The Full Assurance of Hope: Christ As Prophet

Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
When I was a youth I was incorrectly taught that God worked through the Law in the Old Testament, whereas in the New Testament God worked through the Gospel.  Yes, I was taught that the Old Testament was all about the Law (i.e., what we should and should not do) and that the New Testament was all about the Gospel (i.e., what God does for us).
As a result of this poor teaching I began to see a division between the Old and New Testament.   Otherwise stated, since I saw the Gospel as a great importance, the New Testament became for me where it was all at.  The New Testament was the really relevant section of the Bible, whereas, the Old Testament inadvertently became a somewhat useless and irrelevant collection of stories, stories that were only there to somehow make me more moral.  “Be more courageous like David; study hard to have wisdom like Solomon; etc…” 
As time went on though, I thankfully began to see   the continuity between the Old and New Testament.  Otherwise stated, I came to rightly see that there was both Law ‘and’ Gospel in the Old Testament, as well as both Law ‘and’ Gospel in the New Testament.  Furthermore, I began to see that the persons, places, and events of the Old Testament were not just mere moral stories, but where amazing shadows of the New Testament.  Yes, I began to properly see that the people, places, and events in the Old Testament were like sketched outlines on a magnificent canvass.  I came to see the Old Testament as shades and shapes on a canvass that remained unfinished until the revelation of Jesus Christ completed the canvass giving color and hues, yes giving it definitive glory.[1] 
Now, keep in mind, while it is dangerous for us to consider the Old Testament as a mere collection of irrelevant stories, it can be equally dangerous to fall into another extreme.  That extreme is that we can also diminish the persons, places, and events of the Old Testament by writing them off as dim spiritualized shadows of the New Testament realities.   In other words, while it is right to say that the Old Testament persons, places, and events are outlines that shadow the New Testament, it would be wrong for us to say that the Old Testament is nothing more than meager spiritualized obscurities that hint at the New Testament, that they are just some meager stick figures and shapes on a canvass that show us nothing.
To avoid both of these entrapments we must maintain that the persons, events, places of the Old Testament were real persons, real places, and real events that not only told the story which Jesus completed, but also declared the promises which Jesus fulfilled.[2]  Yes, within these real persons, real places, and real events of the Old Testament was Jesus, the Word of God, present in the history of Israel. 
What this means is that both the Old and New Testament unveil the same God who delivers His holy law.  The Old and New Testament both reveal the same God who delivers His sweet gospel of grace.  Yes, both the Old Testament and the New Testament show the same God reaching out to His sin-fallen creation.  They both show the same promise of the Lord wanting to be with His people to the end of the age.  They both show God’s act of redemption in Christ Jesus.[3]  The Old Testament and New Testament have the same author with the same message, tied together in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Now with all of this said, during the next several Advent Services we are going to briefly examine three very prevalent offices that emerge in the Old Testament—the offices of prophet, priest, and king.  Yes, in the Old Testament we see these three prominent roles, these three important offices, these three vocations of: prophet, priest, and king.  These three positions were important positions and callings in the Old Testament and they were filled by real people. 
Tonight though, we are not going to look at all three of these roles, but will look specifically at the office and role of prophet. 
This leads us next to ask, who were the Old Testament prophets?
The prophets of the Old Testament were individuals who spoke rebukes towards sin, they proclaimed mercy to the crushed, and they also spoke in connection to events of the past, present, and future.  They functioned as mediators between God and people, proclaiming only what was revealed to them by God.  Take for example, Moses.  He was a prophet during the time when the Hebrews were in slavery in Egypt.  He spoke, acted, and occupied the office of prophet, bringing about genuine redemption for the Hebrew people who were in slavery in Egypt.  Indeed, Moses was a mouth piece of God for he rebuked sin, proclaimed mercy, and also told the Hebrews and the Egyptians the way that it was with God.  
Not only was Moses a great prophet in the Old Testament, but we also think of other great prophets, prophets like Jeremiah, Isaiah, Micah, and so forth.  They were voices that spoke boldly into the midst of difficult circumstances in Israel’s history.
Now, as previously mentioned, we don’t have to disregard these Old Testament prophets as irrelevant sketches, but we can look at their messages and their circumstances knowing that they not only had an important message for the people of the Old Testament, but these messages and circumstances of the prophets speak to us now because they lead us and pull us to hear from them about the great prophet of the New Testament.  The voice of the Old Testament prophets echo in the past and find their collective culmination in the voice of the great prophet of the New Testament. 
Who is this great prophet of the New Testament though? 
Hmm, is it John the Baptist? 
Well, John the Baptist was certainly a prophet who has a message, yet even his message was intended to prepare the people for another one who was coming.  That one was Jesus Christ.
Yes, my friends, the one that the Old Testament prophets spoke of and the one that the Old Testament prophets were a shadow of was Jesus Christ. 
Furthermore, in Hebrews 1:1, we see that Jesus is greater than all the other prophets in the Old Testament for God spoke by the Old Testament prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by Jesus.  In other words, Jesus stands in the office, this place of prophet just like Moses and Jeremiah and Isaiah did to speak in the last days.  However, He is not just an ordinary prophet but is certainly greater than all of the other prophets because in Him God came and tabernacled in human flesh, while teaching and proclaiming on earth.[4] 
Permit me to be a bit more specific. 
Whereas Moses’ message spoke of the great prophet to come, Jesus as a prophet spoke of Himself.[5]   Yes, Jesus’ message does not point ahead beyond Him, for He is not only the beginning but the end point of the Old Testament.[6] Therefore, without a doubt, Jeremiah and Isaiah and Micah were great prophets; Moses was the greatest of all the prophets, but in Christ we have the Lord of the prophets; in Christ we do not have a mere man but God himself speaking to us.
To put it briefly, all the prophets of the Old Testament convey the Lord’s message as they funnel us to the Lord.  And thus, when we get to the New Testament we not only affirm that Moses and the other prophets were truly great standing in the office of prophet, but we hear the voice of the Lord from the very lips of the God-Man Jesus Christ.  
And what do we hear? 
We hear from Christ the very words of life unto salvation; Christ’s Word of forgiveness—for you. 
We hear, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that who believes in Him will not perish but may have eternal life.”  We hear, “I give eternal life and they will never perish.  No one will snatch them out of my hand.”  We hear, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”  We hear, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”  We hear, “It is finished.”
Yes, from Jesus the quintessential prophet, we hear the eternal Word that is for us.  He is ever present as our prophet proclaiming the blessed hope of everlasting life, the word of salvation into our ears and upon our souls because He is not only the eternal word but, as we will learn in the upcoming weeks, He is also our high priest and our great king!  Indeed, in the weeks to come we will hear that Jesus is fully present not only as our great prophet, but also present as our high priest and our great king.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our prophet, priest, and king. Amen.

[1] According to Sidney Greidanus on page 47 of his book Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutical Method, the illustration of the Old Testament being like an incomplete canvass that only receives its definitive shape and hues with the New Testament teachings about the first and second coming of Christ, is an illustration used by the early Church Fathers, Irenaeus and Chrysostom. 
[2] Christopher J.H. Wright, Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 30-31.
[3] Sidney Greidanus, Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutical Method (Grand Rapids, MI: W.M. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1999), 46.
[4] Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics: Volume II (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1951), 335.
[5] See Deuteronomy 18:15.
[6]Jack Kilcrease, The Self-Donation of God: A Contemporary Lutheran Approach to Christ and His Benefits (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2013), 87.

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