Levitical priesthood

Manipulating Moses to Murder Messiah #3

Saturday, May 30, 2015

“And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers” (Acts 3:17 KJV).

How could Israel have been so blind in rejecting Jesus as Messiah, One who fulfilled hundreds of Old Testament prophecies?

In his farewell epistle, the Apostle Peter mentioned people who “wrest” the Scriptures (2 Peter 3:15,16). They distort the meaning or interpretation of Bible verses so that they fit their opinions or views (“private interpretations;” 2 Peter 1:20). Before you think about Christendom’s excessive mishandling of the Holy Bible to create thousands upon thousands upon thousands of denominations, remember that the Bible was often largely misused long before Christianity.

Consider how the nation Israel (mis)handled Deuteronomy 13:1-11. They chose to use those few verses to condemn and kill Jesus Christ, all the while ignoring over 300 Old Testament prophecies that justified and validated Him as their God manifest in the flesh! Aptly, Jesus said that they did not believe Moses. Had they believed Moses they would have believed Jesus because Moses wrote about Jesus (John 5:39-47)—animals killed to clothe Adam and Eve, Noah’s ark as salvation from divine punishment, Abraham offering his only begotten son Isaac, Joseph’s betrayal by his brethren, the Passover lamb killed to ward off the death angel, and the whole law system (priesthood, sacrifices, tabernacle, holy vessels, feast days, et cetera), all depicted the Lord Jesus in some way. Israel ignored the fact that Jesus arrived exactly when Daniel predicted Messiah would be born (9:24-26), disregarded Micah’s prediction about Messiah’s birthplace (5:2), and ignored Isaiah when he described Messiah’s ministry, message, and miracles (35:3-6; 53:4; 61:1,2). On and on we could go, but these must suffice.

Who was leading Israel’s rebellion against the Lord Jesus? Saul of Tarsus! First Timothy 1:13 is the Apostle Paul’s reflection on his early years, when he served in the Devil’s ministry: “Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I did it ignorantly in unbelief” (cf. today’s Scripture). What grace and love God poured out on Saul (verse 14), when he deserved God’s wrath poured out on him! Yes, Saul had led Israel in manipulating Moses to murder Messiah, but to him, God’s goodness gave great grace!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who were the people who followed Jesus before Paul?

A Holy Nation #1

Monday, January 20, 2014

“For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45 KJV).

Today’s Scripture summarizes a book most burdensome to many.

An individual with whom I recently spoke had difficulty fathoming the necessity of the “strange” Old Testament kosher food laws (Leviticus chapter 11). In fact, the entire book of Leviticus (27 chapters) contains what many call “nit-picky” rules and regulations.

Leviticus—whose name is derived from Levi, the tribe of Israel’s priests, the main people of the book—abounds with JEHOVAH’S highly detailed instructions to Israel regarding blood sacrifices and food offerings, sexuality, clothing, health laws for lepers (those who contracted various skin diseases), a complex calendar of yearly feasts, farming practices, servitude and real estate, tithing, clean and unclean foods, an elaborate system of divine judgment in response to their disobedience, et cetera. The average Bible reader stumbles over this book. Why was God so strict and demanding? Did He just enjoy bullying Israel and controlling her every move?

Moses advised Israel in Deuteronomy 4:6-8: “Keep therefore and do [God’s statutes and judgments]; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statues, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?”

As today’s Scripture indicates, JEHOVAH is “holy,” and He wanted Israel to be “holy.” “Holy” in this sense means, “set apart [sanctified],” not sinless. Just as JEHOVAH was separate from the false idols of the heathen (Psalm 96:4,5, for example), so He wanted Israel to be separate from the nations of the world. He had redeemed them from Egypt (a type of the world), and now they were to live like His people!

Now, we begin to see why God was so “demanding” in the Mosaic Law….

Mercy and Not Sacrifice? #6

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

“But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day” (Matthew 12:7,8 KJV).

What did our Lord mean in today’s Scripture?

When Christ’s hungry disciples pick corn and eat it, the Pharisees become angry and complain that they have broken the Sabbath-day ordinance.

In verses 3-5, Christ wisely argued that although the shewbread was only meant for the priests to eat, David and his men were hungry and thus permitted to consume it (1 Samuel 21:1-6). Also, He argued, Moses—the Pharisees’ idol—said work on the Sabbath was acceptable if not working caused one to disobey other laws of God.

For instance, Israel’s priests had to perform Tabernacle and Temple duties, even on the Sabbath day. Another example is that the Jewish male baby had to be physically circumcised on the eighth day, even on the Sabbath day, or God wanted nothing to do with him (Genesis 17:10-14; Leviticus 12:3; John 7:22,23). A final example is that the Law commanded Jews to rescue their neighbors’ livestock trapped under burdens or fallen into pits, even on the Sabbath day (Exodus 23:5; Deuteronomy 22:4; Matthew 12:11,12; Luke 14:5; cf. Luke 13:15,16).

Israel’s spiritual condition during Jesus’s day is obvious. Satan, via vain religious tradition, has the Jews keeping laws for laws’ sakes! There is no faith in the Word of God; it is just mindless ceremonies, rites, and rituals. The same is true for much of Christendom today! There is no real hunger for souls and sound Bible doctrine; the emphasis is on experiences, entertainment, ceremonies, and regulations.

Whenever Jesus Christ healed the sick on the Sabbath day, the Pharisees were there forbidding it and criticizing Him. They would rather let sick people suffer than for Jesus to heal them on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:10; Mark 3:1-6; John 5:8-13; John 7:22,23). Jesus addressed their cruelty by telling them, I will have mercy” (today’s Scripture). He addressed their faithless religious performance by telling them, I will… not [have] sacrifice” (today’s Scripture). The Pharisees had no idea what Jesus meant anyway, for they were too blinded by sin and religious tradition….

Mercy and Not Sacrifice? #5

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

“But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day” (Matthew 12:7,8 KJV).

What did our Lord mean in today’s Scripture?

Christ’s disciples are hungry, so they pluck corn and eat it as they and Jesus pass through the fields (verse 1). The Pharisees, rather than being sympathetic toward these hungry believers in Christ, chastise them for “[doing] that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day” (verse 2). “Moses said not to work on the Sabbath Day, and Your disciples are disobeying Moses!”

Like the entire nation Israel, these religious leaders have lost sight of the God who gave them the Law through Moses. The Pharisees, the chief example of this hypocrisy, worshipped the Law instead of worshipping the God whom they were to worship using the Law!! Jesus frequently condemned this vain religious system during His earthly ministry (similar vain religion has plagued the Church the Body of Christ for the last 20 centuries!).

Christ twice-reminded these “educated,” conceited Pharisees of their ignorance of the Old Testament Scriptures: “But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; how he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?” (verses 3-5).

Jesus wisely argued that, although the shewbread was only meant for the priests to eat, David and his men were hungry and were permitted to consume it (1 Samuel 21:1-6). Furthermore, He argued that Moses’ inspired writings—“the law”—approved work on the Sabbath if not working caused one to disobey other laws of God. Remember, Israel’s priests had to perform Tabernacle and Temple duties, even on the Sabbath day.

Obviously, the Pharisees were so preoccupied with the Sabbath-day keeping that they overlooked the Sabbath-day meaning….

Who Is a Saint? #5

Friday, August 30, 2013

“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” (1 Corinthians 1:30 KJV).

Behold, the identity that we Christians have in the Lord Jesus Christ!

In religion, “saints” are nothing more than intercessors who influence God to grant us favors. In Scripture, they are something else entirely. God—yea, God alone—creates saints through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork (today’s Scripture). Saints are not for our selfish desires: they are for God to use to glorify His Son Jesus Christ forever and ever and ever.

Among other things, Jesus Christ is our “sanctification” (today’s Scripture). The writer of the book of Hebrews, when describing Israel’s salvation, used the same terminology the Apostle Paul utilized to refer to us, the Church the Body of Christ. “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all…. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified (Hebrews 10:10,14; cf. Hebrews 13:12; 1 Peter 1:2; Jude 1).

Just as God will separate (sanctify) these believing Jews from the unsaved descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (like He separated Aaron and his sons from the common Israeli bloodline for service in the Levitical priesthood), so He has separated us from the ordinary human race. Just as He will redeem Israel from her sins and Satanic bondage using Jesus Christ’s shed blood (via the New Covenant; Hebrews 8:8-13), so He has bought us out of that slave market of sin and death (redemption; today’s Scripture).

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). In Christ, we have a new nature: we are a new type of mankind, the Church the Body of Christ, the “one new man” (Ephesians 2:15). All saints are equal in Jesus Christ—all Christians are in one body.

When God saved us, He not only delivered us from His wrath in everlasting hellfire, but He made us “saints” in Jesus Christ (today’s Scripture) to use us for His glory forever….

Who Is a Saint? #2

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” (1 Corinthians 1:30 KJV).

Behold, the identity that we Christians have in the Lord Jesus Christ!

Isaiah 43:7 is the Bible’s clearest definition of “saint,” “sanctify,” and “sanctification:” “Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.”

When God makes one a “saint,” this individual is “called by [His] name” (sanctified), His creation, His “workmanship” (Ephesians 2:10), and no longer an ordinary human. The Creator of heaven and earth has redeemed him or her from the penalty of sin (hell and the lake of fire) and saved that person so He can use that person forever for His purposes. That “saint” should reflect God’s values and principles (as opposed to selfish, or sinful, living), thereby glorifying Him.

The Bible’s clearest illustrations of sanctification and sainthood are the Levitical (or Aaronic) priesthood and the vessels of the Tabernacle and Temple.

“For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:… and no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron” (Hebrews 5:1,4). Not just any Jewish man could serve in Israel’s priesthood—only a man “called of God,” a son of Moses’ brother Aaron, Israel’s first high priest (Exodus 28:41-43; Exodus 29:9,44; Exodus 40:12-15). Psalm 106:16 calls Aaron “the saint of the LORD.”

“…Aaron was separated, that he should sanctify the most holy things, he and his sons for ever, to burn incense before the LORD, to minister unto him, and to bless in his name for ever” (1 Chronicles 23:13). Aaron was “separated,” or “sanctified,” to be a priest to perform God’s service. “The most holy things,” associated with Aaron’s ministry, were special vessels (cups, bowls, shovels, et cetera) used in the Tabernacle (later, the Temple). Ordinary Jews were not to use those vessels: they were to only be used in God’s Tabernacle and Temple to do His work.

This is sanctification….

Israel’s Permanent High Priest

Sunday, July 7, 2013

“And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: but this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood” (Hebrews 7:23,24 KJV).

Israel had myriads of priests who “came and went,” but this High Priest is permanent….

Remember, the context of Hebrews is “the world to come(Hebrews 2:5). Its contents are not written to or about us Gentiles, for it is the book written to the Hebrews, and it involves a future time period. Specifically, Hebrews addresses Israel during the seven-year Tribulation (note they are looking for Jesus Christ’s Second Coming in Hebrews 10:25-31, which will conclude Daniel’s 70th week).

The book of Hebrews is to Israel what the book of Romans is to us, the Body of Christ. Romans discusses Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork and how God uses it to save us in this the Dispensation of Grace. Likewise, Hebrews teaches how God will utilize Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork to save Israel in her prophetic (kingdom) program.

“Better” appears 13 times within the book of Hebrews. God the Holy Spirit is urging Israel to leave behind the types and shadows and embrace their fulfillments which are “better”: animal sacrifices versus Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of Himself, the earthly tabernacle versus the heavenly tabernacle, the Levitical priesthood versus Christ’s Melchisedecian priesthood (today’s Scripture), the Old Covenant versus the New Covenant, et cetera.

Today’s Scripture demonstrates that Israel’s Old Testament Levitical (Aaronic) priesthood was faulty because its members died. Throughout those 1,500 years, Israel’s priests died and were replaced. Today’s Scripture continues: but this man [Jesus Christ; verse 22] because he continueth [liveth] [for] ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.” The word “unchangeable” means “nontransferable;” to wit, unlike the Aaronic priests who died and relinquished their office, Jesus Christ’s priesthood will never be transferred to anyone else because He lives forever!

At His Second Coming, Jesus Christ will take God by the hand and Israel by the hand, and join them forever; Israel will then be saved. “Wherefore, he is able also save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them (verse 25). What a wonderful hope Israel has!