14 Jan 2022

Jesus Messiah: The Priest-King of the Renewed Covenant

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Baptism, Chronicles, Hebrews, Jesus, King David, Psalms, Worship

The Renewed Covenant

The “new covenant” is the REnewAL of the promises to Abraham and David by expanding the Mosaic covenant to include Gentiles in the definition of Israel. What God does in Jesus, Luke tells us, is in direct connection (i.e. continuity) with those promises.

He [God] has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promises he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever
” (Luke 1.54-55)

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a mighty savior for us
in the house of his servant David …
Thus he has shown the mercy promised
to our ancestors
and has remembered his holy covenant,
the oath he swore to our ancestor Abraham”
(Luke 1.68-69, 72)

Is this not essentially what Paul says in Ephesians when he declares the “mystery?”

for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you [i.e. Gentiles], and how the MYSTERY was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words (i.e. 2.1-22), a reading of which will enable y’all to perceive my understanding of the MYSTERY of Messiah. In former generations this mystery was not known to humanity, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Messiah Jesus through the gospel” (Ephesians 3.2-6).

Paul states plainly that Gentiles are indeed heirs to the covenants (plural) and now fellow citizens of Israel. They were once aliens to both.

remember that you [i.e. the Gentiles, v.11] were at that time without Messiah, being aliens from the commonwealth/nation of Israel, and strangers to the COVENANTS [plural, cf. Romans 9.4] of promise, having no hope and without God [i.e. they were pagans!] in the world. BUT NOW in Messiah Jesus you [plural, Gentiles] who were once far off have been brought near…” (Ephesians 2.12).

Baptism, though rarely understood for what it is in Galatians, is in Paul’s argument God’s gracious means of making pagan Gentiles into sons and daughters of Abraham. Baptism upholds the promise and covenant given to Abraham. The covenant with Abraham was not ever “nailed to the cross.” Paul’s entire argument in Galatians 3 is that Gentiles are now (as he states in Ephesians 2-3 noted above) heirs and citizens of Israel because baptism connects us to Abraham through the Jewish King. Frequently we stop quoting Galatians before we get to Paul’s actual point!

For in Messiah Jesus you [plural] are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Messiah have clothed yourselves with Messiah [Messiah is the Jewish Davidic King, Romans 1.3; 2 Timothy 2.8]. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female; for all of you are one in Messiah Jesus. And if you belong to Messiah, then you are ABRAHAM’S offspring, HEIRS according to the promise.” (Galatians 3.26-29).

The “new covenant” is not (and never will be) the repudiation of the “Old Testament” (a phrase the apostles never once used much less heard of). Nor is the “old covenant” synonymous with the Scriptures (Gen-Mal). Rather the “new covenant” is the affirmation of the never ending promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel and David made new. I would go so far as to say the new covenant includes God’s covenant with creation itself (cf. Genesis 9.8-17; Hosea 2.18-19). It is important to remember that in both Hebrew (hadas) and Greek (kainos) can be and often are rendered renew (as in “the steadfast love of the Lord is NEW every morning.” That is God’s love is renewed every day. See my article: Jeremiah 31.31-34: Explorations on New and Renewed in the Bible).

David the Priest King, Worship Leader

So, if the new/renewed covenant includes the covenant with David rather than its repudiation is the Book of Psalms part of the Davidic covenant? I think it is. This is why Paul tells us to sing the Psalms (Ephesians 5.19) and the Hebrews Preacher says that Jesus is the Priest-King worship leader in the Psalter.

But some desperately want the Psalms to be “nailed to the cross” (a grosser misinterpretation of Colossians 2.14 could not be found) because it mentions instruments. I had a preaching brother say to me, “if the Old Testament is not nailed to the cross then instrumental music is not wrong.” Therefore he refused to even entertain the idea that the “Old Testament” was not nailed to the cross. His rejection of instrumental music dictated his “interpretation” of Colossians 2.14. So much for actual biblical authority! But basing theology on sectarian agendas is poor exegesis. (See “What Was Nailed to the Cross? Colossians 2.14).

In the Hebrew Bible David is not just the King of Israel. David is pictured as Israel’s worship leader, a priest. A number of texts in the Hebrew Bible demonstrate this though they are often unfamiliar to many. We will look at just a few.

When the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem, David was in charge of the ceremony. Yahweh was clearly present for the event for we read,

God helped the Levites who were carrying the ark of the covenant of the LORD” (1 Chronicles 15.26).

The text goes on to say,

David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, as also were the Levites who were carrying the ark, and the singers and Chenaniah the leader of the music of the singers; and David wore a linen ephod …” (15.27)

David is certainly in priestly vestments. The text states explicitly he is wearing what the Levites are also wearing. But the text goes on to describe the priestly leadership of David in remarkable ways.

They brought in the ark of God [David and company], and set it inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and they offered burnt offerings and shalom-offerings before God. When David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the shalom offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD” (1 Chronicles 16.1-3).

David is unabashedly described as a priest by the Chronicler. He is not only dressed like a priest but even a high priest (the linen ephod!) and he even offers the sacrifice and blesses the people … a clear allusion to the Aaronic blessing of Numbers 6.22-24. Chronicles presents David is a Priest-King.

This is not unusual at all in the ancient world as kings from Egypt to Assyria to Babylon to Rome were viewed as having priestly functions.

Jesus the Priest-King, Worship Leader of the Renewed Covenant

By ascribing the Psalms to David, the Bible continues to have David function as the Priest-King who leads God’s people in the worship of God. This is not just an Aaronic function it is a Davidic function … and this is what Jesus does. Jesus is the King-Priest, the “son of David” leading God’s people in the worship of the one true God.

The Hebrews Preacher says that Jesus is the worship leader in the middle of the Gathered people. He, like David the Priest-King, leads the people in worship. The Preacher calls Jesus the liturgist or minister.

We have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,
a MINISTER/liturgist
[λειτουργὸς] in the sanctuary/holy place and the true tent” (8.1-2).

There are remarkable parallels between what Jesus is said to be doing in Hebrews and what David did in Chronicles. In Hebrews it is Jesus the Priest-King who is speaking and singing with the congregation in the Davidic Psalms (Heb 2.11-13).

For this reason, Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters,
saying, I
[Jesus] will proclaim your name [Yahweh’s] to my brothers and sisters,
in the midst of the congregation I
[Jesus] will praise you.”

What does our Priest-King do in the sanctuary? He leads worship! That is what the High Priest does! He

1) proclaims the holy name of Yahweh

2) he leads in praise.

But it is Psalm 22.22, not a verse from the Gospels, that the Preacher quotes. In fact the Preacher of Hebrews quotes the Bible right and left but never once quotes any apostle or word of Jesus recorded in the Gospels. But the preacher does quote Jesus from the Psalms (and Isaiah!). The Preacher quotes Psalm 95 throughout chapters 3 and 4 saying that it speaks to his congregation authoritatively “Today” (Heb 3.7, 13; 4.7). It is what people today call the “Old Testament” that is the authority for the Hebrews Preacher’s doctrine. Read that again.

So, if the Son of David, the Priest-King, is singing the Psalms with us, then why is it that the Psalms do not teach us the way of worship to the One True God? Are we not “heirs” of the Psalms?

Jesus our Priest-King Teaches the Church through the Psalms

Clearly the Hebrews Preacher, like Paul, did not think the Psalter was old, obsolete nor passing away. They were “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword” (4.12, this is spoken about Psalm 95). In fact, as we saw, it is non-other than the voice of Jesus the Priest-King son of David in the Psalter.

I am convinced that, from a “New Testament” perspective, that we worship as they did in the Hebrew Bible. The Son of David heir of the promises to David, as the Priest-King, continues to lead the People of God which now includes Gentiles in the worship of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel. We find throughout the Psalter the Gentiles addressed and commanded to come and join with Israel to worship the God of Israel (as examples see Psalm 96, Psalm 98, Psalm 100, Psalm 117, Psalm 149, etc, etc.).

This is one reason why, when we turn to the book that uses the word “worship” more than the rest of the NT combined, it looks, smells, and sounds so much like the Psalms, the Temple, and the Hebrew Bible … that book is of course Revelation of John.

Also of Related Interest

Hebrews: Common Assumptions, Uncommon Surprises

Psalms and the Temple: What Jesus and the Way Experienced

What are the Psalms, Hymns and Odes of Ephesians 5.19?

Grace the Last Word: Two Stories, One People or Why the Bible tells the Story of Israel not Once but Twice

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