So mankind, from Adam and Eve separated from God in Eden, to a huge city of people, divided at Babel, is now divided again and God creates a nation, comprising of the Hebrew ex-slaves, to be His people, His representatives, His Kingdom of Priests, the chosen people.
But the separation does not end there.
The Lord also said to Moses, “I have taken the Levites from among the Israelites in place of the first male offspring of every Israelite woman. The Levites are mine, for all the firstborn are mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set apart for myself every firstborn in Israel, whether human or animal. They are to be mine. I am the Lord.” (Numbers 3:11-13)
Here are the chosen from the chosen, the Levites, the tribe of Israel that are to become the priests, God’s representatives among His representatives. This is the system that was going to function for the people of Israel until the day came for it to be superseded by a better system.
Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant. Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. (Hebrews 7:22-28)
So, from Adam to Jesus, mankind has moved from shalom, completeness, to separation, from Adam and Eve enjoying direct fellowship with their Maker to the People of Israel, God’s representatives separated from Him, with only the High Priest, taken from the tribe of the Levites, able to deal with Him on behalf of the people and even then just once a year.
He is to put on the sacred linen garments and make atonement for the Most Holy Place, for the tent of meeting and the altar, and for the priests and all the members of the community.
“This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.” (Leviticus 16:32-34)
Just as the people of the world were split between the nations (Goyim) and His people, Israel, the people of Israel were themselves split between His tribe (‘The Levites are mine’) and the rest. This is Basic Old Testament theology 101. But it doesn’t end there, as God has other systems in place. His Levitical priests may be there to serve Him, but He uses others to speak to and communicate His Word to His people. These are the prophets, from Abel to Zechariah, taken from all tribes or even no tribe (in pre-Exodus days).
Here are a group of people with thankless tasks, but only in terms of the intended recipients of the messages. Jesus reminds his generation about this:
Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. (Luke 11:50-51)
Of course, not every prophet had an untimely end, but most had a hard time getting their message across to a people not always willing to listen. Nevertheless, they were all acknowledged as prophets.
Then there were the Kings. A sorry bunch apart from the odd shining light, but not even those luminaries were free from the occasional patch of darkness, witness Saul and his headstrong foolishness, or David and his adultery, or Solomon and his flesh-enticed idolatry, or any number of Kings of Judah and Israel, seduced by pagan promises. Kings, such as David, sometimes had a healthy relationship with God but they received their instructions, mostly in the form of admonishments, at the hands of the Prophet of that age.
So we can expand on our earlier analysis of the People of God. We still have two classes, those through whom God communicates and those He doesn’t. The first group, the ‘spiritual’ ones, are comprised of prophets, priests and kings, and the rest are the ‘physical’ ones, the great body of the People of Israel.
This was, of course, all to change, when Jesus was crucified … but did it?
This is an extract from the book, Shalom, available for £10 at https://www.sppublishing.com/shalom-239-p.asp
Who did God use to speak to us?
Written by: Miriam Emenike
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