Q – Dear Sir,
I just finished reading and studying Is The Church Israel. I have been watching the Dallas seminary, Moody Bible, Biola, Loyola University and others that are now teaching this type of (replacement) theology and I am amazed how intelligent men have totally changed their way of teachings. To be truthful it does not surprise me because people who give these schools large sums of money will get some of their way of thinking taught in these schools. And books will be written also so as to poison the minds of these up and coming preachers and pastors. Excuse me for not saying earlier the study on Israel and the Church was tremendous. I will share it with my Jewish brothers and sisters. Now could you please in your simplest words tell me how you think the church will be run during the millennium? I would like to hear from you. Also I would like to thank the Lord for letting me find you on the computer, it has been a true blessing.
Jim – Thank you so much for your very kind letter. What a joy it is to hear from people who have come across out site and enjoyed our Bible studies. And, you’re right. The current trend in most Bible schools is toward Replacement Theology, which is a terrible shame. To my way of thinking, God knows what He’s talking about and to whom He is speaking. What sense does it make for God to promise things to His chosen nation when He intends to give those promises to completely other people? The God of Scripture is much more faithful than that.
Anyway, you asked how I think the Church will be run during the millennium. To be honest, my friend, the Bible does not tell us much about that subject. We know that Christ will be seated on an earthly throne in Jerusalem and that David will rule re-gathered Israel (Ezek. 34:24). The Gentile nations who fought against Israel will all keep the Feast of Tabernacles each year (Zech. 14:16-19). The Church will return with Christ to rule and to reign with him (Rev. 5:9-10, 20:6).
But, as to how it will operate, or run, I cannot really say. The Church has been given gift ministries – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, for the perfecting or completing of the saints – but during the millennium, the Church will be complete. So, I don’t know that such offices will be necessary. I will say this though; it will be glorious to sit at the feet of the Great Shepherd, instead of an under-shepherd. I also know that sin will be removed from the Church, we will be in our glorified bodies and the devil will be bound to prohibit him from tempting and deceiving the nations.
To be honest, it’s a time I truly look forward to. But, I can’t tell you much more than that about it.
I am truly thankful for your letter. And, I am also grateful to God that He drew you to our website. When we first constructed the site we knew that only God’s sheep would truly enjoy it. And, I am very gratified to know that it is a blessing to you.
Q – Could you please tell me in your words why God waits so many thousands of years to pass judgment on the Levite priests, excluding the family of Zadok. I know they are saved or else they would not be in the millennium serving God.
Jim – Well, you’ve asked a big question, here. But, a very interesting question, I must say. I am always a bit reticent to answer questions about why God does anything. God has revealed Himself to mankind, and has revealed aspects of His character and nature. But, He has not revealed every reason and purpose behind His sovereign actions.
“The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deut. 29:29)
Nor, by the way, is God under any obligation to reveal the scope and breadth of His will to us. The very fact that He is God is sufficient reason for us to trust that His will is right, proper and ultimately sufficient. But, I think if we dig into the details a bit we can get some sense of God’s reasoning where these particulars are concerned.
I like Old Testament history, so I’m going to recount the highlights of Zadok.
Zadok was a priest of Israel during the reign of King David. He is first mentioned in 2 Samuel 8:17, although he is also written about in the Kings and in the Chronicles. His name most likely means “just” or “righteous.”
Before David’s ascent to the throne, Zadok was one of his mighty warriors, along with 22 captains of his father’s house. As a descendant of Aaron through Eleazar, Zadok was raised to the post of High Priest once David was established as king and the house of the high priest Eli fell into disfavor with God. King David instructed Zadok, along with Abiathar and the Levites, to bring the Ark of the Covenant from the house of Obed-edom to the tent pitched for it on Mt. Zion. Then, Zadok was appointed to officiate at Gibeon, while Abiathar, the other high priest, ministered in Jerusalem.
Toward the end of his reign, the aging King set the two high priests – Zadok from the house of Eleazor and Abiathar from the house of Ithamar – over the task of arranging duties and responsibilities for the Levites who served in the temple.
As David neared the end of his life, rebellion broke out over the succession of the throne. David’s third son, Absalom, attempted to take the rule by force. He slew his brother, the firstborn son, Amnon. Fearing for his own life, David fled from Jerusalem with a large company of people. Among the crowd were Zadok, Abiathar, and all the Levites, carrying the Ark with them (2 Sam. 15:24). But, David told Zadok to return the Ark to its rightful place, saying, “If I shall find favor in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again, and show me both it, and his habitation.” (2 Sam. 15:25)
David instructed Zadok to stay in the city with his son, Ahimaaz, and Abiathar’s son, Jonathan. That way, apparently, the line of high priests would remain at the tabernacle where the Ark was, allowing the continuation of both proper worship and yearly atonement for Israel. Plus, Zadok could work as a spy on David’s behalf and let him know when it was safe to return.
Well, Absalom assumed the rule in Jerusalem and wrought all manner of evil, even to sleeping with his father’s concubines. Eventually, he sent armies of men to seek and kill his father. But, Zadok heard the plan and told David to move quickly. While Zadok and Abiathar were warning David, Absalom sought their sons. Finally, Absalom himself took the armies of Israel across the Jordan, seeking to destroy his father. But, when Israel fought against the servants of David, twenty thousand men were slaughtered (2 Sam. 18:7). As Absalom came to meet the servants of David, the mule he was riding ducked under a branch, which caught Absalom’s head and hung him in the thick boughs of a great oak tree.
So, after Absalom’s death, David employed Zadok and Abiathar as intermediaries between himself and the elders of Judah. They successfully brokered a peace that led to David’s return to his throne. So, Zadok remained David’s faithful priest, counselor and intermediary.
But, once again, toward the end of David’s life, there was tension concerning the rightful heir to the throne. David’s son Adonijah, the crown prince by his wife Haggith, took counsel with Joab and Abiathar to set up his throne. But, Zadok and Nathan the prophet took the cause of Solomon, Bathsheba’s son. Acting on David’s instructions, they anointed him as king (1 Kings 1:32-45). Accordingly, when Solomon was established on the throne of Israel, he made Zadok the sole high priest. The house of Abiathar remained in the priestly station, but no longer on par with the house of Zadok.
So, Nathan remained the only faithful high priest in Israel who never chose against the will of God, but had the right mind and proper disposition in the line of descent and authority. And, God honored his family and lineage. Zadok’s great-great grandson was the first priest in Solomon’s Temple, where the glory of the Lord filled the holiest place until he could not stand on his feet. Another descendant, Azariah, was priest in the Temple under Hezekiah, during the cleansing. Ezra, the priest who returned from the Babylonian captivity to rebuild the Temple of God, was also a descendant of Zadok.
Now, all of that would have been simply interesting history had it not been for the writing of the prophet Ezekiel. Long after Zadok passed away, after Israel’s division into two kingdoms during Solomon’s reign, after the deportation of the northern tribes into Assyria, after the destruction of the temple during the reign of Babylon, Ezekiel wrote in great detail of a temple that has never been built. Given the context of Ezekiel’s writing, this temple is commonly held to be a description of the final temple to be built in the New Jerusalem during the Millennium. And when it came time to assign priestly duties, Ezekiel included these details –
“And the chamber whose prospect is toward the north is for the priests, the keepers of the charge of the altar: these are the sons of Zadok among the sons of Levi, which come near to the LORD to minister unto him.” (Ezek. 40:46)
“And he said unto me, Son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; These are the ordinances of the altar in the day when they shall make it, to offer burnt offerings thereon, and to sprinkle blood thereon. And thou shalt give to the priests the Levites that be of the seed of Zadok, which approach unto me, to minister unto me, saith the Lord GOD, a young bullock for a sin offering.” (Ezek. 43:18-19)
“Thus saith the Lord GOD; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel. And the Levites that are gone away far from me, when Israel went astray, which went astray away from me after their idols; they shall even bear their iniquity. Yet they shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having charge at the gates of the house, and ministering to the house: they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister unto them. Because they ministered unto them before their idols, and caused the house of Israel to fall into iniquity; therefore have I lifted up mine hand against them, saith the Lord GOD, and they shall bear their iniquity. And they shall not come near unto me, to do the office of a priest unto me, nor to come near to any of my holy things, in the most holy place: but they shall bear their shame, and their abominations which they have committed. But I will make them keepers of the charge of the house, for all the service thereof, and for all that shall be done therein. But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord GOD: They shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to my table, to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge.” (Ezek. 44:9-16)
And, I assume it is this last prophecy of the punishment of the Levites and restoration of the lineage of Zadok that prompted your question. But, I think it is extremely interesting to see the form their punishment takes. Way back in Exodus, God chose the Levites to serve in His sanctuary continuously. If He were to cut them off completely, there are some who would say He made a mistake, or chose unwisely. But, He chose Israel for His own sake, not because were better, larger or more righteous than the Gentile nations. And, He chose the tribe of Levi for His own sake. So, faithful God, keeping covenant with His own word, will see to it that they return to the very job God assigned them originally. They will serve in His temple. However, because of their years of rebellion, they will work the gates and keep the house; they will not come close to God, they will not enter the holiest places, nor come close to the holy objects. Only the children of faithful Zadok will operate in that capacity.
So, God will keep His word to the Levites and restore the house of Levi to their responsibilities to work in the temple. But, only the house of Zadok will interact with God’s holy place and vessels.
Now, your question had to do with time. Why has God waited so long to execute His judgment? And, honestly, I can only say that He is longsuffering. Our God is a God of set times. “In the fullness of time” He sent His Son (Gal. 4:4). And, at the exact right time, He will return for His bride and execute every word of His promise to exact judgment and restore His people. Those are firm guarantees.
But, we also have to learn to see things from God’s perspective. As Peter said, “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8) What seems like three thousand years of endurance here on earth is merely a couple of days with God.
And finally, I think we have ample Scriptural evidence that we are living in the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24), which will end when Christ returns. When the Church is taken to be with Christ, God will turn His attention back to Israel in punishment and in restoration. But, at the moment He is dealing with the Gentile world, bringing in those who are ordained to eternal life (Acts 13:48) and filling up the cup of His wrath until “the transgressors are come to the full.” (Dan. 8:23)
So, to make an incredibly long answer much shorter: why has God waited for thousands of years before punishing the Levites? Mercy, grace, forbearance, longsuffering, and the ability to do all things according to His own time to serve His own purposes.
That’s the best answer I can give, my friend.
Q – Next, if I say I am keeping all the laws except the sacrificial laws just so I can honor god have I fallen away from grace as it says in Galatians?
Jim – That one’s easy. The answer is no. The verse you are referencing is Galatians 5:4. It is in reference to Gentiles who were being pressured by Judaizers who insisted that new converts to Christianity were required to keep the Law of Moses as a means of sanctification. But, Gentiles were never under the Mosaic requirements. The Law was a covenant with Israel. So, to impose the impossible standard on Gentiles, when Israel itself could not keep it, was a terrible, potentially deadly, thing (Acts 15:10). So, Paul wrote –
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” (Gal. 5:1-4)
It is obvious that Paul was writing to the uncircumcised, the Gentiles, in this passage. And he was dealing with the subject of justification. He argued all through the Galatian letter that justification before God could never be achieved by the law, but only by grace through faith. If the Galatians were circumcised in an effort to achieve righteousness through acts of the flesh, they were indebted to keep the entire law.
However, as I understand it, you are a member of a Messianic Jewish congregation. The apostle Paul was also a Jewish Christian. And, he argued vehemently against Gentile converts being under the yoke of legal bondage. However, when he was in Jerusalem, long after his conversion, he took a Jewish vow, he purified himself according to Jewish custom, went into the temple, and offered an animal (Act 21:23-26). To Paul, these were matters of conscience. He was not attempting to justify himself before God. Justification is found only in Christ’s finished work. But, he was keeping peace with his Jewish brethren and honoring God according to his heritage and Jewish custom.
So, Paul wrote that some people keep holy days. Others do not. Some ate meat sacrificed to idols. Others, for sake of conscience, would not. But, Paul concluded that every man needed to settle these issues in his own heart and do everything for the Lord.
“Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.” (Rom. 14:1-8)
So, to answer your question more directly, if you are striving to keep the Law as a matter of conscience, in order to honor God, that is a good purpose. You are striving to lead a righteous life, making your body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service (Rom. 12:1)
However, if you think that you are keeping the Law perfectly and completely, gaining “brownie points” in Heaven, and that God will accept you on the basis of your fleshly effort, then you have made a grave error, and have indeed fallen out from under the protective cover of God’s grace. He will judge you according to that Law and you will stand condemned.
I’m sure you understand the difference.
My advice is: Trust God completely for your salvation and honor Him with your faith, your Christian charity, your obedience and your good works. That sounds like what you are doing, and I commend you for it.
Q – Is it safe to say that the millennium not only fulfills God’s promises to the remnant of Jews and Gentiles, but also God is going to make sure that this time it is done the way he wanted it to be done in the first place as far as honoring God and all his commandments and ordinances and putting our faith in Christ in order to stand one day in front of our mighty God cleansed once and for all by the blood of the lamb?
Jim – Yes, that is completely safe to say, and I think you’ve said it very well.
Q – Thank you for all your time in answering my wife and I. We enjoy your studies and share them with others.
Jim – Thank you very much. Your words are a great encouragement to me. And, it is an honor to have you share our studies with your friends. God bless you both
Yours in our matchless Savior,