The Old Testament is filled with stories of men and women that God used in powerful ways. Who can forget the miraculous way God raised up the prophet Moses and used him to deliver the people from Egyptian bondage? Who can forget the great victories God brought about through King David and his armies?
Yet, as great a prophet as Moses was, God promised to raise up another like him (Deuteronomy 18:15) who would actually be greater (Hebrews 3:1-6). As great of a king as David was, God promised to send a king from David’s line who will reign forever (2nd Samuel 7:12-13). As hard as it would be to imagine a prophet like that or a king that significant, it’s even harder to imagine these promises would be filled in the same person. This promised royal prophet would also be a great high priest (Hebrews 4:14-5:10) whose sacrifice would render the entire Old Testament sacrificial system obsolete (Hebrews 10:1-18).
Scripture teaches that the promises of such a great prophet, priest, and king are all fulfilled in the person and work of Christ. Using Great Doctrines of the Bible, by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, as our guide, we’ll examine each of these roles of Christ.
Christ the Prophet
Because of the curse of sin, our hearts are blind (Ephesians 4:17-18) and we are walking in darkness. We need a prophet who can deliver us from our own ignorance of sin. In the Old Testament, a prophet was a messenger of God sent to deliver a word from God. We often think of a prophet as one who tells of something in the future; while that is certainly true, that’s not all a prophet did. The message of a prophet also involved warning people of their sin and reminding them of God’s promises. God’s people often rejected such warnings (Matthew 5:11-12), but these prophets were nevertheless from God (292-293).
God’s chosen people were awaiting such a prophet (John 6:14). Peter argues that this promised prophet is Christ (Acts 3:19-26). Our Lord Jesus Himself claimed to be such a prophet (Luke 13:33), who spoke the words of God (John 14:10; 12:49-50; Matthew 7:29). Not only did He claim to be a prophet, but He fulfilled His prophetic role “in all His teaching: His teaching concerning God, the Father; His exposition of the law in the Sermon on the Mount; in all He told us of God’s love, of God’s gracious purpose, of His nature and His person. All this was a part of the exercise of His prophetic function, and, supremely, He told us about Himself. All this is vital, and I emphasize it because we sometimes forget that a part of our salvation consists in our receiving this knowledge that our Lord has given” (295).
Jesus is the prophet promised in Deuteronomy 18 who declares the truth about our sin and proclaims the good news of hope and salvation!
Christ the Priest
Our sin renders us unable to stand before a holy God. We need to be delivered from our guilt, and in the Old Testament the High Priest would make such an offering for sin. A priest would stand before God on behalf of man: “The prophet is one who came with a message from God to man; the priest is one who goes from man to God…” (297).
However, the sacrifice rendered by human priests was insufficient. Hebrews 5:1-5 teaches that one of the roles of the Lord Jesus was to fulfill this role as priest on behalf of man. Lloyd-Jones summarizes four points about the nature and function of the priesthood from Hebrews 5 (299):
- He must be a human to represent humanity (v. 1).
- He is chosen and appointed by God (v. 4).
- He is “active in the interests of men in things pertaining to God” (v. 1).
- He offers gifts and sacrifices for sins (v. 1).
Furthermore, Scriptures teaches that priests should be holy:
“They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God. For they offer the Lord’s food offerings, the bread of their God; therefore they shall be holy” (Leviticus 21:6).
Based on these functions, MLJ defines the priest as “essentially a mediator who does two main things. First, he propitiates by sacrifices; second, he intercedes on behalf of the people” (300).
The priest secures reconciliation between God and man through propitiation (satisfaction offered to a holy, offended God) by means of a substitute (someone who’s innocent suffering on behalf of the guilty) to provide atonement.
Thankfully, Jesus has fulfilled all of these priestly functions (Hebrews 3:1; 4:14; 5:5; 6:20; 7:26; 8:1). Without such a mediator, we could not have access to a holy God. Without such a sacrifice, we could not be cleansed. Christ has come so we have an Advocate who endlessly intercedes on our behalf. Lloyd-Jones concludes:
“Having Himself experienced the infirmities, though still without sin, having been tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin, He is the High Priest who can represent us and speak on our behalf. And we have seen that He has an offering to offer, a sacrifice to present that has been accepted of God. So He intercede and ever lives to make intercession for all who come to God by Him” (305).
Christ the King
Christ is not only the promised prophet and priest, but He’s also the promised King. God promises David that one of his sons would build a “house” that would never be destroyed (Psalms 132:13-14; 2nd Samuel 7:13; 1st Peter 2:2-5). This King would reign forever (2nd Samuel 7:13)!
Israel continued to wait for the promised king, however each king showed their shortcomings and failures. Even a good king like David displayed his faults. This is a continued theme in the books of Kings (2nd Kings 13:11, 21:2). However, God had determined that He was going to ensure this promise comes to pass. Centuries later, an angel would appear to a young woman announcing her pregnancy:
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end (Luke 1:31-33).
Christ is the promised King who reigns over His kingdom forevermore. Lloyd-Jones defines the kingdom as “His reign, His rule. Wherever the rule of Christ is acknowledge and delighted in, there is Christ’s kingdom, and there is Christ the King” (369). While we are not worthy to be citizens of such a great kingdom, Christ has made it available through His priestly sacrifice.
Christ has declared to us the truth about our situation and the only hope mankind has (Prophet). He has provided a sufficient sacrifice that is pleasing to God and atones for the sin of man (Priest). Thus, those who repent and believe the gospel will be transferred from the kingdom of darkness into God’s eternal kingdom and live under His reign forever (King). Praise God that Christ is the perfect Prophet, Priest, and King!