Moses was an old man, 120-years-old, and the Lord told him that he was about to die. Now you wouldn’t have known that from looking at him. His eyes were still keen and his back was still strong. But God told him that his time was near, so he gathered Israel together to recall for them one last time two important things: the mighty acts of God on their behalf and the laws given to them from the mountain.
It was a bittersweet talk, sweet because God had done so many kind and powerful miracles for them, and bitter because the people had so often defied him. As you read through this recounting of their adventures, you can almost hear Moses’ voice rising in anger, pleading in despair, and whispering in hope. The Bible book of Deuteronomy is the telling of that tale.
The people must have been hovering between eager attentiveness and sorrow the whole time. These were the last words of their deliverer, their lawgiver, their judge. Before long they would be following General Joshua and the Wonderworking Prophet would be gone. Who would tell them God’s words? Who would reveal God’s ways to them? Who would make God known to them now? In the middle of his discourse, Moses promised them another prophet.
Deuteronomy 18:14-19, The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the LORD your God has not permitted you to do so. The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. 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.”
The LORD said to me: “What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account.
Moses went on to finish his talk, climb Mount Nebo, and gaze over the Promised Land he would never enter. Then in the presence of God alone, he died and the Lord himself saw to his burial. Though it is commonly held that Moses recorded the words of Deuteronomy for us, the last chapter that records these details is clearly written by another. You can sense the melancholy of the author in the closing verses of the book.
Deuteronomy 34:10-12, Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, who did all those miraculous signs and wonders the LORD sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.
Fast-forward almost 1500 years. Peter has healed a lame man at the temple in the name of Jesus of Nazareth and when the worshipers come running to see what has happened, he begins to speak about Jesus.
Acts 3:12-16, 22-23, “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see…
For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.’
Peter told them all that the prophet Moses was promising, the one who knew God personally, the great Prophet they must heed was Jesus. Peter recognized in Jesus the Moses-like Prophet that God promised.
The woman at the well (John 4) recognized Jesus as The Prophet.
Even the crowds recognized Jesus as The Prophet (Matthew 16:14; Luke 7:16; 9:8; John 6:14; 7:40; 9:17).
As a wonderworker, Jesus was easy to recognize as a prophet. As one who would tell them God’s words, reveal God’s ways, and make God known to them, Jesus was obviously The Prophet.
What difference does it make if he was?