“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet. This is what you requested of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: ‘If I hear the voice of the Lord my God any more, or ever again see this great fire, I will die.’ “ (Deuteronomy 18:15-16)
Too much knowledge can be a dangerous thing. God’s people who had been brought out of Egypt had seen the power of God and knew it to be more than they could take in or comprehend. However, they needed to have knowledge of God to know how to live – for it was just a scary proposition NOT to live according to God’s laws, statutes and commandments. So a solution had to be found. And the solution was for someone amongst God’s gathered people to be chosen and singled out. Would you want to have been that person, beloved reader?
“Then the Lord replied to me: ‘They are right in what they have said. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command. Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable. (Deuteronomy 18:17-19)
The “me” of this passage, and the narrator thus far in Deuteronomy is Moses, so the prophet who would be raised up from amongst them would be someone much like Moses. By the end of the book of Deuteronomy Joshua has been installed as their new leader. But beyond the leadership of Joshua there is the promise that God will always raise up a prophet amongst God’s people. And to that prophet the people of God should look for direction and guidance. They do not need to look outside of their faith circle for someone to guide them. Ultimately the line of prophets lead to the Messiah. And from that point on all other leadership needs to be under Christ.
From the time of Moses to the time of the Messiah there were many prophets – some self-prophesied and some named by God. Those who God called were sometimes honored and sometimes not. Just as it was with Moses, the people of God ignored the true prophets at their peril.
“But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak—that prophet shall die.’ “ (Deuteronomy 18:20)
And those prophets that were not called by God but pretended to speak in God’s name, and those prophets who did not speak in the name of the true God . . . well, the Old Testament describes their fate.
Even though the Messiah has come and left a rich legacy of prophecy, God still calls out some to speak in the Lord’s name – not just in the name of God but also in Jesus Christ’s name. And the same cautions apply. If you, beloved reader, are called by God and Christ our Lord to speak, may you speak only what God and Christ command you to. And may you be listened to, bringing glory and honor to your faith and beliefs. Selah!