Did the change in the priesthood mean the Levitical promise of an eternal priesthood went away?
Many people believe that the change in the priesthood mentioned in Hebrews violates Torah or nullifies the promises made by Elohim to Aharon and his sons.
Since there was a change in the Kohanim, so also there was a change in the procedure of the Kohanim. –Ivrim (Hebrews) 7:12
On this subject of the priesthood “changing” from the Aharonic priesthood to the priesthood of Messiah, there is much confusion. This is a difficult subject to grasp fully when weighing the promises of Elohim in the Torah to the Renewed Covenant passages, specifically in the book of Hebrews. Even for those who follow Torah and keep the testimony of Yeshua, there is a tendency not to see the full picture, and in turn many arrive at some erroneous conclusions. However, if we walk through the scriptures without the preconception of errors that many of us were taught, we see that once again there is no contradiction in scripture between the Torah and the Brit Khadashah (New Testament).
In the Torah Abba made it clear to Aharon and his sons that they were given the priesthood as an everlasting covenant:
“And you shall gird them with girdles, Aharon and his sons, and bind mitres on them; and they shall have the priesthood by a perpetual statute; and you shall consecrate Aaron and his sons.” (Ex 29:9)
“And you shall anoint them, as you anointed their father, that they may minister unto Me in the priest’s office; and their anointing shall be to them for an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations. (Ex 40:15)
Abba even makes a covenant of shalom specifically with Pinkhas (or Pinchas) in Numbers;
“…and it shall be unto him, and to his seed after him, the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was jealous for his Elohim, and made atonement for the children of Yisra’el.”(Num 25:13)
Then we read in Hebrews that the priesthood has been ‘changed.’ So, does this mean that the Torah of Abba is subject to change in light of the renewed covenant scriptures? Does this mean that when Abba says everlasting He doesn’t mean it? Does this mean that the Aharonic priesthood is over and done with?
That cannot be true for many reasons, but primarily because our Elohim does not change. “For I am יהוה , I shall not change” (Mal 3:6)
So let’s look at the seeming contradictions that exist between the passages we have just read. Let us first be reminded, however, of Kefa’s (Peter’s) warning about Sha’ul.
“15And consider that the long-suffering of יהוה is salvation; even as our beloved brother Sha’ul also, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16as also in all his letters, he speaks concerning these matters, in which there are certain things so hard to be understood that those who are ignorant and unstable twist their meaning, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.” –Kefa Bet (2nd Peter) 3:15-16 [PV]
We also see Sha’ul himself warning that the subject of Messiah as our Kohen Gadol (High Priest) is hard to understand.
“10So He was called by Elohim a Kohen Gadol after the order of Melki Tzedek . 11Now concerning this very Melki Tzedek we have much to say, but it is difficult to explain, because you are dull of comprehension. 12By now you should be teachers, because you have been a long time in training; but even now you need to be taught the primary writings of the Word of Elohim; but you are still in need of milk, and not strong meat. 13For every man whose food is milk is unfamiliar with the Word of tzedaka ; for he is a babe. 14But strong meat belongs to those who are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” –Ivrim (Hebrews) 5:10-14 [PV]
The first thing we need to look at is the Hebrew word for priest, ‘kohen’. The first time this word is used is in Bereshit (Genesis) about Melki Tzedek. This is important, because He was not just any priest: He was (is) a priest of the Most High Elohim… יהוה . So what we see is that this is a legitimate priesthood that precedes the Aharonic priesthood and, as Sha’ul discusses in the book of Hebrews, Avraham, the father of Aharon and his sons, gave tithes to this priest.
“Ch6:18 Thus, by the promise and by the oath, both of which are unchangeable, and in neither of which could Elohim lie, we find courage to hold fast to the hope that has been promised by Him in whom we have taken refuge. 19That promise is like an anchor to us; it upholds the soul so that it may not be shaken, and it penetrates beyond the veil of the Beit HaMikdash ; 20therein Yeshua has previously entered into the Beit HaMikdash for our sakes, and become the Kohen HaGadol forever, after the order of Melki Tzedek. Ch7:1For this Melki Tzedek was king of Shalem, the Kohen of El Eliyon, who met Avraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2and to whom Avraham also set aside a tenth part from the choice things he had with him. His name is interpreted ‘King of tzedaka,’ and again, ‘king of Shalem,’ which means ‘King of Shalom.’ 3Neither His father nor His mother is recorded in the genealogies; and neither the beginning of His days nor the end of His life; but, like the Son of Elohim, His priesthood abides forever. 4Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Avraham gave tithes and paid bikkurim. 5For those sons of Levi who received the office of the priesthood were authorized by Torah to take tithes from the people, even from their own brethren who also had come out of the loins of Avraham. 6But this man, who is not recorded in their genealogies, took tithes even from Avraham, and blessed him who had received the promises. 7Beyond dispute, he who was less was blessed by Him who was greater than himself. 8And here mortal men receive tithes; but there He, of whom the scripture testifies that He lives, receives them. 9Speaking as a man, through Avraham even Levi, who received tithes, also gave tithes. 10For he was yet in the loins of his forefather Avraham when Melki Tzedek met him.” –Ivrim (Hebrews) 6:18-7:10 [PV]
So we see that the priesthood of Melki Tzedek is not new and was not something “created” or “changed” in the time of Messiah. This priesthood existed before Aharon was even born. It is also a priesthood that the psalmist spoke about in reference to Messiah:
“For יהוה has sworn and will not repent: “You are a priest forever in the order of Melki Tzedek.” (Ps 110:4)
We can see through these passages that not only did the priesthood of Melki Tzedek exist before the priesthood given to Aharon, but that there is nothing in scripture that says it went away when the Aharonic priesthood was established. In fact Psalm 110:4 says just the opposite.
So we have both priesthoods existing simultaneously, and in the book of Hebrews we are shown that the priesthood of Melki Tzedek is the greater priesthood. This makes sense, because the Heavenly Tabernacle is greater than the earthly Tabernacle; in fact the earthly Tabernacle was a model of the Heavenly one, was it not? Sha’ul affirms it, echoing the book of Exodus, “See to it that you make it [the tabernacle] after the pattern shown you on the Mount.”
We can also ascertain from scripture that the covenant of shalom and the everlasting priesthood that Abba made with Pin’khas did not negate the everlasting covenant He made with ALL the sons of Aharon. So, just as Sha’ul teaches us in Galatians, a covenant made by Elohim does not negate a promise/covenant made prior to the second one. The covenant that Elohim made with Avraham wasn’t nullified because of the covenant made at Sinai, and neither does the priesthood of Melki Tzedek, which is the greater priesthood, come to an end because of the priesthood Abba gave to Aharon and his sons.
“17And, this I say, that the covenant which was previously confirmed of Elohim in Mashiakh cannot be repudiated, nor the promise nullified by the Torah which came four hundred and thirty years later. 18For if the inheritance is by the Torah, then it would not be as the fulfillment of promise; but Elohim gave it to Avraham by promise.” –Galatim (Galatians) 3:17 [PV]
We can see in the book of Acts the “overlapping” of the Heavenly Priesthood of Yeshua with the earthly, Aharonic priesthood. The Priests of the line of Aaron accepted offerings from Messianic believers after Yeshua had died and ascended. We see that Sha’ul and four other men had taken a Nazarite vow. We can see that Sha’ul was under the vow as well because he was “purified with them”.
“Then Sha’ul took the men and on the next day he was purified with them, and he entered into the Temple, informing them how to complete the days of purification until the gift of every one of them was offered.” –Ma’asei HaShlikhim (Acts [of] The Apostles) 21:26 [PV]
To understand that this meant that Sha’ul not only made a sacrifice, but multiple sacrifices, we need to look at Numbers 6:13-21 which outlines the way to end a Nazarite vow.
“And this is the law of the Nazirite: When the days of his separation are completed, he is brought to the door of the Tent of Meeting, and he shall bring his offering to יהוה : one male lamb a year old, a perfect one, as a burnt offering, and one ewe lamb a year old, a perfect one, as a sin offering, and one ram, a perfect one, as a peace offering, and a basket of unleavened bread, cakes of fine flour mixed with oil, and unleavened thin cakes anointed with oil, and their grain offering with their drink offerings. And the priest shall bring them before יהוה and prepare his sin offering and his burnt offering. And he shall prepare the ram as a peace offering to יהוה , together with the basket of unleavened bread. And the priest shall prepare its grain offering and its drink offering. And the Nazirite shall shave the head of his separation at the door of the Tent of Meeting, and shall take the hair from the head of his separation and shall put it on the fire which is under the slaughtering of the peace offering. And the priest shall take the boiled shoulder of the ram, and one unleavened cake from the basket, and one unleavened thin cake, and put them upon the hands of the Nazirite after he has shaved his hair of separation. Then the priest shall wave them, a wave offering before יהוה . It is set-apart for the priest, besides the breast of the wave offering and besides the thigh of the contribution. And afterwards the Nazirite shall drink wine. This is the statute of the Nazirite who vows to יהוה the offering for his separation, and besides that, whatever else his hand is able to provide. According to the vow which he takes, so he shall do according to the law of his separation.” (Num 6:13-21)
We also see this overlapping of the different priesthoods in the millennial kingdom when we read Ezekiel: 40-46 which talks about the sacrifices that will be performed in the millennial kingdom in the third Beit HaMikdash . Isaiah the prophet also spoke of those that would become priests from outside of the line of Aharon.
“And they shall bring all your brothers as an offering to יהוה out of all the gentiles, on horses and in chariots and in litters, on mules and on camels, to My Holy mountain Yerushalayim,” declares יהוה , “as the children of Yisra’el bring an offering in a clean vessel into the House of יהוה . And from them too I shall take for priests and Levi’im,” declares יהוה . (Isa 60:20-21)
So why is the Aharonic priesthood lesser, and why was it given in the first place? This is a point people frequently miss: the Aharonic priesthood was not in existence when Yisra’el said “we will” to Abba in Exodus 19, in fact at that point Abba’s desire was for Yisra’el to be a kingdom of priests.
“’And now, if you diligently obey My voice, and shall guard My covenant, then you shall be My treasured possession above all the peoples – for all the earth is Mine – and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ Those are the words which you are to speak to the children of Yisra’el. And Moshe came and called for the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which יהוה commanded him. And all the people answered together and said, ‘All that יהוה has spoken we shall do.’ So Moshe brought back the words of the people to יהוה .” (Ex 19:5-8)
We can also look at what Abba told Yisra’el when they first came out of Egypt;
And יהוה spoke to Moshe, saying, “Set apart to Me all the first-born, the one opening the womb among the children of Yisra’el, among man and among beast, it is Mine.” (Exodus 13:1-2)
It can be concluded, then, that the setting-apart of the firstborn male from all the tribes, was for the purpose of the priesthood as it was originally intended by Abba (for all of Yisra’el). We can see that when we look at Exodus 19, when Abba came down and appeared to Yisra’el. Remember this was before Abba set apart Aharon and his sons to serve as priests.
“And it came to be, on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain. And the sound of the ram’s horn was very loud, and all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moshe brought the people out of the camp to meet with Elohim, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. And Mount Sinai was in smoke, all of it, because יהוה descended upon it in fire. And its smoke went up like the smoke of a furnace, and all the mountain trembled exceedingly. And when the blast of the ram’s horn sounded long and became louder and louder, Moshe spoke, and Elohim answered him by voice. And יהוה came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And יהוה called Moshe to the top of the mountain, and Moshe went up. And יהוה said to Moshe, “Go down, and warn the people, lest they break through unto יהוה to see, and many of them fall. And let the priests who come near יהוה set themselves apart too, lest יהוה break out against them.” And Moshe said to יהוה , “The people are not able to come up to Mount Sinai, for You warned us, saying, ‘Make a border around the mountain and set it apart.’ ” And יהוה said to him, “Come, go down and then come up, you and Aharon with you. But do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to יהוה , lest He break out against them.” (Exodus 19-16-24)
Clearly these were priests that existed before Aharon and his sons were appointed. Abba desired Yisra’el to be a kingdom of priests and a Kadosh (holy) nation, so what happened? When Abba spoke to Moshe up on the mountain He told Moshe to set apart Aharon and his sons to serve as priest in the Tabernacle for performing the sacrifices and offerings. Was this because of what Abba told Moshe regarding what would happen when Moshe descended down from the mountain and Yisra’el committed the sin of the golden calf? Quite possibly, but what we do know is that it was the Levites that stood up for Abba and killed 3,000 men and because of that they were blessed.
“And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moshe. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day. And Moshe said, “You are ordained for יהוה today – since each one has been against his son and his brother – so as to bring upon you a blessing today.” (Exodus 32:28-29)
We also look at what Kefa says about Yisra’el through Messiah Yeshua, he says we are a priesthood, and Yokhanan (John) tells us in Revelation that we have become that priesthood.
The one to whom you are coming is the living stone, whom men have rejected, and yet He is chosen and precious with Elohim; 5
you also, as living stones, build up yourselves and become spiritual temples and k’doshim Kohanim
, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to Elohim, by Yeshua HaMashiakh. 6
For as it is said in the scriptures, ‘Behold, I lay in Tzion a chief cornerstone, approved, and precious; and he who trusts on Him shall not be ashamed.’ 7
It is to you who trust, therefore, that this honor is given; but to those who are disobedient, He is a stumbling stone and a stone of offense. 8
And they stumble over it because they are disobedient to the Word for which they were appointed. 9
But you are a chosen family, ministers in HaMalkut
, a kadosh
people, a congregation redeemed to proclaim the glories of Him who has called you out of darkness to His marvelous light; 10
you, who in the past were not considered a people, but who are now the people of Elohim, who had not obtained mercy, but who now have mercy poured out upon you.” –Kefa Alef (1st
Peter) 2:4-10 [PV]
“…and has made us a kingdom of Kohanim (Priests ) to Elohim His Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amein.” (Rev 1:6 [PV])
The book of Hebrews therefore is not saying that the promise made to Aharon and his sons in the Torah is done away with through Messiah. The Aharonic priesthood has to do with the priestly duties in the earthly Tabernacle/Beit HaMikdash , but Messiah restores the priesthood to the entire nation of Yisra’el, which was Abba’s desire all along. He does so through Messiah as a Priest in the order of Meki Tzedek, a High Priest in the true Tabernacle of which the earthly Tabernacle was a shadow/copy. The book of Hebrews makes it clear that concerning the priesthood in the earthly Beit HaMikdash, Messiah would not qualify.
“1Now above all we have a Kohen Gadol (High Priest ) who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven; 2and He has become the minister of the Temple and of the true tabernacle which Elohim pitched, and not man. 3For every Kohen Gadol is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices, therefore it is necessary that this man have something to offer also. 4For if He were on earth, He would not be a kohen, because there are Kohanim who offer gifts according to the Torah, 5who serve the semblance and shadow of heavenly things, just as it was commanded to Moshe when he was about to make the tabernacle: ‘See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you in the mount.’ ” –Ivrim (Hebrews) 8:1-5 [PV]
The priesthood we are offered and enter into through Messiah, it is the priesthood of Melki Tzedek, in the service of the Heavenly Tabernacle, with the offerings and sacrifices being spiritual, this, by the way, is available to all (including the Levites) who put their trust in Messiah and walk in obedience by the Ruakh and not by the flesh. The everlasting priesthood promised to the sons of Aharon is still in effect on earth in the service in the Beit HaMikdash, and eternally through service (along with all of Yisra’el) in the true Tabernacle not made with human hands, but by Abba Himself.