Sermon on Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Text: The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. 16 For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.”
17 The LORD said to me: “What they say is good. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. 19 I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name. 20 But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death.”
It seems like every year around Christmas and Easter, various magazines, such as “Time” will have special issues in which they discuss who Jesus was. For a couple of years, I would purchase them to see what the various writers would say. If you go into the children’s section at Barnes & Noble, you will find an entire “Who was . . . “ series. One of the books is “Who was Jesus?” A number of years ago, Bill O’Reilly, in his series of books, wrote “Killing Jesus.” In this book, he wrote about the person of Jesus Christ, in addition to the end of his life. One of the problems with many of these books and magazines is that they don’t go far enough in saying whom Jesus was. They will say that he was an important person, a good teacher, and a great example. This morning, we will look at a prophecy that Moses made about Jesus and see WHAT DID MOSES WRITE ABOUT CHRIST? 1. He Wrote About Our Need For His Mediation and 2. He Wrote About Our Need For His Message.
The book of Deuteronomy has an interesting place in the Bible. The nation of Israel was about to enter into the Promised Land. The older generation had passed away in the wilderness over the past forty years. In this book of the Bible, Moses repeats the law of the Lord to this new generation. If they wanted the Lord’s blessings as they entered this new land, they would want to be sure to follow his laws. In particular, right before our text, Moses warns against turning to sorcery, witchcraft, and mediums. The people would be looking for answers and direction as they entered and lived in the Promised Land. Moses had been told that he would not accompany the people as they conquered the land. In our text, the Lord shows that not only was it detestable to seek information from these false sources; it was unnecessary, as well. God has a better plan for the people. He would speak to them through a chosen spokesman, as he had done through Moses. He would be a prophet similar to and far superior to Moses.
Moses told the people, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.” (Verse 15) There are a number of things worth noting in this promise from God. First of all, this prophet would be raised up by the Lord God himself. He would not be just another human being, sharing his thoughts. This one would speak with nothing less than divine authority and, therefore, should be listened to and not rejected. Also, Moses said that this prophet would come “from your fellow Israelites.” He would be a son of Israel, both physically and spiritually. He would be from the line of Israel and would be one who followed Israel’s faith. Finally, we note that Moses said that “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me.” There would be similarities to what Moses had done for the people. The coming prophet would match and even surpass the volume and direct revelation that characterizes Moses’ work.
Moses reminded the people of the time when their ancestors stood at the foot of Mt. Horeb, which was also known as Mt. Sinai. God chose this spot to come to his people with his law. Listen to the description of God’s descent on Mt. Sinai in Exodus 19:16-19, “On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.” Imagine that you are standing there watching this and hearing all of the sounds. What kinds of emotions would be running through you? I would think that we would be filled with fear. Here we see the power of God in the fire, smoke, and earthquake. We hear the trumpet getting louder and louder. There is no doubt that we would also be keenly aware of our sins. Moses reminded them that they said, “Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.” (Verse 16) As a result, they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” (Exodus 20:19) The people wanted Moses to speak to God on their behalf. They wanted him to be their go-between or mediator. They knew that they couldn’t stand before God on their own.
In speaking of this incident, Moses said, “The LORD said to me: ‘What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth.’” (Verses 17&18) God told Moses that he would send a prophet who would also serve as a go-between or mediator. We know that this Mediator is Jesus Christ. To help us understand our need for this Mediator, we need to remind ourselves of who and what we are by nature. We are lost and condemned creatures. We are sinners. Natural man thinks that he can get away with what he has been doing. He fools himself into thinking this way until he stands in the bright light of God’s law. There he sees that, in spite of all the good that he thinks he has done, he has failed to live up to God’s standards. If you and I were to stand before God all on our own, all we would see and feel is God’s anger against our sins. We would see all of the times that we have hurt other people with our words or actions. We would see all of the times when we have been selfish when we could have helped others. The trumpeting of the law grows louder and louder, until we can’t take it any more. We look for someone who will serve as our go-between, as our Mediator.
It is here where Christ shows his love for us. He acted as our Mediator when he was on the earth. He stood in our place as he lived a perfect life for us. He could stand unflinching in the bright light of the law, because he kept it perfectly. Jesus further acted as our Mediator as he stood between us and God’s justice being carried out for sins committed. He took the full brunt of the punishment that we deserved because of our sins. All has been forgiven. We stand holy and perfect before our God because Jesus came and served as our Mediator.
Jesus continues in this role, as well. We know that, though we have been saved, we still have that sinful nature that wants to sin. We confess that the sinful nature, at times, will get the better of us. We continue to sin. How comforting it is to know that Jesus continues to serve as our Mediator before his Father. We read in 1 John 2:1&2, “If anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” Jesus continues to serve as our mediator when we come to the Father in prayer. Jesus promised, “My Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” (John 16:23) As Moses prophesied about the greater prophet, he wrote about our need for his mediation.
This prophet who was to come would do more than be a mediator for God’s people. He had another task, as well. God said, “I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him.” (Verse 18) He would come proclaiming the Word of God to the people. Again, we think of Moses and how God used him as his spokesman. At God’s direction, he spoke to Pharaoh and told him to let the people go. Moses was also directed by God to speak words of judgment against Pharaoh. God used Moses as his spokesman when he gave the law to the people. God told Moses everything that he was to say to the people. Moses served as God’s spokesman when the people were frightened when an enemy loomed on the horizon. Moses spoke the messages that God gave him.
This prophet who was to come would also speak the message that God gave to him. Jesus said in John 14:24, “These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” Jesus came to tell others what the Father sent him to say. There was a marked difference when Jesus spoke to the people of his day as opposed to the religious leaders. In our gospel lesson, we read, “The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.” The reason that Jesus had this authority was that he was sent with the message directly from his Father.
Here we also note the superiority of the Prophet, Jesus, to Moses. Moses was God’s spokesman. He told the people what God wanted him to say. The words did not originate with him. Because Jesus is the Son of God, he was not repeating what he had been told. He was the originator of the words. When he spoke, the people heard God himself speaking to them.
God shows us the importance of the message that would be proclaimed by this greater Prophet. He said, “I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name.” (Verse 19) God says that his condemnation would fall upon anyone who rejects the message or the messenger. In what way is this true? The message that is spoken is the gospel. It is only through the faith that is created when the gospel is proclaimed that we are saved. Jesus said, “The words I have spoken to you — they are full of the Spirit and life.” (John 6:63) If someone rejects the message that Jesus proclaimed, they are rejecting their only hope for salvation. That is why it is so very important that we keep ourselves connected with Jesus through his Word. In this way, our faith is strengthened. Our faith is the hand that accepts the gift of forgiveness that Jesus won for us on the cross. We pray that the Lord would keep our ears open to the message that he proclaims.
Who is the prophet that is spoken about in Deuteronomy 18? If you were to ask a Muslim, they would tell you that this is a prophecy of the coming of Mohammad. If you were to ask a Mormon, they would say that Deuteronomy 18 points ahead to Joseph Smith. I found another commentator who said that Moses was just talking about Joshua, the man who would succeed Moses as the leader of the people of Israel. However, when you read what God spoke through Moses and compare it to what Jesus did, there can be no doubt. Moses was writing about Jesus, the Christ. We see this as Moses points us to the mediation Jesus accomplished through his life, death, and resurrection. He continues in that role today. Moses also pointed us to the vital message that this Prophet would proclaim. Jesus taught the way of salvation. He continues to do so today every time his Word is read and proclaimed. We thank God for giving us this clear prophecy about the Christ, our Savior. Amen.
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