The Role of the Levites and the Tribal Banners

Numbers 1

Numbers 1:50, The Levites. The role of the Levites was to assist the priests in the tabernacle service (Num 3:6–8; 16:9; 1 Chr 23:28–32; Ezra 3:8) including caring for the tabernacle (Num 1:53) and its furniture, its setting up, dismantling and transporting (Num 3–4). In addition, they assisted the priests by preparing the cereal offering (1 Chr 23:29). They acted as singer and musicians in the temple to offer praise to YHVH (1 Chr 23:30). They were allowed to approach the tabernacle furniture only after the priests had covered and prepared them for transport (Num 4:5–15; 18:3) but they could not touch any of the tabernacle’s set-apart instruments lest they die (Num 4:15), nor could they even see them (Num 4:20). 

Not only were the Levites commissioned to attend to the needs of the priests and the things of the tabernacle, but YHVH instructed them “to attend to the needs” or “keep charge” (Heb. mishmereth) of, presumably, the spiritual needs of the whole congregation or children of Israel (Num 3:7–8). Although mishemereth is a noun meaning “charge, function, obligation, service, or watch,” it is often translated into English as a verbs of actionsuch as “to keep, guard, keep charge, or watch” through its root shamar, a verb meaning “to keep, guard, observe, give heed.” Mishmereth principally refers to the Levites’ obligatory duties relating to the service of the temple. 

Later on, the Levites were involved in teaching and interpreting the Torah (Neh 8:7, 9; 2 Chr 17:7–9; 35:3). There is no indication that the Levites were permitted to offer sacrifices, with the notable exception of Samuel, who was a Levite, but not a priest (1 Sam 1:1 cp. 1 Chr 6:28).

YHVH chose the Levites as his set-apart ministers to replace the firstborn of the Israelites that he spared when he smote the firstborn of the Egyptians (Num 3:12–13, 41–45).

Numbers 1:52, Standard [or banner]. Each tribe had its own flag or banner. Although the Torah doesn’t tell us what these flags looked like, Jewish oral tradition records this information. According to Numbers Midrash Rabbah, the flag of each tribe was the color of its stone in the high priests breastplate and is described as follows:

  • Reuben’s stone was ruby and the color of the flag was red with embroidered mandrakes.
  • Simeon was topaz and his flag was green with the town of Shechem embroidered thereon.
  • Levi was smaragd (like an emerald) and the color of his flag was one third each of white, black and red and was embroidered with the urim and thummim.
  • Judah’s was carbuncle and the color of his flag was like the heavens and was embroidered with a lion.
  • Issachar’s was a sapphire and the color of his flag was black and embroidered on it was the sun and moon, which is an allusion to the text in 1 Chronicles 12:33 that the sons of Issachar understood times.
  • Zebulun’s was an emerald and the color of his flag was white with a ship embroidered on it in allusion to the text that Zebulun shall dwell at the shore of the sea (Gen 49:13).
  • Dan’s stone was the jacinth and the color of his flag was similar to sapphire, and embroidered on it was a serpent in allusion to the text that Dan shall be a serpent in the way (Gen 49:17).
  • Gad’s was an agate and the color of his flag was a blend of black and white, and on it was embroidered a camp in allusion to text that says Gad shall be a troop (Gen 49:19).
  • Naphtali was an amethyst and the color of his flag was like clarified wine of not a very deep red, and on it was embroidered a dear in allusion to the text which says that Naphtali will be like a dear let loose (Gen 49:21).
  • Asher was beryl and the color of his flag was like the precious stone with which women adorn themselves, and embroidered with an olive tree in allusion to the text that says that Asher’s bread shall be fat (Gen 49:20).
  • Joseph was an onyx and the color of his flag was jet black and embroidered thereon for both princes, Ephraim and Manasseh, was Egypt because they were born in Egypt.
  • On Ephraim’s flag was embroidered a bullock in allusion to the text that says his firstling would be a bullock (Deut 33:17).
  • On Manasseh’s flag was embroidered a wild ox in allusion to the text which says his horns are that of a wild ox (Deut 33:13), which alludes to Gideon, the Joash, who came from that tribe.
  • Benjamin’s stone was jasper and the color of his flag was combination of all the twelve colors, and embroidered thereon was a wolf in allusion to the text that says that Benjamin is ravenous like a wolf (Gen 49:27).

Now compare this list of precious and semiprecious stones with the list of stones that will comprise the twelve foundations of the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:19–21). There are a lot of similarities.

 

Leviticus 16—Natan’s Commentary Notes

Leviticus 16:1–34, Passover and the Day of Atonement compared. A cursory reading of the Scriptures seems to indicate that there exists overlapping similarities between some of the blood atonement ceremonies of Passover or Pesach and the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. What are the differences between the sin atonement offerings of Pesach and Yom Kippur

Perhaps realizing the fact that the Passover occurs during the spring feast day season and the Day of Atonement occurs during the fall feast day season may help to answer this question. This is because prophetically the spring feast days picture Messiah Yeshua’s first coming, while the fall feast days prophetically point to his second coming. How does this understanding shed light on the answer to this question? 

Both Pesach and Yom Kippur picture redemption through the shed blood of Yeshua, that is, the saint being delivered from bondage to sin and the rudiments of this world. Passover symbolizes the first steps a new believer takes when coming out of spiritual Egypt and accepting Yeshua, the Lamb of YHVH, as one’s Savior and Master. Yom Kippur, on the other hand, pictures the blood of the Lamb covering over the saint’ sins after his initial salvation experience and the corporate sins of the nation of Israel. 

If our understanding of the order of end time events is correct, Yom Kippur also prophetically points to the time when Yeshua will return to the earth to initiate the final regathering of the lost and scattered tribes of Israel, and to prepare to marry his bride, redeemed Israel or the Israel of Elohim (Gal 6:16), that is, the saints. Perhaps this latter understanding will help to answer why another Passover-like feast is needed. Yom Kippur does not focus so much on leaving Egypt, but rather on YHVH’s people preparing to enter the millennial kingdom under the Messiah. Those saints who will be the betrothed bride of Yeshua need to make themselves ready for Yeshua’s return by putting on spiritual robes of righteousness that are spotless and pure. Although the bride of Messiah saints are not sinners by definition, for the Bible calls them “the righteous” (1 Pet 4:18), they still sin (hopefully only occasionally; 1 John 1:8–9; Rom 7:13–25), and still need to have their sins washed away by the blood of Yeshua, even just before they meet Yeshua at his return. Yom Kippur pictures this final redemptive cleansing or preparation time of Yeshua’s bride.

Understanding the Yom Kippur Goat Rituals

Understanding and interpreting the rituals of Leviticus 16 can be perplexing and complicated task. This is because often encrypted in certain scriptural passages the deep and open-minded Bible student will find multiple levels of meaning and prophetic fulfillments. The serious biblical researcher understands this and is not put off by any seeming discrepancies between a surface or literal fulfillment of a scripture vis-à-vis its prophetic fulfillment. An example of this would be the virgin and child prophecy of Isaiah 7. There was both a historical or immediate fulfillment of this prophecy and a future one relating to the coming Messiah. 

Moreover, we must keep something else in mind when dealing with biblical passages that are difficult to understand because they contain figurative language of a prophetic nature that often employ typologies (types and shadows). By definition, a type is a person or thing that represents someone or something else. When dealing with prophetic types in Scripture, the type never perfectly mirrors that to which it is prophetically pointing. The type is merely a shadow of what is to come (Col 2:17; Heb 10:1; 8:5), and therefore it is neither a perfect representation of the reality nor its there a perfect one-to-one correlation between the two. However, there are enough similarities to deduce a correlation between the two, even as a shadow is the shape and outline of the image it represents, but it doesn’t contain all the details of it.

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The Protocols for Coming Into the Presence of the Almighty Creator

Leviticus 16:1–31 Explained

How do humans come into the presence of YHVH Elohim? There is one proper way to do so, and many improper ways. The Torah’s discussion pertaining to the rituals associated with the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) reveal to us what the proper protocol is and also alludes to the fact that there is an improper way to approach the Almighty Creator as well—something which brings disastrous results. We see an example of this in the case of Nadab and Abihu.

Now YHVH spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered profane fire before YHVH, and died… (Lev 16:1)

Elohim killed Nadab and Abihu because they came into the holy of holies in the Tabernacle of Moses (a representation of Elohim’s heavenly throne room) in a careless and indifferent manner. Not only does the Torah indicate that they intoxicated with alcohol, but they failed to follow the proper ceremonial protocols outlined by YHVH Elohim to come into his presence. The next few verses lay out what those protocols are to come before the King of the universe. To not follow those protocols brings the death penalty on the person. Such a person is entering illegally as an unauthorized trespasser.

Before exploring how to enter the presence of Elohim properly, let’s bring this abstract concept down to a level we can understand. For example, who hasn’t seen signs on private property that say something like this: “Private Property, No Trespassing,” “Government Property, No Trespassing,” “Unauthorized Entrance Prohibited,” “Violators Will Be Prosecuted to the Full Extent of the Law,” or “Violators Will Be Shot”? What happens to an uninvited intruder who climbs over the fence around the White House or over the walls of Buckingham Palace? Likely, they will be arrested if not shot on the spot. Similarly, there are penalties for coming into the throne room of the Almighty YHVH Elohim illegally.

…and YHVH said to Moses: “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat. (Lev 16:2)

YHVH Elohim does not allow humans to casually saunter into his presence anytime and in any manner they want. Though Elohim is our loving Heavenly Father, he is holy (set-apart) and is the Creator of the Universe who is to be feared and respected (Heb 12:28), and he is a consuming fire (Heb 12:29). He has the power of life and death; he gives life and can take it away (Matt 10:28). Humans (especially Christians) would do well to know their place before the Almighty, to treat him with the respect he is due and to follow his instructions in all areas of their relationship with him. Indeed, YHVH wants humans to come before him, but in the proper way.

It is utter foolishness and hubris on the part of humans to ignore the clear commands and instructions of Elohim. Nadab and Abihu found out the hard way; their folly cost them their lives. There are no theologies regardless of the respectability or age of the religious institution or denomination or the erudition of the biblical scholars that invented them that can circumvent the clear instructions of YHVH Elohim. Phrases one often hears mainstream church leaders quote with regard to the laws of the Almighty such as “It has been done away with,” “It has been nailed to the cross,” “We’re under grace now, not under the law,” “That was for the Jews,” “Jesus fulfilled that for me, so I’m not required to do that” and so on will not pass muster with Elohim. He makes the rules, his rules do not change, and humans would do well to remember that. For those who take the commands of Elohim casually more as suggestions, remember Nadab and Abihu! “That was under the old covenant, we’re under the dispensation of grace now,” one might say in objection. My reply? Well, then consider the case of Ananias and Sapphira in the book of Acts whom Elohim struck down for lying to the apostles and the Set-Apart Spirit (Acts 5:1–11)!

So what is the first rule of protocol for coming into the presence of YHVH Elohim?

Thus Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: with the blood of a young bull as a sin offering, and of a ram as a burnt offering. (Lev 16:3)

Without humans acknowledging that they are sinners, they cannot come into the presence of Elohim. What’s more, they must bring the proper sin offering—a perfect bull or ram. Only by the shedding of blood can man’s sins be atoned for. Leviticus 17:11 says, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” Until a person’s sins have been atoned for through the shedding of blood, one is not allowed into the presence of Elohim. Period! There are no religious rituals of man, no mantras, no amount of prayers, begging or pleading, no ascetic exercises, no formulas, no incantations, no drug induced altered states of consciousness, no conjured spells, no abracadabra mumbo jumbo words, no wishful thinking, no amount of good thoughts, no self-made or designer spiritual paths or anything else that can bring us into the presence of the Almighty. There is only one way to the Father in heaven and that is through the blood of Yeshua the Messiah, the Lamb of Elohim, who paid the price for each person’s sins (Acts 4:12; Matt 1:21; Mark 16:15–16; John 3:36; 14:6; 1 Tim 2:5–6; 1 John 5:11–12). The sacrificed animals in this chapter are prophetic foreshadows pointing to Yeshua’s death on the cross as a payment for each person’s sin penalty. As no one could come into the Tabernacle of Moses except by following the proper protocols involving sacrifices and the cleansing rituals associated therewith, even so, no one is allowed into the presence of Elohim except through the sacrifice of Yeshua the Messiah.

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Leviticus Chapters 1 to 7—What Was the Purpose of the Sacrificial System?

The concept of animal sacrifices may be a hard for modern people to comprehend—especially for those who are squeamish when it comes to death and blood. This ancient ritual, rooted in the nomadic lifestyles of the inhabitants of the Middle East, carried more symbolic significance for a people whose daily existence was tied to the earth and who were dependent on domestic animals for their survival. It is out of this cultural background that the biblical narrative springs and with it the ritual symbols with which the ancient people described therein could relate. With these things in mind, the following is a list showing the main reasons for YHVH’s establishment of an animal sacrificial system as a means to help man to understand spiritual lessons far beyond the actual sacrifice itself.

  • The laws pertaining to the sacrificial system were added to the rest of the Torah because of sin, and were in force until the time of Yeshua the promised Seed (Gal 3:19). When and why did YHVH add them making this system incumbent upon the Israelites? This occurred after and because of the sin of the golden calf. It was then that YHVH established the Levitical priesthood and subsequently gave Israel the sacrificial system to not only show them the seriousness and grave consequences of sins, but to guide them forward on the path toward redemption and salvation.
  • The Levitical system foreshadowed and pointed to the Messiah’s ultimate sacrifice (Heb 9:11–12).
  • The tabernacle offerings were specifically designed to spiritually draw the offerer near to Elohim through the sacrifice of a prescribed animal (Ps 51:16–17; 50:12–15 cp. 1 Pet 2:21).
  • Elohim commanded offerings to assist the offerer to better understand himself; his attitude, and his personal relationship with Elohim (e.g. Gen 3:21; 4:3–5; 8:20; 22:1–2 cp. 1 Cor 11:28).
  • Altars were erected by the patriarchs in order to honor Elohim through sacrifice after having had direct contact with him (Gen 12:6–8; 13:18; 26:24–25; 35:1; 35:2–4; Exod 17:13–16; cp. Exod 20:12).
  • Proper and regular sacrificial offerings kept the children of Israel in direct contact with the Elohim of the patriarchs (Exod 5:3; 10:25; cp. 1 Tim 2:5).
  • To make the offerer holy (set-apart) so that he would be allowed to approach and commune with the Set-Apart Elohim of Israel (Isa 43:15; 57:15; Lev 19:2 cp. 2 Cor 6:16–18).
  • Under certain circumstances, blood, as used in the Levitical system, could serve as a purification agent for both people and objects (Heb 9:18–23 cp. Luke 2:22–24).
  • The blood of the animal sacrifices served to cover the offerer’s sins, thereby allowing him to draw near to the Set-Apart Elohim of Israel. However, the offerer could only be forgiven for specific sins through full repentance and by returning to Elohim’s way of life as outlined in the Torah (Lev 1:4; 4:35; 23:27–28; Heb 10:3–4; cp. Rom 4:7–8).
  • The purpose of the animals offered by the Levitical priesthood served as a shadow of the blood of Messiah, which does not merely cover our sins, but removes all of the sins of the person who accepts Yeshua’s offering of himself for that sinner (Heb 9:11–12, 24–28; 1 Pet 1:18–19; Eph 5:25–27; Lev 25:47–49; Rom 5:11; John 1:29 cp. Heb 13:10–13).

Words and Definitions

(These words are the Hebrew words behind the English words offering and sacrifice as translated in the KJV):

  • Asham: (Strong’s H817/TWOT 180b) meaning “guilt, offense, sin, guiltiness, trespass, fault, compensation (for offense), trespass or sin offering.” 
  • Chag: (Strong’s H2282/TWOT 602a) meaning “festival, feast, pilgrim-feast, festival-gathering, festival sacrifice.”
  • Chatah: (Strong’s H2403/TWOT 638e) meaning “sin, sinful, sin offering, condition of sin, guilt of sin, punishment for sin, purification from sins of ceremonial uncleanness, sinner.”
  • Ishshah: (Strong’s H801/TWOT 172a) meaning “burnt offering, offering made by fire, fire offering.”
  • Korbawn: (Strong’s H7133/TWOT 2065e) meaning “offering, oblation, sacrifice.” 
  • Minchah: (Strong’s H4503/TWOT 1214a) meaning “to apportion, to bestow, gift, tribute, offering, present, oblation, sacrifice, meat or grain offering (Gen 4:3–5).”
  • Necek: (Strong’s H5262/TWOT 1375a) meaning “drink offering, libation, molten image, something poured out (Gen 35:14).”
  • Nedabah: (Strong’s H5071/TWOT 1299a) meaning “voluntary, free-will offering.”
  • Olah: (Strong’s H5930/TWOT 1624c,d) meaning “whole burnt offering/sacrifice, ascent, stairway, steps, to go up (Gen 8:20; 22:2,3,6,7,8,13).”
  • Qatar: (Strong’s H6999/TWOT 2011,2011e,g) meaning “to sacrifice, burn incense, burn sacrifices, make sacrifices smoke, incense, incense altar.”
  • Shelem: (Strong’s H8002/TWOT 2401b) meaning “peace offering, requital, sacrifice of alliance or friendship, voluntary sacrifice of thanks.”
  • Tenuwphah🙁Strong’s H8573/TWOT 1330b) meaning “swinging, waving, wave offering, shaking.”
  • Terumah,: (Strong’s H8641/TWOT 2131i) meaning “a heave offering, any offering; an offering of grain or money, etc.; contribution, oblation.”
  • Zebach: (Strong’s H2077/TWOT 525a) meaning “sacrifices of righteousness, sacrifices of strife, sacrifices of dead things, the covenant sacrifice, the Passover, annual sacrifice, thank offering.”
  • Zabach: (Strong’s H2076/TWOT 525) meaning “to slaughter, kill sacrifice, slaughter for sacrifice”(Gen. 31:54; 46:1).

YHVH instituted the basic sacrificial system after the fall of man, and it served to point the way to the coming of Yeshua the Messiah, the eventual Redeemer and Savior of mankind. Later on, YHVH established a more elaborate sacrificial system and appointed the Levites to administer it. This occurred after the golden calf incident in Exodus 32 and in conjunction with the establishment of the Tabernacle of Moses. Paul makes reference to this “added law” in Galatians 3:19.

Depending on how one understands the scripture passages recording the vision of Ezekiel’s Temple (Ezek 40–48), there may or may not be a reinstitution of part of or the whole sacrificial system during the millennium. Some believe that Ezekiel’s Temple is only an allegorical picture of Yeshua’s atoning death on the cross and speaks to YHVH’s plan of salvation and therefore will never be built. Others feel that it is yet to be built.

After the fall of man, YHVH made Adam and Eve coats or garments of skins or leather (Gen 3:21). Though the Scriptures don’t tell us, we can guess these were made of leather from a kosher animal such as a cow, sheep or goat. In other words, YHVH probably sacrificed a kosher animal like a lamb to cover their physical and spiritual nakedness. This would have marked the beginning of the sacrificial system and thus pointed to Yeshua’s atoning death on the cross through his shed blood — the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

The next occurrence of a sacrifice was that of righteous Abel in Genesis chapter four. After that, animal sacrifices become a common occurrence with the male head of each family acting as the officiant or priest for his family. It was not until the golden calf incident (Exod 32) that the responsibility of the male head of the family to perform sacrifices passed to the Levites, thus, initiating the Levitical priesthood with its sacrificial system.

Sacrifices are no longer necessary, since Yeshua our Messiah offered his body as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, once and for all, forever (Heb 10:10–21).

 

The Tabernacle of Moses and the Deification or Theosis of Man

The Tabernacle of Moses from its front to back represents one’s progression in their spiritual journey starting with their initial salvation leading to the glorification of the physical body and eternal life in YHVH’s eternal spiritual kingdom. Entering through the front door of the tabernacle and progressing to the holy of holies is from the human perspective as one moves toward Elohim; it is the perspective of moving from the human to the spiritual plane of existence or that of the earthbound looking heavenward. However, from YHVH Elohim’s view from the glory cloud that has hovering over the holy of holies just above the ark of the covenant, the perspective was different. It was from the inside looking out, or from heaven looking downward. We will discus the contrasting viewpoints between the human and divine in a moment.

In the outer court of the tabernacle, all the rituals and furnishings pointed to death and judgment, as well as to washing or cleansing. These prophetically foreshadowed salvation through Yeshua’s atoning death on the cross, with Yeshua being the door to salvation, and one’s need to accept his death on the cross for one’s sins followed by the need of baptism for the remission of sins. In the set-apart (kadosh or holy) place inside the tabernacle, everything pointed to life, light, food, fragrant incense, the fruits and gifts of the Set-Apart Spirit—or life in a spiritual relationship with Elohim subsequent to one’s taking the beginning steps in the salvation process. The outer court speaks of basic salvation for the redeemed believer in Yeshua, while the holy place speaks of spiritual growth and maturity, of moving from spiritual babyhood and then growing into spiritual adulthood or maturity. 

To understand this process of growing in spiritual maturity, it is necessary to comprehend the tripartite composition of the human being. Paul speaks of man being subdivided into three parts—body, soul and spirit (1 Thess 5:23). The tabernacle’s outer court seems to relate more to the physical or bodily realm of the person, while the holy place speaks more of the soul or intellectual, volitional and emotional aspects of one’s inner or psychological makeup. Finally, the holy of holies portrays man approaching YHVH through the realm of a person’s inner or personal spirit. 

As one progresses into the tabernacle, it is as if YHVH is drawing a person into an ever deeper relational walk with him starting at the most basic level progressing upward until one is finally communing with YHVH on a Spirit-to-(human personal)-spirit level (in the most holy place). It is the Father’s desire that his children progressively grow until each of us is communing with him at the highest spiritual level (see John 4:23–24). 

As noted earlier, this forward progression from the tabernacle’s entrance to its innermost room is but one way to view a person’s spiritual progression into the realm of the Spirit of Elohim. From YHVH’s perspective looking from the inside of the tabernacle outward, the view changes. Although one has to enter the tabernacle through the outer gate and then go through various rites and rituals relating to a cleansing process before being allowed into the tabernacle itself, at the same time, we see YHVH starting to work with the person from the inside out. When a person initially comes into a spiritual relationship with his Creator, YHVH first regenerates the person spiritually by putting his Set-Apart Spirit in the spirit of the person. In a sense, if the tabernacle is a picture of the tripartite subdivision of a person’s life (body, soul and spirit), then YHVH starts working from the inside out in one’s personal spirit, which is one’s personal holy of holies that is inside of them, if you will. From there, the Set-Apart Spirit goes to work on the person’s soul (mind, will and emotions) to transform it spiritually into the image of Yeshua (Rom 8:28–29). This process will last a person’s lifetime. Finally, at the resurrection at Yeshua’s second coming, the saint’s will receive their redeemed and glorified or god-like body (1 John 3:1–2). At this time, they will become full-fledged, immortal spirit-children of Elohim (John 1:12). Though the Bible teaches that humans can become sons of Elohim and be like him as part of his divine family, man will never be equivalent to Elohim in a full sense (Isa 45:5, 6, 12, 18–19, 21–23). Only Elohim is the Creator, is without a beginning, and is all powerful, all knowing and all present. Man will never attain to this level.

The process of man going from being a physical and human creature to becoming an immortal and glorified child of the Most High, in theological terms, is called theosis. This is an ancient Christian concept that is still held by the Eastern Orthodox Church and refers to the spiritual process that occurs resulting in the deification of man. The goal of theosis is to become “like” (though not equal to) Elohim and to become eventually united with him spiritually. Theosis is the biblical concept of a redeemed or spiritually regenerated individual “becoming a partaker YHVH’s divine nature” (2 Pet 1:4), and being adopted into the family of Elohim (see the verses below). It is about man becoming like Elohim—becoming part of the family of Elohim as a child of Elohim (John 10:34; Ps 82:1; 1 John 3:1–3).

This is our theosis, that as the Ruach haKodesh (the Set-Apart Spirit) identified Yeshua as the Son of Elohim at his baptism, so we take the first steps of becoming a son of Elohim at our baptism when we become a new creation through Yeshua and the work of the Set-Apart Spirit (Gal 2:20; 2 Cor 5:17). At that time, one is begotten into the family of Elohim, and when one receives one’s glorified body at the resurrection one will be fully born or adopted into the family of Elohim as a full-fledged son of Elohim, for, as the Scripture says, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is (1 John 3:1–3).

Paul refers to theosis in several places when he uses the term adoption.

For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (Rom 8:15)

And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (Rom 8:23; also 9:4)

To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. (Gal 4:5)

Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Yeshua the Messiah to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will… (Eph 1:5)

The apostolic writers make further reference to theosis in several other places as well.

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Exodus Chapters 29 and 30—Natan’s Commentary Notes

Exodus 29

Exodus 29:1, Hallow. Heb. qadash meaning “to dedicate, consecrate, set-apart, observe as holy, to be treated as sacred or majestic.”

Exodus 29:12, Horns of the altar. The four horns of the altar of sacrifice was the place where the blood of atonement was sprinkled (also Lev 4:4, 17, 18, 25, 30, 34; 8:15; 9:9; 16:18). 

But there’s more. Horn is the Hebrew word qeren meaning “horn, hill or ray.” This word is used to describe the rays of light rays emanating from the face of Moses after his encounter with YHVH (Exod 34:29) and the horns of an animal (Ps 69:31). In ancient cultures, the horn was a metaphor for physical strength or spiritual power (Deut 33:17; 2 Sam 22:3; Ps 18:2). Elsewhere, YHVH is referred to as man’s “horn of salvation” meaning he is the strength of our salvation. The Hebrew word for salvation is yesha meaning “deliverance, rescue, safety, welfare, victory, prosperity.” The root of yesha is the verb yasha meaning “to save, to deliver, to give victory.” Not only is YHVH called our “horn of salvation” in the Tanakh, but this designation is applied to Yeshua as well in the Testimony of Yeshua (Luke 1:69). Interestingly, Yeshua is a derivative of the Hebrew name Yehoshua (or Joshua), which also derives from yasha. 

It should be evident from this quick study that the horns of the altar are a picture of Yeshua, who is the horn or strength of our salvation and who shed his blood for our sins on the altar of the cross. 

This being the case, why then are there four horns on the altar? This is likely symbolic of the four attributes of Yeshua, even as the four colors of cloth used throughout the tabernacle prophetically symbolize the same thing. Crimson speaks to Yeshua’s humanity, purple to his kingship, blue to his divinity, and white to his sinlessness or righteousness. 

Additionally, the Jewish sages view the four horns as symbolizing the four corners of the earth, for, in Hebraic thought, the earth is nothing more than a large altar dedicated to Elohim. (See The ArtScroll Tehilim/Psalms commentary on this verse and notes at Ps 118:27.) 

More importantly, the horns on the four corners of the altar prophetically and symbolically point to the fact that Yeshua’s blood poured out at the cross saves all humans (from the four corners of the earth who would trust in him) from their sins.

Exodus 29:13, 17, (also Lev 1:9 cp. Matt 23:26; 2 Cor 7:1) Entrails/inwards…legs. In the process of cleansing the animal to be sacrificed, there are two lessons here for us. First, Yeshua was perfect, totally clean and spotless Lamb of Elohim sacrificed for the sins of man. Second, the saints are to become living sacrifices (Rom 12:1–2). This means we are to be like Yeshua—totally clean on both the inside and outside. Yeshua rebuked the religious hypocrites of his day for being like whited sepulchres and for being like cups that were clean on the outside but dirty on the inside (Matt 23:26–27). As the sacrifice was laid on the alter (Exod 29:18), and as Yeshua went to the altar of the cross, so we must lay our lives down as a living sacrifice as well.

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If Yeshua Calls YOU a Priest, Then Act Like One!

Exodus 28


Scripture reveals that the saints are to be a holy or set-apart (kadosh) priesthood,
not a profane (worldly and polluted) one. Which are you? Kadosh or profane?

YHVH Is Preparing His Saints to Be a Kingdom of Priests

In the Bible, YHVH declared that it was the destiny of the Israelite nation to become a kingdom of priests (Exod 19:6). As such, he commissioned them to become a light to the heathen nations around them and to lead them to YHVH—the one true Elohim (Deut 4:6–8). This is why YHVH in his sovereignty positioned the nation of Israel at the crossroads of the major trade routes of the ancient world—between three continents: Africa, Asia and Europe. Israel did not fulfill this prophetic destiny because of sin and rebellion. They desired to conform their lives to the standards of the wicked nations around them rather than conform to YHVH’s standards of righteousness as revealed in the Torah-law. While ancient Israel failed in its divine mission to evangelize the world, in these last days, through Yeshua the Messiah, YHVH has raised up his people (the Israel of Elohim, Gal 6:16) to be that holy priesthood tasked with spreading the good news of the kingdom of Elohim globally (1 Pet 2:9; Dan 7:18; Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6; Isa 66:21). Let us now explore how YOU be a part of fulfilling this divine commission.

First, who are you? Knowing this will enable you to understand your divine calling and mission.

Those who come to faith in Yeshua the Messiah become children of Abraham and are thus Israelites (Rom 4:16; 9:8-11; Gal 3:7, 9, 14, 28-29) who have been grafted in to the olive tree of Israel (Rom 11:11–32); they are the current “Israel of Elohim” (Gal 6:16). Ancient Israel never fulfilled its divine calling to be a kingdom of priests and a light to the nations of the world. YHVH’s calling and purposes for Israel are without repentance (Rom. 11:29). What ancient Israel failed to accomplish because of disobedience, rebellion and faithlessness will be left to grafted in Israel—the one new man in Yeshua the Messiah—to accomplish. Yeshua commissioned his disciples to preach the good news (or gospel) of the kingdom of Elohim to the world (Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8). But more than that, his disciples were to become that kingdom of priests that ancient Israel missed the opportunity to become.

We read in the Testimony of Yeshua (or New Testament) that the saints of YHVH will be called kings and priests (or a kingdom of priests) of YHVH-Yeshua the Messiah and will reign with him during the 1000-year Millennium or Messianic Age.

[T]o him, the one who loves us, who has freed us from our sins at the cost of his blood, who has caused us to be a kingdom, that is, cohanim [priests] for YHVH, his Father… (Rev 1:5–6, CJB)

[At] the cost of blood you ransomed for YHVH persons from every tribe, language, people and nation. You made them into a kingdom for YHVH to rule, cohanim [priests] to serve him and they will rule over the earth. (Rev 5:9–10, CJB)

Blessed and set-apart is anyone who has a part in the first resurrection; over him the second death has no power. On the contrary, they will be cohanim [priests] of YHVH and of Messiah, and they will rule with him for the thousand years. (Rev 20:6, CJB)

During the Millennium, Messiah will be the King of kings. His government will be a theocracy with him, as the High Priest-King, at the head. The children of Israel operated under a theocratic from of government with Moses as the priest-king (he was from the priestly tribe of Levi and was called a king in Deut 33:4-5) as the human head of state. David Stern in his Jewish New Testament Commentary (p. 10) describes the role of the biblical priest to be like that of a prophet and to serve as spokesman and mediator between YHVH and man. The prophet speaks to man on behalf of YHVH, the priest to YHVH on behalf of man. In terms of practical job-description their primary duty was to offer sacrificial animals on the altar.

Of those who will be the priests to reign with Messiah during the Millennium, Christian commentator Matthew Henry says in his commentary on Revelation 1:5-6 that Messiah has made believers kings and priests to YHVH and his Father. As such they overcome the world, mortify sin, govern their own spirits, resist Satan, prevail with YHVH in prayer, and shall judge the world.”

This is an apt description of those who will qualify to become priests in YHVH’s kingdom, but let’s define some words Henry uses in his descriptions. How does Scripture define sin? Sin in its simplest definition is the transgression of YHVH’s Torah-law (1 John 3:4). Henry says that the Saints as priests will “judge the world.” What does this mean? Do you know of any secular judge who makes judgments without following some legal code upon which civil law is based? Of course not. What legal code is Scripture based upon? The Torah-law YHVH gave to the children of Israel through Moses. In numerous places YHVH instructed the priests and kings of that time to rule and judge on the basis of his Torah-law. When they failed to do so YHVH sent prophet after prophet to warn them to turn from their wicked ways and return to following YHVH’s laws. 

What standard of righteousness do you think YHVH’s kings and priests will rule and judge from during the Millennium? There is only one standard of truth outlined in Scripture: that is the Torah (Ps 119:142, 151), which is YHVH’s Torah, which by strict etymological and scriptural definition simply means YHVH’s “instructions, teachings and precepts in righteousness.” Since YHVH’s standards of righteousness do not change, for his character and nature do not change (Mal 3:6) despite what religious men may say or do, it stands to reason that YHVH’s kings and priests will be Torah-obedient set-apart or holy ones (or the saints). In fact, this is how the book of Revelation defines the saints: they keep the Torah-commandments of YHVH and have faith in Yeshua the Messiah (Rev 12:17; 14:12). Yeshua goes on to say in Matthew 5:19 that those who keep his Torah-law will be called the greatest in his kingdom (i.e. they will be kings and priests), while those who do not keep his Torah-law will be called the least in his kingdom. In other words, the higher the level of obedience to Torah the higher will be one’s rewards and responsibilities in YHVH’s kingdom. Yeshua told his disciples that if they loved him they would keep his (Torah) commandments (John 14:15, 21).

The Saints Are Called to Be a Set-apart (Kadosh) Nation

If you have repented of your sins, been washed in the blood of the Lamb and been born of the Holy or Set-apart Spirit (Heb. Ruach haKodesh) you are part of a set-apart priesthood. This is your identity according to Scripture. Get this into your spirit and every day live out the reality of it!

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