Summary: Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Moses spoken more than a thousand years earlier
A Prophet Like Moses: An Exposition of Deuteronomy 18:15-20
We have an insatiable desire for information. We feel that we can deal with all the problems we face if only we can become better informed. And there are a lot of people who want to provide you with information, usually for money. Some will try to tell you the secret of investing on Wall Street. Others will try to sell you on a miracle diet. Others will try to share the secrets for happiness. Others will try to prognosticate the future. The problem is that not all sources of information are reliable. Some are downright harmful. Those who want to share their knowledge are more interest in their own profit than yours. Let the consumer of information beware.
Religion is not free from distorted information. In fact, it may be the most unreliable and harmful of all. Religion and spirituality is a huge business. We all want to hear from God. We all want to know what happens when we die. We all miss loved ones who have passed on and wish we could talk to them one more time. We all want to know if there is any purpose in life. Today’s secular world leaves a large void in our hearts, and there are those who claim they can fill it. Let the consumer of religious products especially beware. The answer to the dangers of misinformation is not ignorance but true and reliable information. There is nothing wrong with the religious questions people ask, per se, but where does one get the truth. Ultimately, truth comes from God who is Truth itself. We as Christians believe that the Bible is God’s spoken truth to us and that God wants us to know this truth. So let us look at a passage from the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy to explore what God has to say about this matter. Turn your Bible’s to the 18th Chapter of Deuteronomy. We will be reading verses 15-20.
It helps to provide some context to what we have just read. Deuteronomy is the last of the five books Moses read. It is cast in the form of an ancient treaty between a king (Suzerain) and his subjects. There is a summary of the historical relationship between the king and his people. There are promises made by the king to the people to which the people affirm their loyalty and obedience. Laws which govern the covenant are spoken and expected to be obeyed. Finally, there are specific blessings listed for obedience and curses for disobedience. The passage was are studying falls in the middle of this covenant.
The Children of Israel were about to enter into the land which Yahweh their King had promised to Abraham. This promise stated that after 400 years, Abraham’s descendants would return to take possession of this land. This land was filled with idolatry, child sacrifice, violence, sexual immorality, and other crimes against God. The people of Canaan got their religious knowledge from soothsayers. necromancers, astrologers, false prophets, and other Satanic sources. The Canaanites asked the same questions we all ask. But they were getting their information from Satan who does not have the good of humanity at heart- quite the opposite. There was danger that their religious practices would corrupt the Children of Israel. These are practices which lead to destruction. No good can come to those whose source of information is a lie.
Yahweh wanted His people to know Him, This was more than just knowledge, but relational as well. The whole Book of Deuteronomy calls upon Israel to love the LORD their God. Love demands mutual faithfulness, or it isn’t love. By trying to get information from false gods was to commit spiritual adultery. This call to wholehearted love is then to be reflected in our relations with each other.
The text starts with the promise that the LORD would raise up another prophet like unto Moses. This is because Moses had been forbidden to enter Canaan because of his rash words and striking the rock in anger to provide water to Israel. Moses was supposed to speak to the rock, and he disobeyed. It seems to be a harsh punishment for a man who was far more faithful to the LORD than we are or the children of Israel were. The Book of Hebrews commends the faithfulness of Moses. This of course necessitated a change of leadership which would fall upon Joshua, the son of Nun whom Yahweh raised up to take the place of Moses. One could see that this text could refer to Joshua as being the prophet like unto Moses. But although Joshua did receive some prophetic oracles from Yahweh and was a faithful leader, it seems hard to ascribe this prophecy to him in any way but a shadow of a greater prophet. The same could be said of all the prophets of Israel. None of these rose up to the level of Moses. It was not until another Joshua, the Son of God would be raised up. Remember that Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua. All of the Old Testament prophets were shadows of this greater reality.