Hear My Prophet!—Deuteronomy 18:15-19

Series: Uncommon Prophecies Of A Coming Savior

Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

We’ve been looking at uncommon prophecies of a coming Savior this Christmas season. These are prophecies that you don’t find on Christmas cards. Unlike, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given” (Isaiah 9:6), these prophecies simply aren’t well-known.

 

We’ve seen the prediction of the coming of Shiloh:

 

10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh come; And unto him shall the gathering of the people be. (Genesis 49:10)

 

And then the prophecy of a Star from the land of Jacob:

 

17 I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: There shall come a Star out of Jacob, And a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel… (Numbers 24:17)

 

For our third and final prophecy (next we will look at why we can trust these and other prophecies) we turn to Deuteronomy 18, where we find that Moses talked about a Prophet that would someday come.

 

In New Testament times, the Jews were expecting a Prophet. That much is clear from passages like these—

 

21 And they asked [John the Baptist], What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. (John 1:21)

 

14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did [the feeding of the 5,000], said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. (John 6:14)

 

40 Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying [about believing on Jesus and being filled with the Spirit], said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. (John 7:40)

 

Where did they get the idea that there would be a prophet who would come one day? For the answer we turn to another uncommon prophecy of the coming Savior. 

 

15 The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; 16 According to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. 17 And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. 18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. 19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. (Deuteronomy 18:15–19)

 

From this passage, we learn first, about…

 

THE PROPHET TO COME

 

Deuteronomy 18:15 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; 

 

Let’s rattle off several things we learn from this verse:

 

(1) God will raise up this Prophet (also in verse 18). Any true prophet will be a prophet that the Lord himself raises up. False prophets are not raised up by God and so, as verses 20-22 show, will be identified as false when their prophecies fail to come true.

 

(2) It is “a Prophet”—singular—that God will raise up. It’s possible that you can make this refer to a “prophetic office,” where there are many prophets throughout biblical history. Yet, the descriptions given here indicate that it is actually referring to a single Prophet.

 

(3) It will be a Prophet that comes “from the midst” of Israel and “of thy brethren.” Obviously this means that this Prophet would be an Israelite. But the expression “from the midst of thee” also has the sense of someone who is a regular person, a “man of the people.”

 

In many ways, Jesus was a regular person:

 

He was born in a manger to a simple man and his young wife, not to a king and queen in their palace.

 

He grew up in an ordinary village among ordinary people. He could have been from towns like Baker, Plevna, or Marmarth. It’s interesting that many Jews took this as an indication that Jesus wasn’t the Prophet to come—he was too ordinary (John 1:46; 7:41).

 

Isaiah reported that the Christ:

 

…hath no form nor comeliness; And when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. (Isaiah 53:2)

 

Jesus very clearly fits this “from the midst” of the people aspect in Deuteronomy 18:15.

 

(4) This Prophet, Moses says, would be “like unto me.” How would the coming Prophet and Messiah be like Moses? Moses was a completely unique prophet. His epitaph, written at the end of Deuteronomy, reads:

 

10 And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, (Deuteronomy 34:10; cf. Numbers 12:6-8)

 

Only Jesus would surpass Moses in having such an intimate connection with God the Father.

 

Also, Moses, more than any other prophet I can think of, acted as a meditator between the people and God. In fact, at one point, Moses even offered to be a substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of the people.

 

30 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the Lord; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin. 31 And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. 32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin—; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. (Exodus 32:30–32)

 

What an incredible foreshadowing of what Jesus Christ would do for us when he died for our sins on the cross! God would not accept Moses’ attempt at substitutionary atonement. But he did accept Jesus’s substitutionary sacrifice on the cross; we know he did because he raised Jesus from the dead! Whoever believes in Jesus, can have his or her sins forgiven because Jesus paid the penalty.

 

(5) This Prophet would be one that the people would listen to. Moses said, “unto him ye shall hearken.” Granted, many Jews would not listen to Jesus, but not since Moses, did any prophet command the attention of the nation like Jesus did.

 

Other prophets, like Samuel and Elijah, spoke to a portion of the nation, but even they did not have the droves of people seeking them out for healing and instruction like Jesus did. People hung his every word!

 

Finally, I want to point out, that, in the New Testament, Peter preached about Jesus. He pointed the people to these verses in Deuteronomy, and proclaimed that Jesus was their fulfillment (Acts 3:22–23; cf Acts 7:37). Jesus Christ is the Prophet to come!

 

Jesus is the Prophet to come, he is also…

 

THE PROPHET TO HEAR

 

The Lord God said that this Prophet would speak his words.

 

Deuteronomy 18:18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. 

 

Jesus told people that he did not speak own words, but that he spoke what the Father told him to speak.

 

the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. (John 14:10; cf. Hebrews 1:2)

 

This Prophet’s words would not simply be words of inspiration or advice that you can take to feel good about yourself. They would be words that make the difference between life and death, Heaven and Hell.

 

Deuteronomy 18:19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. 

 

Pretty straightforward, isn’t it? The Lord God wants us to listen to his Prophet. When Jesus was transfigured in Matthew 17—he became as bright as the sun—and the Father spoke from Heaven:

 

…behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. (Matthew 17:5)

 

We need to listen to Jesus the Prophet. If we do not, God “will require it of” us. We will face eternal judgment.

 

How do we listen to him today? In the Bible. But how can we be sure that we are hearing him correctly in the Bible? Let me give you a few foundational principles for reading and studying the Bible correctly.

 

(1) We need to read the Bible naturally, like we would any other book. We normally call this reading the Bible “literally,” but people sometimes misunderstand what we mean by “literally.” It doesn’t mean that we take the figures of speech and poetry we find in the Bible as literal. Jesus is the bread of life, but he is not a loaf of bread! When David said that he walks through “the valley of the shadow of death,” he didn’t mean that there was a literal valley named “The Shadow of Death Valley” on the map. No, instead we take what the Bible says in the plain, natural sense.

 

(2) When we interpret the Bible, the first question we need to ask is, “What did the author mean to say to the original readers?”

 

This is a grounding question. It keeps us from taking off on wild flights of fancy about what the Bible says. We cannot just make the Bible mean whatever we desire it to mean—it only has one meaning. It’s true that sometimes we have difficulty figuring out that one meaning, but nevertheless, there’s only one true meaning and it is what the author meant to say to his original readers. 

 

Tim Keller warns us—

 

Something in the passage may “hit” you—but it may hit you as expressing almost the opposite of what the biblical author, inspired by the Spirit, was saying. When that happens, you are listening to your own heart or to the spirit of your own culture, not to God’s voice in the Scripture. 1

 

Do you see how dangerous that is? You can make the Bible say anything you want it to say.

 

Finding what the author meant to say is not as hard as it sounds. Much of the Bible is straightforward. “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” means what it says. But when you get to a head-scratcher, what do you do?

 

First, see if you can find a clear scripture that sheds light on the difficult verse. For this you would use the cross-references or concordance that most study Bibles have. 

 

Start close to the verse you are working on, and work out from there. So, if you are in Romans, then see if there is another verse in Romans that helps. Then check the rest of Paul’s letters. Then the New Testament, then check the whole Bible. You should do this because Paul might use a word differently in one book than in another. Or Paul might use a phrase differently than Peter or Matthew. So work out from the verse.

 

Second, check commentaries for help. You might have a study Bible with commentary at the bottom of page. There’s a lot of them on the Internet. You can also buy good one or two volume commentaries. It’s best to get several—build yourself a library—so that you can compare and see where they disagree and make your own decision instead of blindly following one. 

 

Beware of thinking that using commentaries is somehow less spiritual. The people I’ve encountered who thought that usually had some weird ideas that they claimed that the Holy Spirit had given them. 

 

The Bible says that—

 

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11–12)

 

Some of those teachers have taken the time to write their teaching down on paper so that they can continue to perfect the saints and edify the body of Christ. To ignore their work is to ignore part of the gifts Christ has given the church. 

 

(3) After we’ve read the Bible naturally and discovered what the author meant to the original readers, then we need to find out how that applies to our lives today. Here are some old questions that you can ask to help apply the Bible to your life:

 

Is there a command to obey?

Is there an example to follow?

Is there a promise to claim?

Is there a sin to avoid?

Is there a principle to follow?

Is there something to learn about God or Jesus?

 

(4) Now, finally, after reading the Bible literally and naturally, using cross-references, a concordance, and commentaries to find the one meaning the author intended, and asking ourselves application questions, we can say that we’ve heard Jesus the Prophet. So what do we do then? We obey what we’ve heard!

 

CONCLUSION

 

We Christians sometimes complain about how society is taking Christ out of Christmas. But really, December is still the one month of the year that most people hear something about Christ. Christ is everywhere—on Christmas cards, in store displays, and especially in the music. Yes, yes, there’s secular Santa’s mixed in everywhere, but we can still be grateful that almost everyone will see or hear something about Jesus Christ this season.

 

I’ve been enjoying videos of the USAF Band doing “flash mob” appearances in places like the Smithsonian. If you don’t know what a flash mob is, it’s when a lone musician shows up in a crowded area, like the Smithsonian. They’ll start playing music and people will stop and start to listen. Then, they’ll be joined by another musician, then another, and then a group of musician playing trumpets will come up. 

 

Then in a balcony, a couple women will take off their coats, revealing their USAF uniforms and begin to sing. Soon, they will be joined by other members of the band, forming a choir of a couple dozen singers. Within a few moments, the entire USAF Band of 60 or 70 musicians will have revealed themselves to a crowd of delighted and amazed people. In a flash, a mob of musicians have formed. 

 

And what are they playing? In one video that I watched, where they appeared at the National Air and Space Museum, they were playing and singing, “Joy to the World.” As I watched, I wondered how many of them were unbelievers. I wondered how many in the cheerful holiday crowd were unbelievers. All of them were hearing about Jesus Christ.

 

You see, our problem isn’t so much hearing the Word of God and his Prophet Jesus Christ. Our problem is believing and obeying what we’ve heard. 

 

Even as Christians, when we come to the Bible, and hear what it says to us, we find a way to ignore it.  Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” We say, “Only the enemies I really like.” The Bible says, “Don’t slander or gossip.” We say, “I am only sharing the truth—for prayer requests.”

 

And, to the unbeliever, does it get any more clear than what Jesus says in John 5— 

 

24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)

 

What is the problem? It’s our hard hearts. This Christmas season, if a sermon, or a song, or even a Christmas card begins to break it’s way into your heart, don’t ignore it. Hear the Prophet Jesus…

 

… To day if ye will hear his voice, 8 Harden not your hearts… (Hebrews 3:7b–8a)

 

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1 Timothy Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (New York: Dutton, 2014), 149.

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