The Role of Prophet, Priest and King

ProphetLately I have been thinking a lot about the roles of prophet, priest and king described in the Bible. The more I study them, the more I begin to see them everywhere in Scripture. Try this, next time you get up early (or stay up late) to read your daily devotions, circle the major character you are reading about – Joseph, Samuel, David, etc. Then put a little note by their name. Which role do they best fill – a prophet, a priest, or a king? Some of the Old Testament characters are a little more obvious than others, but all of them should, in some way, fit into one of those three categories. You would be amazed at how much this simple tool can help you in understanding the text you are reading and be even more amazed at how the text points to Christ.

But what about today? Does the biblical example of the munus triplex (the roles of prophet, priest and king) still exist in our world? If so, how are we to think of them?

My hope is that this better prepares us to read Scripture in light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The roles of prophet, priest and king were more than just mere titles or positions given to men. They were pictures of something that was coming. Something far greater than any mere man. They point us forward to the promised “serpent crusher.” In this, I hope that this hermeneutical method would cause you (the reader) to study the Scripture in a way to see how Joseph, Samuel, Boaz, Jonah, David, Daniel, etc. are all prototypes of Jesus Christ Who would come in the flesh. In addition to this, the roles of prophet, priest and king also gives us insight into the work of the Trinity (that is a post for another time). Study these passages for yourself and come to your own conclusion based on your understanding of Scripture and the work of the Spirit within you.

The munus triplex seems to have played a large role in devising the three branches of our government – the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial. The purpose for the three-fold system was to hold each other in check and to avoid giving any one of the three too much power. This system of accountability seems to reenact the governmental structure of Israel and has allowed America to grow and flourish as a major world power. The munus triplex, in some circumstances, did seem to be a form of accountability between the King, the religious leaders and the prophets; but more than that, the munus triplex was pointing to something far greater to come. You see, the roles of prophet, priest and king were set up by God to be temporarily filled by man until the true Prophet, Priest and King would come – Jesus. Although, in the beginning, God created man perfectly to fill these offices, man has fallen woefully short. Because of man’s sin, these roles were not in of themselves a governmental structure that would save Israel, but were pointing forward to a Person Who would.

Where do we see the munus triplex today? Let’s start with the role of “Prophet.” In ancient Israel the prophets were to bring the people of God special instructions. They were the mediators between God and the people. They would speak on God’s behalf bringing a correct understanding of Who God was and what He had commanded. Today, we may not have prophets walking around giving divine words to people in the streets, but we do have all of God’s works and commands recorded in Scripture. The Bible is God’s authoritative and infallible Word. In essence, it speaks on God’s behalf and reveals the truths of His character and His commands. This is nothing short of what the prophets did in ancient Israel. They proclaimed the Word of God that came to them. For us, the Word of God is His revelation to us through the Bible. But it doesn’t stop there. In John 1:14, the Scripture says, “And the Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The Word actually became flesh. God’s spoken word transfigured into a person, and that person could be none other than God Himself. Jesus Christ came as the Word of God to us. He came to reveal Himself as the Son of the Father so that we might have greater understanding of Who God is and what He has commanded. Jesus is the ultimate Prophet!

What does it mean to be a priest? If we have an accurate understanding of what this role is, we will be able to see how it is filled across the Scripture. A priest is one who carries out God’s command and serves the Lord with His whole life. The priest must be devoted to a life of worship and offering. When God instated priests, they were set apart from the rest as a unique, holy and consecrated people. They were to show the world how great their God is through the sacrifice and service they render. This is why God’s people, Israel, were called a treasured possession, a holy nation, a kingdom of priests in the Old Testament (Exodus 19:6). They were a people who were to be set apart in order to worship God. They were to be an example to all other nations of God’s greatness, mercy and power. But they failed miserably. If we observe carefully, the title given to Israel in Exodus 19 actually carries over into the New Testament as well. In 1 Peter 2:9, Peter reiterates God’s message to the church which was comprised of both Jew and gentile. Peter, an apostle of Christ, dubs the church with the same title God gave His people, Israel. This means that the church, God’s people today, are the living representatives of Christ and His work. The church is then set apart to adequately fill the priestly role as depicted in Scripture. Before He ascended, Jesus installed the apostles and the church to be His representatives. They are to be His priests ministering in a fallen world. The church is His living body! He is the head. Christ is the ultimate Priest!

This role can be adequately described as an individual with power to represent his people, to unify them around his rule and to govern them as his nation. The kingly role in the munus triplex is reserved for One Who will judge the nations righteously. Not just one nation, but all of them. The kingly role is reserved for One Who will have dominion for ever and ever. The kingly role is reserved for One Who will conquer death and defeat sin. It is reserved for One Who will crush the head of the serpent and make all things new. It is reserved for the One coming on the clouds, and His name is LORD OF LORDS and KING OF KINGS (Rev. 19:16). No human can fill this role since we lack righteousness, we are mortal, we cannot conquer sin on our own, and we will never be able to crush the serpent’s head left to ourselves. No, this role is reserved for only One Who has completed all these things. Even the many examples of good kings in Scripture only point to a better King yet to come. That King is Jesus!

By this time, you may have already guessed what I believe to be the biblical example of the munus triplex today. Jesus is the perfect Prophet, Priest and King who came to this world and purchased His people. He did this with His blood, fulfilling the prophesies of old and becoming the Passover Lamb. Jesus is the antitype of all the prophets, priests and kings that were before Him. He is the picture to which they all pointed forward because they were inadequate to save on their own. They lacked perfection in their duties and a heart fully committed to God. They fell short of His glory (Rom. 3:23).

Jesus completes all of the roles of the munus triplex when He died on the cross and ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father. The munus triplex gives all the glory to God through the saving work of Jesus Christ. When God comes to call His people home from the north, south, east and west (Isa. 43:5-7), we will be with Him forever in unhindered adoration and praise. Christ, His body and the His Word are the biblical representations for today’s munus triplex. 

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The Sword of God’s Destruction

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I wonder how many times in our day we write off sin as trivial or insignificant. We have become masters of disguise and frequently make excuses to pardon the things we do that we know are wrong. We’ve earned that title because we practice this on a daily basis. Do you ever find yourself saying any of these things? “I no it’s wrong, it’s just so hard to stop.” “It’s an addiction and I am working on it.” Or maybe you have said one of these before to justify yourself, “You don’t understand how I feel or what I’ve been through.” “At least it’s not as bad as so and so.” “OK, I messed up, it’s not a big deal.”

The reality is to us, sin is trivial – but to God, sin is heinous. We read in I Chronicles 21 that King David sinned against the Lord. He took a census of the people so that he could gloat over the military strength of Israel. This was a sign that he was trusting in man rather than in God, and it revealed that his heart was not dependent on God’s strength but his own–sin. So God punishes Israel for King David’s sin.

14 So the Lord sent a pestilence on Israel, and 70,000 men of Israel fell.15 And God sent the angel to Jerusalem to destroy it, but as he was about to destroy it, the Lord saw, and he relented from the calamity. And he said to the angel who was working destruction, “It is enough; now stay your hand.” And the angel of the Lord was standing by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

God hates sin. Here is one story in the midst of thousands where a man of God sins against the Lord and brings deserving punishment as a consequence. But note the effect of David’s sin. Israel is punished too! You have 70,000 men dying because of pestilence and potentially all the inhabitants of Jerusalem if the Angel of the Lord destroys it, which He was ready to do. Why is God punishing Israel for King David’s sin? The reason is because King David is a representative of God to the people. He was to point them to a coming Messiah. That is the whole reason for the prophet, priest and king analogy in the Bible. The roles of prophet, priest and king were to point the people of Israel to an ultimate Prophet, Priest and King Who would speak the truth of God’s Word, intercede for God’s people and reign sovereignly over all creation – Jesus Christ. Men in these positions were (and I would argue, still are) held to a higher degree of accountability for their actions (I Peter 2:9, James 3:1).

Note too, that the people are affected by the representative’s actions. We see a clear parallel here between King David and the first man, Adam. Adam too, was a representative of God (an image bearer), and he was to reflect the glory of God in his priestly duties in the Garden of Eden. However, Adam sinned and brought destruction on not only himself, but on all that he was a representative to – the entire created order. That’s why this world is cursed, and that’s why every human is born into sin. Much like Adam’s fall, King David brought destruction on all he was a representative to – the nation of Israel.

I love this short passage because we see a brief reversal in roles. Understand first that God is immutable (He does not change). God is from everlasting to everlasting and His ways are sure. When He makes a promise, He will always keep it and His word is forever and ever. But with that understanding, let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture of God’s redemptive plan. Jesus Christ comes to this earth, born in the likeness of man (Phil. 2), to die on the cross and take on the full wrath of God that believers so rightfully deserve. It is commonly communicated that God is the One judging and Jesus is the One appeasing His wrath. But when we read this story, God is the One Who steadies the Angel’s sword. This Angel of the Lord is none other than the pre-incarnate Christ. He is the Angel of Destruction Who visited the homes of those Egyptian captors, and destroyed the first born male of every house not stained with blood. And He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords Who will return again someday to destroy the world and throw the anti-christ and his followers into the Lake of Fire. Do not be mistaken to think God and Jesus Christ are at odds with one another. No, they are One God with different roles and there is One purpose to which they work – God’s ultimate and everlasting glory!

God the Father says, “Enough” and the Angel of the Lord relents from destroying Jerusalem. What a merciful God! He does not even carry out the full punishment that King David was warned of. David chose wisely to accept the punishment from God’s hand, anticipating with great hope that God would show Him mercy, and God does just that.

16 And David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven, and in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces. 17 And David said to God, “Was it not I who gave command to number the people? It is I who have sinned and done great evil. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand, O Lord my God, be against me and against my father’s house. But do not let the plague be on your people.”

To have seen this incredible vision would have marred the consciences of even the mightiest of warriors. The Angel of the Lord, powerful and majestic, with his gaze of wrath and weapon of destruction set toward Jerusalem. Here the immediate response of the King and the elders was to fall down on their faces and worship. This is the same response we see with Moses beholding the glory of the Lord on the mountain (Exo. 34:6-8). The commonality here is that none can stand before the Lord, but all tremble in His presence. David makes a plea for his people – that God would spare them at the cost of David himself receiving the just wrath of God. This is the plea God desired of His servant. This was the purpose of all the prophets, priests and kings. They were to point to the coming Messiah! That at HIS expense, the wrath of God would relent from punishing His people. King David is only a small shadow of a greater King to come.

But let us not forget that the sword of the Lord’s destruction.

26 And David built there an altar to the Lord and presented burnt offerings and peace offerings and called on the Lord, and the Lord answered him with fire from heaven upon the altar of burnt offering. 27 Then the Lord commanded the angel, and he put his sword back into its sheath.

Once King David had built the altar and burnt the peace offerings, the Lord answered with fire from heaven and consumed the burnt offering. Note, only at this point does the Lord sheath His sword. In purchasing the threshing floor and building the altar, David was hoping the Lord would put away the sword and cease from the destruction that he himself so rightly deserved. But now, once the flame of God’s fury has come down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering, the sword of His wrath has finally been put away. There couldn’t be a clearer picture of the Gospel than this! Jesus is the fulfillment of the sacrificial system. He is the Lamb of God! On that dreadful yet glorious day when the wrath of God was poured out on Jesus nailed to the cross, the sword of His destruction pierced HIM and was forever shattered upon the tomb of His grave. Believers today will never have to experience the destruction of the Lord’s sword. For them, it has been broken. Praise God for His glorious grace!

In conclusion, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ and submit to Him as Lord of your life, you no longer have the sword of His destruction looming over you. BUT… the fear of the Lord still filled King David on that day when he chose to sin. King David saw the destructive sword of the Lord and it moved Him to repentance and obedience. Believer, if you have sin perpetuating in your life, or are experiencing a reciprocal pattern of false worship and idolatry toward certain things, YOU MUST put them to death and ask for the Lord’s forgiveness. DO NOT make excuses for your sin in hopes that no one will notice and that somehow it will go away. GOD DOES NOT treat sin lightly! Seek Him in true repentance! Christ bought you with His blood, how much more will you be saved by Him from the wrath of God (Rom. 5:9-10). If you are not a believer and do not submit yourself fully to His Word and sacrifice, then my friend, that sword of His destruction is still looming over you and it will descend upon you some day. You won’t be able to escape it, except by turning to Jesus. Please consider what Christ has done.

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Gospel Minutemen

MinutemenI love history. Especially the early years of our country and its beginning. It was a time of bravery, patriotism and revolution. One of my favorite chapters of American history is the American Revolutionary War. There were so many details and events that led up to the independence of this nation. Many heroes and heroines risked their lives for freedom.

Many of us have probably heard or read about the Minutemen in the American Revolutionary War. These were men who played a key role in the fight for independence. Being outnumbered, outgunned and outmatched, the Colonists had to devise a different method of warfare that would aid them in their fight against the British armed forces. One of their strategies was to build a resistance group that would be able to assemble at a moments notice and aggravate British progression. These Minutemen were trained to fight. They were alert to what was happening on the front and strategized positions that would aid them in their fight. They anticipated enemy movement at anytime–day or night–and were ready to assemble.

Just the other day, I was traveling out of town with a friend of mine and we decided that we were going to use our time aboard a two-hour flight effectively. We were assigned separate seats and agreed to share the Gospel with whomever we sat next to. We had heard of people doing this before so we thought we would try it. Later on, after the flight, it hit me. As Christians, we are on the front lines of a revolution. A revolution against our sin natures and the forces of evil that wage war against us. A revolution against the slavery to our idols and fleshly lusts. A revolution that brings us into the open arms of Christ and the freedom that He has bought for us.

We are at war! So how are we as Christians battling in this fight? Are we soldiers who stagnantly observe the fight only assembling or preparing to counter as a last-minute resort? Do we only speak to people who are dying and going to hell when they speak to us?

As Christians, we should be compelled by the love of Christ to do everything within our power to share the “good news” that has been brought to us. That is our job in this fight! Share Jesus Christ!

We need to be Minutemen for the sake of the Gospel. Men and women who plan, strategize, train and assemble in a moments notice to resist the growing evil and to share the light of Jesus Christ in a dark world. We need to be men and women who are ready at a moment’s notice to take up the Scriptures and share God’s glory to anyone who asks us. We need to take advantage of every conversation, every encounter, every greeting and every relationship for the spreading of the Gospel. It is the most loving thing we can do, and its end is freedom!

I Peter 3:13-16 says:

13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that,when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

II Timothy 2:15 says:

15 Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Here are some practical methods you can use to share the Gospel this week. If you aren’t planning, you wont share. The majority of us tend to laziness.

  • Pray for opportunities to share God’s love today. Pray for His help!
  • Memorize 2 to 3 verses that will help you share the Gospel. Practice by yourself!
  • Plan to share the Gospel in a specific situation – at work, on a plane, on vacation, etc.
  • Ask a church member to hold you accountable in sharing the Gospel.
  • Join a local church that emphasizes the “Great Commission.”
  • Take advantage of every conversation to slip the Gospel in somewhere.
  • Anticipate rejection! Knowing it may come can be helpful for when it does.
  • Don’t try to change their heart! God will do that. Focus on your own heart and God’s glory.
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Oh, To Know the Love of Christ

I recently published this on my other blog page “Write with a Purpose,” and I wanted to share it on here as well.

Write with a Purpose

God’s love is so amazing. So vast. Almost incomprehensible.

But it’s the reality that God invites us into.

See what great love the father has lavished upon us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

                                              1 John 3:1

God is teaching me about His love.

I woke up in the middle of the night the other night due to a storm. I love storms, so although I wanted to sleep, I was okay with listening to the crackling thunder and beating rain against my window. As I lay there listening, God began stirring my heart in thinking about his love.

See what great love the father has lavished upon us… the Father… God relates to me as a father. 

I knew…

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