, and ministering to the house; they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister unto them. They shall not come near unto me, to do the office of a priest unto me, nor to come near to any of my holy things in the most holy place. But I will make them keepers of the charge of the house, for all the service thereof, and for all that shall be done therein" (Ezek. 44:9-14). The reason given why they shall not do the office of a priest before God, but shall act as menials in the service, and in relation only to the people, is because under the Mosaic Covenant "they ministered to the people before their idols, and caused the house of Israel to fall into iniquity". (Ezek. 44:12) This is the ground of their future degradation from their former rank, to that of the lowest class of the priesthood under the New Covenant.

The next class of priests above them is to consist of the Levites, the sons of Zadok (verse 15). These will have no immediate communication with the people in performing the service, but will officiate immediately between the people's priests and "the Prince", who is then High Priest, and Jehovah's (Yahweh's) anointed for ever. Zadok signifies just or justified. Zadok, who was contemporary with David and Solomon, is their representative father in the priesthood, as David is their representative father in the royalty, and Abraham their representative father in the faith. Hence in the priesthood, the saints are "the sons of Zadok"; (Ezek. 44:15; 48:11) in the royalty, "the sons of the Prince" (Ezek. 46:16); and in the faith the seed or sons of Abraham".

Eli and his sons were rejected as representative sacerdotal men, because the sons were wicked, and Eli honoured them above Jehovah (Yahweh). Therefore Jehovah (Yahweh) said to him, "I will raise me up a faithful priest, who shall do according to that which is in my heart and in my mind; and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever" (1 Sam. 2:29,35). He must therefore become immortal. Now under the Mosaic Covenant this "faithful priest" was Zadok, who walked before David and Solomon. When Absalom and Israel rebelled against the Lord's anointed, Zadok and Abiathar remained faithful with Jehovah (Yahweh) and his king. But when David was about to die, Abiathar, who was descended from Eli, conspired to make Adonijah king instead of Solomon; while Zadok continued faithful to David. Solomon, however, being established on the throne, "thrust out Abiathar from being priest unto the Lord; that he might fulfil the word of the Lord, which he spake concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh". He told him he was worthy of death, but he would spare his life for his father's sake, because he suffered with him in Absalom's rebellion; he therefore exiled him to Anathoth, and promoted Zadok to the high-priesthood in his room (1 Kings 1: 7,39;2:22,26,27,35).

Now these were representative events. Jehovah (Yahweh) will raise up the faithful of the house of Levi, even Zadok and his sons, and they shall walk before His Anointed for ever -- even before the "greater than Solomon" (Matt. 12:42; Luke 11:31) -- when, in "the city of the Great King", (Matt. 5:35; Ps. 48:2) he sits and rules upon his throne as a priest bearing the glory (Zech.6:12,13), as Prince of Israel for ever. This superior class of Levites "shall come near to me", saith the Lord, "to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me to offer unto me the fat and the blood : they shall enter into my holy place, and they shall come near to my table, to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge." (Ezek. 44:15,16) From the seventeenth verse to the end of this chapter are the ordinances for the lowest class of Levitical priests.

Here then is a change in the Levitical arrangements, and not an abolition of them. The "service" will be amended, not abolished. In the service under the Mosaic Covenant there were "divers washings"; (Heb. 9:10) but in the service under the New Covenant of the kingdom "washings" are omitted; for in the Ezekiel Temple there is no laver, or brazen sea provided. But sacrifices remain; for eight tables are appointed to be set up in the entry of the north gate on which the lowest class of the priests are to slay them for the people. Paul therefore did not mean that the Levitical service was absolutely and finally discontinued -- that it should be revived no more; but that it should be amended to adapt it to the new circumstances created by the sacrifice and high priesthood of Jesus, which was to supersede the priesthood of Aaron.

If we be asked the reason for the conclusion that Paul meant amendment, and not final discontinuance of the Levitical service, we reply, that it is found in the phrase "until the time of reformation" (Heb. 9:10) used by him. His words are mechri kairou diorthoseos. The Levitical service continued unchanged for forty years after the proclamation of "reformation" by Jesus; so that the kairos or definite time for discontinuance was not at his preaching, or even the rending of the temple vail. The Mosaic service was not "imposed until the time of metanoia" (Heb. 9:10) which is the word signifying the "reformation" preached. Metanoeite, "Repent ye", said Jesus. No; it was imposed until the time of diorthosis", which is not repentance", but emendation, amendment; from diorthoo, to correct, or make right. The subject of the diorthosis is the Mosaic Covenant, not the disposition of men.

The Mosaic Constitution must be amended to make way for a new order of priesthood, and a service which shall show forth the perfection of its character. The work of amendment in regard to its foundation was laid in the death and resurrection of Jesus. It then became necessary to gather out of Judah sons for Zadok, and the Prince. "Behold, I and the children whom God has given me are for signs and wonder in Israel" (Isa. 8:18; Heb. 2:13). These children being separated to Jesus from the tribe of Levi and the nation for the purposes to be accomplished through them at "the restitution of all things", (Acts 3:21) nothing remained for that epoch, but to give the Mosaic constitution a thorough shaking. This is called shaking the heaven, and was the fulfilment of the prophecy by Haggai reproduced by Paul in his epistle to the Hebrews (Hag. 2:6; Heb.12:26,27) "Yet once, it is a little while, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will shake the heavens and the earth." The "little while" was 587 years from the delivery of the prediction; and about ten years from the date of the epistle. It was the last time the nation of Israel and the constitution of their kingdom were to be shaken. Their commonwealth was to be shaken that "the things made" or constituted, by the Mosaic Covenant, which were incompatible with the rights of the Lord Jesus founded upon "the word of the oath" (Heb. 7:21,28) might be "removed"; and that "those things which" were in harmony with that word, and which "cannot be shaken might remain". This then was the first stage of the "emendation", or as the Gentiles would say, of the amendment of the constitution".

The next work in the carrying out the purpose of emendation is thus expressed in Haggai -- "I will shake the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts". (Hag. 2:6,7) When this was spoken the temple was in ruins, the foundation only being laid. The people then returned from Babylon said, "The time has not come that the Lord's house should be built" (Hag. I:2,4,9); that is, the 70 years that it was to lie waste from the time of its destruction are not yet, accomplished, 66 years only having elapsed. But Haggai was sent to them to stir them up to the work, and in four years after, even in the sixth year of the reign of Darius, it was finished (Ezra 6:15).

When therefore Haggai said, "This house shall be filled with glory", (Hag. 2:6) he did not refer to the temple which Jesus frequented but to the temple to stand upon the same site which is described by Ezekiel, into which "the glory of the God of Israel", even the Son of Man in the glory of the Father, "shall come from the way of the east", and cause the neighbouring earth itself to shine (Ezek.43:2). This is the only interpretation the prophecy will admit of; for when Jesus came, he was neither "the desire of all nations", (Hag. 2:7) nor was he in glory. The glory of the God of Israel left the temple when the Chaldees were about to destroy it; and it will not return until Jesus shall sit upon the throne and bear the glory in the era of "the regeneration". (Matt.19:28)

The shaking of the heavens and the earth, as we have said, refers to "the end of all things" (1 Peter 4:7), constituted by the Old Covenant; but the shaking of the sea and dry land, to the kingdoms of the Gentiles, and is thus explained; "I will overthrow the throne of the kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen ... In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee, 0 Zerubbabel my servant, the son of Shealtiel, and will make thee as a signet; for I have chosen thee, said the Lord of hosts" (Hag. 2:22 and 23). This period of overthrow is "the time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation to that same time", when Michael shall stand up, the Great Prince who standeth for the Israelites, who at that time shall be delivered, even all that shall be found written among the living in Jerusalem (Dan. 12:I; Isa. 4:3).

This is the era of the resurrection of "the heirs" (Heb. 6:17) of "the kingdom which cannot be moved". (Heb. 12:28) Michael (Mi who, cha like, el God), the great power of God, even Jesus the great Prince of Israel, appears at this crisis "to subdue all things to himself", (Phil. 3:21) and to complete the work of emendation. He smites the image of Nebuchadnezzar upon its feet (Dan. 2:34), and grinds its fragments to powder. He brings the king of the north, who is Head over an extensive region, to his end (Dan. 11:45; Ps. 110:6). He causes Gog to fall upon the mountains of Israel; and expels the Gentiles out of his land (Ezek. 39:4), that they may tread his holy city under foot no more. Having made the nations lick the dust like a serpent, and bound their power as with a mighty chain, he proceeds in the building again of the tabernacle of David, and in the setting up its ruins -- that is, in the restoring again of the kingdom of God to Israel, or in "the restitution of all things" (Acts 3:21) belonging to the Mosaic law, compatible with his exercise of the functions of High Priest in Israel. When this work is accomplished the diorthosis or emendation will be complete (Psa. 10:16; Micah 7:16,17; Rev. 20:1-3).

If the Mosaic Covenant of the kingdom bad been found faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second (Heb. 8:7). The priesthood of the Mosaic was changeable, passing from father to son. This was deemed by the Lord a very important defect, which must therefore be amended. He determined therefore that the priesthood should be changed -- that it should no longer "be left to other people" (Dan. 2:44) -- but should be unchangeable in the hands of Messiah and the saints, or Zadok and his sons. But this purpose could not be carried into effect so long as the Mosaic constitution of the kingdom continued in force; for this restricted the priesthood to the tribe of Levi, and made no provision for a priest of the tribe of Judah.

Now Jehovah (Yahweh) purposed that the High Priesthood of the nation should be changed from the tribe of Levi and the family of Aaron, to the tribe of Judah and the family of David. Hence this change of the priesthood being determined, there was decreed of necessity a change also of the law (Heb. 7:12). As Christ's priesthood was not authorized by the Mosaic Covenant, something was necessary on which to found it. This necessity was provided for in the Word of the Oath which runs thus -- " I have sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the Order of Melchizedec" (Ps. 110:4 and Heb. 7:21) This oath was uttered by Jehovah (Yahweh) upwards of 500 years after the Law was given from Sinai, and constitutes the right of David's son to the priesthood of the kingdom; as the oath sworn to David also entitles his son to its throne for ever. The grand peculiarity, then, of the new Constitution of the kingdom over the old is the union of the high priesthood and kingly office in one person, of the tribe of Judah and family of David unchangeably, or for ever. Under the Mosaic, the priesthood and royalty of the kingdom were separate, and restricted to two distinct families and tribes the priesthood to Levi and Aaron; the royalty to Judah and David. But this will be amended, and the Lord Jesus, in whose veins once flowed the blood of Levi, Aaron, Judah and David (Luke 1 :5, 36), will unite in himself the kingly and priestly offices, when he sits and rules upon his throne and bears the glory.

Well, Jesus of Nazareth was manifested to Israel as Son of God at his baptism. It was clearly proved that he was the Christ, and therefore entitled to the things defined in the word of the oaths to himself and his father David. But "he was made under the law" (Gal. 4:4), to which he yielded a perfect obedience in all things. He never entered the Court of the Priests, nor the Holy Place; nor attempted to do service at the altar. Being of the tribe of Judah, the Law forbad him to advance beyond the Court of the Israelites, or to minister in holy things. So long as the Mosaic law continued in practical operation, and he inhabited the land, he must have remained among the people. Had Israel continued in their country under the law to this day, and Jesus had remained with them until now, and they had been willing to acknowledge him, and submit to his government, he would not have ascended the throne until the constitution was dedicated and amended; "for", says Paul, in view of this condition of affairs, "if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law" (Heb. 8:4).

The emendation of the covenant must have been preceded by its dedication. This could only be accomplished by the death of the mediator. The death was the dedication of the covenant in his blood; as he himself said, "This is the New Covenant in my blood which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28; Luke 22:20), -- and to show the connection between the covenant and the kingdom, he said, "I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God shall come". (Matt.26:29) But when he came to life again after this dedication, he could not even then inherit the kingdom. The Mosaic Covenant must have been changed; an emendation, however, to which the party in power would by no means consent, as the amendment would have put them all out of the government. Pilate and Herod, Caiaphas and the Council must have surrendered their offices into the hands of Jesus, who would have promoted in their place his own disciples and friends. But they would not hear of such a thing; therefore it remained only for Jesus to absent himself, and to abolish the kingdom until the time appointed in the wisdom of the Father for its restitution to Israel under a better, more permanent, and perfect order of things.


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