The Prophet, Priest and King
Published by Stanley Pouw in 2022 · 17 December 2022
When we think about Christmas we always wind up thinking about angels. In the real story angels were the heavenly messengers sent to declare that the Savior and the Lord had arrived, and that He was Christ. In the Old Testament there were three positions for unique service in the kingdom. First it was the prophets. We see this in 1 Kings 19:16 where Elijah is told to anoint his successor the prophet Elisha.
They were anointed and set apart to speak for God. The second group were the priests. In Exodus 29 you have Aaron and those who were in the Aaronic priesthood, instructed to be anointed. And the third position that received anointing was that of the king. 1 Samuel 16, David was anointed. 1 Kings 1, Solomon was anointed. This symbolizes heavenly blessing on one who is called to a unique heavenly tasks.
So the promise of God in the Old Testament was that there would come the ultimate Prophet, the ultimate Priest, and the ultimate King. In Isaiah 61 we read: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners.”
The Messiah would be all three. According to Deuteronomy 18, He would be a prophet like Moses. According to Psalm 1:10, He would be a priest; and that’s repeated again in Zechariah 6. He would be a unique priest according to Psalm 2, and in 2 Samuel 7, He would be King. He would be the King in David’s line. Psalm 2 says He would rule all the nations of the world.
Centuries went by, until, as Paul says in Galatians 4:4, the fullness of time came. And when the fullness of time came, He was born; and that’s what brings you right in Luke 2:11, “Today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Messiah, the Anointed One, the Lord.” Simeon, this old man, was told by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Anointed One.
This was the most monumental day in Israel’s history since the promises of the Old Testament were finally wrapped up in the last of the 39 books. Jesus declared that Himself starting in Luke 4:16, “He came to Nazareth and entered the synagogue, stood up to read. Took the book of Isaiah which was handed to Him. He opened the book and found the place where it was written,
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.’ He closed the book, and said to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” The Anointed One has arrived.
The message of the Lord Himself was that He is the Messiah, and He has arrived to fulfill the promises. This is affirmed by the apostles and the disciples. This becomes the subject of their preaching in the book of Acts. If you go Acts 3:18, “The things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.”
From the announcement of the angels that the Christ has arrived, to the testimony of Simeon, to the testimony of Jesus, to the testimony of the apostles, to the testimony of Paul, it was always that Jesus was the Christ. He was the ultimate Prophet, Priest, and King. All three of those come together in the Hebrews 1. It begins by describing the Lord Jesus Christ in these three anointed ways,
“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the express image 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 God.”
Notice in verse 4, “He was much better than the angels.” Superior to the angels who announce His arrival. He is the King of the angels. But Hebrews 2:9 says, “When He came into the world He was for a little while made lower than the angels, in order to suffer death, then be crowned with glory.” So Hebrews 1 is introducing us to Jesus, and He is introduced to us as a prophet; a priest; and a king.
He is the Prophet who reveals God, He is the Priest who reconciles men to God, and He is the King who reigns with God. Let’s look, first at the Prophet who reveals God. Verse 1, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many way, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son.” We know that the natural man cannot understand the things of God.
The true God is a person, and He has spoken. And that is why the Bible is called the Word of God. In the Old Testament He spoke to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways. Many portions: different books. Many ways: direct revelation, indirect revelation, inspired writing, visions, dreams, types, symbols. But He spoke always to the people through the prophets.
The Old Testament was God speaking and men writing down what God said. Some of the Old Testament is history, some of it is poetry, some of it is law, some of it is prophecy, but all of it is God speaking. However it was, in a sense, incomplete. The revelations that compose the 39 separate books of the Old Testament, are stretched over a millennium, written by many different authors.
But it was incomplete. God was increasing our understanding as revelation continued. No prophet got the full revelation of God, not until God spoke to us in His Son. No prophet ever grasped the full truth of God, only Jesus was the full truth revealed. He was not an incomplete revelation. In Him, God fully revealed Himself. No longer in diverse manners and diverse ways, but singularly through Christ.
Look at John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God,” speaking of the Son of God. So we know the Word was God. Go down to verse 14, “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Verse 18, “No one has seen God at any time; Jesus has explained Him.”
And the New Testament is written about this full revelation. The four Gospels describe the arrival and the ministry of Jesus. The book of Acts describes the apostolic preaching concerning Jesus. The Epistles lay out the significance of His life and death and the resurrection and implications in the world. And the New Testament culminates in the book of Revelation with His glorious return.
In John 5, you see the most powerful expression of His words since the creation. John 5:25, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” His words are so powerful they not only created the entire universe, and sustains that universe, but they’re so powerful that He will raise all the dead in the end.
The Old Testament reveals the Messiah by bits and pieces. In Abraham, we find the nation of Messiah. In Jacob, we find the tribe of Messiah. In David and Isaiah, we find the family of Messiah. In Micah, we find the town of Messiah. In Daniel, we find the time of Messiah. In Malachi, we find the forerunner of Messiah. And in Isaiah, we find the death and resurrection of Messiah.
But each writer only knew in part; and Peter says they looked at what they wrote to see who this really would be. But when Christ arrived, He is the complete, full revelation of God. So when the angels said, “Christ has been born,” this is exactly what they were referring to. Hebrews tells us, “He speaks for God.” He’s going to define Christ in some magnificent terms.
Verse 2, “He is the Son of God. He is the heir of all things. He is the one who made the world. He is the radiance of God’s glory. He is the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.” What he’s trying to show us is that He is the ultimate Prophet. No prophet has ever had words that are as powerful as His. He possesses the right to absolutely everything.
In Revelation 5, you see this illustrated when the Lamb of God comes out of the throne and picks up the title deed to the universe. Verse 6, “I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” And all of heaven bows down to worship Him.
He’s the rightful heir to everything that God possesses. Yes, for a while He was lower than the angels. But He is the King of angels. He is the one who will inherit everything. He inherits it because He created it. Verse 2 says, “Through whom also He made the world.” With the Son, God created. “Everything was made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made,”
Verse 3 says, “He’s the radiance of God’s glory.” When it says, “He is the radiance,” it’s actually the word “brightness”. “He shins forth God’s glory,” 2 Corinthians 4 says that. We see the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus. Just as the radiance of the sun reaches the earth and lights and warms, give life and grows, so Christ is the glorious Light of God shining into the hearts of men.
Jesus says in John 8:12, “I am the Light of the world; whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness.” John goes further and says, “He’s the exact representation of God’s nature.” It’s a classical word that means just essentially what it’s means. He is the authorized exact duplication of God in nature, substance, and essence. Colossians 2:9, “In Him all the fullness of the Godhead dwells.”
Secondly, He is not only the Prophet who reveals God, but He is the Priest who reconciles people to God. Verse 3: “When He had made purification of sins.” This introduces us to His priestly work. That what priests did. They went before God in the prescribed way to offer the necessary sacrifice that God required to pay for the sins of the people. Jesus offered the only sacrifice that could take away sin, namely Himself.
There was no priest like Him. Every priest would go back every day and do what he did in the morning again at night, and again the next day. There was never an end to it. But Hebrews wants us to understand there’s never been a priest like this one. Hebrews 2:17, “He became a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of His people.”
Propitiation is satisfaction. He offered a sacrifice that satisfied God. No priest ever did that. Hebrews 4:14, “We have a great high priest, Jesus Christ the Son of God. We do not have a great high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, but without sin. So let us draw near to Him.” He is a priest like no other priest.
Hebrews 5:5, “So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but God who said to Him, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You, just as He also in another passage says, ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.’ Verse 9 says, “Having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.”
Hebrews 9 says, “When Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, and not through the blood of lambs, but through His own blood, He entered the Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” How much more will the blood of Christ, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
To the Jews the cross was a stumbling block, and that’s why they had to preach, the apostles did, that the Christ, the Messiah, must needs have suffered. But He came to be the Priest, to offer the ultimate sacrifice, and to be that sacrifice. Peter says, “We’re redeemed not with corruptible things like silver and gold, but the precious blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb without blemish and without spot.”
And, thirdly, in these opening few verses, we meet Him as the King. The end of verse 3, “When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” A priest never sat down because his work was never finished. But Jesus sat down because He was not just a priest, He was a king. He sat down at the right hand, the power side of the Majesty on high.
As Revelation says, He became King of kings and Lord of lords. And when He ascended into heaven after He had accomplished His priestly work, He reigns as the eternal King. The evidence of His sovereign royalty is verse 4: “Having become much better than the angels, He inherited a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You’re My Son, today I have begotten You’?
Now go back to Luke 2. He arrives as the anointed Prophet, Priest, and King. The writer of Hebrews says He’s much better than the angels, and the angels acknowledge Him as their King. “Today in the city of David there’s been born for you a Savior who is Christ the Lord. And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest.’” Let’s pray together.