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Sinai covenant, temple, Jerusalem, Levite Levites, spirit and truth, Levitical Priesthood, animal sacrifice, festival location, Law circumcision
If changes implemented in the Law of Moses were not intended from the beginning then it seems unlikely they would continue in the New Covenant. Let’s see if that is the case.
The Priesthood of Levi
Heb 7:28 “For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever. 8:1 Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.”
Heb 4:14 “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.”
Yeshua, Messiah, as high priest is seated next to the throne of the Most High in the heavenly temple. We can stand before that very throne to deliver our petition. The Levitical High Priest served outside the throne room all but one day of the year, Atonement. A citizen of Israel had a bureaucracy to navigate just to get to the High Priest, let alone to the Creator.
II Cor 11:3 “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”
Levi has no place in the order of authority. The ministry in a corporate church is not a replacement for Levi. The function of Levi or anyone else as a buffer between us and our Creator is dissolved. There is a place for leaders to help speed up the learning process. The servant of Yeshua in the function of a leader of the congregation encourages people to dig into the source, i.e., scripture, themselves. He does not seek to make the congregation dependent on him for truth. Everyone in the congregation needs to have a firm grasp of the instruction of the Creator. We all need to be able to represent Him. That was the original intention when Israel came out of Egypt.
Ex 19:5 ‘Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’
The whole nation of Israel was to represent the Creator to others. In fact believers now comprise the holy nation and priesthood Israel was originally intended to be. The original instruction is still workable although the people targeted are not from a single bloodline.
I Pet 2:9 "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;"
I Pet 1:20 “He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for (Gr. Dia = through) you.”
A mistranslation clouds the true intent of I Peter 1:20 in most translations. Each and every believer is to represent their Creator every moment of their life. Ordination to the ministry is not required and in fact deceives us into thinking we should have someone between us and our Master. Representing Him is the individual responsibility of every believer.
Heb 10:8 ‘Previously saying, "Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them" (which are offered according to the law), 9 then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God." He takes away the first that He may establish the second. 10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins(sin). 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God’.
The Creator never really wanted animal sacrifice (Jer 7:22-24, Ps 51:16). They were implemented in an effort to atone for Israel’s sin. Sin was the problem. The sacrifices were a band-aid allowed to cover it. They could never do what needed to be done, i.e., eliminate it.
Verse 11 and 4 both mention “sins” according to most translations. However, the original Greek is singular, not plural. The reference is not talking about forgiving various sins, but eliminating sin. That is the intended purpose of the New Covenant. That was also the intended purpose of the Creator when He told Israel His covenant at Sinai (Ex 20:20).
Ps 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart––These, O God, You will not despise.”
Animal sacrifices were never particularly pleasing to the Creator. He expects us to set aside our own will and conduct ourselves in accord with His. That is the sacrifice that is appropriate.
Rom 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”
Israel following their ‘evil heart’ was the catalyst that brought on the sacrificial system (Jer 7:24). The desires of our flesh are typically the root of sin (Jas 1:14). We are to do what Israel could not; sacrifice the flesh to the will of the Creator fulfilling His intention of Exodus 20:20, eliminating sin.
According to the Law Israel was expected to go to THE place where the Creator dwelt (Deu 12:5). Can we do that now? It is apparent He does not have a particular place that is His residence on earth now.
John 4:21 ‘Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father... 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.”’
Luke 13:35 "See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’"
The Creator turned His back on the temple in Jerusalem because it did not reflect Him, but the traditions and corruptions of those that serviced it. The only worship that is 100% acceptable, accurately reflects His approach and mentality. The location is not important.
The believers in Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi and elsewhere did not need to go to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage festivals as is required by the Law. Paul was still focused on doing that occasionally (Acts 18:21). However, he stayed around Ephesus for over two years (Acts 19:9-10). So he didn’t feel compelled to be in Jerusalem even once a year for the festivals.
Is the all powerful Creator of the universe unable to maintain the place He promised? "then there will be the place where the LORD your God chooses to make His name abide…” (Deu 12:11). No, His arm is not shortened, but He allowed the temple to be destroyed and the Levites scattered because that system ultimately failed. The covenant of the Law confirmed in Moab was ineffective and He chose to move on. He is no longer interested in that covenant. That doesn't mean we cannot learn from its terms. We must glean from it the additional detail that applies to His covenant and use it to live up to His original standard. We keep His festivals according to His Law. There is no single “place” where we must be. The original instruction is still workable.
The firstborn were claimed by God before the Levitical Priesthood or the need to offer the firstborn at the Tabernacle. Since the Temple was destroyed this regulation as changed by the Law of Moses has been unworkable. Clean animals were not to be redeemed and there is no place to take them. As other things were originally given to God directly by sacrifice, so can the firstborn still be given according to the original instruction. How legal that is in any particular place is another issue. Of course, the unclean animals and our own children can be redeemed or purchased back as well.
We give directly to our Creator when we support the poor and under privileged (Mat 25:40). Those who help us understand the mind of the Creator and His spiritual things are also worthy to receive from our physical things (I Cor 9:11). Giving to a servant of the Creator is giving to the Creator.
The firstborn were to be given to the Creator on the eighth day according to the Sinai covenant. This may presage a giving of the firstborn to the Father connected with the eighth day assembly (I Cor 15:20-28, Rev 20:14-21:4, Heb 12:23, Jas 1:18). Likely at the descent of the New Jerusalem and the arrival of the Father, Messiah will deliver Himself and the rest of the first fruits (those who are His at His coming) to the Father. This would be connected with the 8th day celebration since the arrival of the Father seems to be connected with this time. The change implemented in the Law of Moses clouded this connection.
Passover (see Passover Timing & Passover Details for a complete explanation)
I Cor 5:7 “Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.”
The lamb of the original Passover provided protection for Israel from the Death Angel. Indeed ‘protection’ is likely the original meaning of the Hebrew word which now primarily means ‘Passover’. Certainly that original Passover was an important event in the history of the nation. However, the lamb was only a shadow or prototype of Messiah and the protection His sacrifice would provide. How important is it to celebrate the prototype if the reality it looked forward to is accomplished?
Because of the destruction of the temple we cannot keep the Passover according to the Law of Moses. There is no ‘the place’ to which we can go and there is no Levitical priesthood to oversee the sacrifice. Now there are also complications because of city life and our separation from ancient lifestyles.
The Jews discontinued the sacrifice of the Passover even before animal sacrifice became difficult. They felt the destruction of the temple was a sign from the Creator that animal sacrifice should not be done. All sacrifices were required at the altar of the temple. Without the temple altar they decided they shouldn’t sacrifice animals. They substituted a shank bone in place of the lamb of the Passover meal to remind them of the missing centerpiece.
The sacrifice of Messiah is a greater sacrifice. In large part the occasion of the sacrifice of Passover and the sacrifice of Messiah revolve around the same thing, the protection and rescue of Israel. The timing of each is arguably the same, thus causing something of a conflict. There are different symbols set up to commemorate Messiah’s sacrifice. Why attempt to continue the celebration looking forward to Messiah with non-biblical symbols and traditions? Messiah has come. That is done. Messiah clearly explained how to memorialize the fulfillment of His death and the New Covenant.
His covenant at Sinai clearly requires the celebration of the ‘chag’ of Unleavened Bread. Although certainly Israel assumed this included the Passover celebration, the Passover is not specifically mentioned. The greater event commemorating the sacrifice of Messiah and the confirmation of the New Covenant logically fits the time of the Passover meal. Messiah tells us He will not be eating the Passover until the ultimate fulfillment in the kingdom (Luke 22:16).
I Corinthians 5:6-8 records the need to celebrate Unleavened Bread. The typical Jew would have called the festival of Unleavened Bread the Passover. Paul did not. That reference is where Paul makes clear Messiah is our Passover lamb. How important then is the animal symbol? The ultimate Lamb is sacrificed, once, for all.
I Corinthians 11:20-34 records the Corinthian commemoration of the sacrifice of Messiah. There is no mention of Passover in connection with it or any record of New Testament believers keeping a Passover meal after Messiah’s death. The use of the name Passover as applied by the Jews to the entire festival of Unleavened Bread also seems to have been abandoned by believers. The New Covenant memorial symbols are closely tied with the time of the Passover meal, but the actual New Covenant memorial celebration is not connected with the Passover (Mat 26:17-, Mrk 14:12-, Luke 22:7-, I Cor 11:20-34).
Although Jewish tradition may indicate that Abraham kept the Passover, this is unlikely. Exodus 12:40-41 records that Israel came out of Egypt 430 years to the day after some event. Galatians 3:17 indicates it was about 430 years from the giving of the promises to Abraham to the giving of the Sinai law. This must be the same 430 years. The event that began the 430 years is recorded in Genesis 15.
Abraham received the promise of inheritance in a solemn covenant (Gen 15:13-21). The covenant was cut/confirmed at about the time the Passover lambs were originally slain. None of the animals used to confirm this covenant would qualify as a Passover sacrifice according to Exodus 12. In any case Abraham was asleep. There is no indication any of his family was there and of course it would still be years before he would be circumcised. So on this evening when the Passover would occur 430 years later, there is no evidence of a Passover observance. However the importance of the "mo'ed" of Abib/Nissan 15 is underscored.
The Sinai covenant requires the observance of the festival of Unleavened Bread but not specifically the Passover. Certainly Israel was to observe Passover and it was specifically included in the Moab/Deuteronomy covenant. However, Abraham could still be in compliance with the Creator’s Covenant without keeping Passover, as can believers now. We can’t keep Passover according to the Law of Moses, since there is no ‘the place’ and the Levitical priesthood needed to oversee the sacrifice has been dissolved.
I Cor 7:19 “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.”
Rom 2:28 “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.”
The Law of Moses requires circumcision, the Law of God, His covenant, His Law, does not. Conduct is important to His covenant. The contour of the skin is not. He expects us to conduct ourselves as He would. The Law did not require or expect a change in the heart. We are expected to conform to the original instruction with clarification by Messiah (I John 2:6) and the Law (Gal 3:24-25). That requires a change of heart and the willingness to put ourselves at risk for the benefit of others.
Acts 17:30 "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,”
This is not, repent and keep the Law, but repent and conduct yourself as His representative, 24 hours per day, seven days a week. Being knowledgeable of the Law is important to better understand His Law. Much more important is to know His Law in principle and in detail as recorded in His covenant at Sinai. The full intention is explained further by Yeshua and the apostles in the apostolic writings.
In general the changes implemented with the Law of Moses have been reversed. What was from the beginning is again the guide. Of course Messiah has spoken in order to make evident the full meaning. He also accomplished His sacrifice. That fits fine into the original instruction. What must change is the heart of those who wish to claim His covenant. Our Creator will move to open our eyes (Acts 26:18). We must reach for the New Covenant, diligently seeking the light and purifying ourselves as He is pure (I John 3:3). When we continually seek the light, the Creator will have taken a major step toward writing His Law in our hearts. He will complete that process by our own hand as we continue to seek and reflect Him. No one will be able to entice us away.