Isaiah 60 and the Kingdom Priesthood
Foreigners As Priests In The Kingdom Temple!
Don K. Preston D. Div.
We are constantly assailed with claims that we are very, very close to the time when the Jerusalem Temple will be rebuilt. “The signs are everywhere!”…or so we are told. Books, many books, have been written proclaiming that the Jews in Jerusalem are Ready To Rebuild the temple. Randall Price is considered one of the modern experts on the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple. He has written three books, so far, on the subject, and in all of them he proclaims that the rebuilding of the Temple is imminent.
One of the things that we hear about is that they are currently training priests for service in that rebuilt Temple. Temple items are being reconstructed.
Now, you must realize that according to the dispensational view of the restored Temple, the Levitical priesthood is restored. This would logically demand access to the genealogies to verify the lineage of anyone preparing to serve. Of course, all genealogical records were destroyed in AD 70 so that presents a major obstacle, but that seems not to impress the millennialists at all, however. However, with all of the emphasis currently being placed on the Cohen lineage / name in the hopes that they are truly of the right family and genealogy, I would pose a challenging question: Why bother?
This may seem like a strange question, since we are told that the Zadokite line of Levi will serve as the priesthood in the millennium, per the dispensational view of Ezekiel 40f. This means that once again, there is an exclusivistic priesthood to offer sacrifice in the kingdom. However, in spite of all of the dispensational rhetoric in this regard, according to the OT prophecies of the kingdom, there would not be an exclusivistic priesthood in the kingdom. In fact, the prophets foretold that anyone could offer sacrifices in the kingdom! Read Isaiah 60:5-7:
The multitude of camels shall cover your land,
The dromedaries of Midian and Ephah;
All those from Sheba shall come;
They shall bring gold and incense,
And they shall proclaim the praises of the LORD.
7 All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together to you,
The rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you;
They shall ascend with acceptance on My altar,
And I will glorify the house of My glory.” (My emphasis)
Do you catch the power of the last two lines? Notice who these people are. They are the (former) enemies of God. The Midianites especially were the inveterate enemies of God for centuries! And they most assuredly were not of the Levitical (priestly) tribe, in any way, shape, form, or fashion!
YHVH said that when salvation would come (when the Midianites could ascend the altar and offer acceptable sacrifice) would be the time of Israel’s salvation. And notice the description of the City in verses 15ff which serves as the source of John’s description of the New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation. Now, look a bit closer at the promise.
God did not say that the Midianites, Shebaites, etc. would offer sacrifice through the Zadokite priests. It says that they, the Midianites, Shebaites, etc., would, themselves, ascend the altar and offer acceptable sacrifice! There is no offering of sacrifice through the Levites her. They would personally ascend the altar, and would personally offer acceptable sacrifice! This is astounding!
In the Old Covenant Temple, there were several separating courts. There was the Court of the Gentiles, the Court of Women, The Court of Israel, the Court of the Priests, and then, the “plaza” where the altar stood.
Standing between the Court of the Gentiles– which is where any Midianite, Shebaite, would be forced to stand– was a wall of separation. On this wall every so often, there was a plague with an inscription that read: “Let no foreigner enter within the partition and enclosure surrounding the temple. Whoever is arrested will himself be responsible for his death which will follow.” This is the wall that warned anyone that was not a Jew / Israelite not to enter. See the zeal with which the Jews enforced this in Acts 21 when the Jews thought Paul had brought Trophimus, a Greek, beyond the wall. They were going to kill Paul for violating the sanctity of the Temple! No foreigners allowed!
Furthermore, any Jew that was not of the Levitical tribe was forbidden to enter the Court of the Priests. That belonged exclusively to those whose genealogy could be demonstrated beyond doubt.
The very idea of a Midianite, a Shebaite, or anyone other than a Levite, entering the Court of the Priests was an unbelievably horrifying thought! But Isaiah goes further. He says that not only would these foreigners enter the Court of the Priests, they would actually enter the Temple Courtyard! And not only that, they would themselves ascend the holy altar and offer sacrifice!
Isaiah 19 presents a similar, shocking, revolutionary concept. It says that the Egyptians and the Assyrians would become the people of God (v. 25)! Not only that, but an altar would be established in Egypt, and acceptable sacrifice would be offered there! (Cf. Malachi 1:11– where YHVH said that in the kingdom, men would worship Him “in every place.” Isaiah was predicting what Jesus spoke of in John 4: “The time is coming and now is when neither in this mount or in Jerusalem shall men worship the Father…” This is the negation of all geo-centric worship. ).
Is it even necessary to say that these prophecies of the kingdom are fatal to the dispensational paradigm? Whereas it is claimed that Zion will be the exclusive place of worship once again, YHVH said that altars and acceptable sacrifice would be in other places, places formerly known as the enemies of God! Whereas millennialism proclaims the restoration of the exclusionary Levitical (Zadokite) priesthood, scripture declares that in the kingdom, anyone would be allowed– invited!– to offer sacrifice to the Lord. These facts totally falsify the dispensational doctrine of a rebuilt Temple.
But of course, what these prophecies foretold is fulfilled in Christ, and the “kingdom of priests” created by his marvelous work (Revelation 1:5). In this kingdom, all are priests, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, i.e. “The fruit of our lips” (1 Peter 2:5; Hebrews 13:15). In Christ, there is no Scythian (a designation that in the first century carried with the idea of a barbarian warrior– an enemy of all men!). Just like Isaiah foretold the kingdom wherein the former enemies of God’s people would now be acceptable and become His people, Paul says that the Scythians– enemies of all– were now one with all men in Christ. They were offering sacrifice acceptable to God through Christ!!
So, I asked the question: Why bother to reconstruct a temple where one family, one tribe exclusively could offer sacrifice (bloody sacrifice at that, which could never be efficacious or acceptable to God!!, but that is another subject)? Any such Temple would not be the kingdom Temple foretold by Isaiah. It would in fact, be the restoration of that which stood in direct opposition the “True Tabernacle which God pitched, and not man” over which Christ serves forever as High Priest (Hebrews 8:1-2).
The dispensational doctrine of a rebuilt Temple, whether Tribulation or Millennial, is misguided. It disparages the Temple and Priesthood of Christ and all believers in him. It ignores what the OT actually says about the Messianic Temple. It seeks to restore a system of worship that God never took pleasure in. It seeks to replace the spiritual Temple of Christ, with a Temple, Priesthood, and sacrifice that opposed him.
The proposed Millennial Temple of dispensationalism is not the Temple of the kingdom foretold in scripture. The body of Christ is his glorious Temple
in which he dwells with us, and accepts our sacrifice of praise.