"Then a man of God came to Eli and said to him, 'Thus says the Lord, "Did I not indeed reveal Myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt in bondage to Pharaoh’s house? Did I not choose them from all the tribes of Israel to be My priests, to go up to My altar, to burn incense, to carry an ephod before Me; and did I not give to the house of your father all the fire offerings of the sons of Israel? Why do you kick at My sacrifice and at My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling, and honor your sons above Me, by making yourselves fat with the choicest of every offering of My people Israel?"
"Therefore the Lord God of Israel declares, ‘I did indeed say that your house and the house of your father should walk before Me forever’; but now the Lord declares, ‘Far be it from Me—for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed. Behold, the days are coming when I will break your strength and the strength of your father's house so that there will not be an old man in your house. You will see the distress of My dwelling, in spite of all that I do good for Israel; and an old man will not be in your house forever. Yet I will not cut off every man of yours from My altar so that your eyes may fail from weeping and your soul grieve, and all the increase of your house will die in the prime of life. This will be the sign to you which will come concerning your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas: on the same day both of them will die. But I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who will do according to what is in My heart and in My soul; and I will build him an enduring house, and he will walk before My anointed always. Everyone who is left in your house will come and bow down to him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread and say, "Please assign me to one of the priest’s offices so that I may eat a piece of bread"'" (1 Samuel 2:27-36).
We find here a curse upon one priesthood — and the prophetic raising up of "an enduring" holy remnant priesthood. Eli represents a cursed priesthood, a priesthood of fat, self-centered servants of God. He represents those who are called priests, but who lightly esteem the work of God. Those of this priesthood do not like the ministry of correction. Their spiritual children become wicked because of their lazy lifestyle and their refusal to cry out against sin. They "make themselves fat with the choicest of every offering of My people" (verse 29).
Eli saw iniquity in his sons who brought a curse on themselves, "and he did not rebuke them" (1 Samuel 3:13). For this God said, "I am about to judge his house forever." And his house was judged! The glory of the Lord departed from Shiloh, the ark was captured; and he and his sons died.
What was this everlasting judgment on the Eli priesthood? First, it was a weak priesthood. "I will break your strength and the strength of your father's house..." (verse 31). Secondly, it would continually fall short of God's fullness. Even in times of spiritual outpourings, this priesthood was doomed to come short of God's glory. "And you will see the distress of my dwelling, in spite of all that I do good for Israel..." (verse 32). Thirdly, all in this kind of priesthood will fall in the prime of life — in the prime of spiritual life and blessing — because of a flawed walk with God. "And all the increase of your house will die in the prime of life" (verse 33). And fourthly, this weak, flawed, self-centered priesthood would continue on. It is still with us today! "Yet I will not cut off every man of yours from my altar" (verse 33).
The unknown prophet who came to Eli prophesied of a new kind of priesthood God would raise up. "But I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who will do according to what is in My heart and in My soul; and I will build him an enduring house, and he will walk before My anointed always" (1 Samuel 2:35). This is amazing prophecy! Here is the first prophecy of a HOLY REMNANT PRIESTHOOD, enduring to the end, enduring until Christ returns. It is a remnant God says, "I will build!"
During the reign of David, there was a dual priesthood. Zadok and Abiathar fulfill this prophecy to the letter. "Are not Zadok and Abiathar the priests with you there?" (2 Samuel 15:35). Zadok in Hebrew is TSADOG, meaning one proved righteous. Abiathar is EBYATHAR, meaning at peace with the Lord who is God! These two priests represent the two priesthoods mentioned by the unknown prophet — one of the spirit of Eli; the other, a ministry unto the Lord.
LET US LOOK FIRST AT ZADOK. He was one of those who came to David in Ziklag. "Now these are the ones who came to David at Ziklag, while he was still restricted because of Saul the son of Kish; and they were among the mighty men who helped him in war. For day by day men came to David to help him, until there was a great army like the army of God. Now these are the numbers of the divisions equipped for war, who came to David at Hebron, to turn the kingdom of Saul to him, according to the word of the Lord.... Zadok a young man mighty of valor, and of his father's house twenty two captains" (1 Chronicles 12:1,22-23,28).
Zadok and his entire house rejected Saul and gave their hearts and allegiance to David. Not once did he ever look back. He proved to be righteous because he proved to be faithful! He was there when David needed him! When others were carried away with the rebellion of Absalom, Zadok remained faithful through it all.
"While all the country was weeping with a loud voice, all the people passed over. The king also passed over the brook Kidron, and all the people passed over toward the way of the wilderness. Now behold, Zadok also came, and all the Levites with him carrying the ark of the covenant of God.... And they set down the ark of God, and Abiathar came up until all the people had finished passing from the city. And the king said to Zadok, 'Return the ark of God to the city. If I find favor in the sight of the Lord, then He will bring me back again and show me both it and His habitation. But if He should say thus, "I have no delight in you," behold, here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him.' The king said also to Zadok the priest, 'Are you not a seer? Return to the city in peace and your two sons with you, your son Abimaaz and Jonathan the son of Abiathar. See, I am going to wait at the fords of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.... Are not Zadok and Abiathar the priests with you there? So it shall be that whatever you hear from the king’s house, you shall report to Zadok and Abiathar the priests.'" (2 Samuel 15:23-28,35).
Read it again: "Are you not a seer?" This meant, "Zadok, you have the gift of discernment! You know what is evil and what is holy. You are strong enough, faithful and committed enough to Me to go into that realm of rebellion and idolatry and save the kingdom!" The king said, "Return to the city!" God now had a holy priest to guard the house of God from ruin!
A whole nation was in rebellion, but in God's house there was a holy remnant. At the very seat of evil, disobedience, and where Absalom committed lewd acts with concubines on the palace housetop before the nation, there was a faithful remnant priesthood untouched! Zadok stayed true, holy, committed, blameless, and faithful! He knew God's Word; he trusted his life and future to it — DAVID WAS THE ONLY KING! [David is a type of Christ.]
All the while, God was building Zadok an enduring house, a priesthood that fulfilled the prophecy of the man of God who prophesied to Eli. This is that "faithful priest who will do according to what is in my heart and in my soul."
The holy remnant, the FAITHFUL PRIESTHOOD OF TODAY, these servants of the Lord whose hearts are blameless and faithful — these ARE THE OFFSPRING OF ZADOK! THE SPIRITUAL SONS OF ZADOK!
Ezekiel had a vision of a spiritual temple. In it he saw remnant priesthood offering sacrifices to the Lord.
"And you shall give to the Levitical priests who are from the offspring of Zadok, who draw near to Me to minister to Me, declares the Lord God, a young bull for a sin offering" (Ezekiel 43:19). These are "near to the Lord" who "minister to Me" [the Lord]. Ministry to the Lord is the mark of the Zadok remnant.
NOW LET US LOOK AT ABIATHAR. He was pious, dedicated, at peace with God, and his very name suggests great reverence for His lordship. He is also with David and Zadok on the other side of Kidron. "And Abiathar came up.... Therefore Zadok and Abiathar returned the ark of God to Jerusalem and remained there.... And are not Zadok and Abiathar the priests with you there? So it shall be that whatever you hear from the king's house, you shall report to Zadok and Abiathar the priests" (2 Samuel 15:24,29,35).
Abiathar wanted nothing to do with Absalom's rebellion. He and his son Jonathan appeared to be just as faithful as Zadok. He appeared outwardly holy, blameless, and faithful. Why did the prophets ignore him, speaking of Zadok instead as the example of the holy remnant priesthood?
Abiathar had in him the seed of Eli! The lazy, indulgent, weak spirit of Eli laid dormant in his soul. It happened just as the man of God prophesied to Eli — that at the very peak of his usefulness, at the peak of God's blessing, he would fall. His inner weakness would be exposed; he would go so far and then stop short of God's glory. Abiathar's heart was not right with God.
"Now Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, I will be king. So he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen with fifty men to run before him. His father had never [c]crossed him at any time by asking, “Why have you done so?” And he was also a very handsome man, and he was born after Absalom. He had conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest; and following Adonijah they helped him. But Zadok the priest, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei, Rei, and the mighty men who belonged to David, were not with Adonijah. And Adonijah sacrificed sheep and oxen and fatlings by the stone of Zoheleth, which is beside Enrogel" (1 Kings 1:5-10). Here we observe that Zadok stayed faithful and Abiathar fell into a trap! All that the unknown prophet said to Eli was being fulfilled in his descendant Abiathar.
Abiathar's sin was SELF-EXALTATION! Listen to these tragic words: Abiathar the priest...followed Adonijah...." He followed the rebellious, compromising multitude all the way to the stone of Zoheleth, which in Hebrew means the stone of the serpent! Not a single holy man was there. Not Zadok, not Nathan, not Rei, and not any of David's faithful men. This was a boastful bunch. They were mocking the "old and worn out" ways of David. They were crying for a new kind of kingdom! A NEW KIND OF PRIESTHOOD! And Adonijah, the leader of this whole new movement was all the while lusting after Abishag, the Shunammite. There was rebellion, the spirit of adultery, a demonic realm of pride and self-esteem. A new wave of self-exaltation was sweeping through the land deceiving the masses, and Abiathar was one with them.
Abiathar got caught up in this demonic realm. How sad! A pious, once faithful man, at the peak of his ministry, MADE A WRONG MOVE! HE COMPROMISED! He turned against the true way and unwittingly thought he was doing God's will. Now we see him so spiritually blind — with no discernment! He is doing the ministry of a priest at the stone of the serpent!
Look at the difference between these two priesthoods. Abiathar was coming under the curse of the house of Eli because of the pride, sin, and rebellion that had suddenly sprung up in him like a wildfire. The self-exalting preaching of Adonijah appealed to something in him — and he cast aside his suffering past to be successful and accepted with the new wave gospel.
Compare this with the Zadok priesthood — the holy remnant! "Then King David said, Call to me Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada. And they came into the king’s presence. And the king said to them, Take with you the servants of your lord, and have my son Solomon ride on my own mule, and bring him down to Gihon. And let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there as king over Israel, and blow the trumpet and say, Long live King Solomon! Then you shall come up after him, and he shall come and sit on my throne and be king in my place; for I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and Judah.... So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the Cherethites, and the Pelethities went down and had Solomon ride on King David's mule, and brought him to Gihon. Zadok the priest then took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. Then they blew the trumpet, and all the people said, Long live King Solomon! And all the people went up after him, and the people were playing on flutes and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth shook at their noise. Now Adonijah and all the guests who were with him heard it, as they finished eating. When Joab heard the sound of the trumpet, he said, Why is the city making such an uproar? While he was still speaking, behold, Jonathan the son of Abiathar the priest came. Then Adonijah said, Come in, for you are a valiant man and bring good news. But Jonathan answered and said to Adonijah, No! Our lord King David has made Solomon king. The king has also sent with him Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the Cherethites, and the Pelethites; and they have made him ride on the king's mule. And Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet have anointed him king of Gihon, and they have come up from their rejoicing, so that the city is in an uproar. This is the noise which you have heard. Besides, Solomon has even taken his seat on the throne of the kingdom" (1 Kings 1:32-35, 38-46).
King Solomon knew all about the curse on Eli's house. And he recognized Abiathar as being of that kind of priesthood. "Then to Abiathar the priest the king said, “Go to Anathoth to your own field, for you deserve to die; but I will not put you to death at this time, because you carried the ark of the Lord God before my father David, and because you were afflicted in everything with which my father was afflicted. So Solomon dismissed Abiathar from being priest to the Lord, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord, which He had spoken concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh" (1 Kings 2:26-27). What an amazing fulfillment of prophecy! A man who once shared the suffering of his lord — now dismissed, rejected, put on a shelf. "Go your own way.... —OF NO MORE USE to God's kingdom!
Ezekiel saw the ministry of Zadok as a ministry unto the Lord and not unto man. In describing his vision temple, he said, "...This is the chamber which faces toward the south, intended for the priests who keep charge of the temple; but the chamber which faces toward the north is for the priests who keep charge of the altar. These are the sons of Zadok, who from the sons of Levi come near to the Lord to minister to Him" (Ezekiel 40:45-46). He saw the Zadok remnant as A PRIESTHOOD CALLED OUT OF A PRIESTHOOD! "These are the sons of Zadok, who FROM the sons of Levi come near to the Lord to minister to Him...." "You shall give to the Levitical priests who are from the offspring of Zadok, who draw near to Me to minister to Me, declares the Lord God, a young bull for a sin offering" (Ezekiel 43:19).
The Zadok ministry is separated from the world and has but ONE mission in life: TO BE AT THE LORD'S TABLE TO MINISTER TO HIM! “But the Levitical priests, the sons of Zadok, who kept charge of My sanctuary when the sons of Israel went astray from Me, shall come near to Me to minister to Me; and they shall stand before Me to offer Me the fat and the blood, declares the Lord God. “They shall enter My sanctuary; they shall come near to My table to minister to Me and keep My charge" (Ezekiel 44:15-16).
This priesthood is clothed in the pure, unmixed garments of holiness! They walk in absolute obedience to the Lord. They teach God's people the difference between right and wrong. They are not afraid to denounce sin. "Moreover, they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean" (Ezekiel 44:23). Their only true possession in life is the Lord Himself. "And it shall be with regard to an inheritance for them, that I am their inheritance; and you shall give them no possession in Israel — I am their possession" (Ezekiel 44:28).
"And you shall say to the rebellious ones, to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God, Enough of all your abominations, O house of Israel, when you brought in foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in My sanctuary to profane it, even My house, when you offered My food, the fat and the blood; for they made My covenant void — this in addition to all your abominations" (Ezekiel 44:6-7).
Here is a house of God full of abominations — so bad, God can't take any more of it! "Enough!" He declares. They had polluted His sanctuary with ungodly worshippers. They had a form of godliness with no power of holiness. God says, "No more!" These half-converted, worldly, corrupt, so-called believers have no place in My house!"
Jimmy Swaggart once asked me, "Why does God allow these corrupt ministries to go on? They seem to go on, flourishing, seducing the masses." At first I thought God would wipe them out — bring them down. Now I see it differently. Now I know what Ezekiel prophesied and it makes me weep. God is cursing a corrupt people with corrupt shepherds. He is appointing them shepherds after their own hearts. Idolatrous shepherds are being appointed to shepherd idol-loving sheep! Read what the Word says, "But the Levites who went far from Me when Israel went astray, who went astray from Me after their idols, shall bear the punishment for their iniquity. Yet they shall be ministers in My sanctuary, having oversight at the gates of the house and ministering in the house; they shall slaughter the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister to them. Because they ministered to them before their idols and became a stumbling block of iniquity to the house of Israel, therefore I have sworn against them, declares the Lord God, that they shall bear the punishment for their iniquity. And they shall not come near to Me to serve as a priest to Me, nor come near to any of My holy things, to the things that are most holy; but they will bear their shame and their abominations which they have committed. Yet I will appoint them to keep charge of the house, of all its service and of all that shall be done in it" (Ezekiel 44:10-14).
These backslidden, sin-loving shepherds have gone astray from the Lord in their hearts. They cling to secret idols; they look and sound like men of God, with all the outward ministry in the house. They themselves have become stumbling blocks, indulging in secret sins that God’s Holy Spirit has convicted them of. They know it is wrong. God says, "Enough!" Still, they go on ministering with idolatry in them, stumbling over and over again because of an evil thing blocking their walk with God. What a curse! "They shall not come near to me...nor near any of my holy things...THEY SHALL BEAR THEIR SHAME...AND THE PUNISHMENT FOR THEIR INIQUITY" (Ezekiel 44:12-13).
They will not be removed from God's house; they will "keep the charge of the house and of all that shall be done in it." What is their shame — their punishment? "Therefore behold, I will surely forget you and cast you away from My presence, along with the city which I gave you and your fathers. I will put an everlasting reproach on you and an everlasting humiliation which will not be forgotten" (Jeremiah 23:39-40). “But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I made My name dwell at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel. And now, because you have done all these things, declares the Lord, and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you but you did not answer, therefore, I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to the place which I gave you and your fathers, as I did to Shiloh. I WILL CAST YOU OUT OF MY SIGHT, as I have cast out all your brothers, all the offspring of Ephraim" (Jeremiah 7:12-15).
The worst punishment, the most horrible shame upon a man or woman of God IS TO MINISTER IN THE FLESH WITH NO ANOINTING. Their houses are like Shiloh, "The glory has departed!" Their message is chaff and God's holy presence has gone from them. Yet — they are still appointed to minister to the house, but are also abandoned by the Lord. Think of it — appointed as ministers to a house of rebellious children — even though they are idolaters. Horrifying truth!
This is the offspring of Eli — the Abiathar priesthood! Isaiah called them dumb dogs, dreamers, lazy, greedy, shepherds with no understanding. "His watchmen are blind, all of them know nothing. All of them are mute dogs unable to bark, dreamers lying down, who love to slumber; and the dogs are greedy, they are not satisfied. And they are shepherds who have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each one to his unjust gain, to the last one. Come, they say, let us get wine, and let us drink heavily of strong drink; and tomorrow will be like today, only more so" (Isaiah 56:10-12).
God wanted to raise up shepherds for the people after His own heart. If God's people were repentant, if they had cast down their idols, if they had sought Him with all their hearts — He would have given them faithful, holy shepherds.
"Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, faithless Israel, declares the Lord; I will not look upon you in anger. For I am gracious, declares the Lord; I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the Lord your God and have scattered your favors to the strangers under every green tree, and you have not obeyed My voice, declares the Lord. Return, O faithless sons, declares the Lord; for I am a master to you, and I will take you one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding" (Jeremiah 3:12-15).
But a majority of God's people seem to prefer the Eli priesthood! "An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priest's rule on their own authority; and My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?" (Jeremiah 5:30-31). Compromising, idol-loving, indulgent, sensuous Christians have been appointed shepherds just like themselves. There is a whole priesthood; the offspring of Eli, appointed to feed the idols enthroned in the hearts of Christians with divided hearts.
God is even now raising up THE ROYAL PRIESTHOOD — SONS OF ZADOK! "You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. But you are a CHOSEN RACE, a royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR GOD'S OWN POSSESSION, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:5,9).
We are called to a ministry TO THE LORD. "But you will be called the priests of the Lord; you will be spoken of as ministers of our Lord" (Isaiah 61:6).
All direction comes to this priesthood while they minister to the Lord. "And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their mission, taking along with them John, who was also called Mark. Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. And while they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus" (Acts 12:25 and 13:1-4).
Read that again: "While they were ministering TO THE LORD and fasting, THE HOLY SPIRIT SPAKE!" There is a sure word that will come forth to all those who love the table of the Lord and who know their one ministry is to the Lord. All other ministry springs out of that ministry to Him.
As sure as there is night and day, God has covenanted to secure to Himself a Zadok remnant to minister to Him to the very end. What a glorious prophecy He gave to Jeremiah. "The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, Thus says the Lord, 'If you can break My covenant for the day and My covenant for the night, so that day and night will not be at their appointed time, then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levitical priests, My ministers. As the host of heaven cannot be counted and the sand of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me" (Jeremiah 33:19-22). Praise God — He has covenanted to have for Himself a holy, separated, faithful priesthood. That promise is as secure as the one He made to David regarding a son to sit on his throne.
Is the Spirit purging you? Are you being refined by fire? Do you sigh and weep over the abominations in the land? Do you hunger for Christ’s holiness? Do you sit often now at the Lord’s table? Are you casting down idols? Are you sick and weary of all the self-exalting ministries in the land?
In the midst of all the ruin, the apostasy, and the great falling away, the Zadok remnant is coming forth — visible and anointed. Those of the Zadok remnant all speak the same language: faithfulness to King Jesus, repentance as a way of life, separation from all that is touched or represented by the world, an intense hunger and thirst for righteousness, purging, and refining, and a pure heart wholly given to Him.
[All Scriptures from New American Standard Bible]