Royal Priesthood: An Old Testament Messianic Motif -- By: Eugene H. Merrill

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 150:597 (Jan 1993)
Article: Royal Priesthood: An Old Testament Messianic Motif
Author: Eugene H. Merrill


Royal Priesthood: An Old Testament Messianic Motif

Eugene H. Merrill

[Eugene H. Merrill is Professor of Old Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas.]

New Testament scholarship has long recognized the threefold character of the messianic office and ministry—prophet, priest, and king—and has seen in Jesus Christ the full embodiment of these roles. Whether actualized in the course of His historical sojourn or anticipated in His postresurrection glory and eschatological triumph, attributing to Jesus these principal Old Testament theocratic ministries is a matter of little doubt.1

From a theological standpoint it is equally clear that these institutions, originated and developed in the Old Testament, served not only practical but also typological purposes. That is, they provided a framework within which ancient Israel could organize and conduct itself as the elect people of God, but they also pointed toward the eternal kingdom purposes of Yahweh, purposes that focus on and find realization and expression in Jesus Christ.

Jesus as Prophet, King, and Priest

Traditionally the type of Jesus as Prophet is seen in the entire order of Old Testament prophets, but most particularly in Moses. The great law-giver himself said, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen; you shall listen to him” (Deut 18:15). Then follows the divine affirmation, “I will raise up for them a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him” (v. 18).

There is virtual consensus that the prophet alluded to here is the prophet par excellence whom the early Christian community identified as Jesus.2

The kingship of Christ is anticipated by David, as the Davidic Covenant declares. Through the prophet Nathan, Yahweh promised the king, “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Sam 7:12–13). Again, the fact that David, like Moses, serves as a prototype of Jesus Christ in a significant Old Testament institution is readily accepted by the great majority of biblical scholarship.3

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