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. 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.” 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. He will tell them everything I command him. I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name. 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.”
On hearing his [Jesus’] words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.”
We come next in our journey to Moses, another of the towering figures of the Old Testament. Although during his lifetime Moses was sometimes unappreciated and many times opposed (even by his own siblings; see Numbers 12), by the Israelites of later generations his name was spoken in reverent tones. In Old Testament terms, only Moses could claim the role of mediator between the people and God; he thus pointed forward to Christ, the perfect and only mediator (I Tim. 2:5). “There was no prophet who was honoured with the direct and continuous access to Jehovah that Moses enjoyed. In this respect also Moses seems to have prefigured Christ.” (Geerhardus Vos)
Moses was the one who led God’s people out of bondage in Egypt, the greatest redemptive act in the Old Testament. It was through Moses that God gave the law to his people. When Israel sinned with the golden calf, it was Moses who interceded for them with God, even offering to have himself cut off for the sake of his people (Ex. 32:30-32). In all these ways, Moses pointed forward to Christ.
But there were two problems: Moses was a sinner, and Moses died. Before he died, Moses gave the people the promise from God that we see in today’s reading. First, God would raise up from Israel a prophet like Moses. Second, they must listen to him. Third, God would put his own words in the mouth of this prophet. Fourth, this prophet will tell people everything that God commands. And fifth, God will hold to account those who do not listen to this prophet.
Yes, as even some of the Jews seemed to recognize, Jesus is The Prophet promised by God through Moses. Jesus has the words of eternal life (John 6:68). Jesus is the one who speaks what the Father has commanded him (John 12:49-50). Jesus is the one who makes known to us the Father (John 1:18, 15:15). Jesus is the one who reveals to us “by his word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation”, as the catechism puts it.
If you know the true God, it is because Jesus has revealed him to you. If you do not know God, pray that Jesus The Prophet would reveal him to you, so that you, too, may sing:
Great Prophet of my God, My tongue would bless Thy name;
By Thee the joyful news Of our salvation came;
The joyful news of sins forgiven, Of hell subdued and peace with heaven.