Of all the remarkable things in the book of Ezekiel, probably the term “Prince” has to be one of the more interesting and controversial. Let’s take a look at this.
Who is this Prince? Some have stated it is referring to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, himself. Others say it is the Old Testament King David now serving as the Messiah’s, the King of kings’, viceroy. Others have proposed someone else entirely. So, why the confusion? For one, these passages of scripture are not very specific. Secondly, we expect certain things based upon what other scriptures tell us, and we try to make it all fit. But, should we? I think if we take a step back, we can put some of the clues given in Ezekiel with these other passages of scripture about God’s promises to David and formulate a scenario which makes it all fit seamlessly without having to put a round peg in a square hole, so to speak.
I think it is fairly easy to eliminate the first assertion above, that this Prince could be Jesus Christ. After all, if Jesus is the King of kings and has his throne in the Holy of Holies, and is the object of everyone’s worship, then this could not be Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the King of kings. After all, this Prince is the one leading everyone in worship of the King of kings (Ek 45:17, 22). Therefore, it would make sense it would be someone different from him.
What about this Prince being King David? I think the confusion for this comes in because of the passage in Ezekiel which states, “I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken” (Ek 34:24). I think the term “prince” in this passage is showing the hierarchy in David’s relationship with God, the ultimate ruler. He will be of authority, but not ultimate authority. In addition, although subtle, there is no definite article with the use of this term “prince.” Therefore, I think this gives additional credence that this is a term of hierarchy than position. In addition, the Prince will be mortal and have children (Ek 46:16-17). David will be part of the first resurrection, have a glorified body, and will not marry and have children (Mt 22:30).
David, will, however, also be a king and rule over Israel (Ek 27:24). If Jesus Christ is to be the King of kings during this time, this would imply there will be many kings and Jesus will be the King over all other kings (Rv 19:16). There will be many nations during Christ’s kingdom (Is 62:2; Zc 14:16; Rv 20:3). So, just as there will be other kings over other territories, David will be the king over Israel during this time (Ek 37:24).
So, if Christ is the King of kings, and David is one of the many kings who will reign under the direction of Christ in his Kingdom, who is this Prince? From passages in Ezekiel, it suggests that this Prince will lead the people of the world in the worship of the Messiah, the King of kings, Jesus Christ. He will offer sacrifice for himself and for the people (Ek 45:22), he will be able to have children (Ek 46:17-18), and he will receive an inheritance of land like the tribes of Israel (Ek 45:7.18). From these passages, we gather this Prince is an Israelite and is mortal, as he will not have a glorified body. That would mean he had to come out of the Tribulation as a believer. This would give him a unique perspective for the people as he would understand the horrors of the world prior to Christ establishing his Kingdom, understand the importance of the people’s need to accept their King as the hope for their future, and will understand the importance of the sacrifices and what they mean for the people, and be able to teach them these things.
Because he came out of the Tribulation as a mortal, it would mean God had this plan for this one before Christ’s Kingdom was ever set up. That would at least suggest this one may have been one of the 144,000 prophets (Rv 7:4) who evangelize the world during the Tribulation as their lives would be protected (Rv 7:2-4) and would be assured to survive into the Promised Kingdom. This is not a guarantee of this, but, I think, is suggestive. Therefore, it would be plausible this one who becomes the Prince is from the tribe of Judah, where Jerusalem is located, and is one of these prophets the Lords raises up to evangelize the world before his return.
So, here is the hierarchy: Christ sets up his Promised Kingdom and reigns as the King of kings in Jerusalem. David reigns in his glorified state as the king of Israel during this time, just as other glorified ones will reign as king of other nations at this time. The Prince, non-glorified, will also live in Jerusalem, as he is an Israelite who will lead the people of the world in the worship of the King of kings and help the people of the world realize that Christ is not only their King, but also their Savior and their future hope for eternal life. While one-thousand years is a long time, it is still finite. Those born during this time must still chose Christ as their Savior and their hope, just as we do today, and this Prince will be instrumental in helping them see this need for their eternal future.
It’s interesting that God always seems to manifest and work in a triune manner. He is Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), the city of Jerusalem becomes three sections during his Kingdom (Rv 16:19), and the spiritual authority is also triune: Christ, the King of kings is the object of worship, David is the king of Israel, the nation leading the other nations in the worship of Christ, and the Prince is the one who can identify with the mortals of this time and lead them in the specific worship of Christ, their King, and their Messiah.
What about you? Are you going to be around to be part of all of this and witness it first-hand? Do you want to? Then take a note from Ezekiel and yield to this One who is now and forever the King of kings, the Messiah, and the Hope of your eternal future.