17 [The holy] priesthood continueth in the church of God in all generations, and is without beginning of days or end of years.
18 And the Lord confirmed a priesthood also upon Aaron and his seed, throughout all their generations, which priesthood also continueth and abideth forever with the priesthood which is after the holiest order of God.
19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.
20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.
21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;
22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.
23 Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;
24 But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.
25 Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also;
26 And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel;
27 Which gospel is the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins, and the law of carnal commandments, which the Lord in his wrath caused to continue with the house of Aaron among the children of Israel until John, whom God raised up, being filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb.
28 For he was baptized while he was yet in his childhood, and was ordained by the angel of God at the time he was eight days old unto this power, to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews, and to make straight the way of the Lord before the face of his people, to prepare them for the coming of the Lord, in whose hand is given all power.
29 And again, the offices of elder and bishop are necessary appendages belonging unto the high priesthood.
Question: Once Moses was taken from their midst, along with the Holy Priesthood, was Israel the church of God?
Answer: Clearly not, since the Holy Priesthood continues in the church of God in all generations. When it ceases, so does the church of God. From that fact, at this point in D&C 84, it appears that the Holy Priesthood is the defining characteristic of the church of God; those who are not members of the Holy Priesthood are not the church of God. Therefore, Israel was never the church of God, but they were his covenant people - God's wife, as he repeatedly characterizes her throughout scripture. Like a wife, Israel could be true in the sense of faithful to her God, or false in the sense of adulterous, itself in the sense of lusting after and pursuing and obeying things other than her spouse. In modern LDS terms, Israel was a false church, lacking power to administer salvation, though she had a legitimate priesthood and temple rites to point the people up towards the heavens. Yet she remained a focus of God's efforts for the duration of Biblical history.
Question: If elder and bishop are offices belonging to the high priesthood, then were Israel's bishops and elders really bishops and elders?
Answer: Well, men were certainly called elders and bishops in Israel.
NET Jeremiah 5:31 The prophets prophesy lies. The priests exercise power by their own authority. And my people love to have it this way. But they will not be able to help you when the time of judgment comes!
You'll notice that they were "called of God" prophets and priests. Isn't that curious? Of what significance is it, then, to be "called of God"? Apparently, being "called of God" is of absolutely no help in distinguishing true, faithful, wise, just, diligent, or good servants from false, faithless, foolish, wicked, slothful, or evil servants. The real issue is whether they are chosen of God, and God alone can reveal whether any particular individual is chosen, instead of merely titled or labelled - "called," in a word.
33 For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.
34 They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.
It is as we thought from earlier - the holy priesthood constitutes the church of God.
35 And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;
36 For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;
37 And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;
38 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.
39 And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.
40 Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved.
Question: How do we "receive this priesthood?"
Answer: Words matter - "receive this priesthood" can mean either to "obtain these two priesthoods," as per verse 33 (leaving the shift from the plural unexplained), OR it means to receive one who has obtained these two priesthoods, one of the servants of the Lord, as verse 36 says, into your home; for a member of the priesthood on the Lord's errand represents the body of the priests, or, in other words, the priesthood. As we learn later on in D&C 84, the Lord has, as an enduring policy, sent out his servants as itinerant street preachers, homeless bums, vagrants, to find them who would receive them. To receive them means to take them into your home as the Lord has asked his disciples to do for strangers - for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
89 Whoso receiveth you receiveth me; and the same will feed you, and clothe you, and give you money.
90 And he who feeds you, or clothes you, or gives you money, shall in nowise lose his reward.
91 And he that doeth not these things is not my disciple; by this you may know my disciples.
You see, it's not the creeds or doctrines or prophets we claim to believe, but what we do that reveals us. Priesthood is received - in both possible senses - by keeping the commandments and working righteousness.