Christ. The name “Christ” is the Greek form of “Messiah” (John 1:41). The word itself means “anointed one”. Christ is a title of the Person of the Son in human flesh as the fulfillment of Old Testament scripture. There were three offices in the Old Testament that required anointing: the office of the priest (Ex. 30:30), the office of the prophet (1 Kings 19:16), and the office of the king (1 Kings 1:34). As the Anointed One, the Lord fulfilled perfectly all those prophecies which went before concerning Him. Furthermore, He succeeds perfectly in each of those three offices where we see nothing but failure from the first man.
Praise we to the First-born bring,
Christ the Prophet, Priest and King;
Glad we raise our sweetest strain
To the Lamb that once was slain.
Christ the Prophet, Priest and King;
Glad we raise our sweetest strain
To the Lamb that once was slain.
Christ the Prophet. When Christ came, He came with a message. In this sense He fulfilled the prophecy of Moses about the coming Prophet. So Peter affirmed in his sermon in Acts 3. The writer of Hebrews compares Christ with every other prophet who came before, and shows the vast superiority of Christ who brought God’s message to man perfectly.
“For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. … Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.“ (Acts 3:22-26; see Deut. 18:18).
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son…” (Heb. 1:1-2)
Christ the Priest. Christ has left this scene and has gone on high to the right hand or God. There He undertakes a work of priesthood for us! His priesthood involves intercession and advocacy. Intercession to preserve us from evil, and advocacy to restore us when we fall. Christ’s office as priest will not expire when the Church period expires. We will be taken out of this wilderness pathway, and therefore will no longer require His priestly service, but His priesthood is not limited to here and now. He is not only a priest in Aaronic character, but He is priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. As priest after the order of Melchizedek, Christ will be the Blesser of heaven and earth in the Millennial day, healing the wounds of a war-torn world, just as Melchizedek of old appeared to Abram after the battle of the kings (Gen. 14).
“Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” (Heb. 2:17)
“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:14-15)
“And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim.” (Ezra 2:63).
“The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Psa. 110:4).
Christ the King. Not only did Christ come as the Prophet, but He came as a King to Israel, although He did not insist on His kingly rights. He was presented as Israel’s king, and the nation rejected Him. This is precisely the subject of Matthew’s gospel. He was born King of the Jews. He rode into Jerusalem as their King. And even in mockery over His cross was written “this is Jesus, the king of the Jews”. In John 6 the Jews desired to make Jesus their King by force. It was the flesh at work, and by the end of the chapter Christ makes it manifest that they wanted the kingdom without the king. But the Lord would not take the kingship in a carnal way. First, He must “go into a far country”, become “priest”, and then “to receive for Himself a kingdom and return” (Luke 19:12; Dan. 7:13-14). So He left them, and when up by Himself into a mountain, which is a picture of Christ’s occupation on high as our High Priest. But this shows a remarkable moral order. He came as a Prophet to Israel, but was rejected, and so He has gone above to be a Priest, and His kingdom in power is postponed until His second coming.
“Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” (Psa. 2:6).
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he [is] just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” (Zech 9:9; Matt. 21:5).
“Jesus therefore knowing that they were going to come and seize him, that they might make him king, departed again to the mountain himself alone.” (John 6:15)
“And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” (Zech. 6:12-13)
Christian Activity. Christ has so closely identified us with Himself that His three Messianic offices have their counterpart in the life of the Christian. There are really three great spheres of Christian activity;
- Christian Ministry. This sphere of activity is closely liked with Christ’s office of Prophet. Paul could say to the Corinthians; “Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.” (1 Cor. 14:1). While the New Testament gift of prophecy has been “done away” (1 Cor. 13:8), yet we still have ministry today that is of a prophetic character; ministry that is for edification, exhortation, and comfort (1 Cor. 14:3). In a broad sense, all spiritual gifts that involve bringing the Word of God down to the present moment can be viewed under this heading; whether they be teachers, pastors, evangelists, etc. Ministry is the way God speaks to man. In the sphere of ministry, every Christian is different, as God has given different abilities to every one.
- Christian Priesthood. In the aspect of priesthood, all Christians are on equal ground! The great sin of the Catholic Church was to restrict priesthood to a certain class of men in the clergy. All believers are priests in the sense that we can pray to God in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and our prayers or praises are heard! When it comes to prayer, Paul said “I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings be made for all men” (1 Tim. 2:1). When it comes to praises, Peter tells us that our priesthood has two other aspects. First, we are “being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5). As a holy priesthood, we are occupied with praise and worship. Second, we are “a chosen race, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a people for a possession, that ye might set forth the excellencies of him who has called you out of darkness to his wonderful light” (1 Pet. 2:9). As a royal priesthood, we are occupied with reflecting the character (“excellencies”) of God in our lives that the world might see! You might summarize these three things as Prayer (1 Tim. 2), Praise (1 Pet. 2:5), and Practice (1 Pet. 2:9).
- Christian Oversight. This third sphere of Christian activity is different yet again. Oversight has to do with the House of God in the local assembly aspect. Oversight in the New Testament is never seen as a universal organization. Again, the Catholic Church transgressed in this area as well, setting up bishops over large regions, etc. Every believer has a gift, and every believer is a priest, but not every believer is an overseer. Titus 1 and 1 Tim. 3 take up the qualifications for oversight in the assembly. There are two branches of oversight; bishops (under-shepherds) who look after the spiritual needs of the flock, and deacons who look after the material needs of the flock.
Old Testament Picture. In Israel’s early history we have a picture of these three offices. The three individuals are Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. We read of Moses as the great leader, law-giver, and administrator of the people of God. We read that “he [Moses] was king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people and the tribes of Israel were gathered together” (Deut. 33:5). Aaron of course was the first high priest. The Lord said to Moses concerning Aaron; “And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office“ (Ex. 28:1). Finally, of Miriam we read, “And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances” (Ex. 15:20). Notice that it takes three individuals to make up the type of Christ! In Numbers 12 we have a solemn account of the time when the three were divided. “And Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had taken; for he had taken a Cushite as wife” (Num. 12:1). Here we have the prophetess and the priest speaking against the overseer. It pictures Satan’s opposition to the royalty of Christ, and God’s vindication of that office. We can also learn a practical lesson from this, in that Miriam became a leper for seven days, and had to remain out of the camp. The lesson might be this: there is a tendency for the will and attitude of the prophet to get mixed up in his or her message. Paul speaks of this in 1 Cor. 14:32 when he says, “the spirits of the prophets are subject to prophets.” A prophet or any minister of God should never lose control of themselves as Miriam did. Furthermore, we might learn that there is a human tendency to blame or find fault with those in oversight more than the rest of the assembly, perhaps because they are in a leadership position. Failure in our leaders, whether perceived or real, is no excuse to step out of our place and slander one of God’s servants.
Satan’s counterfeit. It is always Satan’s effort to imitate the things of God. The offices of the Christ are certainly something he tries to imitate. Just as Christ is presently on high undertaking a priestly work for us, so Satan is working as an anti-priest to oppose believers in whatever way he can. This effort will be cut short in the middle of Daniel’s seventieth week when Satan is cast down from heaven:
“And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” (Rev. 12:9-10)
It is remarkable that at precisely this time, when Satan is restricted from his anti-priestly activities, that he will begin to sponsor a human instrument that is both a False Prophet (Rev. 13:12; Rev. 16:13) and a False King (Dan. 11:36). In Rev. 13:11 he is pictured as a lamb (false imitation of Christ) but with two horns. It would seem that these two horns represent his twofold office of king and prophet. After antichrist flees from the king of the north, he loses one horn, and is thereafter simply called, the “false prophet”.