The Promises to Levi and Judah are Fulfilled in Christ

In my studies of the Word, I have often been puzzled by an apparent anomaly. First, the New Testament makes it clear that Jesus Christ will be the High Priest forever. Second, the Old Testament records God's promise of an eternal priesthood to Levi, Aaron, Phineas, Zadok, and  Joshua (see Genealogical Table - page 41).

Jesus Christ will be the High Priest forever.

The New Testament promise that Jesus Christ will be our eternal High Priest is incontrovertible. First there is the testimony of Hebrews in the following passages.

Hebrews 2:17 For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

Hebrews 3:1 Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.

Hebrews 4:14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.

Hebrews 5:5-10 So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father." And he says in another place, "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."[18] During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 6:19-7:1 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High.

Hebrews 7:23-26 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need--one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.

There is even the Old Testament prophecy of Zechariah which points out that the coming King will be a High Priest.

Zechariah 6:11-13 Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jehozadak. Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD. It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.'

Another passage that links Jesus to the High Priesthood is the one in Numbers that says death of the High Priest was the occasion of pardoning those under threat of death. In the shadow worship of the Old Testament it is pretty clear that this foreshadows the death of Christ who is the Eternal High Priest.

Numbers 35:25-28 The assembly must protect the one accused of murder from the avenger of blood and send him back to the city of refuge to which he fled. He must stay there until the death of the high priest, who was anointed with the holy oil. "‘But if the accused ever goes outside the limits of the city of refuge to which he has fled and the avenger of blood finds him outside the city, the avenger of blood may kill the accused without being guilty of murder. The accused must stay in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest; only after the death of the high priest may he return to his own property.

Another similar passage is the one in Leviticus that commands that the High Priest was not to tear his clothing:

Leviticus 21:10 "‘The high priest, the one among his brothers who has had the anointing oil poured on his head and who has been ordained to wear the priestly garments, must not let his hair become unkempt or tear his clothes.

But the fulfillment of the reality on the Day of the Crucifixion tell us who was the true High Priest. Caiaphas, the officiating High Priest tore his clothes.

 Matthew 26:64-65 "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. "But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, "He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy.

Mark 14:61-63 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?" "I am," said Jesus. "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." The high priest tore his clothes. "Why do we need any more witnesses?" he asked.

But Jesus' clothes were never torn.

Luke 19:23-24 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. "Let's not tear it," they said to one another. "Let's decide by lot who will get it." This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, "They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing." So this is what the soldiers did.

In 58 AD Paul did not recognize the Jewish High Priest in the Temple as the true High Priest because his High Priest at that time was Jesus Christ in Heaven.

Acts 23:3-5 Then Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!" Those who were standing near Paul said, "You dare to insult God's high priest?" Paul replied, "Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.'" [19]

God has promised an eternal High Priesthood to Levi, Aaron, Phineas, Zadok, and Joshua.

This is established in the following passages:

The promise to Levi:

Numbers 3:11-13 The LORD also said to Moses, "I have taken the Levites from among the Israelites in place of the first male offspring of every Israelite woman. The Levites are mine, for all the firstborn are mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set apart for myself every firstborn in Israel, whether man or animal. They are to be mine. I am the LORD."

Malachi 2:4-7 And you will know that I have sent you this admonition so that my covenant with Levi may continue," says the LORD Almighty. "My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin. "For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction--because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty.

The promise to Aaron:

Exodus 29:8-9 Bring his (Aaron's) sons and dress them in tunics and put headbands on them. Then tie sashes on Aaron and his sons. The priesthood is theirs by a lasting ordinance. In this way you shall ordain Aaron and his sons.

The promise to Eleazar:

Numbers 25:10-13 The LORD said to Moses, "Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites; for he was as zealous as I am for my honor among them, so that in my zeal I did not put an end to them. Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him. He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites."

The promise to Zadok:

Ezekiel 40:45-46 He said to me, "The room facing south is for the priests who have charge of the temple, and the room facing north is for the priests who have charge of the altar. These are the sons of Zadok, who are the only Levites who may draw near to the LORD to minister before him."

The promise to Joshua:

Zechariah 6:11-13 Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jehozadak. Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD. It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.'

The everlasting nature of the promise:

1 Samuel 2:35 I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his house, and he will minister before my anointed one always.

The Anomaly

How can both of these promise be reconciled? Now that Jesus Christ has established the reality, is God going to re-establish a shadow worship that uses the Levitical priests. In Christ we are all priests. Is God going to establish competing priesthoods. What is going on here?

The problem of reconciling the two promises finally solved itself when it struck me that the promises to the line of Judah, David, and Zerubbabel and the promises to the line of Levi, Aaron, Phineas, Zadoc and Joshua are fulfilled in the same way. That is, the promise of an everlasting Priesthood to Levi and Aaron is fulfilled like the promise of an everlasting Kingdom to Judah and David, through Jesus Christ? That would be possible if Jesus Christ, as King-Priest forever, combined in his Human Parent (Mary) the Lines of Judah & Levi. Then the priesthood and the kingship and their promises endure forever in the one person qualified to be both! Jesus Christ, our great High Priest and King.

The connection of Jesus to the line of Judah is clearly established in the genealogies in Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38, but how is the connection of Jesus to the line of Levi, and Aaron established?

The New Testament makes it very clear that Mary's mother was from the tribe of Aaron.

The book of Luke went out of the way to tell us that the close relative (cousin or aunt) of Mary, Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, was a descendant of Aaron (and therefor Levi).

Luke 1:5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron.

Luke 1:36-37 Even Elizabeth your relative (cousin or aunt) is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God."

Any cousin or aunt on the side of Mary's father Heli, had to be from the tribe of Judah, because Luke 3 tells us he was from the tribe of Judah. Since Elizabeth was from the tribe of Levi/Aaron, the relationship had to be through Mary's mother.

The prophecy in Zechariah previously mentioned indicates clearly that the house of Levi is connected to the Messiah ("the one they have pierced") in the same way as the house of David, and Nathan.

Zechariah 12:10-14 "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great, like the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves: the clan of the house of David and their wives, the clan of the house of Nathan and their wives, the clan of the house of Levi and their wives, the clan of Shimei and their wives, and all the rest of the clans and their wives.

The blood line of Nathan, the son of David, is through Mary's father:[20]

Luke 3:23,31 Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli, ----------- the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David,

The legal royal line of David, through Solomon, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, and Jehoiachin (the last living King of the Davidic line) is through Joseph, the husband of Mary and the legal father of Jesus.

Matthew 1:6b-16 David was the father of Solomon, -- Solomon the father of -- Hezekiah, Hezekiah the father of -- Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of -- Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

We have already established that Jesus' humanity was related to the line of Levi, through his maternal grandmother, to the same degree that his humanity was related to the line of David through his Paternal grandfather.

One obvious conclusion is that the connection of all the families in the Zechariah prophecy was that they were all part of the genealogy of Christ. The reason they mourn, is that although he was from their blood, they rejected Him and took part with those that "pierced Him."

The line of Shimei has been discussed previously in the section on Esther as also being related to Jesus Christ.

The Linkage of the Lines of Judah and Levi

It is also interesting to note that the lines of Judah and Levi follow a perfect circle that were linked genealogically at the beginning of the Priesthood and of the Nation of Israel and the end, at the Birth of Jesus Christ.

At the beginning, during the Exodus, the leader of the tribe of Levi, Aaron, married the sister of the leader of the tribe of Judah, Nashon.

Exodus 6:23 Aaron married Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab and sister of Nahshon, and she bore him Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. (Elisheba's name means "God is an oath.")

Numbers 2:3 On the east, toward the sunrise, the divisions of the camp of Judah are to encamp under their standard. The leader of the people of Judah is Nahshon son of Amminadab.

Matthew 1:1-6 A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.

Aaron's sons were all grandsons of Amminadab, the ancestor of Jesus Christ out of the line of Judah. So, also, Jesus brought together at the end, the line of Aaron through Mary's mother from the line of Aaron, and the line of Judah through Mary's father Heli.

Levi and Aaron are Linked to the Throne of the Messiah and the Line of Judah in the Old Testament

The previously mentioned prophecy in Zechariah connects Joshua (circa 537 BC), the Aaronic High Priest with the throne of Israel, and says there will be harmony between the two, Kingship and Priesthood. The High Priest who this speaking of never became King. This prophecy could only have been fulfilled, in the common usage of scripture, through his descendant. It certainly is no accident that this High Priest's name is Jesus (Joshua).

Zechariah 6:9-13 The word of the LORD came to me: "Take [silver and gold] from the exiles Heldai, Tobijah and Jedaiah, who have arrived from Babylon. Go the same day to the house of Josiah son of Zephaniah. Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jehozadak. Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD. It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.'

The Prophecy that the Messiah would be King-Priest in the Zechariah passage listed above is contemporaneous to the Last Prophecy of the Line of David to Christ (537 BC).

Haggai 2:23 "‘On that day,' declares the LORD Almighty, ‘I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,' declares the LORD, ‘and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,' declares the LORD Almighty."

This indicates that the two lines would have to merge for both prophecies to be fulfilled.

It is an interesting footnote that the last Jewish Kingly dynasty, the Hasmonaean dynasty, 141-63 BC (also known as the Maccabees) were Levites who ruled as both Kings and High Priests. They lived after the prophecy in Zechariah 6:9-13. So the concept of the King-Priest with descent from Levi was understood by the Jews of Jesus' day.

The Promises to Both Judah (David) and Levi are often Linked Together

Below are several passages that link the promises to both lines.

Jeremiah 33:20-22 "This is what the LORD says: ‘If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time, then my covenant with David my servant--and my covenant with the Levites who are priests ministering before me--can be broken and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars of the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.'

1 Chronicles 17:14 I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever.'"

Revelation 5:9-10 And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."

Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

Other Linkages of Both Kings and Priests to the Messiah, Jesus Christ

The age of Kings and Priests link them.

Priests were counted eligible at thirty years of age.

Numbers 4:46-48 So Moses, Aaron and the leaders of Israel counted all the Levites by their clans and families. All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to do the work of serving and carrying the Tent of Meeting numbered 8,580.

2 Chronicles 23:3 5 The Levites thirty years old or more were counted, and the total number of men was thirty-eight thousand. David said, "Of these, twenty-four thousand are to supervise the work of the temple of the LORD and six thousand are to be officials and judges. Four thousand are to be gatekeepers and four thousand are to praise the LORD with the musical instruments I have provided for that purpose."

David was anointed by God to become King at thirty years of age.

2 Samuel 5:4 David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years.

Jesus Christ the prophesied King-Priest took up His ministry at thirty years of Age.

Luke 3:23 Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry.

The Levites were to be a substitute for the firstborn of Israel in the shadow as Christ was in the reality.

Deuteronomy 3:41 Take the Levites for me in place of all the firstborn of the Israelites,


I am convinced that all the promises to the lines of Levi, Aaron, Phineas, Zadok, and Joshua, are fulfilled in their common descendant, Jesus Christ, just as the  promises to Judah, David, and Zerubbabel were fulfilled in their common ancestor Jesus Christ. The question that will be asked is why did God not make it as apparent for the priestly line, as for the kingly line. I do not know, but I do believe there is more than enough evidence to come to the conclusion I have. Furthermore, it is a general principal, thoughout the scripture, that all promises can only be fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

On the next page I have included a genealogy of the line of the High Priest Zadok for your information.
Line of Levi, Aaron, Phineas, Zadok & Joshua
Geneaeology in Haggai 1:1, Zechariah 6:11, Ezra 3:2, Nehemiah 12:10, 26 Geneaology in 1 Chronicles 6:1-15 Genealogy-Ezra 7:1-6 Genealogy in Nehemiah 11:11 Genealogy in 1 Chron 9:11
  Eleazar Eleazar    
  Phinehas - kills Israelite & Midianite woman, God makes covenant of everlasting priesthood with him. Priest Benjamin nearly destroyed 
  Abishua Abishua    
  Bukki Bukki    
  Uzzi Uzzi    
  Zerahiah Zerahiah    
  Meraioth Meraioth    
  Zadok- Priest under David & Solomon      
  Ahimaaz - Smuggled messages with Jonathan      
  Azariah - became Solomon's High Priest       
  Azariah - became High Priest - circa 970 BC      
  Amariah - possibly High Priest under Jehoshaphat, circa 870 BC Amariah    
  Ahitub Ahitub Ahitub  Ahitub
      Meraioth Meraioth
   Zadok - possibly grandfather of Jotham (2 Chron 27:1) circa 814 BC Zadok Zadok Zadok
  Shallum Shallum Meshullam Meshullam
  Hilkiah-possibly high priest under Josiah (2 Kings 22) circa 630 BC Hilkiah Hilkiah Hilkiah
  Azariah Azariah   Azariah -1st to resettle
   Seraiah - possibly the chief priest executed at fall of Jerusalem (Jer 52:24), or possibly returned with Zerrubbabel  Seraiah  Seraiah  
 Jehozadak- went into exile  Jehozadak- went into exile cc 586 BC      
 Joshua -returns with Zerubbabel        
Joiakim -High Priest    Ezra- helped Nehemiah build the walls    
Eliashib- High Priest in Ezra’s time cc 445 BC        
Joiada- High Priest        
Jonathon – High Priest        
Jaddua - High Priest        

Last Updated (Saturday, 25 March 2006 22:58)