MY PERSPECTIVE, Gary Damron
For four years I’ve been attending a men’s group that started reading through the Bible, a chapter or two a week. We’ve been in the Major Prophets for quite a while, and sometimes we discuss which prophet’s message applies to situations today.
Those prophets lived thousands of years ago. The background of Moses includes God speaking to his people from a mountain of fire. The experience was so terrifying they asked that Moses only receive the messages, because the direct personal Presence of God was too much. They said to their leader, “‘This great fire will consume us, and we will die if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any longer…. Go near and listen to all that the Lord our God says. Then tell us whatever the Lord our God tells you. We will listen and obey’” (Deuteronomy 5:25, 27).
After forty years of wandering in the wilderness, when the children of Israel were ready to finally enter the Promised Land, Moses stood and addressed the crowd. At age 120, he projected ahead to when his people would go on without him. He gave specific instructions, then ended with, “‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you. … you must listen to him’” (Deuteronomy 18:15). Joshua was the immediate successor, but further into the future the words also spoke to the birth of the Messiah, the great Prophet.
Others in the Old Testament continued to speak words of prophecy, and each of them foretold a Prophet. Isaiah wrote, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Jeremiah wrote, (23:6), “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.’”
Three of the men who became Jesus’ disciples were privileged to see a vision of Christ, along with Moses and Elijah. Jesus “was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light” (Matthew 17:2). Some of the same words spoken in Deuteronomy thundered from the clouds that day. “‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear him!’” (Matthew 17:5).
Later Peter in his sermon in the Temple summarized, “‘… beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers’” (Acts 3:23). Stephen before he was stoned to death quoted Moses, “‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your own people’” (Acts 7:37).
Anyone who believes the words of the Prophet must step out of their culture and say, “You don’t have to live this way anymore.” We try so hard to fit into our culture, that we can’t effectively offer a risen Savior. Living too much in the world we stumble along, unable to lead others.
What do we need to hear from the great Prophet? That the Father spoke to us through his Son. That there are true and false prophets, and only by spending time in the Bible and in prayer will we have discernment to know the difference. Finally, we keep waiting for things to change, but Jesus said 2,000 years ago, “‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’” (Mark 1:15).
So, why, for thousands of years, would prophecy be given regarding Jesus the coming Prophet? So that we don’t miss His significance. He came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17). He was born, lived, died, was resurrected from the dead, and sent his Spirit. For whatever problems our culture faces, he holds the solution. We need to listen to the voice that echoes through eternity, step out of our culture, in order to follow Him.