Understanding The Bible
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BY THE AUTHOR
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
THE MESSIAHSHIP OF CHRIST
The New Testament word "Christ" is the same as the word "Messiah" of the Old Testament. It means "the Anointed One. " In Israel's history three offices were conferred by the ceremony of anointing: the prophet (1 Ki. 19:16); the priest (Ex. 30:30); and the king (1 Sam. 15:1).
The significance of anointing was that since God called a man to an office, God would give the enabling to perform the duties of that office.
When we come to the New Testament we find that the Lord Jesus has been anointed by God and, therefore, has the right to the title of the Christ. By the Holy Spirit (Jn. 1:29-34; Mk. 1:9-11), He has been anointed for a threefold office:
The prophetic office of the Lord Jesus Christ
We note, first of all, that there was a prophet promised in the Old Testament who would be the greatest of all prophets (Dt. 18:15-19) and the New Testament declares that Jesus is that prophet (Acts 3:22-24; 7:37; Jn. 1:19-21).
Christ Himself also claimed to be a prophet anointed of God for that ministry (Lk. 4:17-21).
He claimed to be a great prophet (Mt. 12:41).
The message of a prophet is threefold (1 Cor. 14:3). The prophet speaks to men unto:
Edification (Jn. 6:22-58)
Exhortation (Mt, 5-7)
Comfort (Mt. 24-25; Jn. 14-16)
The prophet speaks to men concerning the things of God for edification, in order that men might be built up in the faith and knowledge of God.
Also, he speaks in exhortation; he reveals the sin in our lives and rebukes it.
He also speaks in comfort concerning the promises of God for the future.
The predictive element may run through the three of these characteristic elements, but the work of a prophet is far more than foretelling the future.
We find that Christ comforted, exhorted, and sought to edify
men. The predictive element in His preaching becomes more and more
The priestly office of our Lord Jesus Christ
The pattern of His priesthood was
Aaronic (Heb. 2:17; 5:1-2).
"Sacrifice for sins, " 5:1
"Compassionate intercession," 5:2
"A priest is one who stands before God on behalf of men."
The order of His priesthood was
Melchizedekian (Gen. 14; Heb. 5:6,10; 6:20; 7:1-28).
It had been prophesied that there was to be new order of things in the priesthood, a King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek instead of Aaron.
Who is this man Melchizedek?
Some believe he was the Lord Jesus Himself, God appearing in human form. This could not be correct, for Melchizedek is not identical with Christ but was (in type) "like unto" the Son of God (Heb. 7:3). Rather, he was an historic person, King of Salem, and was known by all to be this. Indeed, the manifestations of God (theophanies or Christophanies) in the Old Testament were always characterized by three things:
The Angel of the Lord (God Himself) was always a stranger and nobody had ever seen that one before.
Nobody ever saw him again.
He had no name.
On the contrary, Melchizedek was an
historic person, King of (Jeru)Salem, and known by all to be this.
There are five things about the order of Melchizedek.
It was a royal priesthood (Heb.
Note that Melchizedek was first King of Righteousness and then King of Peace (Gen. 14). This man is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ.
A superior priesthood (Heb.
The priests had a commandment to take tithes of the people, but this man, Melchizedek, took tithes from Abraham himself. This was before the day of the family of Levi as priests, when Abraham was a priest. By giving tithes to Melchizedek, Abraham acknowledged that this man was a greater priest than he himself. If Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, then all of his posterity in his loins (including Levi) must do so also.
An effectual priesthood (Heb.
The Melchizedekian priesthood accomplishes things that the Aaronic priesthood could never accomplish. The covenant and its whole system of worship must function through the priesthood. If the old covenant could ever have made a perfect relation between us and God, what need would there have been of a change? With the change of the covenant, there must be also a change of the priesthood. The law was not bringing a perfect relationship. The Lord promised a Messiah who would come and would be after the order of Melchizedek.
The priesthood and the covenant are entirely linked together. The covenant functions through the priesthood. When the old priesthood was cancelled or set aside, the old covenant was set aside also. Under the old covenant the Jew always worshipped outside of the temple. He never got into the Holy Place, let alone into the Holy of Holies. The whole system of the law taught the people that they were not allowed into the presence of God because the way (Heb. 9:8) had not yet been opened up for them. When Christ died on the cross, the way was opened (Heb. 10:19-20). Under the old covenant perfection was impossible, because the law made nothing perfect; we are made perfect in Christ and, therefore, we can enter the presence of God. We have, through Christ, a perfect relationship with God.
An unchanging priesthood (Heb. 7:20-24).
The priests after the order of Aaron were made so without an oath. God never swore that He would not change the order of priesthood. The new covenant, however, will last because God swore that Christ was a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. If the priesthood will never change, then the covenant will never fail, and Jesus is made a surety of a better covenant.
An everlasting priesthood (Heb. 7:25-28).
There is a difference between an unchanging priesthood and an everlasting priest. For 1500 years Israel had an unchanging priesthood, but they had many priests. We have God's promise of an unchanging priesthood and also an everlasting priest, Christ. The priest's intercession never saved a man from the guilt of sin. It was the blood of the sacrifice that took care of the question of guilt. The priest's intercession saves us from the power of sin rather than from the guilt of sin. Hebrews 7:25 speaks of the power of the intercessor to save from the power of sin.
The course of the Melchizedekian priesthood is:
(1) Past (high priestly offering of Himself to God, already made), Heb. 9:11-14.
(2) Present (unceasing intercession), Heb. 7:25.
(3) Future (public manifestation of Melchizedekian ministry), Ps. 110.
The kingly office of the Lord Jesus Christ
He has the right to the title of Messiah because He is a King (Mt. 12:42; 27:11; Jn. 18:33-37).
Kingship is His right under the Davidic covenant (2 Sam. 7:8-16; Ps. 89:29-36; 132:11; Isa. 9:6-7; 11:10-12;Jer. 23:5-8; Lk. 1:30-33; Mt. 2:1-2).
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