In Ezekiel 44 we read that the Levitical priests went far from God when Israel went astray and brought “strangers” and “the uncircumcised in heart” into the sanctuary.
This speaks to us today of pastors bringing the zeitgeist or the spirit of the world into the Church. As a result, the Levitical priests were to “bear the punishment for their iniquities”. That punishment was that they were not to come near to God to minister to Him and to handle the holy things of God; instead they were to keep charge of God’s house and of all its servants and have the care of the house (Ezekiel 44:6-14).
The sons of Zadok, on the other hand, resisted the worldliness and idolatry that infected Israel and remained faithful to God and His Word. Consequently, they were appointed to minister to God Himself, to stand at His table and to keep His charge (Ezekiel 44:15-16). They were to be completely clothed in linen so as not to sweat and no clothing that involves mixture of materials shall be on them. Linen speaks of the righteousness of the saints and the name Zadok comes from the Hebrew word tsodek which means “right” or “correct”; the Hebrew word for a righteous one is tsadek; in order to be tsadek, a righteous one, you must first be tsodek, correct; that is, have a right understanding of the truth. You can be right without necessarily being righteous, but you cannot be righteous unless you are first of all right.
The sons of Zadok were appointed to teach the people the difference between the holy and the profane and to make known to them the difference between the pure and the unclean; they were to judge controversies and disputes according to God’s statutes and ordinances. To sum up, the Levites minister to God’s people, whereas the Zadoks minister to the Lord.
Today, the people of God are products of the same Levitical system as flourished in the days of Ezekiel. The Levite holds the truth to be true but it is intellectually held not spiritually apprehended; he receives the doctrines of men and passes them on to the next generation, eschewing any notion of ever receiving revelation from the Holy Spirit. Thus, the doctrines of the Levites today are rooted in the revelation given to Zadoks hundreds of years ago; although the tide of the spirit has moved on, the Levites have not, clinging to the traditions of men at the expense of hearing from Christ Jesus.
The Church today is in the grip of these Levites, who believe that they are called to minister to the people, but who do not know how to minister to God. In ministering to the people, the Levites, striving in the flesh, search for new ways of attracting adherents to their ministry, such as Church plans and programmes, exciting music, fashionable doctrines, worldly gimmicks, etc. Their ministry is people focussed, not God focussed and it is dependent upon their efforts, not upon God. The Levite invites the world into the Church; “All Welcome!”, whereas the Zadok seeks to withdraw deeply into the presence of God so as to equip himself to take God out into the world.
The Levite can be deeply sincere about his work and an earnest seeker of God in prayer and humility, crying out for God’s blessing upon his work. But he typically cannot hear God speak and may even believe that it is heresy to claim that God does speak to His people today. He has no personal experience of the Good Shepherd whose sheep hear His voice (John 10:27); he lives by the logos but never receives a rhema, yet it is by every rhema proceeding from the mouth of God that we are meant to live (Matthew 4:4).
Sadly, Levites can only ever produce more Levites whereas the world cries out for Zadoks.