"And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know ... For we know in part and we prophesy in part" (1 Cor. 8:2, 13:9)

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The people, Levites and priests of the Gospel Age

Synopsis: the division of Israel into people, Levites, and priests under the Law Covenant illustrated the division of the Gospel Age believers into antitypical people, Levites and priests under the New Covenant - this is the basic premise of the lecture. Its purpose is to organize the basic Biblical concepts in relation to each of the mentioned classes in a manner illustrating as clearly as possible the inner logic of the Gospel calling, its aims, conditions and principles with regard to all believers in Christ.

This lecture, exceptionally, is in the form of a table. The form is not accidental: comparing each of the three classes of typical and antitypical Israel in terms of their respective characteristics may be helpful in systematizing, or placing in more precise frames, their identity. For although we are called in one body of Christ, the members of the body are different and have different functions (1 Cor. 12:12-30; Col. 3:15). One was God's chosen nation of Israel, but in terms of the scope of service, God distinguished the tribe of Levi from other tribes, and among the Levites themselves He distinguished the descendants of Aaron who were to serve in the priesthood. Thus the nation as a whole was made up of priests, Levites, and people. Since Israel according to the flesh represented Israel according to spirit, believers in Christ too can be 'classified' in three antitypical classes: priests, Levites, and people.

The people Levites priests
Repentance and conversion Repentance and conversion are the realization of man's obligatory love for God. Repentance (Greek metanoia) literally means a change of mind. The essence of repentance is turning away from acting contrary to God's principles. Conversion (Greek epistrofe) is a mirror image of repentance. While repentance turns us away from sin, by conversion we embrace the divine principles we have so far rejected as the proper guide in life. Repentance and conversion are the duties of the elect and the non-elect. Israel coming out of Egypt pictures the elect who in the Gospel Age decide to leave the Egypt of this world; the non-Israelites who join the Jews leaving Egypt represent the repentant non-elect.
Circumcision Circumcision is a common experience of all Israel, typical and spiritual. Circumcision is the sacrifice of the body (Phil. 3:3; Col. 2:11). Abraham received it from God as a sign of faith (Gen. 17:9-14) and so all male members of the chosen people who went out of Egypt were circumcised. Thus, circumcision shows that all who believe undertake the sacrifice of the body. In case of the elect and non-elect circumcision points to repentance as a means of fighting sin and the weakness of the flesh. In the case of the elect, an additional element is the sacrifice of the body on behalf of the Gospel, at the service of teaching and evangelization (Rom. 12:1). Fleshly circumcision concerns only the typical people; spiritual Israel has a "circumcision of the heart" (Rom. 2:28,29).
Water baptism The passage of Israel coming out of Egypt along the bottom of the sea prefigures baptism to which all believers are subjected, who by repentance leave the Egypt of the present world (1 Cor. 10:1,2). Therefore, the proper form of water baptism is immersion, which represents 'burial' through repentance of a man devoted to sin, while emergence illustrates the emergence of a new character for life, built in accordance with the divine norm of justice. In the case of antitypical Israel, water baptism in its two phases of immersion and emergence illustrates the sacrifice of the body on behalf of the Gospel and appearance of the new creation - mind regenerated by occupation with the truth.
Election and predestination God individually chose Abraham - the father of all believers - and allocated the land for him, precisely defining its limits. By showing faith and obedience, Abraham ensured that God's promise was fulfilled for his offspring. Thus the type was fulfilled for the experience of the children of Abraham according to faith. The concept of predestination literally means 'prior setting up of a boundary' (Greek: proorizo; pro - before; horizo - to set a limit). God therefore assigns to man an area of truth, which we walk around as Abraham walked around the promised land - Abraham physically; we through learning the Word of God. Just as one Abraham was chosen from his father's house, God elects individually those to whom he makes available the experience of knowing the spiritual possession of truth. Like Abraham, God requires obedience from his children in order to fulfill his promise. The fact that Abraham did not own the land during his lifetime indicates that we too know the realm of truth today and the hope of spiritual glory, but in this life we will not become its owners (and only after death and resurrection; ).
Participation in covenant God made a Law Covenant with the chosen people, giving them a law engraved on tablets of stone. With the elect who voluntarily decide to leave the Egypt of sin, God enters the New Covenant relationship by giving them the spirit of his sacrificial love agape - the love of truth (Rom. 5:5). The love of truth is a desire for its learning and application. The effect of following love in the elect is 'engraving' the structure of the truth on the tablets of hearts, i.e. building character in a manner consistent with divine principles.
Position within the Tabernacle (attitude towards the truth) The typical people did not have access to the Tabernacle, they did not see it from the inside. By law, however, they brought animals that were sacrificed there. Likewise, the elect under the New Covenant - they receive the spirit of truth, but most stop at the level of conversion. Their ambition is to be 'good people', therefore they bring sacrifices to God which they make in order to mantain sinless conduct. However, they do not take any further efforts to develop understanding of the truth. The words of 2 Cor. 6:1,2 are especially addressed to these new creatures - "Now because we are fellow workers, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain. (2) For he says, 'I heard you at the acceptable time, and in the day of salvation I helped you.' Look, now is the acceptable time; look, now is the day of salvation!" (NET). The typical Levites, similarly to the people, were not allowed into the Tabernacle, but they had a special assignment there, namely during Israel's journey, they were responsible for assembling, disassembling and transporting its elements. In the antitype, the Levites let themselves be led by the spirit of the love of truth in a far greater way than the members of the people. They deal with evangelization ('transport' of the Gospel) and teaching (putting together and disassembling the pieces of doctrine). However, they do not pursue "reasonable service" (Rom. 12:1 NET) because they do not see the Tabernacle from within - they do not try to see the meaning of the teaching that they preach. In the type, the Levites had their own carts on which they transported the elements of the Tabernacle - in the antitype, the Levites have their own sects, which they use with the purpose of working with the Scripture. Under the law, priests served in the Tabernacle. In the part of the Tabernacle called the Holy Place (Sanctuary), the priests ate showbread in the light of the lampstand and burned incense on the altar. The antitypical priests let themselves be led by the love of truth to the antitypical Sanctuary in which thanks to its light they perform the "reasonable service" of developing understanding of the Word of God and helping others understand to the pleasant fragrance of the Lord. The sanctuary represents the state of the new creation in which the earnest of spirit received by the elect (the agape love) leads to the development of what the apostle Paul calls "spiritual wisdom and revelation" (Eph. 1:13-18 NET). By working with God's Word, antitypical priests develop maturity that enables them to evaluate teachings and attitudes in accordance with the divine order, and consequently also to understand more and more advanced elements of the teaching of the Bible (Heb. 5:11-14).
Experience of the spirit The people - begettal of the spirit -
thanks to the spirit of the love of truth received by the repentant elect, members of the antitypical people experience begettal of the spirit as the new creation. The love of truth 'impregnates' the minds of the elect with the word of God, making them the new creation - a new spiritual awareness (2 Cor. 5:17). However, members of the people make no progress in understanding, which remains below the knowledge of the basics of God's Word. They remain completely dependent on outside teaching in their spiritual experience, alone not being able to undertake any work towards independent interpretation of the writings of the Holy Scriptures. Not knowing also causes the lack of character development, and thus personality change into the image of Jesus Christ. From a spiritual standpoint, members of the people are not developed children, even though they have been begotten as new creatures (Jn. 1:12,13).
Levites - birth of the spirit -
in the antitype the Levites are different from the people in three things: 1) in knowledge, the Levites understand the basic teachings of the Bible; 2) in terms of independence, the Levites are well prepared in the foundations of the truth to begin to undertake independent study of God's Word; 3) in terms of character development, their knowledge of the truth has a noticeable impact on their character: old behaviors disappear and new ones appear as a result of the practice of Biblical principles. The complete personality is not only the mind (new creation) but also the body (character). At the level of the people the influence of the spirit of truth affects only the first element; on the Levitical level, the love of truth shapes the mind and character according to the teachings of the Word of God. Hence, we speak of birth of the spirit rather than begettal, and the status of God's children rather than the new creation.
Priests - baptism in the spirit -
baptism in the spirit is an experience that actually belongs only to the priesthood. Its meaning is directly deductible from the meaning of the words 'baptism' and 'spirit'. Baptism in Greek is baptisma, and it actually means immersion. The Greek pneuma, which we translate as 'spirit', in the New Testament means, inter alia, teaching and in this sense it is used, inter alia, in Eph. 6:17; 2 Thess. 2:8; 1 Jn. 4:1. Thus, baptism in the spirit refers to our immersion into the doctrine of Christ. In the type, the experience of baptism in the spirit is represented by the state of the Sanctuary, in which under the light of the lamp (love of truth), priests eat showbread (God's Word). Unlike Levites, who have a good understanding of the foundations of the Scripture, priests have a prophetic spirit by which they explain symbolic and archetypal teachings of the Bible (see the lecture ).
Judgement of the firstborn On the night of the Exodus from Egypt, God destined to die all the firstborn in the land of Egypt who did not eat the lamb behind the door marked with blood. Later the firstborn were "exchanged" for the tribe of Levi (Levites + priests). In antitype, a sentence to eternal death may be issued in the case of the Levites and priests - all new creatures who have developed such an advanced understanding of spiritual matters that in the state of far-reaching infidelity, repentance may become impossible for them, and the only possible settlement will be the death sentence (Heb. 6:4-6, 10:26,27). This fate befell the (antitypical) Levite Judas, for whom 'it would be better not to be born' (as a new creature; Mt. 26:24).
Lord's Supper On the night of the departure from Egypt, all Israel ate the Lamb behind the door marked with blood. This means that all who repent and convert to God through Jesus Christ, participate in the sacrifice of the flesh because of sin, and all 'eat' the sacrifice of the Lord by learning justice from the pattern our Lord showed to His Church. Therefore, eating bread and drinking wine in this sense is appropriate for all believers. Also the un-elect believers eat the lamb under the condition of submitting to the anti-typical circumcision (Ex. 12:48; see the lecture ).
Hope Finding oneself among the antitypical people will not be good news for the elect, as it will mean that they have not performed their sacrifices to a degree that would qualify them to gain spiritual nature (priestly or Levitical). In the thousand-year kingdom, the earth will be their abode, among millions of the resurrected humanity. The position of the antitypical people will be higher than that of (presently) unbelieving mankind, but lower than that of the Levites and the faithful of the Old Testament. The elect who are shown in the Levites hope to gain a spiritual nature, but inferior to the glory intended for priests. The completion of the antitypical Levites will end one year before the Day of the Lord begins (6 years after the Great Tribulation begins). The Levites will experience the Day on earth, and those who prove faithful will be transformed to a spiritual nature with the advent of Christ's millennial reign (Lk. 17:28-37). In the symbols of Revelation, the Levites are shown as the great crowd (Rev. 7:9-17). The elect who faithfully carry out their sacrifice for the truth hope to be resurrected to glory in the Divine nature where they will be kings and priests of God and Jesus Christ:
1) the class of kings is shown in the Tabernacle in the Most Holy; in the symbols of Revelation kings with Jesus Christ are represented by 24 elders (Rev. 4:4). The last member of this class was acquired in 1977;
2) the elect who will be priests in the glory of immortality are shown in the Tabernacle in the state of the Sanctuary; in the symbols of Revelation they are represented by the 144,000 elect who are to be sealed before the Tribulation begins to crown the present system of things (Rev. 7:1-3, 14:1-5). The winners of the present calling who will receive priestly positions will be in glory before the beginning of the Day of the Lord (destruction of the present world).

Keywords: antytypical classes of bodily Israel: people, Levites, priests
Bible translations used in the lecture:
NET - New English Translation (2005)