We’ve preached sermons the past several weeks based on the Bible’s Old Testament, trying to uncover the theme of each book, beginning with Genesis, where God calls Abraham and his tribe to become his earthly family. At first, we thought we’d take time out for an Advent series leading up to Christmas, but Pastor Connie came up with a better idea. We’d stay in the Old Testament and look at Jesus’ coming into the world through three leadership roles God used in preparing his earthly family for the coming of his Son: Prophet, Priest and King. Last Sunday she talked about how Jesus was foreshadowed in the Old Testament figure of the Prophet. This week she’ll focus on the role of Priest, and the following week I’ll look at Jesus as the King.
I had a flashback. Didn’t I once try my hand at writing a hymn about this? It took me a couple of dusty hours, but I found my one and only hymn, words and music preserved as I carefully wrote them down —let’s see, when was that? “March, 1963,” it says at the top of the page. That was one month after this 26-year-old novice preacher began his first ministry in Sharon, MA. I remember that spring, because the New England pollen gave me my first serious seasonal allergies. Here I was, sitting in my office meditating, and what emerged between sneezes was this hymn:
Prophet greater far than Moses,
Revealer of the Father’s will,
Thy earthly life the way discloses
His perfect purpose to fulfill.
Oh great Priest than Aaron higher,
Who giv’st Thyself on our behalf,
Thy sacrifice burned by God’s fire
Does satisfy His holy wrath.
David’s King, Whom he did honor,
Earth’s rulers now scoff at Thy sword,
Soon all alike will fall in wonder,
Cry “King of kings and Lord of lords.”
Prophet, Priest and King of nations,
Anointed e’en before Thy birth,
For this Thy work of full salvation
Thy people praise Thee e’er on earth.
I’d soften the language a bit if I wrote the hymn today and make it less like a Systematic Theology textbook. But it’s interesting that the same affirmation about the centrality of Christ in our salvation is meaningful to me today, after fifty-one years of preaching. The gospel is still the gospel. As the author of the Book of Hebrews put it, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
This hymn has never been sung, except in my head, which is the legacy it deserves. However, I’m considering doing an adapted arrangement for guitar and drums. I have faith that the gospel will even shine through my rock version.
— Pastor George Van Alstine
For anyone interested in receiving a full copy of Pastor George’s masterpiece, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.