The Lord Raised Up a Prophet

Based on: Deuteronomy 18:15-20

“Do not be afraid.” That is one of the first things the angel said to the prophet Daniel when the angel appeared to him. And when an angel appeared to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and to the shepherds to announce the Savior’s birth, what were the first words those angels spoke? “Do not be afraid.” Why do the angels need to tell people not to be afraid? If the angels were the cute and sometimes baby like little creatures as often depicted, would they really need to say, “Do not be afraid”? No, probably not. Those visited by angels knew these creatures were powerful and holy. Daniel describes the angel that visited him as having a face like lightning, eyes like flaming torches, and a voice like the sound of a multitude. It is no wonder the angel had to tell Daniel, “Do not be afraid.” A visit from an angel would certainly cause us to be afraid, but to stand in the presence of the almighty God would be even more terrifying. God knows this and therefore instead of coming to us in his glory or sending an angel, the Lord raised up a Prophet from among us to speak his words to us.

The Israelites saw not just an angel, but they saw God’s power while they were at Mount Horeb. They saw the smoke surrounding the mountain and they felt the ground shake. They heard the voice of God as the lightening flashed overhead and God told them they should be perfect. Over and over again God said “You shall . . .” and “You shall not . . .” They saw God’s power and realized their own guilt in the presence of God’s holiness. They were terrified – and rightly so. They told Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”

The same is true of us. God told Moses, “No one may see me and live.” The guilt from even the sins we consider “little” would destroy us in the presence of God.

Yet God wants to speak to us. He has a message for us – not a message of condemnation, but a message of peace and forgiveness. How does he communicate this message to us when his very presence terrifies and even destroys us? He raised up a Prophet from among us. Moses told the Israelites God would do this, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers.” This Prophet would speak God’s words for him. This Prophet would come “from among us.” He would be a human being like us. This Prophet is Jesus Christ – it is God himself becoming human to share his message with us.

In the person of Jesus Christ, the God who spoke the Ten Commandments as the thunder rolled over Mt. Horeb also made the soft sounds of a content little baby born in Bethlehem. Even though this baby was the all-knowing and all-powerful God of the universe he grew in wisdom and in strength as he became a man. This is how the Lord raised up a Prophet from among us.

When you speak to a small child and you want to communicate to that child in a way that shows love and concern you crouch down or perhaps get on your knees and talk to the child at their level. God came down to us to speak to us. He took on flesh and blood so that we would not be terrified by him and so that he could speak to us personally and we would not die.

Because the Prophet, Jesus Christ, is human he is also familiar with our problems and frailties and he was tempted just as we are tempted. He has experienced the difficulties of this life. As a human being he was our substitute, living a perfect life for us and taking on himself the punishment we deserved for sin.

Yet if it were only a human being that died his sacrifice would not take away our sin. No, when Jesus Christ shed his blood on the cross for you and for me it was God’s blood that covered the cross and dripped onto the ground. You can be sure his sacrifice covered every sin you have ever committed.

How can this be that the eternal God became a man and died? I don’t know how but I do know why. Just look in the mirror. It was for you that he did it. He wanted to tell you about his love for you in person so the Lord raised up his Prophet and the Prophet spoke his word to us.

You can be sure the words of this Prophet come from God. He tells us what God wants us to know and his authority to speak comes from God. God says, “I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.” Therefore, Moses says, “Listen to him.”

However, be careful. There are other prophets – other people who talk about God. God warns the Israelites about these other prophets. He says, “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.” “Put to death”? God does not give us this command, but he gave it to the Israelites. If it seems harsh consider this. Anyone who speaks contrary to what God’s Prophet, Jesus Christ, speaks is speaking lies against God and is also a danger to our faith. God takes this seriously – first, God does not want his words distorted or his reputation tarnished; second, he loves us and does not want our eternal life jeopardized by people who incorrectly teach the saving message.

Even though we do not have the same command to put false prophets to death, we still must deal with those who don’t speak the truth. Some will say Jesus saves but you must add your own work to that – you must choose Christ, you must grab on to him with your own strength and then you are saved. Others are false prophets for what they don’t say. They will tell you Jesus died on the cross for you and that he rose again in the hearts of the believers, but they will not admit that the body of Christ rose physically from death to life, therefore they also don’t teach that you will someday rise from the dead. They are promoting a lie.

Avoid these “prophets”. There is only one prophet with authority to save. That is Jesus Christ. It is only his message that can give eternal life. Jesus himself said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

In fact, there are consequences for not listening to the one Prophet sent by God. God says, “If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account.” Those who do not listen will be called to account by God himself – they will suffer eternal punishment for their sin, but all who listen to God’s words spoken by Jesus Christ will have eternal life.

We have this eternal life now and we will continue to enjoy it in heaven where we will be able to stand in the presence of God without fear.

The Lord raised up a Prophet from among us. That Prophet is God himself who took on human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. Through this Prophet God spoke to us his message of forgiveness and salvation.

Amen.

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