LEVITES AND THE PRIESTHOOD
The Classes of Mankind Typified by Israelites, Levites and
Priests-- Anointing of the Priests--The Significance of the
High Priest's "Garments of Glory and Beauty," Typically
Considered--The Abrahamic Covenant, Law Covenant and New Covenant
IS important that we get a clear idea, not only of the structure
of the Tabernacle, and of its furniture and the typical significance
of these, but also that we should know something of the actors
therein, and their significance as types.
is used in many instances to typify the Christian Church. For
instance, when they left Egyptian bondage, they were a type of
God's children who hear his call to come out from the world and
engage in his worship.
wilderness journey represented the tedious pilgrimage through
which many pass, seeking the promised Canaan rest--"Come
unto me, and I will give you rest." As in the type, so in
reality, the promised Canaan of rest is not far off, if God's
children had faith enough to go up and at once enter in by faith.
God has made abundant provision for them: yet they journey through
the Wilderness of Sin, seeking rest and finding none, because
they lack faith in God's promises. Some wander thus a long time;
and some never enter the Canaan rest because of unbelief. But
while Israel, according to the flesh, is thus and in other ways
used to typify Spiritual Israel, yet as we are now examining it,
<PAGE 26> relation to the Tabernacle, it is
a totally different type. Here Israel unquestionably typified
the whole world of mankind. The sin-offering, sacrifice,
atonement, etc., made typical for them (and them only), were typical
of the "better sacrifices" and atonement, made on behalf
of the whole world; for thus we read, "He is a propitiation
for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of
the whole world." `1 John 2:2; Heb.
a word, Israel, as well as the Tabernacle, Priests, Levites
and sacrifices, was a type. And what was there done in symbol
with and for Israel is, since the first advent of Christ, being
carried out on a higher plane, and on a larger scale, the latter
being the reality, of which that was the type or shadow.
Israel typified the world, so the tribe of Levites typified the
"household of faith," or all believers in Jesus and
his ransom. The Priesthood, one body under one chief or High Priest,
was typical of the "little flock," which, with its "Head"
or High Priest, is a royal priesthood, the members of which, after
the present time of sacrificing, are to be kings and
priests unto God, and to reign on the earth. (`Rev.
5:10`) Thus viewed, we see Jesus the High Priest, not a
priest of the Aaronic order, which was but the type of a greater
and grander profession or order, the Head of the real priesthood
of which others were but figures. (`Heb.
3:1; 4:14`) The Aaronic priesthood typified chiefly the
humiliation and sufferings of Christ, less his future glory--Melchisedec
being the type of the Christ as a kingly or royal priesthood.
before the under-priests, the members of the Body of Christ, the
royal priesthood, will be united to their Head, and begin their
reign, they must "suffer with him," sharing in
the antitypical sacrifices, as we shall shortly see.
`2 Tim. 2:12`
Apostle Peter shows who were typified by the Aaronic priests,
when, addressing those who were sanctified, he
<PAGE 27> says: "Ye are...an holy
priesthood to offer up sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."
"Ye are...a royal priesthood." (`1
Pet. 2:5,9`) They are all ministers (servants) of
the truth, though not all preachers and Doctors of Divinity: and
each must do his share at self-sacrifice ere he will be accounted
worthy to be a joint-heir with Christ. Only to those who suffer
with him is there a promise to reign with him.
the Head or Chief Priest of this priesthood, this "little
flock," is our Lord Jesus, is repeatedly mentioned by the
apostles. We give but one quotation: "Holy brethren
["the Royal Priesthood"], partakers of the heavenly
calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession
[our order of priests, to be], Christ Jesus."
we now pass to the consideration of the inauguration of the typical
priesthood, we notice that the tribe of the Levites (typical of
all the justified believers) existed before the priesthood
was instituted. So in the antitype the "Royal Priesthood"
began with the anointing of Jesus, the High Priest (at baptism,
`Luke 3:22`; `Acts 10:38`);
but believers, justified by faith in Christ, had lived
long before that. For instance, Abraham believed God, and was
justified by his faith. (`Rom. 4:2,3`)
Though even the type had not yet come in his day, Abraham, as
a justified believer, was a member of the "household of faith,"
typified by the Levites. But none of the "Royal Priesthood"
were selected until after the Chief or High Priest of this order
was first initiated and installed in office. Since then the initiation
and installment of the under-priests has been the special work
of this Christian dispensation or Gospel Age. Thus the priests,
now consecrating, being installed and offering themselves as sacrifices,
are being prepared as God's instruments for the royalty of the
Kingdom, and thus for the blessing of all the families of the
will be well to notice that in every ceremony relating to the
ordination and work of the priesthood the chief priest was first:
and so in the antitypical priesthood, Jesus was the first--the
Leader, Captain, Forerunner--teaching clearly that none preceded
him. Hence we see that none of the patriarchs or prophets are
of the "little flock," the "royal priesthood,"
otherwise called "the Bride," "the Lamb's Wife."
Though they will be greatly blessed as the Lord's servants, their
service will not be so grandly high as that of the priests, nor
their honor so great; nevertheless, as represented in the Levites,
their future work and honor will evidently be great.
narrow way to life" (immortality) was not opened up until
Jesus came. He was the first to walk in it. He "brought life
and immortality to light." (`2
Tim. 1:10`) And though all faithful believers (Levites)
will become possessors of everlasting life, and the world (represented
in the "Camp of Israel") also, if they will accept it
during the Millennial age, yet only the priesthood, who overcome
and follow their Leader in the narrow way to life--sacrificing
human interests--thus seeking glory, honor and immortality (`Rom.
2:7`), will ever become the possessors of that unlimited
degree of life called immortality, originally possessed only by
Jehovah God, and by our Lord Jesus Christ since his resurrection.
See The Plan of the Ages, Chapters X and XI.
the Law, the anointing was the ceremony by which the priests
were installed in their service. They were anointed to their office
with a peculiar ointment, called the "Holy Anointing Oil,"
used upon none but the priests, and
<PAGE 29> unlawful for any one else to have
or to make. (`Exod. 30:25-33,38`)
This oil typifies the holy Spirit of adoption whereby we, the
real "royal priesthood," are sealed as sons of God.
Only the consecrated ones, the priests, are ever to be thus anointed.
the typical High Priest, represented Jesus, the Head, and the
Church as members of the Body--the great antitypical High Priest.
Being but a sinful man, like others, Aaron had to be washed in
order fitly to represent the purity of the antitype, Jesus, who
knew no sin, and his Church, cleansed through his precious blood,
and the washing of water by the Word. `Eph.
being washed, Aaron was clothed with the holy garments of "glory
and beauty" (`Exod. 28`), and
lastly the anointing oil was poured on his head. (`Exod.
29:7`) Each article of this glorious apparel was typical
of qualities and powers of the Great Deliverer--Head and Body--as
Jehovah discerned them, looking down into the future to the time
for "the manifestation of the Sons of God," and the
fulfilment in them of his promises.
The High Priest in Garments of Typical
"Glory and Beauty"
these are the garments--a breastplate and an ephod, and an upper
robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre and a girdle."
white linen "coat" represented the High Priest's purity,
while its embroidery showed the outgrowth of that pure character
in works of grace.
"mitre," a strip of fine white linen (typical of righteousness),
worn around the forehead, to which the golden plate, or "crown,"
was fastened with a blue lacer, showed that the crown was righteously
the golden plate was inscribed "Holiness to the Lord,"
thus proclaiming: This High Priest is entirely devoted to the
accomplishment of Jehovah's purposes. The golden crown also proclaimed
his royalty: Christ is to be "a priest upon his throne"--"a
priest forever after the order of Melchisedec."
`Zech. 6:13`; `Psa. 110:4`;
"Linen Girdle" indicated a righteous servant: linen--righteousness,
"Upper Robe," of blue, represented his faithfulness.
The fringe of it was made of golden bells and pomegranates. The
pomegranate, being a choice fruit, showed that the faithful performance
of the Redeemer's work of sacrifice had borne rich fruit--the
redemption of the forfeited life of the human race. The golden
bells signified that when our High Priest appears in glory and
beauty, the fruit of sacrificial work will be made manifest to
all--proclaimed to all the world, as in the type the bells
proclaimed it to all Israel. This is indicated by the close proximity:
the bells drawing attention to the fruit.
"Ephod" was made of cloth of purple, blue, scarlet,
white and gold threads, skillfully and beautifully interwoven.
It was of two parts, one hanging in front and the other over the
back. These two parts were fastened together by two gold clasps
which rested on the shoulders. The ephod typified the two great
covenants--the Abrahamic Covenant represented by the front
part, and the New Covenant represented by the back, both of which
are thus shown to be dependent on our High Priest. Both
of these covenants are laid on him: if he fails to support them,
fails to carry out their terms and conditions, they fall to the
ground--fail. But, thank God, these covenants are united and firmly
clasped on him by the gold clasps (divine power), as well as bound
to him by the "curious girdle"--a cord made of the same
material as the ephod.
THE HIGH PRIEST
IN ROBES TYPICAL OF CHRIST'S COMING GLORY
"Curious Girdle" seems to say, This is a servant,
and as this is the girdle of the Ephod it tells us that this one
is "The Messenger [servant] of the Covenant whom ye delight
in." `Mal. 3:1`
part of the Ephod which represents the New Covenant was guaranteed
at Calvary: for was not our Lord's death "the blood of the
New Covenant" in which his members share?
`Matt. 26:28`; `1 Cor. 10:16`
other part is incomplete as yet except as the heavenly Father
sees its fulfilment in the future: for the Abrahamic Covenant
promised the development of the Seed of Abraham, through whom
the New Covenant will bless all the people, and this Seed is not
yet complete. True, our Lord Jesus is the Seed, yet God
foresaw and has foretold the larger seed, spiritual, which will
include the Body, the Church with the Head. (`Gal.
3:16,29`) And the Apostle points out that an earthly seed
of Abraham will also share the work of blessing the world, yet
spiritual Israel is the true Seed: as it is written, "The
son of the bond woman shall not be heir with the son of the free
woman." `Gal. 4:22-31`
the natural seed of Abraham, and as proving that they will not
be members of the Priest who will do the blessing, the Apostle
says: "As concerning the Gospel [the spiritual part of the
Covenant] they [the literal seed] are enemies for your sakes;
but as touching the election they are [still] beloved for the
fathers' sakes. For the gifts and callings of God are not things
he will repent of. For this is my Covenant TO THEM--There
shall come out of Zion [the spiritual Church] the Deliverer [this
great High Priest, the Servant of the Covenant--Jesus, the Head,
and the "little flock," his Body], and shall turn away
ungodliness from Jacob." They are to be first blessed
by the spiritual or true Seed and may later become associate laborers.
then, after the Body of Christ completes the spiritual "Seed,"
that additional promise to Abraham respecting an earthly seed
must have a fulfilment: the fleshly seed must become great "as
the sand by the sea shore," the heavenly Seed being likened
to "the stars of heaven." (`Gen.
22:17`) They must first be turned to righteousness and
truth; they will then become an agency through which the spiritual
Seed will operate in the promised blessing of all mankind with
truth and grace.
scarlet, blue, purple, etc., which composed the ephod, indicated
the conditions of the two covenants. The scarlet shows
how God provides redemption from the Adamic curse through the
blood of the ransom. The white linen indicates the
restoration of man to his original purity. The blue vouchsafes
to him the aid, the ability, faithfully to maintain his righteous
character. The purple proclaims the royal power of the
Kingdom cooperating. All of these blessings woven together are
made sure by the divine power of the anointed Priest, represented
in the interwoven thread of gold. Thus Jehovah has laid
both of these covenants, as they relate to men, upon one who is
both mighty and willing to execute these glorious covenanted blessings--"in
Breastplate of Judgment"--was placed on the front of the
ephod. It was suspended by a gold chain from the clasps on the
shoulder, and was fastened to the ephod by the lacer, through
golden rings--this fastening being so concealed underneath that
to the casual observer it might appear to be a part of the ephod.
(`Exod. 28:26-28`) This breastplate
beautifully represented the Law: It was not a part of the
Abrahamic Covenant (ephod) but "it was added" to it.
(`Gal. 3:19`) As the Israelite regarded
them (not seeing the hidden connection), the Covenant to Abraham
and "the law, which was 430 years after," were all one.
<PAGE 35> Paul shows us that there are two
seeds that God had in mind, the spiritual and the natural, and
that the Covenant and the Law were distinct, "to the end
that the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only
which is of the Law, but to that also which
is of the Faith." `Rom. 4:16`
Law emblem (the breastplate) was one of the most beautiful of
the High Priest's garments. It was made of the same materials
as the ephod. It had in it, set in gold, twelve precious jewels,
in which were engraved the names of the twelve tribes. It was
bound on his heart, indicating that it was precious to him. As
a "breastplate of righteousness" it covered his heart.
That which condemned all imperfection was his pleasure--"I
delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy Law is within
my heart." `Psa. 40:8`
breastplate was two spans long and one span wide, folded in the
middle, i.e., a span long and a span wide when doubled.
The size, a span, indicated that the law of God is the full measure
of a perfect man's ability. The man Christ Jesus, being
perfect, was the only one who ever kept the perfect Law of God
inviolate, while those who compose the "little flock,"
his Body, have his righteousness imputed to them, and hence may
truly say, "The righteousness of the Law is fulfilled in
fact that it was double and that the parts were of the same size
represented the letter and the spirit of the Law.
The front part contained the jewels, and was hung by the gold
chain to the gold clasps of the ephod. The underpart was fastened
to the ephod. This under half, tied to the ephod (Covenant), seems
to represent the Law in letter, as presented to fleshly Israel.
The front part seems to illustrate the spirit of the Law fulfilled
in us, "who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit."
(`Rom. 8:4`) The two are really one
when rightly seen, yet the front part, only, bears the precious
gold being a symbol of divine things, the dependence of
this part of the Law by a gold chain, from the gold clasps, seems
to teach that the Law is divine; and we know, also, that
it is by Divine aid that we are enabled to walk--not after the
flesh but after the spirit. It is this phase of the Law which
bears the "jewels," set in gold, representative of the
true Israel, the Lord's "little flock." "They shall
be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my
jewels." (`Mal. 3:17`) Thus
embedded in gold (the divine nature) and upheld by the golden
chain of Divine promises, what wonder that "the righteousness
of the law is fulfilled in us!" `Rom.
Aaron stood there clothed in those beautiful robes so typically
significant, and was anointed with the holy oil, his head represented
Jesus, the Head of the Priesthood, while his body represented
the Church, complete in Christ. How impressive and significant
a type of the world's High Priest, undefiled, and clothed with
power and authority to fulfil Jehovah's covenants!
The Under-Priests--"The Body"
see the Body, or members of the High Priest, again individually
typified by the under-priests, who each wore a "bonnet,"
covering his head, to indicate that he was not the head of the
Priesthood, but merely a member of the Body. God gave Jesus "to
be the Head over all things to the Church, which is his
Body." (`Eph. 1:22,23`) It is
for this reason that Paul insists that a woman's head should be
covered as indicating that she is not the head; the husband and
wife being typical of Jesus and his Bride--the Church of the First-born.
under-priests were robed in linen garments and wore girdles. Their
robes represented the righteousness of Jesus, imputed to
them, and their girdles represent them as servants
<PAGE 37> of righteousness. The High Priest
wore very similar garments during the time of sacrificing (the
Day of Atonement) and put on the glorious garments after making
The Anointing of the Priest
Aaron had the holy oil poured upon his head, so our Head, the
Lord Jesus, was anointed with the antitypical oil--the holy Spirit--when
he was thirty years of age, on the banks of Jordan, at the time
of his consecration. There he was "anointed with the oil
of gladness above his fellows"-- as Head over all
his joint-heirs. A measure of the spirit is given to every
member who thus consecrates; but Jehovah gave "not the Spirit
by measure unto him." (`John 3:34`)
John saw and bore record that our High Priest was thus anointed,
and Peter adds his testimony, "How God anointed Jesus
of Nazareth with the holy Spirit and with power."
`John 1:32`; `Luke 4:1`;
anointing oil was poured only upon the head. The
under-priests were not anointed individually.3
They were recognized as members of the High Priest's body, and
received their anointing only in him as their head. Hence also
the antitypical priests are merely partakers of the spirit of
Christ, and only those who are in Christ Jesus are partakers
of the anointing which seals all those who will be recognized
as the heirs of God's promises, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ
their Lord. `Eph. 1:13,14; 4:30`
oil "ran down...to the skirts of his [the High Priest's]
garments" (`Psa. 133:2`), thus
representing how all the members of Christ's Body are to be partakers
<PAGE 38> same anointing after their
Head. "The anointing which ye have received of him
abideth in you." (`1 John 2:27`)
This oil began to reach the Body on the day of Pentecost,
and flowed on down through this Gospel age, anointing all who
are truly baptized into Christ, constituting them, with
their Head, kings and priests unto God, to reign a thousand years.
thus see that Aaron, robed and anointed, represented the entire
Christ--the complete Seed of Abraham, in which God is about to
bless all the families of the earth. But let us not forget that
we have been viewing the Great Deliverer from God's standpoint,
and with him looking down to the time of his manifestation--the
dawn of the Millennial Day--when all the members shall have come
into the Body, and when the "holy oil" shall have run
down "to the skirts of his garments," anointing every
member. (`Lev. 10:7`) Then he will
begin the work of blessing mankind. For the glorious reign of
this Kingly Priest we constantly pray, "Thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth."
TABERNACLE SHADOWS OF THE BETTER SACRIFICES