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.