Paul writes in Ephesians 3.3-6 how God revealed to him that which was kept secret and hidden from Old Testament prophets and teachers,
…how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of the Messiah, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. The mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Jesus the Messiah through the gospel.
Names given to Jesus in the Old Testament foreshadowed things to come. One of the most significant of these names was “Messiah.” The word simply means “anointed one.” Messiah is the Hebrew term. The Greek term translated from Hebrew is “Christ,” which has the same meaning: “anointed one.”
In Old Testament times special people selected to serve God were “anointed” with olive oil, setting them apart and sanctifying them for service to God. This identified those whom God had chosen to be his special servants and set an example for Israel to follow. Aaron and his sons were the first to be so anointed, as the first priests, to serve in the Tabernacle on behalf of the people (Exodus 28). The priests were designated and sanctified by anointing as God’s representatives of the people, acting as an intermediary on the people’s part to come to God.
Later in the history of Israel, kings were selected to rule. These men were also anointed (see 1 Samuel 10 and 16 for the anointing of the first kings). The anointing of Saul and David (and subsequent kings) signified God’s setting them apart as consecrated leaders. The king was to be respected as the head of civil government and military leader, and objecting to the king was the equivalent of rebelling against God. Even David, after his anointing, repeatedly refused to harm Saul because, he said, “he is the Lord’s anointed.”
This practice of anointing was merely a foreshadowing of the Messiah to come. In Psalm 2 the prediction was made of one who would be greater than the kings of the earth, and would be the Lord’s Anointed. He would rule on the throne in Zion, and serve as a king and priest. He is identified in Psalm 2.7 as the Son of God. In Daniel 9 the prophet, after praying for guidance in understanding the prophecy of Jeremiah regarding the 70 years of captivity, received an answer in another prophecy about 70 weeks (or 70 weeks of years), where God again predicted the coming of the Anointed One. A spiritual restoration in Jerusalem was predicted, and Daniel’s prophecy even gave enough evidence of a timeframe so that any serious student of the Old Testament would have been able to figure out the approximate time of the Messiah’s arrival on earth.
Daniel predicted the Anointed One would “finish the transgression,” “make an end to sin,” “atone for iniquity,” and “bring an everlasting righteousness.” (v.24) He further stated that the Messiah would confirm a new covenant (v.27), and that Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed, but this would not affect the ruling of the Anointed One because His kingdom would not be earthly.
In these two instances David and Daniel blend the priestly and kingly functions of the Messiah. He would be a king, sitting on the throne of David his father, a Branch from the family of David (Jeremiah 23), one who brought justice and righteousness to his subjects. But he would also be a priest, a savior, a representative for the people before God, who would bring an end to sin and atonement for past transgression.
As a fulfillment of these prophecies, Jesus arrived on earth and fulfilled these roles – priest and king. He was called the Christ in the New Testament, equating him with the Anointed One from the Old Testament, and squarely placing him in the role that God planned: ruler over all with authority, power, and might, and savior of all with righteousness, grace, and mercy.
May grace reign in your life through righteousness.
– Bo Couchman