Monday, December 05, 2011

Devotion 4. The 2nd Promise of a Savior, “A Prophet Like Me”.

What is a prophet? God chooses and calls a person to be a prophet. For example, God told Jeremiah “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you and before you were born I consecrated you. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:4-5. Jeremiah actual tried to get out of it, claiming he was too young. But God said not to claim youth and to speak whatever God commanded him to speak. (Jeremiah 1:6-7).

God let the prophets know his mind and purpose and enabled them to speak about it through the Holy Spirit. That is why so many of their speeches began with “thus says the Lord”. They spoke his very words.

Many think of prophets as ones who foretell the future. Mostly the prophets preached the law and the covenant. They warned Israel to repent and obey the covenant. Sometimes they brought word that God would act to protect them. Sometimes they brought warnings that God would punish or destroy them for disobedience.

Moses was a great prophet. God spoke the law of the covenant to him and he spoke it to Israel. He led Israel to obey the Lord. He prayed for Israel when Israel rebelled. He even told them they would eventually rebel and be driven out of the land for it.

At the end of his life Moses told Israel:
“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-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.’ And the Lord said to me ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 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”. Deuteronomy 18:15-18.

Certainly God raised up many prophets to speak to Israel. Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Amos, Ezekiel and many others.

But the ultimate fulfillment of this word was Christ.

The Jews themselves interpreted this message as messianic. At the time of Jesus, they were looking for the prophet promised by Moses. The priests and Levites asked John the Baptist if he was the prophet. (John 1:19-21). When Jesus fed the 5,000, the people said “this is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world” (John 6:14). When Jesus preached at the Feast of Booths the people said “This really is the Prophet” (John 7:40). Finally, Peter preached in Solomon’s Portico and invoked this passage to call Jews to believe in Jesus as the Messiah. (Acts 3:22)

We often hear the offices of Jesus referred to as prophet, priest and king. How did he function as a prophet? He knew the mind and words of God and spoke them. He did what the Father told him to do and said what the Father told him to say.

John wrote “No one has ever seen God (the Father). The only God (Jesus the Son) who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known (John 1:18).

Jesus said “…whatever the father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. John 5:19). He also said “I declare to the world what I have heard from him” (John 8:26) and “all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” John 16:15).

Jesus’ words are the last prophetic words. The New Testament is the writing of Jesus’ words and life in his words and in those of the apostles. Their teaching is his teaching. There are no new prophets and no new words. The words of those who claim to have new sayings from God or new revelations are false. The writer of Hebrews made this plain when he wrote “Long ago at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” (Hebrews 1:1-2).

Even that last prophetic word in the New Testament, the Book of Revelation, is the word of Christ. John made it clear. He wrote:
“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.” (Revelation 1:1-2).

Our gracious Heavenly Father revealed to us through his prophet Moses that a great prophet like Moses would eventually come to us. As John says in his gospel, the law came through Moses but Jesus brought us grace and truth.

All of those centuries passed from Moses and Joshua through the Judges, the kings, the exile, the return under Ezra and Nehemiah, the years of silence at the end of the prophets, and God still remembered and kept his word. At the right time, he caused a little baby to be born to a poor Jewish couple from a little town. And in so doing, he kept his word and brought it to pass, giving us the last and greatest prophet, the one who was with God and was God and spent eternity in perfect fellowship and harmony with the Father and Spirit before coming to us.

He was thus the perfect one to not only speak the words of the Father, but to reveal the Father to us, to make God known. He not only spoke, he lived and reflected the perfect image of God.

We reflect at Christmas on the wonder of God born in flesh to live among us. That alone is a wonder. But it is a great wonder also that he kept this word and brought it to pass in this event, along with many others.

This is the great God we worship and serve.
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