The Sons of God: Part 9 (final, continued)
By way of contrast, we read in verses 15-19,
15 But the Levitical priests, the SONS OF ZADOK, who kept the charge of My sanctuary when the sons of Israel went astray from Me, shall come near to Me to minister to Me; and they shall offer the fat and the blood, declares the Lord God. 16 They shall enter My sanctuary; they shall come near to My table to minister to Me and keep My charge."
Bible teachers often take these passages too literally, thinking that God is going to set up an other temple in Jerusalem on the temple mount, complete with Jewish Levites and animal sacrifices. They say that the Age of Grace is soon completed, and then we are all going back under animal sacrifices once again. To me, that is utter blasphemy. It is as if they never read the book of Hebrews. The blood of bulls and goats can never remove sin. "But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction" (Heb. 10:39).
Ezekiel's prophecy is set forth in Old Testament terms, like all the types and shadows do. But we are to interpret them in a New Testament context. This new priesthood is not really Zadok's line per se, because Zadok himself was still of Levi, and so ultimately, he could not remove himself from Jacob's curse.
Neither are we to suppose that Jesus' blood will be set aside in favor of renewed animal sacrifices. Nor will the New Jerusalem be replaced by the Old Jerusalem, nor will the living temple (Eph. 2:21) be replaced by a dead temple rebuilt in Jerusalem. I do not buy into such re-replacement theology. The Old Covenant has been replaced by the New Covenant. I do not believe the New Covenant will be replaced by the Old in the future.
Although Ezekiel 44 uses the story of Eli and Zadok as the backdrop for the prophecy, it is really about a New Testament priesthood in the Age of Tabernacles that is soon to come. In the past 2,000 years there has been a Christian priesthood under Pentecost--the leavened feast--that became as corrupt as the priesthood of Eli. Many of them, though they steal offerings and have sex with the women parishoners, do have a genuine belief in Jesus Christ. In the age of the Prince of Peace, they will be allowed to minister in the outer court (that is, the physical body). But they will not be allowed to minister to God in His Sanctuary in heaven. In other words, they will not receive that glorified body that can go back and forth between heaven and earth--the kind of body that Jesus had after His resurrection.
Ezekiel describes this body in 44:17-19, putting it in Old Testament terms, but prophesying of New Testament things:
17 And it shall be that when they enter at the gates of the inner court, they shall be clothed with LINEN GARMENTS; and WOOL shall not be upon them while they are ministering in the gates of the inner court and in the house."
Linen is made from plants; wool is an animal product. Rev. 19:8 says, "fine linen is the righteousness [i.e., ZADOK] of the saints." Linen represents the spiritual body, even as wool represents the fleshly, physical body.
And so, when these "priests of God and of Christ" are given glorified bodies, like Jesus had, they will be able to go back and forth between heaven and earth, ministering to God in Sanctuary in their "linens" and then returning to earth dressed in "wool" to minister to the people in the outer court.
"19 And when they go out into the outer court [earthly realm of the people]. . . they shall put off their [linen, spiritual body] garments in which they have been ministering, and lay them in the holy chambers; then they shall put on other [wool, fleshly body] garments. . ."
This is why, after Jesus' resurrection, He always appeared to His disciples in a body of "flesh and bones" (Luke 24:39). In fact, he spent considerable time in Luke 24 convincing the disciples that He was NOT A SPIRIT. He even ate with them to prove it. Why? In order to manifest to us the glorified body. It is the inheritance of the sons of God as well. They will be able to "change clothes," as it were, and become either spiritual or physical at will. Ezekiel 44:19 makes it unlawful to minister to the people in the "outer court," and for this reason Jesus did not appear to them as a spirit.
Even so, this glorified body clearly is not confined to the limitations of the flesh as we know it in this mortal body.
In Paul's day, skeptics asked in 1 Cor. 15:35, "with what kind of body do they come?" While we do not know the full answer to this, the simple answer is this: "They will come with the kind of body that Jesus had after His resurrection." This is what it means for the sons of God to be priests after the Order of Melchisedec, as described in Ezekiel 44.