Church Follows Jesus as Prophet, Priest and King

Recently I attended a series of talks by Jeff Meyers, and wanted to share some of the content with you.

Jesus Christ is our prophet, priest and king.  The Westminster Shorter Catechism summarizes this nicely in its questions 23-26.  Jim Jordan and Jeff Meyers apply this idea in helpful ways.  God means for us to grow in our relationship with Him, from priest, to king to prophet.

In the priest phase, we learn the basic rules of access to God.  This is right; that is wrong.  Don’t eat that; eat this.  Do the sacrifice this way.  The lips of a priest should preserve knowledge (Malachi 2:7).  Know the law and word of God so you can do what it says.  We are learning the ropes as apprentices.

In the king phase, we need wisdom to apply the word in new situations that the law doesn’t directly address.  What Bible verse do you go to, when two women each claim the living baby as theirs, the dead baby as the other lady’s, and there is no third witness?  As an observer of human nature, Solomon could judge rightly.  We are working and ruling as responsible stewards – rulers of our domain under the King of kings.

In the prophet phase, we intercede - and even argue - with God for people.  God welcomes this, taking us into His counsels as we pray.  Abraham interceded for Sodom, Amos intercedes for Israel (chpt. 7).  When Jesus calls His disciples friends instead of servants in the upper room, He then calls on them to ask the Father for what they want (John 15:13-16).  We are consulting and mentoring others, and before God we make petitions and informed arguments to bring in His Kingdom.

This is a big-picture paradigm, not meant to fit all the details exactly, or be strictly chronological.  It isn’t that we leave the priest phase, and stop worrying about right and wrong when we move to rule.  But there are added dimensions of responsibility.

This paradigm is at work in many ways.
Abraham acts as priest when he builds altars in Genesis 12, as a king when he rescues Lot in chapter 14, and as a prophet when he intercedes for Sodom in chapter 18 (also see 20:7).  In the history of Israel, they first receive the law (priest), then have kings, then become interceders for the world (prophets, Daniel, Esther).  In our careers, we first get the education and book learning (priest), then get a job (king) and later mentor others with the job (prophet).

The church’s mission also follows this pattern.
  • Priests bring others to God in the right way.  The church teaches and evangelizes the world to come to God through Jesus, the spotless sacrifice.
  • Kings use their wealth, power and passion to build up their people.  The church uses her resources to do the same.  Don’t amass these for yourself.  Deuteronomy 17:14-17 tells the king not to amass gold (wealth), horses (power), or wives (passion).  Instead, steward them to give to and equip others.
  • Prophets intercede for the world, and so does the church.  We vastly underestimate our calling to pray for others, and the effect of prayer on ourselves and actual events.

There are some biblical connections or interpretations that Jordan makes that are a stretch or just off base, but this is a really helpful paradigm overall, for seeing the mission of the church in the world.

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