The Ezekiel Temple and the Zadokite Priesthood
Updated: Aug 17
Shiloh Sunday Service (Dec 8th 2019)
Speaker: Pastor James Park
Sermon: "The Ezekiel Temple and the Zadokite Priesthood"
Scripture Reading: Ezekiel 48:11
Things present in the covenant of God
When God establishes His covenant with His people, it’s a promise concerning the “woman’s seed,” the land and descendants. Also, there are three things that are present within that covenant, which includes the visible temple, altar or place of worship, priests, and the sacrifices. So it is here that God establishes the eternal covenant with Ezekiel and also with Jeremiah in the “new covenant.” God showed Ezekiel the eternal temple and declared that only the Zadokites priesthood or the descendants of Zadok will be able to work in the temple. Only the Zadokites were acknowledged by God; therefore, we have to be like the Zadokites.
Three visible temples in the Old Testament
In the Old Testament, there are 29 recorded generations of high priests beginning with Aaron through Jaddua who worked in the temple (1 Chron 6:1-5; Neh 12:10-11, 22). In the Old Testament, there were three visible temples. Out of the 29 generations of high priests, 10 worked in Moses’ Tabernacle from 1445 to 959 BC. 13 high priests worked in Solomon’s Temple from 959 to its destruction in 586 BC. And as Israel made their return from captivity, 6 of the high priests worked in Zerubbabel’s Temple from 515 to 320 BC.
The 1st-3rd Generations of High Priests
Aaron became the high priest in 1445 BC when the tabernacle was set-up (Ex 40:2, 13, 17). Aaron’s four sons were Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar, who served as priests with their father Aaron (Num 2:3; 20:28, Deu 10:6; Lev 10:1-2). Nadab and Abihu were consumed by fire after offering up a strange fire before God (Lev 10:1-2). This word “strange” in Hebrew is zur, meaning “outside,” “Gentile,” “harlotry,” or “idolatry.” Thus, Nadab and Abihu offered something outside the Word of God, which was idolatrous or strange before God, and they both were consumed by fire and died. This teaches us that we have to offer up worship that is pleasing to God and if we worship in a strange or wrong way, we can be cursed or God will be displeased. When we go before God and worship, it must be based upon the Word of God and not a false or different gospel (2 Cor 11:3-4). We need to worship in spirit and in truth; therefore, our worship needs to be based on the Word of God (John 4:23-24). We must embrace wisdom and have the Word of God as the center of our worship, then wisdom will embrace us (Prov 4:5-9). Jesus said, “If my Word abides in you and you abide in Me, then ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7). After Nadab and Abihu died, it was Aaron’s son Eleazar who took the priesthood (Num 3:4; 20:28; Deu 10:6). Eleazar’s brother Ithamar was a priest too, but God’s will flowed through Eleazar and the priesthood was with the line of Eleazar.
The 4th-10th Generations of High Priests
Josephus wrote about the genealogy of the priests. After Uzzi, the priesthood changed to Eli, who played a very prominent role in the time of the judges. Thus, the priesthood changed from the line of Eleazar to the line of Ithamar, since Eli was a direct descendant of Ithamar, the 4th son of Aaron. In Eli’s time, the name Meraioth in Hebrew means “treason,” or to “betray.” This signifies that something happened in this period, whereas Zerahiah would name his son Meraioth, meaning "to betray" or "treason" (1 Chron 6:6). We don’t know exactly why, but something happened that upset God and He set the priesthood to Eli, who was a descendant to Ithamar. However, when we study the line of Eli, we come to know that he had two sons, Hophni and Phinehas. They were very wicked and had no regard for the Lord, and both died (1 Sam 2:12, 34). Eli himself also died after receiving news that his two sons were dead, and the Ark of God was taken by the Philistines during the battle near Ebenezer at Aphek in 1102 BC (1 Sam 4:17-18). God had pronounced His judgment on the family of Eli because he was unable to control his two wicked and ruthless sons, Hophni and Phinehas. Phinehas himself had two sons, and his son Ichabod means "the glory has departed" (1 Sam 4:19-21). Therefore, during the time of the prophet Samuel, and in the time of the Judges, there was corruption in the leadership. Ichabod had a brother named Ahitub (1 Sam 14:3), and Ahitub had a son named Ahimelech, and Ahimelech has a son named Abiathar, and they served during the time of Saul and David (1 Sam 21:1-9; 22:11, 18, 20, 23).
So here, the priesthood changed to Eli, the descendant of Ithamar. However, God pronounced His judgment on the family of Eli because of their unfaithfulness and because they were sinning at the temple. Two priests that were active in the time of David were Zadok and Abiathar, who were both faithful to David. David fled from Saul from 1020 BC to 1010 BC. The third place that David fled to was Nob, where Ahimelech was the priest (1 Sam 21:1). Ahimelech took care of David; however, he did not realize that David was running away from Saul. Doeg reported this back to King Saul, and Doeg was commanded by Saul to kill all the priests, and 85 priests were massacred at Nob along with their families (1 Sam 22:18). There was one person who was able to escape, and that was Abiathar by the grace of God (1 Sam 22:20). David was so grateful for Abiathar that he took Abiathar as a priest and guarded him (1 Sam 23:9; 30:7).
Conclusion: Zadok and Abiathar were both faithful to David. However, Zakok was faithful until the very end, while Abiathar betrayed David at the last moment and followed Adonijah, who was tall and handsome. It looked like everyone was siding with Adonijah. Abiathar ultimately fell out of the will of God and God dismissed him from his priesthood (1 Kgs 2:26-27). Zadok, who was faithful to the end, helped Solomon rise to the throne. Zadok was a seer and had discernment, and this is why he was able to endure. Likewise, we need to know how to discern God’s will. There were times both Zadok and Abiathar were faithful to David (2 Sam 15:24-25; 19:11-12). What we can learn here is that we always need to hold onto God’s will by using discernment and not our own will.