Jeremiah 33:18
Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually.
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(18) Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man . . .—Here again we have a promise which received a fulfilment other than that which the words appeared to imply, and which doubtless was in the prophet’s thoughts. The Levitical priesthood passed away (Hebrews 7:11), but Christ was made a Priest after the order of Melchizedek; and by virtue of their union with Him, His people became a holy priesthood (Hebrews 10:19-22), offering, not the burnt-offerings and meat-offerings which were figures of the true, but the spiritual sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving (1Peter 2:5), the sacrifice of body, soul, and spirit, which alone was acceptable to God (Romans 12:1).

The special combination, “the priests the Levites,” is not found elsewhere in Jeremiah, but appears in Deuteronomy 17:9; Deuteronomy 18:1; Joshua 3:3; 2Chronicles 30:27; Ezekiel 43:19; Ezekiel 44:15; Isaiah 66:21. As far as it has any special significance, it may indicate either that the priestly character, though not the specific priestly functions, extended to the whole tribe of Levi, or, more probably, that Jeremiah speaks of the Levite-priests of Judah as contrasted with the priests of the “high places,” or such as Jeroboam had made of the lowest of the people.

To kindle meat offerings.—The meat-offering, or minchah, it will be remembered, was of meal and frankincense, not of flesh (Leviticus 2:1-15). It was burnt with fire on the altar, and the fragrant smoke was a “sweet savour unto the Lord.”

33:14-26 To crown the blessings God has in store, here is a promise of the Messiah. He imparts righteousness to his church, for he is made of God to us righteousness; and believers are made the righteousness of God in him. Christ is our Lord God, our righteousness, our sanctification, and our redemption. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. But in this world prosperity and adversity succeed each other, as light and darkness, day and night. The covenant of priesthood shall be secured. And all true believers are a holy priesthood, a royal priesthood, they offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God; themselves, in the first place, as living sacrifices. The promises of that covenant shall have full accomplishment in the gospel Israel. In Ga 6:16, all that walk according to the gospel rule, are made to be the Israel of God, on whom shall be peace and mercy. Let us not despise the families which were of old the chosen people of God, though for a time they seem to be cast off.Read literally, these verses promise the permanent restoration of the Davidic throne and (of the Levitical priesthood. As a matter of fact Zedekiah was the last king of David's line, and the Levitical priest-hood has long passed away. Both these changes Jeremiah himself foretold Jeremiah 22:30; Jeremiah 3:16. In what way then is this apparent contradiction (compare Isaiah 66:20-23; Ezekiel 40-48) to be explained? The solution is probably as follows. It was necessary that the Bible should be intelligible to the people at the time when it was written, and in some degree to the writer. The Davidic kingship and the Levitical priest-hood were symbols, which represented to the Jew all that was most dear to his heart in the state of things under which he lived. Their restoration was the restoration of his national and spiritual life. Neither was so restored as to exist permanently. But that was given instead, of which both were types, the Church, whose Head is the true prophet, priest and King. 18. Messiah's literal priesthood (Heb 7:17, 21, 24-28), and His followers' spiritual priesthood and sacrifices (Jer 33:11; Ro 12:1; 15:16; 1Pe 2:5, 9; Re 1:6), shall never cease, according to the covenant with Levi, broken by the priests, but fulfilled by Messiah (Nu 25:12, 13; Mal 2:4, 5, 8). The best interpreters understand this of a ministry to abide in the church to the end of the world, according to Matthew 28:20; nor is it unusual for God in the Old Testament to express promises relating to, and to be fulfilled under, the gospel by expressions and terms proper to the Old Testament, as Isaiah 66:23; and in this sense it must be expounded, or restrained to the times immediately following the captivity; but it is generally understood as a promise for a gospel ministry to succeed the ministry in the Jewish church, and to abide to the end of the world. Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me,.... The Levitical priesthood has been abolished long ago; that was typical of Christ's priesthood, and is succeeded by it; who is a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek; and who, having offered up himself a sacrifice here on earth for his people, ever appears in heaven, in the presence of God, on their behalf, making intercession for them; and as long as he continues to do so, which will be always, a man shall not be wanting before the Lord:

to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually; that is, to present that sacrifice before him, and plead the efficacy and virtue of it with him, which was typified by all those sacrifices, and has superseded them, being much better than they. Some understand this of a continuance of Gospel ministers unto the end of the world, who succeeded the priests and Levites; but as they are never called priests and Levites in the New Testament; nor were they properly the successors of the priests and Levites; rather it may be applied unto all believers now, who are priests unto God, and offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Christ; but the first sense is best.

Neither shall the priests the Levites lack a man before me to offer {o} burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually.

(o) That is, chiefly meant of the spiritual sacrifice of thanksgiving which is left to the Church in the time of Christ, who was the everlasting priest and the everlasting sacrifice figured by the sacrifices of the law.

18. The making of the Levites co-extensive with the priests, while in consonance with the Deuteronomic legislation (e.g. Deuteronomy 17:9; Deuteronomy 17:18), was no longer recognised in Nehemiah’s day. Probably this passage was written after the change had in effect taken place, while yet the earlier phrase was retained.Verse 18. - Neither shall the priests the Levites, etc. It has Been thought that this passage is inconsistent with the prophecies of a time when the ark should no more be remembered (Jeremiah 3:16), and when all should know Jehovah from the least to the greatest (Jeremiah 31:34). But though sin offerings would in this glorious time become things of the past, yet thank offerings are expressly excepted from abolition (ver. 11), and in Jeremiah 31:14 a special latter-day promise is given to the priests. Moreover, Ezekiel, who repeats the prophecy of the new spiritual covenant (Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26; Ezekiel 37:26), gives an elaborate sketch of a new temple with a sacrificial system (ch. 40, etc.); and, if there is any inconsistency, we find the same one in the latter part of Isaiah. In Isaiah 61:6 the whole regenerate people of Israel is called "the priests of Jehovah;" but in Isaiah 66:21 the prophet distinctly states that there will be, in some sense, a priestly class within the chosen people. In the land which is now laid waste, and emptied of men and beasts, shepherds, with their flocks, shall again move about and lie down. "This place," is specified by the mention of the several parts of the land, as in Jeremiah 32:44; Jeremiah 17:26. על־ידי מונה, at the hands, i.e., under the guidance, of him who counts them, viz., the shepherd, who counted the sheep when he took them out to the pasture as well as when he brought them back into the fold; cf. Virgil, Ecclesiastes 3.34.
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