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Prophet, Priest, and King: The Roles of Christ in the Bible and Our Roles Today Paperback – September 30, 2016
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"Belcher's impressive treatment of these offices in their biblical-theological setting is essential reading in understanding their comprehensive nature. This book deftly combines biblical and pastoral insight that is most welcome in furthering our understanding of Scripture and the person and work of Christ." --Derek W. H. Thomas, Senior Minister, First-Presbyterian Church, Columbia
"With wisdom, clarity, and grace, Belcher guides the reader to a richer and fuller vision of Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King." --Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte
"Belcher's work points us all toward the importance of keeping the centrality of Christ in view as we address the manifold challenges that Christians face as we long for his return in glory." --Richard L. Pratt Jr., President, Third Millennium Ministries
About the Author
Richard P. Belcher Jr. is Professor of Old Testament and Academic Dean at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte. He is author of The Messiah and the Psalms and commentaries on Genesis and Ecclesiastes and has a decade of pastoral experience.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is neatly divided into eight chapters. Chapter one discusses the importance of the Prophet, Priest and King. The bulk of the book are the six chapters in which there is a chapter that explore each of these three roles as it is found in the Old Testament with a corresponding chapter showing how Christ has fulfilled those roles. Chapter eight is on the implication for the church of the motif of Prophet, Priest and King. I appreciated the way the chapters were organized as it was logical to follow. I also appreciated how each chapters ended with a series of study questions that’s great for personal reflection and small group discussions.
The following are things I learned from this book:
• Chapter one has a good discussion of the Garden of Eden and Adam’s role of Prophet, Priest and King. The author admits that the role of Adam being a king is stronger than the role of priest and prophet.
• The book has an interesting discussion about the garments of the priest of Israel. The Bible spends some time talking about the priests’ garments with instructions on making them in Exodus 28 and Exodus 39. This includes the making of a special linen undergarments to cover their naked flesh which means that they must not step on stairs in the alter so as not to expose their nakedness which traces us back to Adam and Eve and the reminder of the shame with sin. Closer study of the priest garments reveal that it represent the presence of God to the people and also the priest as representative of the people to God.
• In discussing about the priesthood of Jesus the author does realize that during Christ’s earthly ministry there is not much discussion about His priestly office which followed more after His death. A large factor for this is that Christ would inaugurate a different priesthood of a different order than the Levites. I really enjoyed how the book showed Jesus’ fulfillment of the roles of Old Testament priests (teaching, sacrifice, etc.). I thought the most interesting discussion in the book concerning priests is how Jesus is responsible for “keeping and guarding” such as mentioned in John 17:12 which is an allusion back to Adam who also is responsible for “keeping and guarding” in Genesis 2:15 and also that of the Levites in the tabernacle according to Numbers 3:7.
• Both Deuteronomy 4:5-8 and Isaiah 49:6 contain the mandate for Israel to be a light.
• While a bit of a tangent I appreciated that chapter three referenced 1 Maccabees 4:46, 9:27, 14:41 as evidence that during the inter-testamental time period there’s recognition of the cessation of prophets from God.
Overall I enjoyed this book and I do highly recommend it.
NOTE: This book was provided to me free by P&R Publishing and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
Throughout Church History, however varying in degree, theologians have focuses on the offices of Jesus Christ as Prophet, Priest and King. The present is probably one of those period that doesn't emphasize them too much -- at least, not the Prophet and King (even as Presbyterian and Reformed children recite them in their catechisms). It's probably time for us to take another look at them in detail. This is Belcher's aim, at least. As he says,
This book will address the work of Christ in light of the roles of Prophet, Priest, and King and will then draw out implications for the church.
(I'd originally spent 2 or 3 sentences saying that, when I spotted it in his opening paragraphs -- always go with pithy).
That's pretty much the book, after the introductory chapter, setting the stage, Belcher examines each office in turn, a chapter on the Old Testament definition, history and development of the office, followed by a chapter on Christ's fulfillment of the office during his estate of humiliation, and then in his estate of exaltation.
A redemptive-historical approach— emphasizing Christ’s fulfillment of the Old Testament —naturally lends itself to connecting with the roles, not just for Christ but also for his body, the church. This approach also has implications for preaching Christ from the Old Testament.
The examinations of the offices are very thorough, but probably not exhaustive (although they sure seem exhaustive) -- I'm not sure I learned a whole lot during these chapters, but I do think that reflecting on the offices in this manner has helped me understand them more and in a deeper way as leading to Christ.
There are study questions at the end of each chapter that are a handy means of reviewing, but don't encourage much further study and thought. But I can see where they'd be useful for a class or discussion group.
While examining the Old Testament office of King, Belcher Mention digresses for a while to examine the question "Is there a Royal Priesthood in Israel?" What does the OT mean when it talks about Kings offering sacrifices, if that's the role of the priest. I'd wondered idly about that a time or two, but hadn't realized how complex the question can be.
In the nation of Israel the roles of prophet, priest, and king are basically kept separate to define their meanings. But it is significant that these roles come together in both the description of Adam and Eve and the description of Israel’s mission. Thus it makes sense that the Old Testament would begin to describe the coming future ruler as carrying out the combined roles (Ps. 110; Zech. 6: 11–13). 26 These are fulfilled in Christ, who is Prophet, Priest, and King during his earthly ministry. He fulfills them in his work of salvation and continues in these roles on behalf of his people in his ascension. The work of Christ lays the basis for restoring these roles to human beings in their service to God, to the church, and to the world.
Therefore, the final chapter looks at how The Church can fulfill her mission via these roles. I found this chapter fascinating -- easily the best in the book. It, too, is not exhaustive, but merely outlines the ways The Church (as a whole and as individuals) can function. I wish almost everything in this chapter had been more developed and explored.
This is sound, solid, careful writing. Sure, it could use some personality -- but it doesn't need it. It's just not that engaging -- but for those interested in the topic (or see a need to develop that interest), this is a good investment of time. For a careful examination of something too often ignored, this is a worthy read.
Disclaimer: I received this eARC from P&R Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for this post -- thanks to both for this.
N.B.: As this was an ARC, any quotations above may be changed in the published work -- I will endeavor to verify them as soon as possible.