In Jesus we have an eternal King Priest after the order of Melchizedek. He reigns as conquering king and intercedes as suffering servant. His glory made manifest in us builds the temple of God and brings the glory of God’s kingdom to earth.
Yes, He shall build the temple of the Lord. He shall bear the glory, And shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne, And the counsel of peace shall be between them both. (Zechariah 6:13)
A most wonderful thing about the purposes of God is that no thread is left hanging. From the Old Testament to the New, everything is drawn together in a single perfect resolution. Types, signs, patterns, and principles are all manifest and fulfilled in Christ, our eternal King Priest. We are all familiar with the truth of Christ as both King and High Priest, but these two pivotal roles have a major significance for the temple of the Lord, which we are as believers. In meditating on this I found a rich and vital picture of the full work of the Son of God and a wonderful eternal purpose deeper than our usual understanding of the cross. ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts. (Haggai 2:9)
The relevance of King Priest.
The key word in understanding all this is ‘eternal’ because that’s the very foundation of Christ’s role as King Priest. It’s also no accident that ‘peace’ is included, nor ‘glory,’ for these two things are inseparable from whom Jesus is. All these come together if we consider the context of His two roles, which the Bible tells us is of the order of Melchizedek. Back in Genesis, we see Abraham – the ‘father’ of God’s people – meeting with Melchizedek in Salem. Abraham acknowledges him as a king priest with a tribute offering. The root of Salem, ‘shalem,’ denotes completeness, wholeness and soundness. From this same root, we get ‘shalom,’ which means peace. Salem later became Jerusalem, which translates to ‘place of peace’ or ‘foundation of peace,’ and David made this his capital. Significantly, David was also king and priest and this strong ‘type’ of Christ wrote many of the psalms.
Melchizedek was a king priest forever – for all eternity. In other words, his role never ended but remained until his death. David, though He points us powerfully to Christ, was a human ‘placeholder’ in Jerusalem. His purpose was to provide the required human lineage to birth our eternal King Priest on earth. Jesus therefore fulfilled both human and eternal requirements for a King Priest. As the son of David, he had earthly authority as the rightful king of the Jews, whether they acknowledged Him or not. But the Levitical priesthood was finite. Priests served for a set number or years and then retired. The order of Melchizedek endures forever, and as the Son of God, Jesus takes His rightful place as an eternal King Priest who both reigns and intercedes forever. He manifests God’s glory as King and brings God’s peace as Priest and intercessor.
God’s temple and the King Priest.
Our peek into Haggai reveals the deeper purpose of the work of the cross. It doesn’t diminish what Jesus accomplished. The full measure of salvation is extraordinary. It’s supernatural, eternal, and provides for every human need beyond our full power to comprehend. 1 Corinthians 6:19 provides wonderful insight into purpose behind salvation: Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? This reminds us that we were created for the glory of God. Our purpose is to reveal His glory to the world, and it is for this that we are saved. Not to make us feel good or so we can be blessed, though these are the outworking of salvation. We are saved to fulfil so that, as God’s temple, we become the dwelling place of His glory.
Today’s verse tells us very clearly that it is Christ alone who builds the temple of the Lord. He did this through the work of the cross. It’s an eternal work because it’s an eternal temple – of the Spirit rather than a physical building with temporal limitations in a natural world. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus fulfilled both his roles as King Priest. His death was the ultimate act of intercession – laying down His life in full and complete identification with man and our sins. He did so as the Son of Man – the son of David – but He rose as the Son of God. The resurrection speaks of the conquering King who, in rising from the dead, destroyed all power of the enemy and manifested His full authority and right to reign eternally. He is the eternal authority and intercessor in the new temple of God.
Glory and the King Priest.
A son of David – Solomon –built the earthly temple according to very detailed instructions given by God. The Son of God – and of David – now builds the spiritual temple. The Bible tells us that the glory of this temple will be so much greater. That is because Christ Himself, through the Spirit, inhabits the new temple comprised of believers. It’s not limited to a specific place or time but is eternal and omnipresent, everywhere at the same time. The glory in each believer is Christ Himself, who in turn manifests the glory of God. This glory is increasingly revealed as we are transformed from glory to glory – into the likeness of Christ. The glory, though, also relates to His dual role of King Priest which He exercises in heaven but also in each of us. The glory of God in Christ brings the kingdom of God to earth.
What’s important is that Jesus does the building and has the glory. We are vessels for His glory, living stones fitted together to house the glory of God. None of us can claim any credit for what He works in our lives. We come as sinners and are received and transformed by grace. But we come to a King Priest who both intercedes and rules. To separate these is to diminish the glory that is rightfully His. We cannot focus on the intercessor and ignore the ruler. The grace of the cross is that the King set aside His glory to offer the ultimate intercession – Himself. He is the conquering King because He interceded. But He is able to intercede because He is the conquering King. A temple without the glory is meaningless. It is only the full, eternal glory that is Christ defines a true temple of God.
Our King Priest and our peace.
We come back to Salem and the order of Melchizedek – a priestly order of peace. This isn’t the peace of the world which the Bible tells us is impossible until Christ returns. It is the spiritual peace that reigns in every believer in Christ – the peace of God which passes all understanding. This peace can only be made perfect in Christ because of His duality as King Priest. In His lordship and authority, we find the peace of surrender to the sovereign rule of God. In His role as intercessor, we find the peace that comes through forgiveness and remission of sins and restoration to right relationship with God. Jesus is, in effect, the new Jerusalem – the foundation or place of peace. His is peace made perfect, and it’s eternal because there is no worldly limit or restriction. An eternal order of eternal peace, with an eternal King Priest.
It’s little wonder that a period of apparent peace will usher in the reign of terror of the Antichrist, or that he will rule out of Jerusalem. For his deception to be effective, he will have to masquerade as the King Priest. The longing in the hearts of all men is for peace, though many may not even realise it. The warmongers and despots are those far from God whose conscience is seared to the point where the desire placed in each one of us by God no longer has an audible voice. Peace is restored between God and man through salvation. It is the purpose of our King Priest to empower and mediate that peace. The greater the degree of God’s glory revealed in us, the greater our peace. Only a King Priest after the order of Melchizedek has the power to restore us to eternal peace.
The King Priest in every believer.
What a joy it is that our King Priest is not one who works at a distance. Just as He was willing to come to earth as a man, He is willing to come to earth in a man – in each one of us. We are the visible manifestation of both conquering King and interceding Priest. As we are transformed into His likeness, He works God’s glory in and through us to impact our lives and those around us. Our lives will duplicate His work, for that is what He commanded us to do. The glory of God’s kingdom is reflected when we live as Jesus did, exercising His authority as ambassadors and His intercession as loving servants to humanity. The beauty of God’s glory lies in the truth that it is revealed through both King and Priest – conqueror and servant – in weak vessels transformed by His glory.
Lord Jesus, we acknowledge You as our conquering King and interceding Priest. Thank You for the gift of peace You bring to our lives as You work to build the temple of the Lord in and through each of us. Be glorified in us, Lord Jesus. Transform us according to Your purposes, so that Your eternal place will be confirmed in us and the glory of God and His kingdom made manifest on earth.