|The oldest known icon of Christ Pantocrator (Saint Catherine's Monastery)|
The two different facial expressions emphasize Christ's two natures as fully God and fully human
Alice C. Linsley
The ancient Horites believed that heavenly recognition of a people depended on the righteousness of their ruler-priest. Horite priests were known for their purity and devotion to the High God whose emblem was the Sun. Plutarch wrote that the “priests of the Sun at Heliopolis never carry wine into their temples, for they regard it as indecent for those who are devoted to the service of any god to indulge in the drinking of wine whilst they are under the immediate inspection of their Lord and King. The priests of the other deities are not so scrupulous in this respect, for they use it, though sparingly.”
In the ancient world, the ruler-priest was regarded as the mediator between the Deity and the people. If God turned His face away from the ruler, the people suffered from want and war. If the ruler found favor with God, the people experienced abundance and peace. The deified ruler was expected to intercede for his people before God in life and in death. The ruler's resurrection meant that he could lead his people beyond the grave to new life. This is why great pains were taken to insure that the ruler not come into contact with dead bodies, avoid sexual impurity, and be properly preserved after death. The ruler's burial was attended by prayers, sacrifices and a grand procession to the royal tomb.
The New Testament speaks about Jesus as the ruler-priest. He is the firstborn from the grave and by his resurrection He delivers to the Father a "peculiar people." He leads us in the ascent to the Father where we receive heavenly recognition because we belong to Him.
Heavenly recognition for the Horites was never an individual prospect. Heavenly recognition came to the people through the righteousness of their ruler-priest. Horite rulers took this seriously, some more than others. The best were heavenly minded and the worst were so earthy minded that they shed much blood enlarging their territories. All failed to be the Ruler-Priest who rose from the dead. Therefore, none have the power to deliver captives from the grave and to lead them to the throne of heaven (Ps. 68:18; Ps. 7:7; Eph. 4:8). That one true ruler-priest is Jesus, the Son of God.
Related reading: Resurrection as Mirrored Reality; Gathered to His People; The Bosom of Abraham; Sheol and the Second Death; Recovering the African Background of Genesis