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Galatians 5:16-23 teaches that at any moment we are either walking by the Holy Spirit or according to the sin nature. Walking by the Spirit, enjoying fellowship with God, walking in the light are virtually synonymous. During these times, the Holy Spirit is working in us to illuminate our minds to the truth of Scripture and to challenge us to apply what we learn. But when we sin, we begin to live based on the sin nature. Our works do not count for eternity. The only way to recover is to confess (admit, acknowledge) our sin to God the Father and we are instantly forgiven, cleansed, and recover our spiritual walk (1 John 1:9). Please make sure you are walking by the Spirit before you begin your Bible study, so it will be spiritually profitable.

Tue, Jul 12, 2011

33 - A Prophet Like Moses [b]

Acts 3:19-22 & Deuteronomy 18:9-26 by Robert Dean
The large percentage of Jews in the church in Acts were well versed in the wording and vocabulary of the Old Testament and the Mosaic Law. They also had a great sense that some radical change was afoot, that something important was about to take place. So when Peter used specific, distinct vocabulary and phrases when he spoke to them in Acts 3:23, they were sure to have recognized immediately that he was quoting from Deut. 18:15 and comparing the prophet Moses to the Prophet to come. But what was so distinct and unique about Moses compared to other prophets? Who was this Prophet to come? In this lesson, we learn that these two prophets had in common the role of legislator, mediator, royalty, and leadership.
Duration:1 hr 5 mins 34 secs

A Prophet Like Moses. Acts 3:19-22, Deuteronomy 18:9-26

 

Again and again and again in this message we hear this chorus that Peter repeats, and that is that what has happened to Jesus is according to the prophets. Then he quotes from some specific passages. There is a quote in verse 23 from Deuteronomy 18:15ff, and in verse 25 a quote from Genesis 12:3. But within the context of what he says there are allusions to Old Testament passages and things that are taught there, terms that are loaded with meaning. The Jewish audience at that time would understand that. As soon as he used certain words they were like code words because they had been given such significance within the teaching that they had from the Old Testament. In the way that he used these phrases and certain vocabulary words he is making a case, he is weaving his points together to establish his foundation that the Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures, had over three hundred predictions that were related to Messiah and His coming, and that the Messiah would be known because He fit these patterns and fulfilled these prophecies.

The second part of Peter's challenge is right out of Deuteronomy 32. The Jewish people need to turn before the Messiah will come back and establish the kingdom; that is the precondition. Acts 3:19-22 NASB "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until {the} period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. Moses said, 'THE LORD GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED to everything He says to you." We see a pattern here that is a little more developed than Acts chapter two: that Jesus had to be glorified, taken to heaven and received there until—so there is a time period—the times of the restoration of all things. The word here for "restoration" is apokastatasis[a)pokastatasij]. The verb form is apokathistemi [a)pokaqisthmi], and it is used in Acts 1:6 when the disciples asked Jesus just before He ascended to heaven if He was at that time going to restore the kingdom. Jesus said, "It is not for you to know the times and the seasons…" But Peter is showing by using that same word that before this restoration can take place there are certain things that have to happen.

Peter is now going to quote from two Old Testament passages. The first is from Deuteronomy chapter eighteen. Acts 3:22 NASB "Moses said, 'THE LORD GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED to everything He says to you. [23] And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.'" This is a really interesting passage for Peter to quote. Deuteronomy 18:15 NASB "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him."

Deuteronomy was a restatement of the Law and one of the things that Moses points out in this section has to do with the qualifications of leaders. And this sets apart Israel's sense of leadership and authority in the state from anything else in the ancient world. Anything similar in the ancient world came from Scripture, not the other way around. God revealed this to the Jewish people, it was written down and even before Noah there was some sort of canon. Whether it was just verbal or non-verbal we don't know but there is clearly indication that there a sense of a recording of revelation. That later became the basis for what Moses used as reference material under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to record the Pentateuch. What happens in a pagan culture, as we see in Romans, is that there is a deterioration from the truth, not an evolutionary process up to the truth or up to a higher form of religion.

The immediate context of the passage we are looking at in Deuteronomy 18:15 are regulations related to the leadership in the Jewish theocracy. The regulations related to kings is spelled out starting in 17:14 down to the end of the chapter. It was required of the king that he was to hand write a copy of the Law for himself, and this would be witnessed by the priests and the Levites. He had no excuse for not knowing every detail in the Torah. Then chapter eighteen starts another section where we have regulations about the priests and the Levites. Then in verse nine there is a warning to avoid divination—an unauthorized approach to getting insight into reality apart from a specific authorized revelation from God. So the Levites and the leadership were prohibited from getting information from unauthorized sources, and it was pointed out that these sources were demonic ultimately. NASB "When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. [10] There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, [11] or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead." Conclusion: [13] "You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. [14] For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you {to do} so." So part of the reason the Canaanites were being eliminated from the land was their rebellion against God in seeking to rule their life on the basis of satanic and demonic revelation.

In contrast to this, Deuteronomy 18:15 NASB "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him." The "me" is Moses. This prophet is also going to be Jewish. The command is that when this prophet shows up they were to listen to Him. [16] "This is according to all that you asked of the LORD your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, 'Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.'" The point is that they had heard God audibly and they didn't like to hear God's voice. Once again it is that truth suppression thing, we don't like to be reminded that God is speaking to us. The Lord is going to send them a prophet, and this is a mediatorial role. Moses had a mediatorial role, and what verse 16 is saying is because they didn't want to hear the voice directly from God, God gave them a prophet. Moses is the pattern. But the prophet being spoken of here is going to be like Moses but will be even greater.

This verse is clearly understood in the Old Testament and in the early church. Remember that the vast majority of the people in the early church, up until about 150, were Jewish. So you were not going to pull a whole lot of stunts to fool people when there were a large number of Jews who understood the Old Testament, some of whom were eyewitnesses to the events in Jerusalem. It was clearly understood that this was a prophecy related to the Messiah. Even in Judaism in the Talmud and the Mishnah and other Jewish writings up until about 700-1000 AD the predominant view among the Jewish writings was that this was a prediction of the Messiah. Then there were a couple of rabbis around 1000 AD who came up with some alternate interpretations and they influenced not only the Jewish community but also some Protestant reformers, like John Calvin, because some of these reformers were going to Jewish writings to get insights into the Old Testament.

We need to look at this a little bit because if we just study the text it becomes very clear from the details of the language that this is a messianic prophecy. Not only do we have that to give us confirmation that this was intended by God and by Moses to be a messianic prophecy but it is understood that way in the New Testament. Peter interprets this and understands it to be a prophecy of the Messiah in Acts chapter three, and then Stephen does the same thing in Acts chapter seven. Acts 7:37 NASB "This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, 'GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN. [38] This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and {who was} with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you.'" So we have both Peter and Stephen quoting from Deuteronomy 18:15 that this is a messianic prophecy.

Observations: The language of Deuteronomy 18:15 makes it clear that it is describing an individual. Note in verse 15 the words "a prophet," without the definite article, and verse 20 the words "the prophet," with the definite article. There is a difference between a prophet and the prophet. (Unable to follow/understand all of the argument from the audio)

The core verse for understanding the role of a prophet really comes from Exodus 7:1, 2 when God is speaking to Moses and Moses is trying to avoid having to talk. NASB "Then the LORD said to Moses, 'See, I make you {as} God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land.'" God builds an analogy. As God, God speaks to the Israelites as their ultimate authority. Moses is going to function in that analogy to Pharaoh. He is going to be the ultimate authority announcing judgment on Pharaoh. And as a prophet was a spokesperson for God so Aaron would be the spokesperson for Moses. That tells us that the core role of a prophet is to be the spokesperson for God. A prophet represents God to man and a priest represent man to God.

In Deuteronomy 18:15 God says through Moses "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me [Moses]." He goes on to explain this. [17] "The LORD said to me, 'They have spoken well. [18] I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. [19] It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require {it} of him.'" This puts an ethical obligation on the people to be obedient to the words of this prophet like Moses, there is not an option. If they are disobedient there will be judgment, God is going to hold them accountable. This is why Moses said in verse 15, "you shall listen to him." It is a command; it is not an option.

What was it that made Moses distinct? Numbers 12:6 NASB "He said, 'Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream." These are other means of divine revelation—visions, dreams. [7] 'Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; [8] With him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant, against Moses?'" The context here is Numbers 11:16-30. God has authorized Moses to have a delegated leadership called the elders, and He confirmed that by distributing the Holy Spirit to those seventy elders. He also allowed them to prophecy but not like Moses did (11:25). In Numbers 12:1-5 Aaron and Miriam started speaking against Moses. In 12:6-8 God is defending Moses, and His point is that even though there are other prophets Moses is unique among all prophets because of his relationship to Me as a mediatorial prophet, because "I speak with him face to face."

Deuteronomy 34:1 NASB "Now Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan… [5] So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. [6] And He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows his burial place to this day…. [8] So the sons of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the days of weeping {and} mourning for Moses came to an end. [9] Now Joshua the son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; and the sons of Israel listened to him and did as the LORD had commanded Moses. [10] Since that time no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face." So it wasn't Joshua.

Deuteronomy 33:1 NASB "Now this is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the sons of Israel before his death." The phrase "the man of God" never appears in the Pentateuch anywhere else. Moses is always referred to as the servant of the Lord, never as the man of God. In 34:5, 6 it has been argued that it is not that nobody knew where Moses was buried but by the time Deuteronomy is finalized nobody from that generation was still alive and nobody knew where the grave could possibly be. That would also exclude Joshua from being the writer of this last chapter. So 34:10 is like a statement made either right before the exile or maybe in the final form of the Pentateuch by maybe Ezra after the return.

Here is this prophecy. Moses said: "A prophet will come like me." Yet probably 800 or 1000 years later and these last verses are added the prophet overseeing this writes: "] Since that time no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face." It is not until Jesus shows up that there is a prophet like Moses, and He is a prophet who combines in His person those same elements that we find Moses had—legislative, mediatorial, royal leadership that is unique and distinct to Moses. Jesus is the one, then, who fulfills this prophecy. It is from this that Peter will conclude when he comes to the end of Acts 3:26 NASB "For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one {of you} from your wicked ways." Before Jesus can come and establish the kingdom this has to happen.