SERIES: Topical Messages: Christmas
SETTING: North Kelso Baptist Church
SERVICE: Sunday AM (December 20th, 2015)
SUBTITLE: Jesus before Bethlehem: Part 3 – A Prophet Like Moses
SCRIPTURE: Deuteronomy 18:15-22
SUBJECT: (theme) a new prophet / (thrust) God will raise up a prophet
SUMMARY: The LORD God will commission a prophet whom He will instruct in what to say and who will be distinguishable from false prophets
SCHEME: To enable my people to see Christ featured in the OT prior to the incarnation at Bethlehem
Our theme is: God promises a prophet like Moses
Proposition: The LORD God will commission a prophet who will be like Moses
Interrogatory Sentence: How will this prophet be like Moses?
Transitional Sentence: Our passage indicates three (3) ways that this prophet will be like Moses, This prophet will be commissioned by God, This prophet will be commanded by God, and this prophet will be championed by God.
[The Title of the Message]
A Prophet Like Moses: Jesus before Bethlehem: Part 3
[Announce the Text]
Please open your Bibles to Deuteronomy 18:15-22
Prayer for illumination & understanding
Heavenly Father, through your Holy Spirit we ask you to open our hearts and minds for the sake, the honor, and the glory of your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, so that as the Scriptures are read and your Word explained, we may hear with joy what you say to us today. We ask you Father to show us all that Christ is and what He has done for us. Amen.
Re-announce and read the text
Our text for today is Deuteronomy 18:15-22
Edgar R. Fiedler was an economist. He had four (4) rules about forecasting or predicting the future called, Fiedler's Forecasting Rules. They went like this:
o It is very difficult to forecast, especially about the future.
o He who lives by the crystal ball soon learns to eat ground glass.
o The moment you forecast, you know you're going to be wrong -- you just don't know when and in which direction.
o If you're ever right, never let them forget it.
Niels Bohr was a physicist and was known for this little jewel of a quote:
"Prediction is a very difficult art," he says, "especially when it involves the future.
Here are some of the worst predictions ever:
The book The World's Worst Predictions lists some of history's all-time prophetic goof.
o King George II said in 1773 that the American colonies had little stomach for revolution. [Implying that they will never fight.]
o An official of the White Star Line, speaking of the firm's newly built flagship, the Titanic, launched in 1912, declared that the ship was unsinkable. [OOPS, it sank!]
o In 1939 The New York Times said the problem of TV was that people had to glue their eyes to a screen, and that the average American wouldn't have time for it.
o An English astronomy professor said in the early 19th century that air travel at high speed would be impossible because passengers would suffocate.
Keeping His Promises builds our confidence
This morning I want to speak about God’s promise to Israel – or more specifically, God’s promise to raise up a prophet for Israel who would be like Moses. God had always known that deep into the future, He would provide someone, a prophet, who would be able to deliver his people from a greater bondage than slavery. You must remember that Jesus Christ was not an afterthought or a “plan B.” God had planned on raising up Jesus Christ even before Israel crossed the Jordan River. In a few moments let me suggest three ways that this prophet that God would raise would be like Moses.
God’s Graciousness is seen in his promises to his people.
God has made a number of promises in the Scripture. Our confidence in God stems from the fact that God has always kept his promises. When God speaks he says what he means and he means what he says.
How else can you place your full confidence in God for something so precious as your eternal soul? The reason that you are able is because you have seen from the Scriptures and have experienced the reality that God keeps his word. You are confident that God will always follow through.
This morning I want to look at a promise God made to Israel some 3500 years ago. From this promise and its fulfillment you can continue to have confidence in God because he kept this promise.
There is only one prophet that God raised up like Moses and that was Jesus Christ. And so once again we see Jesus before Bethlehem.
There are a good many people who will make predictions about future events, either in your life or in the world in general. Usually these are designed for your “good, well-being, or benefit.” But they are almost always wrong and serve as a major distraction.
Do we have evidence of the existence of Jesus Christ prior to the incarnation, particularly from the OT? I believe we do and today’s passage will demonstrate this truth.
My purpose today is to enable you to see Jesus Christ featured in the OT prior to his incarnation. I want you to see God’s purpose in raising up Jesus Christ as the prophet who was like Moses.
The title of this book, Deuteronomy comes from the LXX, which is the Greek Translation of the OT, and it means, “Second law” or “repetition of the law.” Just as Genesis and Exodus was written by Moses, so was the book of Deuteronomy.
The children of Israel made the exodus from Egypt around 1446 BC and they were to make their way to the land of Canaan. Because of their rebellious spirit they were forced to wander in the desert for 40 years until a new generation arrived at Moab, opposite Jericho on the east of the Jordan River. While they waiting to cross the river into the Promised Land, Moses wrote this document as a farewell set of instructions since he knew he was not allowed to cross the river and enter the land.
The initial covenant was made between God and the people at Mt Sinai. That generation had died off in the desert. This new generation had to affirm or ratify their commitment to the covenant with God. So Moses wrote this document to provide guidelines for the new covenant community in order to enable them to live obediently before God ad to carry out His intentions for them. Next to the Psalms and Isaiah, the NT alludes to Deuteronomy more than any other OT book.
How will this prophet be like Moses?
Our passage indicates three (3) ways that this prophet will be like Moses, This prophet will be commissioned by God, This prophet will be commanded by God, and this prophet will be championed by God.
[The first way that this prophet will be like Moses is that…]
1A This Prophet Will be Commissioned by God (Vss. 15-17)
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me…”
[Now, I want you to note four (4) things about this prophet that God is going raise up:]
1B This prophet, like Moses, will be a spokesman for God (vs. 1a)
The word “prophet” literally means “one who speaks on behalf of another.” Applied to the biblical prophets, it means “one authorized to speak on behalf of God.” Thus when Isaiah spoke, he could claim divine authority for his words. He was literally acting as God’s spokesman. That’s why his words had to be 100%.
As long as he spoke only for himself, he could make any number of mistakes. But when he claimed to speak for God, he had no margin for error.
A biblical prophet had two primary functions:
1. He delivered God’s message to his own generation.
2. He predicted the course of future events.
In the first role, the prophet upheld God’s righteousness and condemned injustice of every variety.
o The prophets often dealt with social issues, and condemned men on these grounds.
o They dealt with problems of immorality and revealed the standards of God’s holiness.
o They dealt with the problems of drunkenness and condemned the overuse or abuse of wine.
o They condemned the oppression of the poor, the fatherless and the widow.
o They condemned unjust extortion and interest rates, and taxation where it was not due.
o They condemned greed and avarice.
o They condemned businessmen for using false weights and improper balances.
Because of the bold denunciation of sin, the prophets were often very unpopular. Many were hated and persecuted and many were put to death (Matthew 23:34).
o In the second role, the prophets predicted the rise and fall of nations,
o They often predicted the outcome of military battles
o The predicted the coming judgment of God on disobedient kings.
Sometimes their predictions were immediately fulfilled, but often centuries would pass before the predicted events would occur. But in every case, the prophets were held to the strict standard of 100% accuracy.
This meant that often the prophets themselves would not live to see their words fulfilled, leaving them mocked by their contemporaries but vindicated by time.
So, just as Moses was a spokesman for God, this new and future prophet would also be a spokesperson for God. We know from our possession of the NT that Jesus Christ fit the bill perfectly.
o He delivered God’s message to his generation
o He predicted the course of future events
o He spoke out against the injustice of his time
[So, this prophet will be a spokesman for God. Second, take note that…]
2B This prophet, like Moses, will come from the Israelites (vs.1a)
“…from your midst, from your brethren.”
This prophet had to come from the Jewish nation. He could not come from the Gentile nations. The Jews would not have to look world-wide for this prophet. He would be found in their “backyard.”
This will help the Jews identify this prophet when he arrives on the scene. They don’t need to go outside of their own nation to find the one whom God would raise up for them.
[First, this prophet will be a spokesman and he will come from the nation of Israel. Thirdly…]
3B This prophet, like Moses, is to be heard by the Jews (vs. 1c)
“Him you shall hear, according to all you desired of the LORD your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die’”
The context of the promise of that Prophet like Moses was the first time the children of Israel faced Mount Sinai:
o They heard the rumblings on the mountain and the sound of a trumpet that no man was playing - a loud trumpet, playing the call and salute to the King of Kings!
o They saw the fire burning at the peak - Exodus tells us that smoke went up from the entire top of the mountain like a furnace.
o The people faced the clouds and the flashes of lightning and they felt the shaking of the mountain and they heard the violent thunder. It must have been awesome because the people were terrified.
They cried out in fear, pleading that they would not have to hear the voice of God, they said; "'Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, lest I die.'"
When they had the opportunity to experience what most people think they would love to experience – which is to see God and hear God directly - they recoiled in terror and pleaded that God would speak through His chosen messenger instead. And God agreed. God gave them what they wanted.
God is telling the Israelites, remember, I agreed that you all did not have to face me and that I would speak to you through a spokesman.
Well, I am going to raise up another spokesman one day and you are required to keep you part of the bargain – you are required to listen to this spokesman!
So God said the agreement was a good agreement, in other words, he concurred. Look at verse 17 – “And the LORD said to me, ‘What they have spoken is good.”
The first way that this new and future prophet will be like Moses is that He will also be a spokesman for God. He will come from the Jewish people and they are to listen to him because they had agreed to.
[The second way that his new and future prophet will be like Moses is that…]
2A This Prophet Will be Commanded by God (Vss. 18-19)
“I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and I will put My words in His mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.”
1B God will put words in his mouth, just like he did for Moses
Just as Moses did not speak his words to the Jewish nation, this new and future prophet will not speak his own words. Aaron was Moses’ mouthpiece.
From speaking of the paltry expectations about divination, Moses goes on to speak of the general plan of Divine revelation. The people had had the splendid chance of direct communion with God, without any mediation.
God spoke to them from heaven at Sinai; but so afraid were they of immediate revelation that they implored Moses to mediate the message for them. He became consequently, with God's full approval, the human medium through which the Divine will was conveyed, which means God's prophet. They had had no difficulty in accepting the Divine messages through him.
Now, Moses assures them that this method of mediation through human beings will continue. He puts the promise in comprehensive form, and says that through a Prophet like to himself will God continue to speak to them after he has gone, and his message they will reject at their peril.
Jesus spoke the Word of God, unlike anyone else, even Moses. Of His own teachings Jesus said, "…the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father who sent Me." His teachings were not His own, but from God.
"For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak.
Everything Jesus said, and everything He did, was from God and part of the plan and purpose of God. Just as in the days of the Exodus, God has taken charge of His people and is leading them. He doesn't leave us to twist in the wind, or simply follow the indistinct musings of a prophet. He has taken charge, to lead us and guide us. Every word of this Prophet is direct and clearly from God. He can answer our questions. He can meet our every need.
2B This new & future prophet will speak those words, just like Moses did
When Christ finished the Sermon on the Mount, his hearers commented that he spoke “as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law” (Matthew 7:29).
When I preach a sermon, I offer documentation, footnotes, references, quotes, etc. to back up what I am saying. I have to because I have no authority in my own power to teach the things of God.
But Jesus needed no footnotes! He had divine authority as the heaven-sent Prophet of God.
He claimed divine authority for his words. He said his words would bring eternal life. He declared that his words would not pass away. He ordered his words carried around the world and He said that the ultimate destiny of men and women depended on their response to his words.
These are not the statements of religious leader. Only a Prophet of God can make such claims for himself. Therefore, when he speaks, we must listen because he speaks the true word s of God.
The doctrines of the Gospel, which come from God, and are the words of truth, faith, righteousness, peace, pardon, life, and salvation; and which Christ says were not his own, as man and Mediator, but his Father's, which he gave unto him, and put into his mouth, as what he should say, teach, and deliver to others; see (John 7:16) (8:28) (John 17:6 John 17:8)
Jesus did speak the words that God gave to him. - “For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.” (John 12:49, NKJV)
3B The words of this prophet are binding, just like Moses’ words were binding
“And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.”
"There is no need to consult with diviners and soothsayers, as I shall afford you the benefit of divinely appointed prophets, for judging of whose credentials a sure criterion is given"
Israel is not to listen to any pagan means of revelation or guidance. Otherwise there are several consequences.
I will require it - I will punish him. I will execute punishment on him. severely for it. The sad effect of this threatening the Jews have felt for above sixteen hundred years together.
The first way that this new and future prophet will be like Moses is that He will also be a spokesman for God. He will come from the Jewish people and they are to listen to him because they had agreed to.
[The second way that his new and future prophet will be like Moses is that this prophet will be commanded by God…]
[The third way that this new and future prophet will be like Moses is that…]
3A This Prophet will be Contrasted by God (VSS. 20-22)
Let me explain what I mean. This prophet that God raises up is going to speak the words of God. God will instruct this new and future prophet on what to say, or to speak. Of course this is why we are able to place our absolute confidence in this prophet.
But, there will be false prophets who will appear to Israel as genuine prophets sent by God. These prophets will be a direct contrast to the prophet that God will raise up.
[They will be in contrast to the new and future prophet in at least three (3) ways.]
1B These prophets in contrast shall be put to death for their sin
“But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my Name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.”
I want you to notice at least three things in this verse. I think it is important so that I don’t confuse with this point. The future prophet will also die – but there is a distinct contrast.
· First of all – this false prophet chooses to speak on his own, where the future prophet only speaks the words God command him
· Second – the false prophet will speak in the name of false gods- the future prophet that God will raise up speaks only in the name of the true and living God
· Third – the false prophet dies because of his sin. The future prophet that God will raise up, will die. But it will be not because of his sin, but because he will become sin on our behalf.
This should have been a very straightforward warning to those who would seek after and choose to listen to those whom God had not commissioned. The Israelites suffered in many ways – politically, militarily, economically, and socially because they sought after and listen to men who spoke soothing and desirable words but had not been commissioned by God.
This is a great contrast don’t you think? The prophet God raises up for Israel will only speak the words that God command him to speak, but these false prophets will speak on their own choice and speaks words that God has not commanded them to speak.
[So, the contrast of self-will vs. God’s will is seen in this contrast. Next we see…]
2B These prophets are noted for their failure
“And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously…”
In the past people have said to me that the Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) missionaries have challenged them to pray about Joseph Smith's message and the Book of Mormon.
But is this the proper way to determine if his message is truly from God? The Bible never says to test a prophet by prayer, but by his message. Deuteronomy 13 warns that a prophet must teach correctly about God.
Chapter 18 tells us the prophet's prophecies must come to pass.
Paul tells us in Galatians 1:8-9 that even angels can appear with a wrong message. We are to compare the message with the teachings of the apostles.
In Acts 17:10-12, when Paul went to Berea to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah to the Jews, we read "these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed..." Note, Paul did not tell them to go home and pray about it. They were praised for searching the scriptures, in other words, testing the message to see if it agreed with the prophecies of the Messiah.
Remember from our study of 1 John, that John made an appeal to fact, not feeling, when he declared "that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;...that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us..." (I John 1:1-3)
He continued in the next chapter, verse 21, "I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth...let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning...."
Chapter 4, verse 1, "beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."
Peter wrote specifically to warn about false teachers: (2 Peter 1:15-16) "Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty...."
In Chapter 2, verse 1, he continues "but there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies...and many shall follow their pernicious ways..."
Christians are to test prophets, pastors, and teachers by the Bible. False teachers test the Bible by their prophets. They go about testing the message backwards. The Bible was here first, therefore all men who claim to speak for God must be tested by the Bible, not the other way around.
Certainly a decision regarding our eternal life is the most important one we will ever make and deserves careful examination. Truth will stand up to investigation.
[So, there are prophets that are contrasted to the true prophet, first they shall be put to death for their sin of speaking falsely by their own volition, and secondly, they are contrasted by their failure.]
[Third, and finally, these prophets are contrasted by the fact that…]
3B These prophets are not to be feared, unlike the future prophet
“…you shall not be afraid of him.”
The Israelites do not have to fear the prophecy or the message of the false prophets. They are to have confidence of the prophet that God will raise up because he will like Moses, actually he will be greater than Moses. They listened to Moses they will need to listen to the future prophet.
[What do you say we wrap this up?]
God will, and of course has, raised up a prophet like Moses, whom He will instruct what He shall say, and who will be distinguishable from false prophets. And so, God will…
· Commission the prophet as a direct representative from God
· Command the prophet to say & do his exact will and not his own
· Contrast the prophet from any and all false prophets so that Israel does not have to fear
Always look to Jesus Christ in the Word of God. Knowing him will always alert you to and keep you from any false prophet or teacher that you might encounter.
Do not look to any one or thing in this world for spiritual advice, direction, or communication. Do not look to fortune-tellers, sooth-sayers, palm-readers, or the thousands of psychological sources in this world for spiritual assistance.
Seek any and all questions and requests through this prophet that God has raised up who is like Moses – that prophet of course is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is where you confidence should be. God has revealed in Christ all that He determined you need.
It highly concerns us to have a right touchstone wherewith to try the word we hear, that we may know what that word is which the Lord has not spoken. Whatever is against the plain sense of the written word, or which gives countenance or encouragement to sin, we may be sure is not that which the Lord has spoken.
This is the Christmas season. I remind that we all know that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” As we look at our series this year called, Jesus before Bethlehem, remember and appreciate that Jesus is a prophet like Moses. This is Jesus before Bethlehem – Part 3, A Prophet like Moses.
Let’s pray! J