Are YOU the priest of your own home and what does that mean?

Numbers 3:11–13, I myself have taken. Here YHVH chooses the tribe of Levi instead of the firstborn male of each Israelite family to be Israel’s spiritual leaders. When the Israelites exited Egypt, YHVH chose and sanctified the firstborn male of each family to the be spiritual leader of his home in what is called the law of the firstborn (Exod 13:2, 11–16). As it had been the responsibility of the firstborn to lead his family spiritually, and, as the patriarch of his family, to pass down the family legacy and spiritual traditions to the next generation, YHVH now placed this mantle on the shoulders of the Levites. It was now their responsibility to teach the Israelites what YHVH had commanded them to do (Deut 24:8). They became the Torah teachers in Israel (Deut 33:10; Neh 8:7, 9, 13; 2 Chron 30:22) along with the priests (Lev 10:11; Mal 2:7). They were scattered throughout the land of Israel for this purpose (2 Chron 17:8–9). The reason that YHVH gave this responsibility over to the sons of Levi was because the firstborn of each family had failed to lead their families in YHVH’s paths of righteousness, and they failed to prevent the Israelites from golden calf worship (Exod 32). Only Levi remained faithful to YHVH during the golden calf incident, and thus YHVH granted them the blessing of the priestly service (Exod 32:26–29).

Originally, it had been YHVH’s intent for the entire nation of Israel to be a kingdom of priests (Exod 19:6) in order to be a light to the nations and lead the nations to YHVH and his Torah by their righteous example (Deut 4:6–8). This is why YHVH placed the land of Israel, and specifically Jerusalem, at the center of the major trade routes of the ancient world between Africa, Asia and Europe.

The Levitical priesthood (along with the elaborate tabernacle sacrificial system) was a temporary institution that YHVH added (Gal 3:19 cp. Jer 7:21–22) to the nation of Israel’s legal system because of the firstborn’s failure to prevent Israel from worshipping the golden calf idol. In a general sense, YHVH didn’t give the Israelites the Torah at this time—the principles of which they and their forefathers already had been given (e.g., Gen 26:5). So what other law was added? At Mount Sinai, the Torah was codified into a legal system (with civil penalties including the institution of a sacrificial system as a penalty for sin) and became the constitution of the nation of Israel, and YHVH also gave them the institution of the Levitical priesthood and the sacrificial system (Gal 3:19), which (along with the rest of the Torah) pointed them to Yeshua (Gal 4:16, 2). The sacrificial and Levitical systems were completely fulfilled by the Messiah as the writer of Hebrews goes into great detail to explain to us (Heb 5–11).

As already noted, it was YHVH’s intention for all Israel to become a kingdom of priests (not just the tribe of Levi) to teach the nations his spiritual truths. YHVH’s original purpose for Israel is now being fulfilled in the royal priesthood of all redeemed believers to which Peter makes reference in his first epistle (1 Pet 2:9). When the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem, the Levitical priesthood along with the sacrificial system ceased to exist. This occurred some forty years after the death and resurrection of Yeshua who, at that time, became man’s sacrifice for sin once and for all and is now in heaven officiating as our Great High Priest as the writer of Hebrews reveals to us. When the temple priesthood was destroyed, YHVH’s royal priesthood of all believers was ready to take its place. In a sense, the present priesthood model defaults to the original priesthood model where the leader of each family was the priest of his home. The only difference is that the patriarchal priesthood model has been expanded and now all redeemed believers have the opportunity to become a priest in Yeshua’s eternal kingdom regardless of gender and family birth order.

Presently, the saints are preparing to be a kingdom of priest as they learn to live out and to teach others YHVH’s Torah truths. This learning process is preparing them to become kings and priests (or a kingdom of priests, Exod 19:6) in Yeshua’s millennial kingdom after his second coming where they will teach the nations the truth of YHVH (Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6), even as the Levites of old taught the nation of Israel YHVH’s Torah.

 

The Levitical Vs. the Melchizedek Priesthoods

Hebrews 7:12, Priesthood being changed…a change also of the law [Torah]. The Greek words for being changed and a change are respectively metatithemi (a verb) and metathesis (a noun). The root of the noun is the verb, which means “to transpose, to transfer, to go or pass over, to fall away or desert from one person or thing to another.” Many people interpret this verse to mean that YHVH’s Torah-law was changed (i.e., invalidated or annulled) by the new covenant, but is this what the author is saying here?

Before going further in our discussion, let’s lay out some basic truths of the Scriptures.

YHVH doesn’t change (Mal 3:6; Heb 13:8; Jas 1:17). The word torah [in English, translated as law] means “instructions, principles, teachings” and came directly from YHVH to his people. The Torah teaches men how to love YHVH and love one’s fellow man. It is YHVH’s instructions in righteousness and reflects his very character and nature. Who YHVH is doesn’t change.

It is a sin (a violation of the Torah) to change the Torah (Deut 4:2; 12:32).

So in this light, what is this verse really saying? It declares that the priesthood was changed. The Levitical priesthood that was temporarily and parenthetically inserted into the Melchizedek priesthood (both priesthoods are revealed in the Torah, see Exod 19:2, 4 cp. 28:1; 32:29). In the former priesthood, a father acted as the priest over his family interceding for them before Elohim via sacrifices and offerings (Gen 8:20; 12:7,8; 13:18; 22:9; 26:25; 33:20; 35:1, 3, 7; Exod 17:15; Job 1:5). In the latter priesthood, YHVH designated the descendants of Aaron as priests over Israel replacing the heads of each home as the priest of each family (Exod 30:31).

The writer of Hebrews reveals to us that with the coming of Yeshua, the Aaronic or Levitical priesthood was replaced by the original order of Melchizedek with Yeshua as its High Priest. This makes sense when we realize that Yeshua is not only the builder of his house (Heb 3:3), but also the head of it, for he is the High Priest over the spiritual house of Elohim (Heb 10:21), which is comprised of the saints who are living stones and are apart of that house (1 Pet 2:5) and temple (1 Cor 3:16; 2 Cor 6:16; Eph 2:21–22) with Yeshua as the chief corner stone and the apostles and prophets the foundation (Eph 2:20). The saints are currently a part of this original Melchizedek priesthood, which has attained to the higher spiritual level through Yeshua, regardless of their tribal lineage (1 Pet 2:9; Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6).

This verse is also telling us that since the Levitical priesthood reverted to the original priestly order, certain temporary regulations within the Torah pertaining to the Levitical priesthood had to revert back to the original Torah priesthood. The Epistle to the Hebrews makes it clear what this change or transfer involves. The Levitcal priesthood ­— a permutation of the Melchizedek priesthood — was also a prophetic shadow-picture of the new priesthood to come. The temporary Levitical priesthood in all of its aspects pointed to Yeshua’s sinless life, his death, burial, resurrection, and then his role as our Great Heavenly High Priest. The Levitical priesthood was a spiritual road sign that pointed to Torah’s greater fulfillment in the Person of Yeshua. So what was changed or transferred? The writer of Hebrews clearly answers this question throughout this book. Yeshua once and for all permanently replaced all the repeated sacrifices and the temple ceremonies associated with them, as well as the priesthood that administered these rites and rituals. That’s all that was “changed” or transferred. YHVH’s sabbaths, feasts, dietary laws, and his other instructions in righteousness have never been annulled. In fact, Yeshua upholds the Torah in every way (see Matt 5:17–19), and even tells us that we are not only to follow its letter, but also its spirit (Matt 5:21–48). Paul calls the Torah holy, just and good (Rom 7:12), and tells us in the strongest terms that the grace of YHVH doesn’t annul, but rather establishes the Torah (Rom 3:31). His adherence to the Torah to the end of his life is validated by the biblical record (Acts 21:24), and by the testimony of his own lips in two courts of law (Acts 24:14; 25:8).

During the Millennium, it appears that the two priesthoods will be operating simultaneously. Assuming Ezekiel’s temple is a prophetic description of a millennial temple (not all Bible experts believe this), the Levitical sons of Zaddok will be officiating at the temple in Jerusalem (Ezek 44:125), while the Melchizekek priesthood of all believers (Peter calls them the royal priesthood, 1 Pet 2:9) will be ruling and reigning over the earth with Yeshua during the Millennium. In other words, these priest are the saints that John mentions three times in Revelation who will be priests during the Millennium (Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6).  Presumably their role will be to teach the Torah and the Testimony of the Yeshua to the peoples of the earth and to act as judges, since this was the historic role of the ancient Levite priests. Meanwhile the sons of Zaddok will be officiating at the temple in Jerusalem. Interestingly, Isaiah talked about a millenial era priesthood that would be comprised of both  Gentiles and Levites (Isa 66:19–21). In other words, some Gentiles who have come to faith in Yeshua will be grafted into the tribe of Levi.