Not only was the Messiah to be from the seed of a woman, the seed of Abraham, the tribe of Judah, the family of David, to be born in Bethlehem, but also the Jewish Messiah was to have a threefold mission: He was to be the Prophet, a Priest and a King. Today, we will look at the prophecy concerning the Messiah’s role and ministry as a Priest.
There is much to intellectually comprehend concerning the ministry of the Old Testament priesthood. The priestly role was associated with the tabernacle and then the Jewish Temple. The priesthood emphasized sacrifice, site maintenance, and education. Priests were the primary religious leadership in the ancient Near East. Their duties varied according to the region and religion. All priests were defined primarily by their intercessory role. Priests acted as representatives of the divine to the people, and representatives of people to the divine. Priests of Yahweh performed sacrifices, maintained the holy sites and implements, and provided counsel and instruction.
Additionally, priests were responsible for the ministry of intercession—the altar, tabernacle or temple. Their instructional role accorded with their intercessory role: they provided the instructions for holy living that would satisfy Yahweh’s holy expectations of the people.
Priests were a major power throughout Israel’s history as keepers of the covenant site and instructors in the Scriptures. Their relationships with kings, prophets, and sages fluctuated throughout this time. The priests may have been in accord with formal power structures such as the monarchy. There was tension between the priests and the prophets.
With respect to Jesus Christ as a priest, I submit the following biblical texts for your consideration regarding the priesthood of Jesus.
- Appointed and called by God. Heb. 3:1, 2; 5:4, 5.
- After the order of Melchizedek. Ps 110:4; Heb. 5:6; 6:20; 7:15, 17.
- Superior to Aaron and the Levitical priests. Heb. 7:11, 16, 22; 8:1, 2, 6.
- Consecrated with an oath. Heb. 7:20, 21.
- Has an unchangeable priesthood. Heb. 7:23, 28.
- Unblemished purity. Heb. 7:26, 28.
- Faithful. Heb. 3:2.
- Needed no sacrifice for himself. Heb. 7:27.
- Offered himself a sacrifice. Heb. 9:14, 26.
- His sacrifice superior to all others. Heb. 9:13, 14, 23.
- Offered sacrifice but once. Heb. 7:27; 9:25, 26.
- Made reconciliation. Heb. 2:17.
- Obtained redemption for us. Heb. 9:12.
- Entered into heaven. Heb. 4:14; 10:12.
- Sympathizes with those who are tempted. Heb 2:18; 4:15.
- Intercedes. Heb. 7:25; 9:24.
- Blesses. Num. 6:23–26; Acts 3:26.
- On his throne. Zech. 6:13.
- Appointment of, and encouragement to steadfastness. Heb. 4:14.
- Typified by –
- Melchizedek. Gen. 14:18–20.
- Aaron, Ex, 40:12–15.
The key Old Testament text regarding the priestly ministry of the Messiah is Psalm, 110:1-4. King David, the psalmist, writes, “The Lord says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” 2 The Lord sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours, 4 The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
I highlight four New Testament texts from the Book of Hebrews explaining the Great High Priestly ministry of Jesus Christ.
- Hebrews 2:14-18 – 14 “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
- Hebrews 4:14-15 – “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and fine grace to help in time of need.”
- Hebrews 5:1-6 – “For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. 3 Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. 4 And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. 5 So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; 6 as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”
- Hebrews 7:22-27 – “This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. 23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.”
It is apparent that the New Testament clearly identifies Jesus Christ as a great high priest fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Jewish Messiah.
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!