The Israelites wanted a king to be their judge and their leader in battle because they forgot that God was their king. The complete restoration of God’s rule over His people came with Jesus. As our King, Jesus leads us in the battle against the enemy.
Hebrews 2:14–16 describes Jesus as the champion of weak human beings. Christ faces and defeats the devil in solo combat and delivers us from bondage. This description reminds us of the battle between David and Goliath. After being anointed as king (1 Samuel 16), David saved his brethren from slavery by defeating Goliath. The terms of engagement determined that the winner of the combat would enslave the people of the other party (1 Sam. 17:8–10). Thus, David acted as a champion of Israel. He represented them.
Hebrews 2:14–16 also alludes to the notion that God would save Israel in solo combat. Note this passage from Isaiah: “For thus says the LORD: ‘Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken, and the prey of the tyrant be rescued, for I will contend with those who contend with you, and I will save your children’ ” (Isa. 49:25, ESV).
As Christians we often think that we ourselves are engaged in solo combat with Satan. When we read Ephesians 6:10–18, we see that, yes, we are in combat with the devil. But God is our champion, and He goes to battle before us. We are part of His army; that is why we have to use His armor. Also, we do not fight alone. The “you” in Ephesians 6 is plural. We as Christians take the armor and fight together behind our champion, who is God Himself.
Hebrews 5–7 introduces a second function of Jesus: He is our High Priest. The author explains that this fulfills a promise God had made to the promised Davidic king, that He would be “ ‘a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek’ ” (Ps. 110:4, as quoted in Heb. 5:5, 6, NKJV).
The priests were appointed on behalf of human beings to represent them and mediate their relationship with God and the things pertaining to Him. The priest was a mediator. This was true of any system of priesthood, whether Jewish, Greek, Roman, or any other. The priest makes it possible for us to relate to God, and everything the priest does has the purpose of facilitating the relationship between us and God.
The priest offers sacrifices on behalf of human beings. The people cannot bring these sacrifices to God in person. The priest knows how we can offer an “acceptable” sacrifice so that our gifts may be acceptable to God or that they can provide cleansing and forgiveness.
Priests also taught the law of God to the people. They were experts in God’s commandments and were in charge of explaining and applying them.
Finally, the priests also had the responsibility of blessing in the name of Yahweh. Through them, God mediated His goodwill and His beneficent purpose for the people.
However, in 1 Peter 2:9, we see something else. We—believers in Jesus—are called “a royal priesthood.” This role implies incredible privileges. Priests could approach God in the sanctuary. Today, we can approach God through prayer with confidence (Heb. 4:14–16; 10:19–23). There are important responsibilities as well. We must collaborate with God in His work of saving the world. He wants us to teach and explain God’s laws and precepts to others. He also wants us to offer sacrifices of praise and good works, which are pleasing to Him. What a privilege and what a responsibility!