15 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. 16 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.” 17 The Lord said to me: “What they say is good. 18 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. 19 I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name. 20 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.”
How can you tell a true prophet from a false prophet? After Moses dies, how will the people know the will of God? In the verses just before these, Deuteronomy 18:9-14, we see the prohibition against consulting soothsayers and mediums like the nations around Israel do. So how will the people know who speaks for God?
When the LORD spoke to the people at Mount Horeb (Sinai), they were afraid. They asked that the LORD would not speak to them again. They were afraid to hear the LORD’s voice and they were afraid of the fire on the mountain. However, they asked that he would speak to them by Moses. They promised to listen to Moses. And they would obey what the LORD said by him. What they said pleased the LORD.
Moses had become the prophet for his people. He told the Israelites that after his death the LORD would send another prophet like him. That prophet would come from their nation, Israel. After Moses, there would be many prophets. They would be Israelites that God would choose. The LORD would speak by them to his people. The LORD would put His words in their mouths. And they must tell the Israelites what the LORD ordered them to speak. Anyone who did not obey the message would have to answer to the LORD.
But the LORD said that he would send a particular prophet. This prophet would be like Moses but something more. The LORD chose Moses to rescue His people when they were slaves. The LORD chose Moses to lead the people through the next 40 years and become their guide and their judge.
It would not be until the New Testament that we would start to fully understand what God meant. Peter spoke about the Lord Jesus as the prophet who was like Moses (Acts 3:21-23). Stephen was the first Christian that the Jewish leaders killed. Stephen spoke about Moses and the prophet like Moses that was yet to come. It was clear that Stephen meant the Lord Jesus (Acts 7:37). Philip who believed in Jesus went to his friend Nathanael. “We have found the person that Moses and the prophets wrote about. He is Jesus, Joseph’s son, from Nazareth (John 1:45).”
This is what Jesus said in John 5:46, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me. He wrote about me.” Jesus spoke what God gave to Him. He said, “I teach. However, what I teach is not my own. It is from him who sent me.’” (See John 7:16.) Again, “I have not spoken on my own. The Father sent me. And he has told me what I should say. And he has told me what I should speak.” (See John 12:49.)
These verses in Deuteronomy conclude with a warning. A prophet may speak a message that does not come from God. He may suppose that it is from God. However, God did not give that message to him. He may pretend that it is from God. If a prophet does these things, the message would not be from God but nothing more than his personal opinion. Then the people may believe a lie. Perhaps the prophet may even speak as from a false god. Moses ordered that any false prophet should die.
Items for Discussion
- Who are the false prophets of our time?
- How do you discern the truth when you hear it?
- If we are to believe that Christ was sent to be Moses’ replacement, how might we confirm that Godly appointment?
21 They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” 25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. 27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
Jesus, the Son of God, had all the authority in the world, even in the universe. There is a fundamental truth of Christian beliefs, “God created all things through Christ and put all things under Christ”. So even the spirits that turned evil, though Christ allowed them to exist, were completely subject to Him (see Colossians 1:16; Ephesians 1:20-21).
While this is a story about power beyond the comprehension of mankind, Jesus did not use His absolute authority the way we humans tend to use our own authority. For many people, authority is all about enriching oneself, getting one’s own way, suppressing the truth, and of getting and holding the power to keep doing those things. Witness the parade of totalitarian regimes, corporate executive, government and ecclesiastical scandals, tyrannical parents, bosses, teachers, government officials and the like. It shows like the evening news.
This was not the case with Jesus. He has all the authority there is to have, yet He uses it differently from the way many people would use their authority.
- In the New Testament, we only see Jesus take action when necessary. He didn’t try to hide His authority by posting lookouts at each door. Jesus did not try to keep out other potential demon-possessed-looking people from coming in. He simply dealt with the problem decisively.
- Jesus didn’t overreact. Jesus didn’t make a fight out of making the demon leave.. He just made the demons go.
- Jesus didn’t brag about what He did. Jesus didn’t use the opportunity to further His image. Jesus didn’t send people out to publicly promote His achievements.
The big deal here is that Jesus only uses authority to serve, not to be served. It is consistent throughout His life. If we are granted the gift of authority, that is exactly how Jesus intends for each of use to behave. Whether our authority is at home, at work, or somewhere else, Jesus wants us to use it to help others, not to make ourselves into something bigger and greater than we are.
Items for Discussion
- What examples can you think of where authority is abused?
- Can you also find examples where authority spawns servanthood?
- How to we guard against the problems of too much authority destroying humility and our desire to serve others?
- Can you think of examples where our natural authority over young people can be expressed as a servant?
- Why is the place where we encounter the holiness of God always also a place where we encounter human uncleanliness?