In my blog last week, we discussed the Levitical priesthood and the fact that this was the old covenant that Jesus came to replace.
The Abrahamic covenant and the Book of the Covenant (our salvation covenants) are still very much alive! We are saved if we keep them.
What did the new covenant come to replace?
The new covenant replaced:
1. The High Priest and the entire priesthood
2. The sacrificial system
3. The temple
4. The Ark of the Covenant
Practically speaking we know they have been replaced because none of these five items exist in the same form as they did before Jesus’ sacrifice and rising.
1. Our new High Priest
Jesus is now our new high priest.
Hebrews 7: 21-26 say:
“Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: ‘The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: You are a priest forever.’
Because of this oath, 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” (NIV).
Any priest or pastor that says he has a special priestly appointment from God is a fraud. It is intended that Jesus be our high priest or minister.
His true follows are His kingdom of priests
His true followers are His priests, our brothers and sisters. As brothers and sisters in the priesthood, we need to share His truth, serve one another, and invite all people into a covenant relationship with the Author of life.
Followers are not just believers
Did you notice that I did not say ‘believers?’
It is possible to believe in Jesus without following Him. James 2:19 says that even the demons believe.
The Hebrew word for belief
In Hebrew “aman” (translated as believe) means ‘solid support’ or ‘to rely upon.’
Faith means that since we believe in God, we support Him and His word. He can rely on us to live in a certain way as His followers. We live out what we believe in.
1 Peter 2:8-9:
“…They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them. But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people.
You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”
2. Jesus replaced the sacrificial system.
The sacrificial system was removed
Hebrews 10 states that goats and bulls cannot really take away sins. Jesus came to be the perfect sacrifice – the only One that pleases God. He canceled the first covenant to put the second one into effect. We can read for ourselves in Hebrews 10:8-10: “First, Christ said, ‘You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were you pleased with them’ (though they are required by the law of Moses). Then he said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will.’ He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect. For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time” (NLT).
Only His blood can take away sins.
“Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins.
But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand.”
3. A new temple – our bodies
Our bodies, in the new covenant, replaced the physical temple.
Our bodies are now the new house of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says: “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”
We must be careful therefore of the places we go, what we do and even what we are watching on the Internet or television. Our bodies are now His dwelling place. The Holy Spirit will live in us, but only if we live according to His ways. Of course, we will stumble from time to time. If we repent with the intent to change, the Holy Spirit is there to help us.
The body at war
Being a priest means we are at war with our natural selfish selves fighting to live according to His salvation covenant. It is the Holy Spirit who will help us with our transformation from our old selves in the new creation, reflecting the image of God.
4. Our hearts replaced the Ark of the Covenant.
The old Levitical Priesthood carried the Ark of the Covenant and the tablets of the covenant everywhere they went and was eventually kept in the deepest part of the temple, the Holy of Holies.
God’s new kingdom of priests carry the salvation covenant everywhere they go in their hearts and minds the very heart of the new temple. It is not just a saying thought out by man. It is written in the Bible.
Hebrews 10:16: “…This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds’” (NLT).
Why didn’t God implement the ‘kingdom of priests’ with the Israelites?
The answer is that God wanted to but the Israelites did not have the faith to listen to God directly. The Bible tells us so in Hebrews 4:2: “For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; [the Israelites on Mt Sinai] but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.”
Nothing has changed. This is still the requirement for us to be part of His kingdom of priests today and now is our opportunity. This is our chance to turn off the priests and pastors all around us and listen directly to God through His word. We can join His kingdom of priests.
This is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Deuteronomy 18:15-19 when the people decided not to listen to God directly in the first place: “Moses continued, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. For this is what you yourselves requested of the Lord your God when you were assembled at Mount Sinai. You said, Don’t let us hear the voice of the Lord our God anymore or see this blazing fire, for we will die. Then the Lord said to me, What they have said is right. I will raise up a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell the people everything I command him. I will personally deal with anyone who will not listen to the messages the prophet proclaims on my behalf.’”
And it’s fulfillment;
Peter tells us in Acts 3:19-23:
“Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah. For he must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets.
Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your own people. Listen carefully to everything he tells you.’
Then Moses said, ‘Anyone who will not listen to that Prophet will be completely cut off from God’s people.’
God’s people listen to God directly from His word (the words of that prophet) and understand that other priests and pastors have no more access to God then the lowest of us.
He is calling us to join His kingdom of priests by trusting Him to lead us and guide us directly through His Word and the Holy Spirit.
Now is our time to listen to God directly.
We can plainly see what the old covenant is and what the new covenant is when we look directly at His word with no other agenda involved.
It is the pastors and priests who have confounded and confused people by telling us lies and half truths that lead us astray. As well as, the corruption that comes when men put themselves over other people.
God is calling people back into our salvation covenant with Him, to listen to Him directly, and to join His kingdom of priests.
The old covenant tried to help us keep the salvation covenant through a system of enforcement while the new covenant is a system to help us keep our salvation covenant through transformation.
The same gospel just two different systems to help us keep our covenant agreement. However, it all begins with true faith, those willing to listen to and to follow, not like the Israelites on Mt Sinai in Hebrews 4:2: “For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.”
We must have the faith to listen to God directly, to live according to His salvation covenant and thereby becoming His kingdom of priests, if His word is to profit us.