The office in general to which our Lord was delegated was that of Mediator between God and men. It is to be noted that “the office is essentially one, not three. We may indeed distinguish the one office into three aspects of it that are denoted by the terms prophet, priest and king; but these may never be I separated. They are not three separate offices, but rather three different aspects or functions of the one office. There is one fundamental thought in them all, one idea that lies at the basis of all three. And this fundamental notion we may briefly express by saying that by office is meant the position of servant-king in relation to God. We might also express the same idea by describing an office-bearer as the official representative of the invisible God in the visible world. More fully defined, by office is meant the position in which man is authorized and qualified to function in the name of God and in behalf of God’s covenant and kingdom, to serve Him and to rule under Him. There are, therefore, two sides to the office. With relation to God, the office-bearer is servant…with relation to the creaturely sphere in which he functions, the kingdom of God in the visible world, the office-bearer is king (Rev. H. Hoeksema,Reformed Dogmatics, 363).”
We saw that in the decree of God the Mediator was ordained to be Emmanuel, “God With Us,” that He should therefore be the incarnate Deity who should take up into union with His divine person a perfect, whole and holy humanity. We saw, too, that He was fitted for the execution of His office by His “anointing” which was His experience in eternity as well as in history. The office has its three functions of prophet, priest and king which is adumbrated in the anointings of Israel’s prophets, priests and kings. But these three functions are not separate, nor successive, not of isolated performance. “They are rather like the several functions of the one living human body—as of the lungs in inhalation, as of the heart in blood circulation, and as of the brain and spinal column in innervation, they are functionally distinct, yet interdependent, and together they constitute one life. So the functions of prophet, priest and king mutually imply one another. Christ is always a prophetical priest, and a priestly prophet, and He is always a royal priest and a priestly king, and together they accomplish one redemption, to which all are equally essential (A.A. Hodge, Popular Lectures on Theological Themes, 235).
Christ stood in His mediatorial office in all of its three functions in order to be a complete Saviour and Redeemer of God’s elect. Man had originally been created a perfect office-bearer. A prophet, priest and king was he, created in the image of God in knowledge, holiness and righteousness. But through the fall he lost that image and became so totally depraved that the image of God was reversed—he reflected the image of the devil in folly, sin and rebellion. To effect, then, the complete redemption of His people, Christ could not put aside one of the aspects of His office. For all those He had come to redeem were steeped in ignorance, guilt and bondage, which indicates that the image in which man had been originally created had been turned into its opposite. Christ then had to come as Prophet to remove their ignorance and their darkened understanding, and restore true knowledge; as Priest to atone for their sins; as King to set them free from the slavery of sin. As Prophet He reveals God. As Priest He brings us to God. As King He restores us in the image of God. He Himself bears that perfect image of God in knowledge, righteousness and holiness. For He “of God was made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption (I Cor. 1:30).”
Modern day altar-call evangelism does not proclaim a complete Saviour in that it does not preach Christ performing His functions in His office. He is rarely alluded to as Prophet or Priest, much less, King. He was merely a Saviour who did all He could to save all men, but left the matter of whether any will be saved, to the whims of men. His chief end in coming into the world was not the glory of God (as He Himself taught,John 17:1, 4), but the effecting of a scheme of universal redemption put at the disposal of man’s convenience. Never is it so much as hinted that it is Christ in His official character as covenant Head that renders the salvation of His whole Church a matter of infallible certainty.
What is the prophetic function of the office of Christ? “How does Christ execute the office of a prophet? Christ executes the office of a prophet in His revealing to the church in all ages, by His Spirit and Word, in divers ways of administration, the whole will of God, in all things concerning their edification and salvation (Westminster L.C., 43).” The prophet speaks from God, for God, to men. He is a seer because he has the mind of Christ, knows the things of God (I Cor. 2:12), and knows the needs of men.
As Prophet, He is our omniscient Seer, seeing the end from the beginning. Known unto Him are all His works from the beginning of the world. The predictions of all the prophets are His foreordinations which must come to pass (Acts 4:27f). Every event in history, every act of the church of all ages, every minute circumstance in the lives of His people was foreordained by Him. His friends, enemies, men, angels and all creatures live, are moved and have their being only as He appointed in His determinate counsel. Waiting on the Word of our great Prophet we live calmly, peacefully in the vicissitudes of a changing, inimical world. “Fire and hail, snow and vapors, stormy wind, fulfilling His Word!” He “stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people.” All things are under the controlling decree of our Prophet.
“Christ is “the Prophet” (John 7:40). It was predicted that He should come to reveal the whole counsel of God, not to the world, but to the Israel of God. “I will raisethem up a Prophet.” He himself would be of Israel, for He would be raised up “from among their (Israel’s) brethren.” He would also be a Prophet, like Moses, that is, the fulfilment or antitype of the typical prophet Moses was. For the Lord said, I will raise up a prophet “like unto thee.” He would deliver himself of the whole counsel of God: “He shall speak unto them all that I shall command Him.” Any who should refuse Him that speaketh would do so at the peril of His eternal destiny. “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto My words which He shall speak in My name, I will require it of him (Deut. 18:18f).”
Christ being the Prophet, has in the prophetic function as in everything else, the preeminence. All the prophets were in His shade and in His line. They always had to preach, “Thus saith the Lord!” He proclaimed, “But I say unto you!” They said, “Hear the Word of the Lord.” He said, “I am the Truth!” They were commissioned with a message to proclaim. He delivered the whole counsel of God. They understood the Word of God according to their capacity and the gift of God. But “it pleased the Father that in Him should all the fulness dwell (Col. 1:19).” They never fully understood their own message. In Him dwells all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He was not only the Messenger of the Covenant, but He was also the Message; the Preacher of the Word, and the Word!
Christ exercised the office of prophet first from the fall to the incarnation. For it was He through all the ages of history who was the Saviour of the elect. The theophanies, appearances of God, were manifestations of the trinity, but especially of one of the divine persons in human form, the Angel of the Lord, who was also the Angel (Messenger) of His Presence, the Captain of the Lord’s Hosts (who was He but the Captain of our salvation!), the Angel (Messenger) of the Covenant (who but the Mediator!), He appeared for the help, blessing and protection of God’s people and was an anticipation of Christ the incarnate Son of God (I Cor. 10:4, 9).
Christ next exercised the office of prophet from His birth, or, officially, from His baptism to His death. It was then that the only-begotten God (John 1:18, Gk.), the One being in the bosom of the Father, declared the invisible God, visibly and personally. He was the true Light, the Light of the world, the effulgence of God’s glory, God manifest in the flesh (John 1:14; I Tim. 3:16), Emmanuel, God with us, the Messenger of the Covenant finally come to His temple.
Christ then exercised the office of prophet from the ascension, and now continues to the consummation of the age. At the present, He does this in the Scriptures, which are the Word of Christ (Col. 3:16), and which are indispensable to make wise unto salvation; through His ordained, sent ministers who as ambassadors have no other message than that of the same Scriptures; and by His Spirit who opens the Scripturesto us and our understandings to the Scriptures. That great Prophet (Luke 7:16) still speaks to us, and the same warning given through Moses to hear Him is given us. “If they escape not who refused Him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven (Heb. 12:25).” Man knows nothing of God, of His sovereign, irresistible will, His eternal counsel, of His purpose in the creation and government of the world, of the epiphany of the world to come, except that revealed in the prophetic ministry of our Chief Prophet and Teacher.
To hearken to this great Prophet means, not to bow to a woman god, a wooden god, a wafer god, nor to build magnificent temples, mass-houses, joss-houses, shrines and mosques, but to surrender unreservedly, body, soul and spirit, to the Word of Christ, be guided by His law, determined by His principles, employed in His service and having the glory of His name the whole business of life.