Joshua began the conquest of Canaan at the fortified city of Jericho. The reason that Jericho was equipped with the walls it had was because it was in the middle of a river plain. This was a horrible spot to be defending yourself in case of an attack.
Once God demolished the walls of the city, there was no refuge for the Israelites. Joshua had hundreds of thousands of women and children grouped up like sitting ducks awaiting a counter-attack from one of the seven nations occupying the region of Canaan.
So Joshua does what any good commander would do. Immediately, he begins moving this vast people to higher ground. He heads north and west and settles in the area of Shiloh on top of Mt. Ephraim. This becomes his headquarters for the conquest of Canaan.
Here, the tabernacle is deployed and Shiloh is now the center of worship for all of Israel. Shiloh is firmly in the middle of Ephraim’s territory, and the home of God’s worship remains there until after the birth of king David. Later Saul screws up and the ark of the covenant ends up at the house of Obed-Edom in what would later be the northern kingdom of Ephraim.
During David’s reign in Israel, he moves the center of worship for the first time into Jerusalem in the territory of Judah and sets up the ark of the covenant there on Mt. Zion. Now David, flowing out of the Melchizedek side of his anointing, builds a temporary home for the ark of the covenant out in the open behind his palace and everyone in Israel has access to God’s presence for the first time in the history of Israel.
But David lacks the spiritual “sperm,” if you will, to pass on the Melchizedek side of his nature. He places Solomon on the throne, and one of Solomon’s first acts is to put the presence of the Lord in a box (the temple) and re-institute placing a man (the priest) between the people and God.
Because “Judah is my lawgiver” (Psalms 60:7, KJV), the house of Judah is forever tied with the Levitical priesthood and anointing. You see this as you read through the history of the kings of Israel in I & II Samuel, I & II Kings, and I & II Chronicles. Every time you read of a strong king, he is joined by a strong Levitical priest. Every time you read of a strong priest, he is joined by a strong king.
- David and Zadok
- Solomon and Zadok & Abiathar
- Josiah and Hilkaih
- Zerubbabel and Ezra
- Nehemiah and Ezra
- And many more…
This marriage of the line of Judah and the Levitical priesthood continues until completed by Jesus upon his arrival on earth. To continue this tradition, he needs to be joined by a powerful priest.
During the rule of Herod, King of Judea, there was a [Levitical] priest assigned service in the regiment of Abijah. His name was Zachariah. His wife was descended from the daughters of Aaron. Her name was Elizabeth. Together they lived honorably before God, careful in keeping to the ways of the commandments and enjoying a clear conscience before God. But they were childless because Elizabeth could never conceive, and now they were quite old. It so happened that as Zachariah was carrying out his priestly duties before God, working the shift assigned to his regiment, it came his one turn in life to enter the sanctuary of God and burn incense. The congregation was gathered and praying outside the Temple at the hour of the incense offering. Unannounced, an angel of God appeared just to the right of the altar of incense. Zachariah was paralyzed in fear. But the angel reassured him, “Don’t fear, Zachariah. Your prayer has been heard. Elizabeth, your wife, will bear a son by you. You are to name him John [the Baptizer].
All of this was to wrap up the Levitical anointing.
Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures – either God’s Law or the Prophets. I’m not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama.
And so, Jesus did.
But Jesus, again crying out loudly, breathed his last. At that moment, the Temple curtain was ripped in two, top to bottom. There was an earthquake, and rocks were split in pieces.
And once again, as had only happened once before in back of David’s palace, the people had direct access to the Holy of Holies, to the very presence of God. The Levitical priesthood had ended. There was a new priesthood in charge. This is the next chapter.
On to Part 4.