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  • Chad Werkhoven

Deuteronomy 18:13-21 - God's Representatives

Prophets reveal God's salvation. But be on guard for the ones who lead to death!



 

Deuteronomy 18:13–22 (ESV)


CONTEXT: Moses is in the midst of a long speech, proclaim God's law to the Israelites.


13 You shall be blameless before the Lord your God, 14 for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do this.


15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— 16 just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17 And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. 20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.

 

Listen to passage & devotional:


 

Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 5: The Authority of Scripture


We receive all these books [of the Bible]

and these only

as holy and canonical,

for the regulating, founding, and establishing

of our faith.


And we believe

without a doubt

all things contained in them—

not so much because the church

receives and approves them as such

but above all because the Holy Spirit

testifies in our hearts

that they are from God,

and also because they prove themselves

to be from God.


For even the blind themselves are able to see

that the things predicted in them

do happen.

 

Summary


One of the key traits God desires from His followers is that they live differently than the people around them. We've seen a couple of times this year that the noetic effect of sin impairs our ability to reason correctly, redirecting our instinct to worship from God to all sorts of other things. This distortion is particularly evident in the lives of ungodly people, which is why God emphasizes the importance of His people leading lives that visibly differ from the world around them.


So God came directly to His people, and audibly spoke His commands from the mountain, which terrified those who heard it. The people, afraid they would die from the sound of God's voice, asked Moses to go up the mountain and represent them before God, to listen to His voice himself and then come back and tell the people what God had said, thereby representing the voice of God.


This is exactly what a prophet does: he represents God to the people. Moses was the first prophet, but he certainly wasn't the last. In fact, God here promises to "raise up a prophet like you [Moses] from among the Israelites." You know the names of many of these prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Elijah, just to name a few. But none of those great men would be like Moses; none of them would lead God's people to the Promised Land.


The Prophet that God was predicting through the voice of Moses would be none other than His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.



Dig Deeper


Lots of men have claimed to be a prophet, and to thereby have the authority to proclaim the word of the Lord. False prophets have swayed countless people away from the Truth, and done so with an eloquence and charisma that seemed nothing short of divine.


Moses, this original prophet inspired by the Holy Spirit, anticipates this problem, rhetorically asking, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?" The proof, Moses goes on to say, is in the pudding (so to speak). "If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken (v21-22)." Test the word of the Biblical prophets yourself! Have they not all been proven correct?


Most of the Bible was written by prophets, and although they represented the voice of God in all sorts of different ways, they all pointed to one thing: salvation through Jesus Christ (even the eschatological (end times) prophecies that have yet to be fully fulfilled point back to Christ). Paul writes, "For all of the promises of God find their Yes in Christ." So God's Word is complete! He's told us everything we need to know about Himself and our salvation through His prophets, perfectly recorded in scripture! We don't have anymore need for additional prophets since Christ fulfills all that the prophets promised.


This means that anyone else who claims to be a prophet or to speak on behalf of God is doing the opposite of what a true prophet would do; they're pointing people away from Christ. But you already knew to steer clear of cult like self appointed prophets. What's more critical to understand is that the corollary must be true then as well: anyone who points people away from Christ in any way is a false prophet. Be careful, because it's this latter group that's far more subtle, pervasive and dangerous!


The world is full of false prophets. Use your redeemed minds to test everything you hear against scripture, and flee from everything that points away from Christ!



  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, whose Word, delivered by the prophets of old, points us to salvation through Christ;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray for the discernment to test everything you hear against scripture, and for the courage to live differently than the world around you;

  • ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:

 

Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Acts 13

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