The Scriptures are full of information and insights into the priesthood. The nation of Israel was called to be a kingdom of priests (Exo 19.6; 1 Pet 2.9). This meant that they were the priests in their homes and other related areas. However, only the family of Aaron can serve in the Temple as priests, or kohanim. Now, here is a question. Why do we have 2 high priests in the time of David? Let’s look at this concept for a moment. The Ark was captured at Aphek by the Philistines. As a result, a plague broke out on the Philistines and they discerned it was because they had the Ark, so they sent it back. Later, the Ark is brought to Jerusalem by David where Uzzah steadied the Ark before it fell, and was struck dead by the Lord. He was a righteous man but was not allowed to touch the Ark. The name “Uzzah” means “strength” and God doesn’t need man’s strength. That is not the tavnit that God wanted communicated. After Uzzah died, they stopped and put up a tent. The Mishkan was at Gibeon at this time. So, a high priest was at the Mishkan in Gibeon (Abiathar) and another with the Ark (Zadok). One high priest was from Abiathar and the other was from Zadok.
David moves the Ark to the Gihon Spring. A contest developed between two of David’s sons, Adonijah and Solomon, for who was the rightful heir after David as king. Abiathar and his sons were loyal to Adonijah and Zadok and his sons were loyal to Solomon. God chose Solomon as the next king, and the sons of Abiathar were not allowed to serve in the Temple (1 Kings 2.26-27). They could fulfill other priestly duties in the cities and countryside, like inspecting houses for Zara’at (leprosy) and other things, but not in the Temple. Zadok was appointed priest over Abiathar by Solomon (1 Kings 2.35). Jeremiah was a priest from the family of Abiathar, but could not minister in the Temple. Ezekiel was from the line of Zadok, and both were 7th century prophets. Jeremiah stayed in the cities and countryside, but Ezekiel went to Babylon with the people.
Ezek 44 is one of the greatest chapters on the priesthood in the Bible. In Ezek 44.1-2 we have a Scripture that has been misinterpreted and a great “myth” has resulted. Ezek 44.1-2 says, “Then he brought me back by the way of the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces the east; and it was shut. And the Lord said to me, ‘This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it for the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; there fore it shall be shut.'” In the outer wall around the Temple Mount today, on the east side, there is a gate that is shut off called the Golden Gate. There is a cemetery in front of it. Why is it sealed off? The Moslems believe that when the Messiah comes, he will not go through that gate because of the cemetery, and it is sealed. Christianity believes it is sealed up to keep the Messiah out, based on this passage in Ezek 44.1-2. But, that is not the gate being referred to in this passage. The “gate” being referred to here is in the sanctuary building. As you come into the Ulam (porch) you go through the massive veil called the “Heavens” because of the embroidery on it. This was the veil that was torn at the death of Yeshua, and related to the expression “the heavens were opened” which is an idiom for a deeper insight and revelation is open to you. As you walk in, you come to the doors of the Heichal. To the south and north of this door are two smaller doors, or wickets. The door, gate or wicket to the south is the one that will be shut. These small wickets lead to the Holy Place (Ha Kodesh) and to the surrounding 38 cells or chambers in the sanctuary building. This passage is not referring to the outer gate in the wall of Jerusalem.
Ezek 44.15-18 deals with the garments of the priests. What color was the garments of the priests in the Temple? It was white, made of linen. The outer garment, underpants, sash and a turban made up the priestly garments, for total of four. There was no wool, except for the sash. The high priest had these four garments, but he had four more called the “Golden Vestments.” The Techelet (the blue color) was made of wool (more on this later), but how can this be?. Isn’t there a commandment that says that the people were not to mix wool and linen together? Lev 19.19 and Deut 22.11 says so, so how can this be?
The Temple was a miniature Eden, as we have said before. The high priest represents “the Perfect Man” od Adam in his pre-fallen state. The priests also represent this also, so in reality, they are a picture of Yeshua and what we will be in the Olam Haba. In other words, the high priest was a picture of Yeshua in the Olam Haba, and the priests are picture of the glorified man. Yeshua has a higher level of kedusha than the other priests. Things that are forbidden to do now in this life will not be forbidden in the case of a glorified body. The high priest cannot wear his Golden Vestments all the time. He wears them at certain festivals and not in the Holy of Holies. The priestly garments cannot be worn outside of the Azarah (inner court-Ezek 44.19). These garments were left in a chamber with the same kedushah in the Temple.
Ezek 44.20 says, “Also they shall not shave their heads, yet they shall not let their hair locks grow long; they shall only trim the hair of their heads (an even length).” Long hair was not allowed. and Ezek 44.21-23 says that the priests were not to drink wine when they enter into the Azarah, and they cannot marry a divorced woman or a widow. They are to teach the difference between the holy and the common, and cause them to discern between the clean and the unclean. In the Messianic Movement (Messianic Judaism, Sacred Name, Two-house, etc) there is no concept of these things in v 23. Ezek 44.24 says that the kohanim can serve on the Sanhedrin, and on certain laws they have the final say. An example of this in the case of a meztora (one who has zara’at), or a house or clothes with it. For more information on this, see the tractate Negaim in the Mishnah.
Some example of the laws and statutes mentioned in v 24 would be the 7000 year plan of God (Psa 90.4). Time was created in Gen 1.1 and he created a seven day week. This is a picture, a tavnit, of his plan. The first 6000 years is called the Olam Ha Zeh, or “this present age.” The final 1000 years is called the Atid Lavo, or the “Day of the Lord.” The six days of the week are a picture of the Olam Ha Zeh, and the weekly Sabbath is a picture of the Atid Lavo, which is a rehearsal for this time period, also called the Messianic Kingdom. The Temple altar is cleansed after sundown at the beginning of the Sabbath. The altar is whitewashed, and the Azarah is flooded with water and washed down. What is that a picture of? At the beginning of the Atid Lavo, or the Day of the Lord, the Lord is going to cleanse the earth during the Birth-pains of the Messiah, or the Tribulation period. This will make things ready for the coming of the Messiah and the Messianic Kingdom.
To “keep my laws and statutes” means to “stay true to the tavnit, the pattern, the shadow of things to come. We are to learn about it and understand these patterns and blueprints that God gave.
Ezek 44.25-26 says that the priests can contact corpse impurity for certain relatives, but not anyone else. They will need to be cleansed by the ashes of the Parah Adumah (Red Heifer). He will go to the Temple seven days before his course begins Temple service. He declares to the Sanhedrin that he needs to be cleansed by the ashes. He comes the 3rd day and is sprinkled with the ashes. He comes again on the 7th day and is sprinkled again. On the next day, after the sun sets, he is ritually clean and can resume his duties in the Temple. In Ezek 44.27 it says that when he comes into the Azarah to minister, he needs to bring a sin offering, called a Korban Chata’at. Again, the Azarah is kodshai kodashim, or “most holy.” Only the priests can be there. Kodshai Kelim menas “holy” and that means offerings can be eaten within the walls of Jerusalem. The sin offering is most holy and is eaten within a chamber in the Azarah. Lev 21.1-24 has other laws concerning the priests.
What is the highest form of worship? Some say it is the study of the Temple (after the destruction). That eventually got reduced to study. The highest form of worship is what is done in the Temple, and the bottom line of all that was a meal before the Lord, called a “Lord’s Supper” or a “meal consecrated to God.” This concept comes from he korbanot in he Temple. This is the meaning of Lev 21.8. Lev 21.17-23 talks about defects in the priests. Even if a priest had these defects, that does not mean they were exempt from their service to God. They could serve in the Lishkat ha Etzim (Chamber of Wood) which was in the northeast corner of the Ezrat Nashim, or the Court of the Women. They could inspect the wood for the altar, to make sure it was according to the following: no olive wood; no grapevines or cedar; no mold, rot or insects for example.
Ezek 44.28-31 gives a few more commands concerning the priests. They had no inheritance in the land because the Lord was their inheritance; they shall eat of the minchah (bread), the chata’at (sin), the asham (guilt) and every dedicated thing to God, who in turn gives it to the priests. The first of all the first fruits and contributions (terumah) shall be for the priests and the first of the challah (bread offering). They are also instructed not to eat carrion (Acts 15.29) or anything that is torn to pieces, called trefah.