“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers — it is to him you shall listen.” Deuteronomy 18:15
Many people may not realize how specific God was in the Old Testament regarding the coming Messiah. Through Moses, God speaks of a Prophet coming who would be “like me”, meaning that this Prophet would speak as God. The words would be placed in His mouth by God, and His words would be life to those who followed.
Jesus claimed this position as the Prophet. All of Christianity hangs on whether or not this is so. If you can believe that Jesus is the Son of God then you can accept the atoning price of the cross and the empty tomb. If Jesus was just another man, though endowed with special gifts, then Christianity ceases to be about a Redeemer dying, and becomes a treatise on how to live a good moral life.
The Apostle John wrote of Jesus that He was the Word (John 1:1). The disciples that followed Jesus firmly believed that they were not following a mere man, but that all of the Old Testament was robed in human flesh and was walking and talking with them.
Jesus said of Himself, “I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father” (John 8:38). These words place Jesus with the Father throughout the Old Testament, seeing all that the Father saw. Again, His words must be either believed as the truth or rejected as a lie.
While seeing Jesus as Savior, Healer, Redeemer and even Friend is not that difficult, it is the title “Prophet” that we rarely equate with Christ. The prophets of the Old Testament were always recalling the sins of the people to them. When Elijah was living in Zarephath, a widow woman and her son were providing for Elijah, as he had provided for them with the miracle of meal and oil. When the woman’s son fell sick and died, she asked Elijah, “What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? Art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?” (1 Kings 17:18) The common perception of the prophet was one who reminded you of all that you had done wrong.
Another common perception is that the prophets foretold the future. Isaiah predicted that Cyrus would allow the nation of Israel to return from the Babylonian exile. It would be a mistake, however, to think that foretelling the future was the primary, or exclusive, role of a prophet. Rather, the prophets were mainly sent by God to be His covenant prosecutors. They were sent to remind the covenant people of their covenant obligations that they had so often forgotten. They foretold the will of God to the people in hopes that they would repent, trust in Yahweh, and fulfill their covenant obligations.
The New Testament prophet holds a different office entirely. Paul wrote that prophecy was to speak to men to “edification, and exhortation, and comfort” (1 Corinthians 14:3). Jesus certainly speaks these three things into all of our lives: he builds us up (edifies), he encourages us (exhorts) and he comforts us with His love and compassion.
Jesus as a prophet performs two tasks. He foretells the future, most notably a future that will be centered on His judgment and reign. He also foretells the will of God by reminding the Pharisees that they have broken the covenant. However, Jesus is also much greater than the prophets of old. For Jesus does not only preach God’s Word and Wisdom to the people, He is actually the very Word and the very Wisdom of God Almighty.
When Christ is made out to be cold and distant and harsh, then He ceases to be the Prophet. Every believer can rest in the sweet words of the Master, and find rest for their souls. Remember, it was Jesus who called all of us to Him, for He would give us rest.
While finding Jesus in the Old Testament, remember that He came not to be an extension of the Old Covenant, but to establish a new and living way. Your Prophet, Jesus is speaking words to comfort you today. Allow His abundant grace and mercy to bless you and go in peace.