Deuteronomy 18:15-19 NLTse (15) Moses continued, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. (16) For this is what you yourselves requested of the LORD your God when you were assembled at Mount Sinai. You said, ‘Don’t let us hear the voice of the LORD our God anymore or see this blazing fire, for we will die.’ (17) “Then the LORD said to me, ‘What they have said is right. (18) I will raise up a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell the people everything I command him. (19) I will personally deal with anyone who will not listen to the messages the prophet proclaims on my behalf.
The biggest question about this texts is, who does it point to? Does this prophecy apply to John the Baptist, or Jesus? Are both answers correct? Can both answers be correct? Does it make a difference? Both point to Jesus’ ministry. One to the introduction. The other to Jesus Himself.
John the Baptist:
:9-10 NLTse Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. (10) John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say, ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you.’
Mark 11:29-32 NLTse “I’ll tell you by what authority I do these things if you answer one question,” Jesus replied. (30) “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human? Answer me!” (31) They talked it over among themselves. “If we say it was from heaven, he will ask why we didn’t believe John. (32) But do we dare say it was merely human?” For they were afraid of what the people would do, because everyone believed that John was a prophet.
Luke 1:67 NLTse Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:
Luke 1:76-77 NLTse “And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord. (77) You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins.
Luke 7:26-28 NLTse Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. (27) John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say, ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you.’ (28) I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is!”
Matthew 13:57 NLTse And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.”
Matthew 14:5 NLTse Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of a riot, because all the people believed John was a prophet.
Matthew 21:10-11 NLTse The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked. (11) And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Matthew 21:46 NLTse They wanted to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowds, who considered Jesus to be a prophet.
Luke 7:15-16 NLTse Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother. (16) Great fear swept the crowd, and they praised God, saying, “A mighty prophet has risen among us,” and “God has visited his people today.”
John 6:14 NLTse When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!”
Luke 24:18-20 NLTse Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.” (19) “What things?” Jesus asked. “The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. (20) But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him.
Now you’ll notice, there is not a single verse where the author identifies Jesus as a prophet. There are a number of verses showing people identified Jesus as a prophet. John and Jesus share one common trait, religious leaders disliked both. Both were killed for what they believed in and what they taught. How many of the disciples faced similar fates? How many prophets were rejected because of the message they were given? Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. (Hebrews 11:36-38 NLTse).
Many of those prophets delivered messages about Jesus. People did not understand God’s messages when they were delivered. They did not believe the prophecies when they were fulfilled before their eyes. Generations later people are still misinterpreting, misunderstanding, rejecting, and ignoring messages men died for, including Jesus. No wander this prophecy includes the words, “You must listen to him.” God reminds Israel, they turned down the opportunity to be a nation of priests. They did not want to talk to God themselves. They turned down a personal relationship with God. What parallel exists between God freeing Israel from Egypt and our understanding of the salvation Jesus offers? Why do people only look at the event as an entire nation delivered from Egypt? Why are people afraid to look at the story in a personal manner? Did God deliver a nation, or a group of individuals?
In Egypt, people suffered as individuals. They worked during the heat of day as an individual. They suffered the lash as an individual whose back was scarred for life. Husbands and wives felt anguish as they saw their sons taken from their home to work in far away fields and mines. Worse yet, they saw their daughters abused. They prayed as individuals, wandering why their lives seemed of little value. Emotions, pain, sorrow, disappointment, and hope were all experienced on the individual level. Why do people prefer to look at this event as a record of history and view it on a corporate level? How can people ignore individual struggles and the lessons they hold? How can people forget and still say they are following God? Can God ever forget? Are these the type of stories God is waiting to share whenever we decide to have an individual conversation with Him? Are we still afraid to face God on an individual level? Maybe that is the reason people look at lessons on a corporate level. They don’t want to think about individual struggles or learn lessons by communicating with God on a personal level.
What is the connection between Israel asking Moses to stand between them and God, and today’s Christian religion? Some religions claim the law was done away with at the cross. The same people claim there is no reason to read and review the Old Testament. They claim it was for the Jews. They follow this course claiming they are Christians and only need to follow the New Testament. What about the 20 to 25% of the New Testament pointing back to the Old Testament? What about the hundreds of Old Testament texts quoted in the New Testament? If these people read the Old Testament, they would see how they are acting exactly like Jews traveling to the promised land. They want someone standing between them and God. Instead of Moses, they pay a priest or pastor to talk to God. They show up an hour or so a week to get filled in on the news, just in case God has a message. They don’t notice, the same messages are repeated year after year. How can an infinite God run out of material? I don’t know. After studying for more than 30 years, God has never failed to show me something new everyday.
So you don’t need a personal relationship with God. You don’t feel a need to study what Jesus taught. God knew that long before you were born. God added, “I will personally deal with anyone who will not listen to the messages the prophet proclaims on my behalf.”
I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ. Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed. Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ. As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God. (Galatians 1:6-12, 6:14-16 NLTse)