The New Order
By Jim Huskins
Most of us have been taught to ignore the instructions for living God delivered to His people through Moses. One of the results of this self-imposed ignorance is that we attempt to interpret the last fourth of the Bible—Matthew–Revelation—in a vacuum. It is impossible to understand the part many call the “new testament” without knowing the patterns and procedures established in Torah.
Christians tend to think of the Temple rituals and sacrifices as “Jewish” worship. “Judah,” the source of the word “Jew,” was one of Twelve Tribes of Israel. The Levitical Priesthood led worship for all Israelites. Priests had to be members of the Tribe of Levi and the Clan of Aaron. Any direct descendant of Aaron could serve as priest, but the High Priesthood was intended to pass from father to son in unbroken line beginning with Aaron.
Decades before the incarnation, Rome turned the High Priesthood into a political appointment. Both of the men mentioned as holders of that office in the Gospel accounts, Annas and Caiaphas, were Roman appointees. Political appointment always results in political obligation. These men were not charged with leading in worship or fulfilling their Torah-specified role of mediating between sinful mankind and Holy God. Their job was to maintain political stability. As long as they did so, Rome allowed them to use both the priesthood and the Temple for personal profit.
The Bible does not state that John the Immerser was the legitimate High Priest at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, but he held appropriate credentials. He was of the tribe of Levi. Both his parents were direct descendants of Aaron. He was so significant to God’s plan that his birth was announced by the Angel Gabriel. Gabriel also foretold that John would minister in the power and spirit of Elijah. (Luke 1:17) Elijah was the undisputed head of the priests. In contrast to Rome’s appointed High Priests, John was both righteous and filled with God’s Spirit from the womb. The strongest Biblical evidence that John was the true High Priest is the fact that Jesus asked him to perform a necessary High Priestly duty.
Since few modern Christians understand the role of immersion in the salvation process, most also fail to recognize the significance of Jesus’ baptism. The Bible does not teach that water immersion is optional or merely symbolic. Instead, it makes an ironclad case that water immersion is required. In Mark 16:16, Jesus says that whoever believes and is immersed will be saved. In Acts 2:38, Peter states that water immersion is necessary for the forgiveness of sins and receiving the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 22:16, Ananias urged Paul to immediately be immersed to wash away his sins. In Romans 6:3-4, Paul states that through immersion we are joined to Christ and to His death. In Galatians 3:27, Paul says that only those who have been immersed into Christ are joined to Him. In 1 Peter 3:21, the Apostle states flatly that immersion saves us. Every conversion detailed in Acts includes immediate baptism. Numerous, man-made doctrines claim that water immersion is not required for salvation, but they ignore clear, Biblical teaching.
Jesus did not need forgiveness. He was immersed because He is our pattern. We who claim to love and serve Him must follow His example in all things. 1 John 3:6 says, “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” John protested when Jesus requested baptism. Jesus responded that His immersion was necessary to “fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). It is no accident that the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus immediately after His immersion. This is God’s pattern.
In addition to showing us what we should do, Jesus’ immersion had a second purpose.
The Book of Hebrews is focused on the corruption of the Levitical Priesthood. Part of the glorious message of that book is that we now have a High Priest who can “sympathize with our weaknesses” because He “has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:14-15). The High Priesthood was a crucial office established in Torah. He alone could enter the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement to sprinkle the blood of an animal sacrifice on the Ark of the Covenant. This action foreshadowed the work of Messiah in offering His own blood—the only perfect sacrifice—on our behalf. Because of His “obedience unto death,” Jesus qualified as a new type of High Priest, not following the line of Aaron, but in the order of Melchizedek. Discussion of that Order requires separate treatment.
Before Aaron became High Priest, Moses served as the mediator between God and Man. Leviticus chapter eight details the process by which Aaron and his sons were ordained to the priesthood. Verse six says, “And Moses brought Aaron and his sons and washed them with water.” From that time, the serving High Priest washed those who were being installed as priests. By immersing Jesus, John fulfilled this High Priestly role.
One of the clear lessons of Scripture is those sinful humans cannot approach Holy God without a mediator. Jesus now administers a High Priesthood that can never be corrupted. Under His leadership, every believer is a priest with direct access to Messiah. This is true “freedom in Christ.” That freedom, however, does not convey a license to sin so that “grace may abound.” He calls us to “hunger and thirst after righteousness” and to offer our bodies as “living sacrifices.” If we love Him, we will yearn to follow His commandments (John 14:15). Those commandments are found in Genesis through Deuteronomy.
Obedient Heart Fellowship believes that the entire Bible is both true and relevant. We accept salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, and we attempt to love and serve Him by keeping his commandments. See Revelation 14:12. firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim & Beverly Huskins are members of Obedient Heart Fellowship in McDowell County. You can read more good Christian news from Jim HERE.