In the last chapter we saw how the Levitical order had no funding when the Jews went into Babylon—and therefore the Levitical order collapsed. Then we saw how the rabbinical order arose to take its place. This provided continuity of leadership, but it gave rise to a different problem in that the rabbis had to create a new substitute for the Torah in order to justify staying in power. Yet even though the rabbis created a substitute torah, Yahweh still gave them favor for a time, in order to fulfill His purposes. However, eventually Yahweh removed His favor from the rabbinical order, and He sent His son to raise up a renewed Melchizedekian order, to replace them.
There are several complexities and subtleties involved in the transposition of priesthoods that took place in the first century, so in order to understand what really took place (as well as what we are supposed to be doing today), let us take a brief overview of the history of Israel’s priesthoods. This will lay the foundation for a much deeper, richer understanding in future chapters.
As we explain in Torah Government, there are three (or some say four) main roles (or offices) in Israel. These three (or four) main offices are:
- The king (government)
- The priest (spiritual government)
- The prophet (Yahweh’s spokesman)
- The anointed judge (a combination of all three)
Some people believe we should restore the original ways of doing things, as they were done in the Garden of Eden. However, this is not what Scripture teaches. Although the patriarchs originally filled all three or four offices, this cannot be the ultimate goal, because Israel is no longer just one nuclear family, but a nation of interdependent families. The need for organization and division of labor is increased, because there are many more people.
In Adam’s time there was no division of labor. Adam’s sons brought offerings to Yahweh by themselves. Hevel (Abel) brought Yahweh the first and finest of what Yahweh gave him, which pleased Yahweh. However, Qayin (Cain) just brought “an” offering (i.e., nothing special), and Yahweh was displeased.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 4:3-5
3 And in the process of time it came to pass that Qayin brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to Yahweh.
4 Hevel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their finest. And Yahweh respected Hevel and his offering,
5 but He did not respect Qayin and his offering. And Qayin was very angry, and his countenance fell.
This passage is interpreted in different ways, but in verse 4, the word “finest” is the Hebrew word chelev (ֵחלב). In context, this word refers to the richest or choicest part. This shows us that Yahweh likes it when we honor Him by giving the first and best parts back to Him (as Hevel did).
OT:2459 cheleb (kheh’-leb); or cheleb (khay’-leb); from an unused root meaning to be fat; fat, whether literally or figuratively; hence, the richest or choice part:
There are many Hebrew word plays (puns) in Scripture. Hevel wanted to show Yahweh His love by giving Him the first and finest of what he had. This was a manifestation of Hevel’s spirit. In Hebrew, the word for spirit is ruach (רוח). This is related to the Hebrew word for an aroma, which is riach (ריח). When we have a spirit (רוח) to serve Yahweh with our first and finest, it is a pleasing aroma (ריח) to Yahweh. This is the kind of spirit that pleases our Husband and King—and it was this same kind of spirit that Noach showed, which also pleased Yahweh.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 8:21
21 And Yahweh smelled a soothing aroma (ריח). Then Yahweh said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.”
Through Noach’s time, the patriarchs were still offering to Yahweh by themselves. However, by Avram’s day there was a separate priesthood. This was the start of the division of internal governance into three separate roles (king, priest, and prophet).
B’reisheet (Genesis) 14:18-20
18 Then Melchizedek king of Shalem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of Elohim Most High.
19 And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Avram of Elohim Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;
20 And blessed be Elohim Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all.
It is sometimes said that division of labor is one of the principles upon which all advanced societies are built. Yahweh favors division of labor, because it leads to specialization—and with specialization, societies are more productive.
Yahweh favored Melchizedek and his priesthood, or Avram would not have given him a tithe. Avram’s grandson Ya’akov (Jacob) also gave tithes, and probably tithed through the same Melchizedekian order as his grandfather had.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 28:20-22
20 Then Ya’akov made a vow, saying, “If Elohim will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on,
21 so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then Yahweh shall be my Elohim.
22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be Elohim’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”
Earlier we saw that while the patriarchs were alive, it was not necessary to develop separate government offices. However, as the patriarchs died and the tribes grew, they no longer had a single patriarch in common to unify them. This is the point at which it became necessary to develop separate offices, to keep the tribes from drifting apart. This is probably also why Yahweh sent the tribes into Egypt before Israel died. Pharaoh was a tyrant, but he was able to keep the tribes together under his strong central rule. Further, the time the tribes spent in bondage together under Pharaoh helped Israel develop a strong and enduring sense of identity as a people.
Because man’s carnal nature is to rule (rather than to be ruled), men dislike submitting to anyone else (whether in government, or in priesthood). Men are always looking for ways to avoid submitting to their government, and to avoid supporting their priesthood. However, unless a nation has unified leadership and a centralized priesthood, the nation will fall, as Yeshua tells us that every kingdom (or nation) that is divided against itself cannot stand.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 12:25
25 But Yeshua knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.”
Before the tribes of Israel could come out from under Pharaoh’s strong central tyrant leadership, first they needed to develop centralized servant leadership. For this reason, Yahweh sent Moshe (Moses), who would spend the rest of his life serving Yahweh and His people.
Now that Israel had its own government, Yahweh could give Israel its own priesthood. Because Yahweh had killed all the firstborn sons of Egypt, Yahweh claimed all of the firstborn of Israel for Himself.
Shemote (Exodus) 13:2
2 “Separate unto Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine.”
The job of any priest is to uphold Yahweh’s standards; and the order of the firstborn did not last long, as neither Aharon nor the firstborn restrained the people at the incident of the golden calf.
Shemote (Exodus) 32:25-26
25 Now when Moshe saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aharon had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies),
26 then Moshe stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, “Whoever is on Yahweh’s side — come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him.
The Levites showed themselves willing to oppose the people, and uphold Yahweh’s standards. Thus, while the entire camp of Israel is set apart unto Yahweh, the Levitical priesthood is set apart a little more. Within that order, the priests are set apart even more. Next, the high priest is most set apart. Thus, while all Israel is set apart from the world, there still has to be an order within Israel, or nothing functions properly. However, Korah and the other men rose up against Yahweh’s ordained order.
Bemidbar (Numbers) 16:1-3
1 Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men;
2 and they rose up before Moshe with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown.
3 They gathered together against Moshe and Aharon, and said to them, “You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is set apart, every one of them, and Yahweh is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of Yahweh?”
Korah reasoned that the entire assembly was set apart, and that there should be no distinction between them. He sought to erase any distinction. Yahweh was very displeased, and Korah and his men paid for it with their lives (and the lives of their families).
Bemidbar (Numbers) 16:31-33
31 Now it came to pass, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them,
32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods.
33 So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly.
Once Yahweh had established Moshe in the kingship, and the Levites in an internal priesthood, Yahweh began to refine and develop Israel’s kingship. Moshe’s father-in-law Yithro (Jethro) told Moshe that in addition to their division into twelve tribal armies, the people should be organized into subdivisions of tens, fifties, hundreds, and thousands. That is, in addition to gross divisions by tribes (analogous to what later became the Judeo-Christian nations), the people were also to be organized within their tribes (and later, their nations).
Shemote (Exodus) 18:21
21 “Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear Elohim, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.”
As we mentioned earlier, the lost tribes later became the Christian kingships of Europe—and these Christian kingships had order and governance inside their own borders. They also established judicial functions within all of their gates, as Yahweh commands.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:18
18 “You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which Yahweh your Elohim gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment.”
Yahweh said Israel would one day have a king. The only caveat was that Yahweh said Israel should not choose a king for themselves, like all the other nations that were around them. Instead, they were to set over themselves the king (leader) of Yahweh’s choosing.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 17:14-15
14 “When you come to the land which Yahweh your Elohim is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,’
15 you shall surely set a king over you whom YHWH your Elohim chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother.”
Israel could have asked for a set apart king, so they could be set apart; but they did exactly what Yahweh said not to do—they asked for a king so they could be like all the (other) nations. That is, they chose to be profane. This is a prophetic foreshadow of democracy, where the people choose their own leaders according to their own desires (rather than ask Yahweh to give them the leader He wants them to have). Notice how, in verse 5, Israel asks for a king so they can be like all the other nations.
Shemuel Aleph (1 Samuel) 8:4-5
4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah,
5 and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.”
Verse 20 confirms that Israel’s sin was not in seeking a set apart king (like David), but in seeking a non-set apart king, so they could be like all the other nations.
Shemuel Aleph (1 Samuel) 8:19-20
19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No, but we will have a king over us,
20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”
Had the Israelites asked Shemuel (Samuel) for a set apart king, Yahweh would surely have been pleased.
Yahweh eventually gave Israel a righteous king, so that Yeshua could come from David’s line. He was to become our High Priest in the heavens forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.
Ivrim (Hebrews) 6:19-20
19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,
20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Yeshua, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
The term Melchizedek translates roughly as “King of Righteousness.” This perfectly describes Yeshua, who fulfills not just the high priestly role, but also the role of the kingship (i.e., the commander of Yahweh’s armies). This is a key core concept that we need to understand, if we are to realize who Yeshua is, and how He wants His bride to help Him during His absence.
In the last chapter we saw that Yeshua came to liberate those who were spiritually oppressed by the rabbis, as well as those who were in spiritual captivity in the nations (Ephraim, but in reality all twelve tribes—plus the lost and scattered seed of Avraham). What Yeshua came to begin was a generations-long spiritual campaign that would go through many phases—and because Yeshua would not be physically present to lead the spiritual war, He had to train up a priesthood to lead His army in His absence.
What so many people do not realize is that Yeshua did not want a ragtag, disorganized rabble, but a well-organized spiritual fighting force. His army would have to take the Good News to all four corners of the world, calling the lost and scattered children of Avraham and Israel back into the covenant through faith in Yeshua Messiah, uniting them as one cohesive nation, even though they would not have a country to call their own. This could only be done with some form of central organization and leadership. Just as in earlier times, centralized organization and leadership would be key to Israel’s success. (Not coincidentally, this is why it is called the Melchizedekian order, and not the Melchizedekian disorder.)
Just as the Levites were ordered along military lines, the Melchizedekian priesthood would also need to be ordered along military lines. Yeshua would lead them, as their King and High Priest, through his priesthood—which is perhaps the reason He came to Yochanan HaMatbil (John the Baptist) to be immersed.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 3:13-17
13 Then Yeshua came from Galilee to Yochanan at the Jordan to be immersed by him.
14 And Yochanan tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be immersed by You, and are You coming to me?”
15 But Yeshua answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.
16 When He had been immersed, Yeshua came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of Elohim descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.
17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Before a high priest is anointed, first he must be cleansed, just as Aharon and his sons had to be washed with water. This washing with water was basically the same idea as immersion (baptism).
Shemote (Exodus) 29:4
4 “And Aharon and his sons you shall bring to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and you shall wash them with water.”
Next came the anointing. With Aharon and his sons, the anointing was with blood and oil.
Shemote (Exodus) 29:21
21 “And you shall take some of the blood that is on the altar, and some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aharon and on his garments, on his sons and on the garments of his sons with him; and he and his garments shall be set apart, and his sons and his sons’ garments with him.”
Yeshua could not go to the rabbis to be anointed, because they did not truly follow Elohim (but their own authority). This is why He went to Yochanan HaMatbil to be anointed, as he was the son of Zechariah, a Levitical high priest.
Luqa (Luke) 1:13
13 But the messenger said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elisheva will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Yochanan.”
Once Yeshua had been immersed in water, then He was immersed by the Set apart Spirit (Matthew 3:16, above).
What so many people fail to grasp is that just as a king is the leader of a temporal (physical) army, the high priest is the leader of a spiritual army. These two are to work together to subdue the earth for Yahweh. In this light, let us look at the four main offices we listed at the start of this chapter, in military terms:
- The king (leads the temporal army)
- The priest (leads the spiritual army)
- The prophet (communicates with Yahweh)
- The anointed judge (a combination of all three)
As we will explain later, apostles are basically judges—except that while there is typically only one anointed judge at a time, there can be any number of apostles. The only requirement is that they all work together as part of one cohesive spiritual army, after the order of Melchizedek. However, the thing so many people miss is that there has to be order between them. They have to submit one to another in the Spirit, and then together they must submit to Yahweh’s word. If they do not submit both to Yahweh’s Spirit and His word, then the result is chaos and confusion (which, as we will see later, is a decent operational definition of the Messianic Israel movement).
Once Yeshua had become anointed as the High Priest of the renewed Melchizedekian order, He immediately searched for twelve dedicated men who would eagerly lay down the rest of their lives for the privilege of joining His spiritual army, and organizing the people, so they could begin taking the spiritual battle to the enemy.