7.3.1 Old Testament references

From the perspective of the New Testament, the ministry–in the present-day sense–was only established by Jesus Christ, however, there are already references to the ministry of the New Testament in the old covenant: in the king, in the priest, and in the prophet. However, this does not mean to say that all kings in Israel bore a spiritual ministry. Rather, the references to ministry can be seen in the example of outstanding persons in the history of salvation:

  • David represents the chosen and anointed king–his significance for salvation history also becomes evident in the fact that Jesus is described as the "Son of David" (Matthew 21: 9).

  • Melchizedek represents the priest who imparts the blessing of God (Genesis 14: 18-19).

  • Moses stands for the prophet (Deuteronomy 18: 15) who proclaims the divine will by giving the law to the people at the instruction of God.

In the light of the New Testament, these ministries are understood as references to the coming, "higher ministry" which Jesus Christ bears.

The central ministry in the Old Testament is that of the priest. The archetype of priestly service and of the high priestly ministry is Melchizedek. He blessed Abraham and received offerings from him (Psalm 110: 4). As the one who blesses He stands above the one being blessed–in his function, the priest thus stands above the patriarch of faith.

All of Israel had been called by God as a "kingdom of priests" (Exodus 19: 6). Nevertheless, God only set aside one tribe–the tribe of Levi–for service in the temple, and only a portion of the tribe of Levi–namely the Aaronic priesthood–was assigned the sacrificial service.

Looking back on the priestly ministry from the perspective of the epistle to the Hebrews, we read that one of the tasks of the priests consisted of preparing the people for the arrival of the Messiah, the coming of Jesus Christ, as the true High Priest (see 3.4.7.2).

See also