Saturday, February 23, 2013
Christ's Continuing work: Prophet, Priest, King
Hebrews 1:3-4 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.
A Brief Overview of Christ's Completed work as the Lamb of God
Yesterday we looked at Christ's completed work as described by His title "The Lamb of God". From the picture of His completed work in the passover lamb of Exodus 12:21 to the Prophecies about Him being the lamb in Isaiah 53:7, the Old Testament looked forward to the completion of salvation. It is only fitting for God to use the Passover as a picture of Christ's finished work, since the Red Sea deliverance itself was a "once and for all event" in the Old Testament. With the lamb imagery used repeatedly in the Old Testament, we discovered John the Baptist heralded Jesus Christ as "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world", thus showing the portrayal of the Lamb of God. In Acts, the Epistles and Revelation we saw the explanation of Christ's finished work as the Lamb of God in passages such as Acts 8:32-33; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:18-19 and Revelation 5:12.
Zeroing in on Christ's continuing work
The Bible is very clear that Christ's work of redemption is once and for all completed. (1 Peter 3:18) But what about now? Is Jesus doing anything now in Heaven? Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us what Jesus did when He came from Heaven to earth in his incarnation, died on the cross and raised from the dead. Through the scriptures, particularly the Gospel, we see the complete work of Jesus Christ. However Hebrews 1:3-4 shows us the sequel to the empty tomb. Jesus Christ ascended to Heaven to begin his post-ressurection ministry as the Mediator between God the Father and Christians as the Prophet, Priest and King. 1 Timothy 2:5 states - "there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."1
Christ's continuing ministry pictured and predicted
Just as we saw in Christ's completed work, we have pictures and predictions in the Old Testament of what would be Christ's continuing work following His resurrection. Three offices were created by God in the Old Testament to communicate His character and will to Israel - namely that of the prophet, the priest and the king. In Deuteronomy 17 & 18 we see Moses communicate all three of these offices:
1. Deuteronomy 17:15 "you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman."
God through Moses is looking forward some four centuries into the future, predicting the days of King Saul, David, Solomon and other kings. Through this picture and prediction would come forth the Ultimate King. Scores of verses could be cited to demonstrate the fact that Jesus Christ was to be the Ultimate King. When He ascended, Jesus was declared to had inaugurated His reign on David's throne over His church. Peter proves this in his first sermon in Acts 2:30 “And so, because he was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE". The Apostle Paul in Colossians 1:15-20 affirms this same truth. Hebrews 1:3-4 above tells us that Jesus Christ, right now, reigns as King. We of course understand in other scriptures that there will be a day when Christ returns to physically manifest that reign both visibly and physically. However understand that as King, Jesus Christ is continually reigning as the King of individual Christians and His church.
2. Deuteronomy 18:1 “The Levitical priests, the whole tribe of Levi, shall have no portion or inheritance with Israel; they shall eat the LORD’S offerings by fire and His portion."
The Levitical Priesthood had already been functioning for some 40 years in Israel, however Moses wanted to reinforce to the people of their need for mediators. The priest throughout the Old Testament was to represent the people's interests before God. Hebrews 1:3 plainly tells us: "after He had provided purification for sins, He sat down". Jesus Christ is the believer's Eternal High Priest. Hebrews 7:24-25 plainly states - "but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them."
3. Deuteronomy 18:18 ‘I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him."
Prophets had been ministering on the earth for centuries on the earth. According to Scripture, we know that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, was the first recorded prophet in the Bible. (Genesis 5:23; Jude 14) Abraham, the father of the Hebrew nation, was a prophet and of course Moses was the greatest prophet of his day. (Genesis 20:7 & Exodus 4:15) However there was a Prophet whom was not only being pictured but predicted. It wasn't later prophets like Isaiah or Jeremiah - rather there was to be an Ultimate Prophet who not only by His words and actions, but by His very being was the complete revelation of God to people. Peter directly connects Deuteronomy 18:18 to Jesus Christ in Acts 3:21-22 - "and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, 21whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. 22“Moses said, ‘THE LORD GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED to everything He says to you." Furthermore, in our opening passage in today's blog we find Jesus functioning as "the Prophet" who by nature is the very God whom He reveals through the scriptures. (Hebrews 2:1-4)
Jesus Christ's ministry explained and applied
So why is it so important for you and I as Christians to understand the continuing ministry of Jesus Christ? First of all, as our King, Jesus reigns to protect us, as Priest He repesents us before the Father in prayer and as Prophet He reveals God's Person and will through the scriptures. Secondly, we as Christians understand our own identity through this three-fold identity of Jesus Christ's continuing ministry. Think about it, at salvation was were seated positionally as co-kings with Jesus in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 2:6)and will one day take part in a judgment of the fallen angelic realm when Jesus returns. (1 Corinthians 6:3) According to 1 Peter 2:9-12 we are identified as a Kingdom of priests, lifting up prayers to God on behalf of others. Then together as the church we function through the word of God preached and taught as the prophetic mouthpiece. We are His presence here in this world, calling men, women boys and girls unto repentance. (2 Corinthians 5:15-21; 1 John 4:17) If Jesus Christ were not continually ministering as the Prophet, Priest and King at the right hand of God, we as Christians would fail in our faith and faithfulness. But because He ministers continually, we too will continue on and persevere to the very end.
1 As theologians throughout the ages have explored Jesus present ministry on behalf of His people, they have used the term "session" to summarize His three-fold office as Prophet, Priest and King. Just as a a baliff in a courtroom announces that "court is now in session" upon the seating of the judge at the bench, Christ too is seated at the right hand of power, co-equal with the Father. As He stated in Matthew 28:18 - "All power has been given to me on Heaven and on earth."