The Case for Jesus the Messiah – Incredible Prophecies that Prove God Exists/Part 7

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©{{{copyright}}}
Who Is the “Prophet Like Moses” of Whom God Says, “You Must Listen to Him”?

Editor’s Note: This material was first published in book form in 1989 by the John Ankerberg Evangelistic Association (now known as the Ankerberg Theological Research Institute).

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The Biblical Text

[Moses is speaking] The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet from among your own people, like myself; him you shall heed….

[God is speaking] I will raise up a prophet for them from among their own people, like yourself; I will put My words in his mouth and he will speak to them all that I command him; and if anybody fails to heed the words he speaks in My name, I Myself will call him to account. (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18, 19)—The Torah[1]

The Context of the Passage

God, through Moses, is warning Israel to remain separate from the evil practices of the surrounding nations (Deut. 18:9-12). Included in His warning, God instructs Israel how to tell the difference between a “true prophet” and a “false prophet.” Any prophet who speaks in the name of the Lord and his words do not come true is a “false prophet.” God has not spoken through him. In the same context God tells Israel He will send prophets who will truthfully speak for Him. What’s more, Israel can someday expect a prophet who will be “like Moses,” that God will specially raise up.

The Explanation of the Text

Think for a moment. Would a “prophet like Moses” be a unique personage in Israel? Why would this “prophet like Moses” be considered a reference to the coming Messiah?

1. It is a fact that throughout its history, the nation of Israel did not apply to any prophet these particular words. That is not to say that one or two individual rabbis did not try to make the application to a favored prophet. But it cannot be denied that the nation of Israel as a whole never acknowledged any other prophet to be “like Moses.”[2]
2. This was not a reference to Joshua because (1) as we shall see there is no resemblance between Moses and Joshua; (2) Joshua is never said to be a prophet nor does he fulfill the office of a prophet; (3) it was specifically stated in Joshua’s own time “no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses” (Deut. 34:10).
3. The word “prophet” is in the singular, so it must refer to some individual prophet in the future.
4. Until Jesus came, no one was superior to Moses, for it was only said of Moses and Jesus that they knew the Lord and spoke to Him “face to face” (Deut. 34:10; cf. Num. 12:8; Mt. 3:17; Mk. 9:7; Jn. 11:41,42; 17:1-5, NIV).
5. Up to the time of Christ, it can be documented that the Jews had not believed that “the prophet” had yet arrived. Thus the leaders of Israel asked John the Baptist, “Are you the prophet?” (Jn. 1:21), which John denied. But, when the people saw Jesus’ miracles, they said, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world” (Jn. 6:14).

What was the evidence that persuaded the people in Jesus’ own time that He was the unique prophet God said was “like unto Moses”? Could anyone but the Messiah be worthy of being considered the One who is “like Moses”? The following parallels and contrasts will show that only Jesus completely fulfilled and went beyond Moses’ prophetic office and is the unique One God promised would come.

A. A great founder of religion

Moses gave God’s revelation of the law and founded the religion of Israel. Jesus gave God’s complete revelation of grace and truth, fulfilled all the law and became the founder and Savior of the Christian religion (Jn. 1:17; Mt. 5:17; 1 Tim. 2:5-6).

B. A great revealer of God

Moses revealed God in writing the Torah. Moses did not point people to himself, but faithfully wrote about God and about the One in the future whom God told him about. Jesus claimed, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me. But if you do not believe His writings, how will you believe My words?” (Jn. 5:46,47, NAS, emphasis added).

Jesus just didn’t speak about God, but was God. He said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father…” (Jn. 14:9) and John said, “No man has ever seen God [except]… the only unique Son,… He has revealed Him… (Jn. 1:18, Amplified).

C. A great Law-giver

Moses was the only one authorized by God to give laws to Israel. It was Jesus who gave God’s full understanding of the law and gave “new” laws to Israel. Jesus quoted the law when He said, “You have heard that it was said…,” but added what no other prophet had ever dared speak: “but I say unto you…” (Mt. 5:21, 22). That’s why “when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” (Mt. 7:28, 29, NIV)

D. A great worker of miracles

Moses was a great worker of miracles (the ten plagues on Egypt; the parting of the Red Sea, etc.) (Ex. 7-14; Deut. 34:10-12). But Jesus did greater works than Moses. He said, “If I had not done among them [the miracles] what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin;…” (Jn. 15:24, NIV).

In Acts we read, “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourself know…” (Acts 2:22, NAS). Jesus commanded the elements, the wind and the water, raised the dead, gave sight to the blind, expelled the demons, and conquered death when He was resurrected from the dead (Mt. 8:23-27; 14:25; Lk. 7:11-15; 8:41, 42; Jn. 9:1-7; Lk. 4:33-35; Jn. 2:19-22).

E. A great Redeemer

Moses rescued Israel from the bondage and slavery of Egypt (Ex. 3-4; Acts 7:20-39). Christ rescued the world from the bondage and slavery of sin (Eph. 2:1-8; Rom. 3:28-4:6).

F. A great mediator

Moses was the mediator between God and Israel. Jesus is the Mediator now between God and all humanity. First Timothy 2:5, 6 says, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men.”

G. A great intercessor

Moses was the great intercessor for Israel, preventing God from utterly destroying them when they worshipped the golden calf (Ex. 32:7-14; Num. 14:11-22). Jesus is a greater intercessor. He now intercedes on behalf of all mankind (Jn. 3:16: Heb. 7:25; note Num. 21:4-9 and Jn. 3:14).

H. A great prophet, judge and king

Moses was a great prophet, judge and king (Ex. 18:13; Deut. 33:5). Jesus was a greater prophet, judge and king (Jn. 1:19-21, 29-34, 45; Mt. 2:2; Jn. 5:26-29; Heb. 7:17).

I. Moses was like the Messiah; Jesus was the Messiah.

The woman said, “I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am He” (Jn. 4:25, 26, emphasis added).

Jesus said, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me” (Jn. 5:46, NIV).

Was Deuteronomy 18:15 Recognized by the Jews as Messianic?

The Mishna, “Sefer ha-Mitzvot” in the Negative Commandments (13) states, “The prophet whom God will raise up must be ‘from among your own people’ (Deut. 18:15). This means also that He must arise in the land of Israel.”[3]

“The Talmud asserts ‘that Messiah must be the greatest of future prophets, as being nearest in Spirit to our master Moses.’… This prediction, then, could only receive its accomplishment in the Messiah. It was so understood by the Jews in the days of our Lord.”[4]

Clues to Identify the Messiah

Whoever the Messiah is, He must fit the following descriptions:

Clue #1—He, a male child (the Hebrew text specifically uses a 3rd person, singular, masculine pronoun—”he”), will be born of the seed of the woman.

Clue #2—He will come from the race of the Jews, and specifically from the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Clue #3—He will be a great prophet, with the authority to teach like Moses.

Read Part 8

Notes

  1. W. Gunther Plaut, et. al., The Torah—A Modern Commentary (New York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1981), p. 1466.
  2. Delitzsch and Gloag, Part 2, pp. 135-136.
  3. Plaut, et al., The Torah, pp. 1472, 1766.
  4. Delitzsch and Gloag, Part 2, p. 114.

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