Moses told the people of Israel regarding the future that YHWH would “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. 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 (Deut 18:18-19)”
Has this prophet arisen yet? If so, who was he? Followers of Jesus Christ (Yeshua Ha Mashiach) know this to be a prophecy of the Messiah that was to come–He would be a Prophet, an Israelite, would be “like” Moses, would speak YHWH’s words, and men would be judged for not listening to Him. Lets examine the criteria in Deuteronomy 18 for this predicted one to come:
He would be a prophet In Mt 21:11 the crowds declared “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee” and in John 4 the Samaritan woman at the well said “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet” when Jesus accurately told her about private details of her life. In John 6:14 after feeding the 5000 the people actually declared that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Deut 18 prophecy of Moses: “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Peter also declared that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy in Acts 3:22-23. There are many other NT examples of Jesus’ prophethood including the chief priests being afraid of seizing Jesus because they knew He was considered to be prophet (Mt 21:46), and being declared a prophet upon raising a young man from the dead (Lk 7:16). Criterion one met.
He would be an Israelite Mt 1:1 states that Jesus is “the son of David” and goes on to list his genealogy. In his Luke 3 genealogy, verse 33 declares Him “the son of Judah”. Criterion two, check.
He would speak in God’s name and authority, and those who don’t listen will be judged by YHWH Jesus stated plainly in John 12:48-50 that “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.” When Jesus was transfigured into His glory on the mountain, in the presence of Moses and Elijah, a voice spoke from the clouds saying “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” This event is recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke. We are told in Hebrews that God “spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son“ Clearly the NT views Jesus as authoritative; he fulfills Criterion number three.
He would be “like” Moses Jesus had many commonalities with Moses–lets examine some major ones:
1. Lawgivers–Moses gave the 10 commandments and the Mosaic law (Exo 20/the Pentateuch); Jesus brought the New Covenant (predicted in Jeremiah 31:31; fulfilled in Luke 22:20)
2. Deliverers–Moses set the people of Israel free from slavery in Egypt (Exo 3:10, 5:1); Jesus set us free from sin and death (Rom 8:2, Jn 8:36, 1 Cor 15:56-57)
3. Mediators–Moses represented the people before YHWH (Exo 20:18-21); Jesus is the mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5)
4. Direct Relationship with God–Moses knew YHWH “face to face” (Deut 34:10); Jesus had seen the Father (Jn 6:46, Lk 10:22)
5. Other typological similarities–both survived existential attacks as infants, both sojourned in Egypt, both left a home of royalty to be a servant of the people and God, both were raised by a step-father, and both were rejected by the nation Israel at their first coming. Moses divided the sea for the people of God to walk through, Jesus walked on the sea and invited one of His disciples to walk on it with Him. Both were leaders–Moses led the twelve tribes, Jesus led the twelve disciples, later to become apostles. Both led people to “the promised land”. Both were prophets, intercessors, and both performed great miracles. All four criterion met.
Before concluding, lets examine one other aspect of this prophecy–was Moses speaking of just one prophet or a succession of prophets? There are several compelling reasons to believe that scripture is pointing to a single individual and not a collection. First, Moses has already covered the topic of prophets in Deut 13:1-5. Also, the meaning of the phrase “like you” from 18:18 is expounded upon in Deut 34:10-12:
Since that time no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, for all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh, all his servants, and all his land, and for all the mighty power and for all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.
No one else in the history of Israel came close to fulfilling these requirements but Jesus fulfilled them all.