Sometimes we are asked if we consider Christians to be “priests.” Three types of priesthoods are mentioned in the Scriptures: 2 on earth and 1 in heaven: the Jewish Levitical, the Christian International, and the Heavenly Spiritual. The truest priesthood is the spiritual one; that of Yeshua as our high priest in heavenly places (Hebrews 7, Psalm 110). Every believer in Messiah Yeshua has a right to be a spiritual priest through prayer and praise under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (I Peter 2).
On earth there are two general types of priesthood: the Levitical and the International. The Levitical priesthood is connected to the Temple or Tabernacle. The Levites were one tribe among 12 others. I am Jewish but have no proof of Levitical descent; therefore I would not be considered a Levite. Today there is no Temple; therefore, the Levitical priesthood has lost most of its functions. However, rabbinic Judaism seeks to preserve the framework and worldview of the priesthood through the religious symbols and rituals.
There is also an international priesthood, found today in the various streams of Christianity. It finds an early expression in Melchizedek, who offered bread and wine to Abraham (Genesis 14). Those symbols are found today wherever the bread and wine of communion are offered (I Corinthians 11). The bread and wine are parallel to the animal sacrifices of the Temple. The international priesthood does not replace the Temple, nor does it offer animal sacrifices (Joshua 22); it is an extension and enlargement of the Jewish priesthood.
We respect the priestly elements in both Jewish and Christian traditions, and we recognize that the symbolic signs all point to Yeshua’s spiritual priesthood in Heaven.
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, March 23, 2017, and reposted with permission.