Messianic Threefold Office

Messianic Three-fold Office

A messiah is a most-highly anticipated individual.  This figure will redeem that which was lost.  But there are many calibers of messiah.  One is chief among them all.

Charles Montesquieu (1689-1765) once articulated three distinct branches of power. He said there needs to be a Legislative, and Executive, and the Judiciary. He recognized when one person solely held all three positions, corruption was sure to follow. Legislation must be passed for laws to properly govern the land. Such person(s) must be limited in their power however. They may set the laws, and no further. The Executive carries out established laws. As the laws have already been decided upon, the executive is simply delivering commodities, as it were. Finally, there is a judiciary to determine the authenticity of the actions taken to line up with the integrity of the laws. A proper judge must be impartial to assess a situation.

Of course, any mention of a “perfect” impartiality is a laugh. There is just no such thing among men. All have their priorities. In each branch, the ideal cannot be met. Laws are made in favor of something, or to counter something else. An Executor will determine whether to enforced established laws or not, depending on varying factors. And the judiciary will have to come to a decision, whether much contemplation was made or little. True impartiality is needed.

A catechism of Christianity has dubbed Christ with a three-fold office. He is said to be Prophet, priest, and king. While these three roles appear quite a bit different then the enlightenment counterpart, there are distinct carry-overs. The Torah marks all three roles out pretty well in Deuteronomy 17-18. The priests were given no inheritance in the land of Israel. They are to receive their portion from the sacrifices made by the populace. They are to trust their God for provision. A king is given a measure of authority over the people, but he is also asked to make for himself a couple of the law from the priests. He is expected to submit Himself to God, as he is still impartial (as are all men). Finally, the prophet is a messenger of God, speaking on behalf of God. The prophet sees visions, and makes intercession for those to whom he delivers messages of God’s judgment to.

Not one of these roles could have been carried out without the help of one of the other roles. Understandably, God presented Himself as a king figure for the Israelites for a long time. While in the wilderness, the Israelites looked to God as their law giver. They saw Moses as a spokesperson, witnessing God on a more intimate level. But God would later institute priests to serve in a tabernacle setting, making proper atoning sacrifices on behave of the nation. It is through acts of repentance that relationship endures. God perceived their external acts of sacrifice of their best stock as evidence of their repentant hearts. But God desires mercy over sacrifice (Hosea 6:6). Relationship cannot endure forever through the slitting of unblemished sheep and goats.

God fulfilled all three roles perfectly not only in the old testament (Isaiah 33:22) (although He let man help), He brings it climatically forward with the birth of the Messiah. Hebrews talks of Christ bringing a new and better covenant. Whereas the former law was written on tablets of stone, the latter law was written on our hearts (or our conscience, if you will). In addition, the Holy Spirit was permitted to enter into us, making us each vessels capable of bearing the manifest presence of God. The messiah could now rule as a law giver capable of revising the laws on our conscience at will, convicting us prior to actions to actions made, and also subsequently convicting us (or judging) of wrongs made such that we would take the proper steps in correcting them.

Now what is odd here is that God is relational the more you read of His character and His actions in Scripture. So in the case of the first king suggested to the Israelites, God speaks to Samuel (the standing judge over the land, whose sons were corrupt): “…Heed their warning, for they have not rejected you, they have rejected me as [king] to reign over them.” (1st Samuel 8:7) God is very relationally oriented here. It was recently stated to me that there is not a good model family structure to be found in the whole of the Bible. God does not judge Samuel for his negligence for his sons’ corruption. God is honoring a deep through of His relational character: Mercy before sacrifice. He warns them clearly of the implications of a human monarch, and while he had given permission in Deuteronomy 17:14-20, He simultaneously gives stipulations as to what limits said king will have.

God knows all about authority. Certainly He understands humility is absolutely essential in ruling. In the new covenant era, we have access to the Jesus as our acting Priest (lawgiver, Legislator), our King (holding our utmost allegiance, and loyalty), and our prophet (judging the actions and intentions of our hearts). But just as king has a certain prerogative authority, in such cases where there is not clearly law written, the Holy spirit is not a distant legislative diplomat. He is intimate, and desires repentant relationship over hard-and-fast obedience for obedience sake. Clearly can the case be made the God is relational before He is legislative. Simultaneously however, relationship has built-in laws that govern it. These laws must be followed. God is a master strategist, and we owe Him our allegiance for composing such an extravagant policy of relationship.

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