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A Prophet Like Moses

The children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for forty years because the older generation did not believe God nor trust Him to enable them to overcome the inhabitants and enter the Promised Land. When Moses told the new generation about God’s promises, he referred back to the land promise made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Numbers 32:8-13). He warned them against forgetting about God after He would bring them into this wonderful promised land (Deuteronomy 6:10-12).

Joshua led them into the Promised Land and God gave the land into their hand and drove out the inhabitants (II Chronicles 20:7-8). It might seem as if that were the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham.

Joshua 23:
14 And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.
15 Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all good things are come upon you, which the LORD your God promised you; so shall the LORD bring upon you all evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.

But if you read the context of Joshua’s address in chapter 23, you see that he was saying that God had kept His promises regarding the land and the blessings, but if the people turned back and worshipped the gods of the people who were in the land, then God would also keep His promises about His punishment of wickedness.

The people did, in fact, turn to idolatry and wickedness, and although God patiently warned them over and over, eventually (nearly 1000 years later) He removed them from their land (Ezekiel 33:23-29; II Chronicles 36:15-21). When the children of Israel lived in that land for a time, it was not the complete fulfillment of the promises to Abraham, for it did not last, even though God said He would give the land to his descendants forever. It was a temporary, conditional fulfillment designed as a foreshadowing of the ultimate fulfillment that is still to come. Hebrews 11:39-40 tells us that they did not receive the promise, “God having provided some better thing for us.”

Moses was called by God to lead the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land. But that it was not the final fulfillment of all that God would do can be seen from Moses’ repeated reference back to God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (see previous article), as well as his prophecy of a coming prophet (whom Peter identifies as Jesus Christ in Acts 3:22ff).

Deuteronomy 18:
15 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;
16 According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not.
17 And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken.
18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.
19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.

Moses was God’s spokesman to the children of Israel, and he gave them the Law that was to govern them as a nation when they entered into the promised land. Jesus Christ is that prophet that Moses spoke of, and it is his words that we are to hearken to, for God put His words in his mouth. Jesus said that his words are spirit and life (John 6:63). But notice that he was to be a prophet from among their brethren. The prophecies of the coming Messiah all refer to a man who would be God’s son and His perfect representative, but they do not speak of God becoming a man. I cover this in more detail in the Closer Look article on Who is Messiah.

Not only did Moses foretell of the coming Prophet, but he laid out details of how God wanted the king of the nation of Israel to rule. The king was not to be a stranger, but one of their brethren. And he was not to multiply horses, or gold and silver, or many wives, or anything that would turn him away from God (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). Rather, he was to copy the book of The Law and read it, so as to keep his heart focused on God.

Deuteronomy 17:
18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:
19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:
20 That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.

It was indeed God’s will for them to have a king. When the people later asked Samuel for a king and he told them it wasn’t God’s will, it was not because God did not want them to have a king, it was only because the time was not right. They insisted, and the result was that they got a bad king, Saul. He did not do what the Law said the king was supposed to do, and his heart was not right with God. Later, David became the king that they should have had, and he was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). But the words of the Law as recorded in Deuteronomy 17 show that it was God’s will for them to have a king as long as that king ruled righteously. In fact, that is what God has wanted all along on earth – a man after His heart that will speak His words and rule righteously on His behalf. This is the entire purpose for man.


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