Tuesday, November 10, 2009

correction & redaction (UPDATED!)

In last Sunday's message, we looked at the strangeness of Melchizedek in his genealogy, titles, offices and greatness and how he points us to Jesus.

I spoke of the 4 offices ordained by God for the leadership of His people, Israel . . . prophet, priest, king and judge. . . and made the argument that Melchizedek is the only figure in the Old Testament to formally occupy more than one office.

I was mistaken and wrong. (Arghhh!)

A couple of people pointed me to Samuel, who according to 1 Samuel 3:20 was a prophet of the Lord . . .

All Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the LORD.--1 Samuel 3:20

And according to 1 Samuel 7:15, Samuel also served as judge. . . .

Now Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. --1 Samuel 7:15

Its possible, based on the early part of First Samuel, that Eli, too, occupied the offices of both priest and judge.

I don't like being wrong. That's just my pride. Who likes to be wrong?

But I really don't like being wrong from the pulpit in my preaching and teaching of God's Word. Why? Because I want to represent God accurately and "rightly divide His word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15). These are among my very highest pastoral priorities.

So, not only was I wrong, but I'm sorry to the Lord and to you for mishandling His Word.

In retrospect, I wish I would have limited my explanation to the 3 primary and classic offices. . . prophet, priest and king. The office of judge, from everything I can tell, was provisional and temporary, a sort of "bridge" between the conquest and rule of Joshua (what was he?) and the rule of the kings. It might be argued that all the judges were really prophets in their judging function or, in the case of Eli, a priest. So maybe its best to not think of judge as an "office" at all, but as a function of certain prophets and priests for a time and then a function of the kings later.

Anyway, I'm still thinking this out and I'd love your thoughts.

While this is an important clarification and correction because the details of God's Word matter, I don't think this negates my point in the message that Melchizedek is a singular and unique Old Testament figure in his offices of king and priest (we don't have any others who occupy those two offices!) and in this he points us to Jesus, the" true and better prophet-priest-king."

I'm encouraged by the active, engaged listening of our congregation and always open to your correction. While I don't like to be wrong, I know that I am and will be. Not the first or the last time. I am not, nor do I want to be, "the Bible Answerman" who has all the answers or has to be right all the time. Who wants to live like that? Rather, I'm on a journey, learning and growing and grappling just like the rest of us.

Hope that's alright by you. Hope that's the way you see it, too.

My mistakes are an opportunity for me to "live in the Gospel" and look to my Melchizedek.

How about your mistakes?

UPDATE . . .

I received this great email from my friend Leon Maksoudian in which he shares some great additional insights about the offices from a slightly different angle. I think his perspective is another way to see these distinctions . . . Thanks, friend!

Good morning Tim:

I think you were "primarily" correct in stating that the offices are distinct and separate. This is true if we distinguish that in their "Primariness" the four are different and distinct offices.

Yes, Samuel was a prophet but in the absence of judges he judged. Moses was a prophet primarily but he judged and ruled but not as a king. Solomon was primarily a king, but he judged between disputes that arose, and thus he was a judge in the sense of passing judgments. Deborah was a prophetess, Judges 4:4, but she primarily was acting as a judge because there were no others at the time, and she was in very special way the exception and not the rule. Only the Lord Jesus is fully, Prophet, King, High Priest and Judge. We can agree on that unequivocally.

The application to us today is that each of use are given a "primary" gift but we do exercise other gifts. The primary gift may be teaching but that does not preclude exercising other gifts. I did not think your teaching was in error, but rather no emphasizing the secondary functions that each of the four could do. David was king primarily but he did write many prophetic psalms and thus he was a "prophet" as well. Another example would be that a priest had to judge if the leper had been healed from his leprosy.

Blessings. Leon


just craig said...

Thank you Pastor Tim for being willing to always be smaller than the word you are trying always to rightly divide and teach\:-)

Joe Pollon said...

As a modern day Rabbi once said: “If you go to the gym and have your trainer pick up the heavy weights, place them in our hands and snap a picture, that’s very nice, but you didn’t gain any of the benefit of having struggled and sweated and strained to gain the strength required to lift the weight yourself.”

At the tender age of 41 (or is it 42 now?) I would hope no one is the Bible Answerman. That would diminish infinite wisdom into something that could be grasped in half a lifetime. Honestly seeking truth is the important part. Genuinely wrestling with the questions posed by the text (and life) is what changes us in ways that having the “right” answers never can.

While I’d guess there are some who simply want their teachers to provide the answers, I’m sure there are many like me who feel more connected to and affected by those who can show genuine sweat, strain and humility. I don’t know if you are torn between these two camps, but you know my vote.

FYI: According to Jewish tradition, Melkizedek is Shem, the son of Noah. If true, I don’t know if this supports or undermines your teaching.

Here are a couple of sites that talk about it:

As for my mistakes, I make too many daily to count. Eventually, they push me to the wall and I have only God to turn to. Fortunately, He’s always there in one form or another. Sometimes friends, sometimes my wife, sometimes my kids. What, or whoever the case, I definitely am doing better than I deserve. I am just thankful on a daily basis for His Chesed (loving kindness).

Anonymous said...

"He’s always there in one form or another."


Joe Pollon said...

Modalism? Don't know much about it.

But even Christians say God reaches us through the Church body, Believers, His Word and even non-believers. No?

Well that is what I was refering to when I said, "in one form or another."

Anonymous said...

Just mak'in sure...peace

Anonymous said...

This quote from Augustine says it pretty well:

"We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. Augustine