Seventh-Day Adventists/The Priesthood and the Old Covenant

Advertisement


Question
Sal-
I noticed in your answer to Anthony “Who is Melchizedek” you made the statement that the Old Covenant and its priesthood were destined to become obsolete. You are 100% right about the Old Covenant priesthood but are 100% wrong about the Old Covenant itself becoming obsolete. It was only the priesthood and the ceremonial laws that were taken away. The moral laws (the Ten Commandments) were not taken away. The Sabbath command is the one you are trying to get rid of by including the Ten Commandments in the things that were made obsolete.
Tina

Answer
Dear Sister Tina:

As always thank you for writing to express your concerns. Let’s test your belief that it was only the Old Covenant priesthood and the ceremonial laws that became obsolete.

“By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear” (Hebrews 8:13 NIV).

The verses previous to this one quote the prophecy in Jeremiah that God would make a new covenant. This verse clearly states that when God spoke of a new covenant through Jeremiah He was declaring the Old Covenant obsolete. There is nothing in this verse about only part of the Old Covenant becoming obsolete. It was the entire Old Covenant that was taken away by Christ in order to establish the New Covenant promised in Jeremiah. Let’s look at the prophecy in Jeremiah to determine if it refers to only the priesthood when it says “covenant” or to the entire Old Covenant.

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:31-34 NASB).

This passage is obviously speaking of the Old Covenant not some imagined separate part of the Old Covenant. God said He would make a new covenant “not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke…” (v. 32). Did the Israelites only break a ceremonial covenant? No, they broke the covenant that God made with them at Sinai when “…I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke…”. The Old Covenant was one package it was not separate parts.  God highlighted this through this same prophet.  

“The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, ‘Hear the words of this covenant, and speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and say to them, Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, Cursed is the man who does not heed the words of this covenant which I commanded your forefathers in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Listen to My voice, and do according to all which I command you; so you shall be My people, and I will be your God’” (Jeremiah 11:1-4 NASB).

Even earlier Moses delivered this same truth to Israel. “Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law by observing them. And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’” (Deuteronomy 27:26 NKJV). This was repeated much later by Paul. “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them’” (Galatians 3:10 ESV). There should be no confusion, dear sister, but that the Old Covenant was one unit of law. The Bible is clear in repeating this fact.

In Hebrews there is no doubt that Paul is very interested in showing that the New Covenant priesthood of Jesus is superior to the Old Covenant priesthood of Aaron. However, that does not mean that the Old Covenant priesthood can be separated from the rest of the Old Covenant.

Paul clearly taught that the Old Covenant priesthood and the Old Covenant law were inseparable. “For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also” (Hebrews 7:12 NASB). The Old Covenant priesthood was foundational to the Old Covenant law. The priests taught the people the law of God. The law could not function without the Levitical priesthood. The priesthood and the law were inseparable. Neither the Old Covenant law nor the Levitical priesthood could exist apart from one another.

“Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also” (Hebrews 7:11-12 NASB).

Note in v. 12 it says a change “of” law not “in” law. This is significant because a change “in” law would mean that some changes were made to the body of law. A change “of” law means the entire body of law is done away with and replaced with a completely new law. This is why Paul can say, “By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear” (Hebrews 8:13 NIV).  

You cannot separate the priesthood from the covenant. You cannot have the Aaronic high priest presiding over the New Covenant. You cannot have the New Covenant high priest, Jesus Christ, presiding over the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant priest and the New Covenant law or the New Covenant priest and the Old Covenant law just don’t correspond. They are not congruent. The priesthood and the law are intertwined. You cannot have one without the other. This is true of both covenants. You cannot have the Old Covenant without the Levites. “Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron?” (Hebrews 7:11 NASB). You cannot have the New Covenant without its priest, Jesus. “And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood’” (Luke 22:20 NASB).

It wasn’t just a new high priest in the order of Aaron that was needed, but an entirely new priesthood which necessitates an entirely new law and covenant.

“For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law…And inasmuch as He was not made priest without an oath (for they have become priests without an oath, but He with an oath by Him who said to Him: ‘The Lord has sworn and will not relent, ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek’), by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant” (Hebrews 7:12, 20-22 NKJV).

If his reader missed this fact Paul restated it. “By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear” (Hebrews 8:13 NIV). Dear sister, if you cannot say with Paul that the entire Old Covenant is obsolete then you simply aren’t very biblical.  

Am I trying to “get rid” of the Sabbath? My dear sister, we have been over this ground before. I don’t want to stop anyone from observing the Sabbath if that’s their choice. What I do is simply point out what is taught in the Bible, i.e. that the Sabbath is no longer a requirement for God’s people. Israel was the first and only people to be given the Sabbath.

“Then You came down on Mount Sinai,
And spoke with them from heaven;
You gave them just ordinances and true laws,
Good statutes and commandments.
So You made known to them Your holy sabbath,
And laid down for them commandments, statutes and law,
Through Your servant Moses” (Nehemiah 9:13-14 NASB).

God gave the Sabbath to Israel to be a special sign between them and Him.

“Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed” (Exodus 31:16-17 NKJV).

What I do want to get rid of is the anti-biblical notion that Christians must observe the Old Covenant Sabbath under the pains of sin. I don’t want anyone’s conscience to be unnecessarily burdened with guilt over not keeping or improperly keeping the Old Covenant Sabbath. I know dear sister that this strikes at the very heart of your Church’s Sabbath teaching, but it’s Scripture.  

Thanks for sharing,
Brother Sal

Seventh-Day Adventists

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Sal

Expertise

I am privileged to be able to offer an alternative insight into the complicated world of Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA) theology. I will rely heavily on the Bible, but will also consider history and use logic in exposing deficiencies in SDA teachings. I would ask anyone who is considering becoming a SDA or if you are already in the SDA church, but are searching for the truth, to please allow me to offer a different explanation for the claims of the SDA. Remember : "The truth will set you free" (John 8:32). I can answer your questions pertaining to the beliefs and history of the SDA. I am not able to answer questions concerning spirituality or church discipline.

Experience

I have extensively studied the theology of the Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA) for a number of years. I have many books and tape sets produced by experts in this field of study. I have debated current members of the SDA church. I have a great desire to help these people see the truth.

Education/Credentials
M.S. degree in Food, Nutrition, and Dietetics

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.