- The Explore the Bible lesson for Feb. 9 focuses on Deuteronomy 18:15-22.
When my daughter was 2 years old, she started mumbling words. My son (at that time 6 years old) asked me, “What is she saying?” I would reply, “I think she is saying …” and would come out with something random. Eventually, my son assumed that I understood baby talk, which I didn’t, but he didn’t know that.
The life of the prophet was very particular. They had a special calling from God to deliver God’s message to his people. In many cases, the prophet became the mediator between God and the people.
This story shows us the faithfulness of God by providing a prophet, as well as the responsibility of the people towards God’s prophet.
The Need (Deuteronomy 18:15-17)
Moses was about to die, and the Israelites were anxious about their future leader. The need for a new leader was at hand. Moses instructed the people that a new leader, from among themselves, will rise up to lead the way. The Israelites were asked to do one thing regarding the new leader: “You must listen to him.” Moses made this specific request to the people, because he knew how easily the people drifted away from the Lord. Obedience was still a requirement.
In Exodus 20:19, when God delivered the Ten Commandments to the people, they were terrified. They trembled with fear when they saw the thunder and lightning. At that moment, they decided to have Moses as the mediator between them and God. They didn’t want to die. The new leader had a big responsibility—to lead the people into the Promised Land and represent them before the Lord. It was a great liability.
This passage shows how unworthy we are to approach God. When Isaiah saw the Lord seated on the throne, the prophet cried out, “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King… (Isaiah 6:1-6)”. In the Gospel of Luke, when Jesus had finished speaking to the crowds, he told Simon: “‘Put out into deep water’ … when they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish… when Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man’” (Luke 5:1-8). Because of our helplessness and inability to approach God, Jesus became the mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5).
The Provision (Deuteronomy 18:18-19)
The role of this prophet was significant. It was considered the highest authority above the king and priest. He was supposed to received God’s words and commands and communicate everything to the people. This is the reason why Israel killed their prophets (1 Kings 19:10), because they spoke God’s commands, even when these commands were unwelcome.
God promised he would call to account anyone who would not listen to the words spoken by the prophet. The prophet had this reassurance from God. In the New Testament, the people expected a prophet who would come and liberate them from oppression.
When Jesus came to live among us, he became the ultimate revelation of God to his people. He became the prophet who would deliver God’s message to his people. The Jews did not listen to Jesus and killed him. God had provided his message through Jesus and the people rejected him. One day Jesus will judge the people, the same way God called to account anyone who did not listen to his message.
The Test (Deuteronomy 18:20-22)
In Numbers 22, we studied the story of Balaam—a prophet or foreteller who was hired by Balak to curse Israel. We know the end of the story, but the point is that there were false prophets, and God warned the people about them.
The warning about false prophecy was a serious charge. God told them that if a prophet speaks anything that God has not commanded, or if the prophet speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet should be put to death.
In conclusion, the Lord instructed the people of Israel how to know if a prophet has spoken by the Lord or not. They were commanded to wait to see if what the prophet spoke took place or came true. In the New Testament, Jesus warned his followers about false prophets, as well (Matthew 24:11).
The people of Israel were instructed to do three things: trust God, listen to God’s prophet, and test the prophets and their message. How are you trusting God? Are you being obedient to God’s message spoken through his messenger?
Jaime Cortez is discipleship pastor at First Baptist Church in Athens, Texas.