************ Sermon on Deuteronomy 18:15 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 11, 2011
"The Prophet Like Moses"
I A Promise About the Prophet
A "Are you the Prophet?" That's the question asked of John the Baptist by the priests and Levites. "Are you the Prophet?" John said, "I am not." (Jn 1:19ff).
After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, the feeding of the five thousand, they began to say, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world" (Jn 6:14) .
On hearing [Jesus'] words, some of the people said, "Surely this man is the Prophet" (Jn 7:40).
Why all this talk about the prophet?
B Lots of prophets have come and gone throughout the ages: Balaam, Pythia the oracle at Delphi, Mohammed, the French seer Nostradamus, Joseph Smith the founder of Mormonism. People have looked to them as prophets, but they have all been proven to be false prophets. You know the names of other prophets, ones that spoke God's truth: Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Daniel, to name a few.
In our modern, rational, scientific age, many dismiss prophecy as naïve and backwards. And yet there is something in us that yearns for prophecy. Something that yearns to hear a voice from beyond ourselves, a voice of promise, a voice of hope, a voice that touches us with the divine, a voice which gives direction as we navigate through life, a voice that helps us understand life, a voice that speaks authoritatively.
C The heathen nations at the time of Moses and Israel tried to satisfy their longing for prophecy by listening to those who practiced sorcery or divination (Deut 18:14). Some today fill this longing for prophecy by searching the stars for their horoscope. Some try to fulfil this longing by looking to technology. Some turn to charismatic leaders. For instance, the September 5, 2011 issue of Time Magazine has an article titled "The Prophet" and sub-titled "How Ron Paul became one of the most influential voices in Republican politics." The article speaks of the Republican Congressman from Texas as a political prophet. His followers often speak of him in nearly messianic tones. Telling us what? That those in our political processes are looking for a prophet.
D In this season of Advent we are reminded that the God of promises made a promise about a prophet, about the prophet.
(Deut 18:15) The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.This promise is repeated twice in our passage and two times in the books of Acts (Acts 3:22-23; 7:37).
Unlike you and me, God remembers and keeps every single promise because He is faithful and true. When we profess our faith we promise to serve the Lord only but how quickly we chase after other gods. When we get married we promise to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ yet we often insist on having our way. When we join the church we promise to submit to the spiritual authority of the elders and pastors yet we often refuse to do this. When we present our children for baptism we promise to do all we can to train them in God's ways yet how many of us actually live up to this promise? But God is not this way. Our God is a God of promises. There are at least five thousand promises in the Bible and He keeps and remembers every single one of them.
God keeps His promises. In this season of Advent we are being told that in Jesus Christ, God keeps His promise about a prophet like Moses. Jesus is the Prophet Who satisfies our longings. He, and only He, is the voice beyond ourselves. Only He is the voice of promise and hope that never fails. Only He is the voice that touches us with the divine. Only He is the voice which gives us infallible direction as we navigate through life. Only He is the voice that helps us to fully understand life. He is the only voice that speaks authoritatively all the time and in all places. So, we don't have to practice the ways of the heathen. Nor do we have to go the ways of the world.
Jesus is the Prophet God promised through Moses. So, listen to Him. Listen to Jesus the Prophet for He is our Mediator, for He is our Brother, for He is the Truth.
II He is Our Mediator
A According to Moses, the children of Israel asked for a prophet as they camped at the foot of Mount Horeb – otherwise known as Mount Sinai. Remember what all happened at Mount Sinai? God came down on the mountain in fire. Smoke, thunder, lightning, and cloud covered the mountain. Everything trembled violently. There was a loud trumpet blast and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered Him saying, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery ..." You know what God said next. God's voice thundered forth the words of the Ten Commandments: "You shall not, You shall not, You shall not ..." (Cf Ex 19:16 - 20:17).
Do you remember the response of the people to all that they saw and heard at Mount Horeb?
(Ex 20:18) When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance ...The people were terrified. They were shaking like leaves on a tree. They were scared of God's might. They were scared of God's presence. They were especially scared of God's purity and holiness.
When the people heard the Law of God they were pierced to the core. Before God's holiness they saw and knew the truth about themselves: that they were sinful and fallen and wicked and evil. The fire of God burnt to ashes their fig leaves of pride and their rags of human goodness. They knew that even the best they did was imperfect and full of sin. They knew they could not hide their sin. They stood before the holy Judge in their sinful nakedness and knew that death and hell was all that they deserved.
That's when they asked for a mediator, an intermediary, a go-between, someone Who would stand between them and the holy consuming God. "Speak to us yourself," they said to Moses, "and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die" (Ex 20:19). Or, as our Bible reading puts it, "Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die" (Deut 18:16).
In His grace and mercy God agreed to this. The Lord God said to Moses,
(Deut 18:17-18) "What they say is good. (18) I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers ..."This Prophet is the Mediator. He is the One Who goes between the holy God and the trembling, naked sinner.
Listen to Him. Listen to Him Who stands between you and the holy, consuming God. Listen to Him Who speaks God's Word to you.
(Deut 18:19) If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account.
B Why do we today need to listen to the Prophet? Because we are no better off than the Israelites who were standing at the foot of Mount Horeb. The ground may not be shaking under our feet. There may not be smoke and fire and lightning. But we should still be terrified. We should be terrified of God's might. We should be terrified of God's presence. We should especially be terrified of God's purity and holiness. For our God is a consuming fire and our sin leaves us standing before Him naked and trembling.
We can try to pretend, as we so often do, that our sin is not so bad. That we are basically good. That we try our best. That it is not our fault. That we don't deserve judgment and condemnation. But all of this is nothing but a lie. For God speaks and says, "You shall not ..." "You shall not have other gods." "You shall not make an idol." "You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God." "You shall not murder." "You shall not commit adultery." "You shall not steal." "You shall not lie." "You shall not covet." God says, loud and clear, "You shall not ..." But we do. Everyone of us. Every day. We break God's Law. We disobey our holy God. So we stand before Him, naked and afraid. We stand before Him with nothing to cover us, to hide us, to place over our shame.
You know what we need? The same thing Israel needed! We need someone to speak up for us. We need a mediator, an intermediary, a go-between, someone who stands between us and the holy consuming God.
This Mediator is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Prophet sent by God to stand between sinful man and the holy, consuming God. He is the One Who takes upon Himself God's holy anger against our sin. He is the One Who covers our nakedness with His perfect righteousness and holiness.
Listen to Him. Listen to this Prophet as He calls you to repent. Listen to this Prophet as He tells you He died in your place and paid the debt of your sin. Listen to this Prophet as He promises you the clothing of His righteous life because of His resurrection from the grave. Listen to this Prophet and believe His promises because He alone has the words of life.
III He is Our Brother
A God's promise to Moses is a prophet like Moses. As Moses put it,
(Deut 18:15) The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.God promises a prophet like Moses.
This does not mean Jesus was the same as Moses. For we all should realize that Jesus is greater, far greater than Moses. The Lord knew Moses face to face (Deut 34:10). Yet even Moses could not look upon God in His glory (Ex 33:12-23). Jesus not only could look upon God, He was and is God, the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15), the radiance of God's glory, and the exact representation of God's being (Heb 1:3). Jesus was and is one with the Father. He came from the Father full of grace and truth and makes the Father known to us (Jn 1:14,18).
I say again, Jesus was not the same as Moses. By the power of God and in the name of the Lord Moses did all sorts of miraculous signs and wonders (Deut 34:11). Jesus performed the same kinds of miracles and even more but did so under His own authority.
B And, yet, God promises a prophet like Moses. In what way, then, was Jesus like Moses? What can we say about Moses? Moses was a man. An Israelite of the tribe of Levi. Jesus, likewise, was a man. He was born an Israelite of the tribe of Judah. Furthermore, Moses was a humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth (Num 12:3). Jesus, likewise, was humble. He made Himself nothing. He took the very nature of a servant. He Humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross (Phil 2:6-8).
C God promises a prophet like Moses. So, we see Jesus, Who is crowned with glory and honor; yet, He was made a little lower than the angels (cf Heb 2:7-9). He, the eternal, the almighty, the holy Son of God, became our Brother (cf Heb 2:11-18). He was born of a woman, born under the Law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons (cf Gal 4:4-5).
He is our Brother Who kept the Law in our place. He is our Brother Who kept the Law perfectly. He is our Brother Who carried our sins to the cross. He is our Brother Who suffered and died in our place.
Listen to Him. Listen to this Prophet for He is our God and our Brother. He was tempted in every way just as we are. He suffered like you and I. But He did not fall like you and I. As our Brother He sympathizes with us in all our weaknesses (cf Heb 4:15). Because of Him we can approach the throne of grace with confidence knowing that we will receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (cf Heb 4:16). He strengthens you with His promise that no one can bring any charge against those He has washed clean with His blood. So, listen to Him. Listen to the Prophet. He is your Brother.
IV He is the Truth
A There are so many lying prophets in this world. There are those, like Harold Camping, who dare to predict the time of Christ's return (though I understand Harold Camping has now repented of his foolish ways and recognizes he has been a false prophet). There are those who deny the doctrine of the trinity. There are those who deny the full humanity or the full divinity of Christ. There are those who deny the existence of hell and eternal punishment. There are those who do not preach the full counsel of God – they talk only of love and peace and say not a word about judgment and sin. These lying prophets deserve nothing but death:
(Deut 18:20) But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death.
B The Prophet Who is like Moses speaks only the Truth all the time. God Himself makes clear that this Prophet speaks only what God Himself wants:
(Deut 18:18) I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.
This Prophet is unlike any other. He not only speaks the truth but He Himself is the Truth. Jesus Himself said, "I am the way and the truth and the life" (Jn 14:6). He not only speaks God's message but He Himself is the message. He is the Word become flesh (cf Jn 1:14).
He is the Truth. So listen to Him. In fact, you MUST listen to Him. For the Lord Himself says,
(Deut 18:19) If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account.
Listen to Him. Don't settle for imitations. Don't settle for liars. Don't settle for those the world listens to. For He is the Truth.
In this season of Advent we hear God's promise of a prophet like Moses. So how do we know Jesus is this prophet?
In the Gospels we see Jesus and three of His disciples climbing a mountain even as Moses climbed Mount Horeb. The same cloud that enveloped Mount Horeb enveloped this mountain. The appearance of the Lord was frightening – Peter and John and James were as afraid as were the Israelites before Mount Horeb. Do you remember what the voice of God said at this transfiguration of Jesus?
(Mk 9:7) Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!"The same words said by Moses are now said by God about Jesus. "Listen to him!"
Listen to him, congregation. Listen to Him who is the Prophet promised to Moses. Listen to Jesus the Prophet for He is our Mediator, our Brother, and the Truth.
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