Deuteronomy 18 15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your [j]countrymen, you shall listen to him. Acts 3 17 “And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also. 18 But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His [h]Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. 19 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; 20 and that He may send Jesus, the [i]Christ appointed for you, 21 whom heaven must receive until the[j]period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet [k]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.’ John 1 19 This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not [q]the Christ.” 21 They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” And he *said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” John 5 45 Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”
Have you ever wondered why they asked John if he was “the prophet”? Not just a prophet, but “the prophet”? I’m not an authority on Judaism, so I don’t really know how many Jewish scholars expected Deut 18:15 to be fulfilled by the Messiah, although I did read that some did. But if Peter was speaking by inspiration (and he was) in Acts 3:17, then Jesus did fulfill Deut 18:15 and was “the prophet” Moses predicted. I doubt that would jump out at us as a Messianic prediction like some of the clearer ones, like Isaiah 53, Micah 5:2, etc., but it is still a Messianic prediction. When Jesus said that Moses wrote about Him (John 5:46), was He referring to Deut 18:15? Probably so. I can’t think of any where else in the Torah (the first 5 OT books) where Moses made a Messianic prediction, although there are indeed types (like the Passover Lamb) and the seed promise to Abraham (Galatians 3:16 that seed was Christ, the Messiah). Probably this prediction in Deut 18:15 is why the Jews came asking John if he was “the prophet” (John 1:21). Surely they were not just asking him if he was “a” prophet. Their next question, “are you Elijah?” tells us that they were looking for the fulfillment of Malachi 4: 5 5 “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. Of course, they expected Elijah himself to be raised and to come right before the “age to come” would begin, i.e. the Messianic Age. Jesus later told the apostles that John the Baptist was indeed the fulfillment of Malachi 4:5. Matthew 17 10 And His disciples asked Him, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” 11 And He answered and said, “Elijah is coming and will restore all things; 12 but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did [d]to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer [e]at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist. So why did John tell the Jews that he was not Elijah? Because he was not the actual man Elijah raised that they were expecting. But Jews’ questions to John tell us that they were expecting some OT prophecies to be fulfilled, and that tells us that perhaps they were asking if John was the fulfillment of Deut 18:15 “the prophet”. I doubt if they were asking if he was the Messiah Himself. They were probably expecting some great prophet, like Moses, to come right before the Messiah would come (just as they expected Elijah to come).
Back to our main point, Jesus was “the prophet” predicted by Moses in Deut 18:15. We often think of Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior, the Redeemer, The Son of God, etc., but we usually don’t think of him as “the prophet”. The Muslims speak more of Jesus as a prophet than Christians do, although they believe (incorrectly) that he was just another prophet like Moses who brought some more of God’s word (though they say the Christians corrupted what Jesus taught by saying that Jesus taught that he was the Son of God). They would also say that he was not the last great prophet, but that Muhammed, the founder of Islam, was. But for Moses and Peter to call Jesus “the prophet”, what does that mean? Well, a prophet’s work was to speak the word of God to the people. Jesus did that. He often would tell the Jews that the words he spoke were not his words, but the words of the Father.
But how would the Jews know if someone who claimed to be a prophet was a true prophet or not? Deut 18 20 But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, [m]that prophet shall die.’ 21 [n]You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ 22 When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him. There were 2 basic tests of a true prophet. 1) Did he teach something totally contradictory to other confirmed scripture? 2) Did all of his predictions (not just some) come true? If he ever predicted anything that did not come true, he was a false prophet and Israel did not need to fear any of his predictions against them.
Those 2 basic tests of a true prophet would still be true today, would they not? Tongue speaking was the original excitement of the charismatic movement in the early 1900’s. But much later in the century, the charismatic movement produced a wave of “prophets” who could supposedly predict future events or to predict events in a person’s future. Unfortunately, none of these so called prophets could predict the future with 100% accuracy and often predicted things that did not come true. They did not pass the Deut 18 true prophet test and thus were false prophets. I read where there was a prophets’ school where these so called prophets could learn how to discern whether what they were predicting was really from God or not. If they were true prophets, they wouldn’t have to do that. Then there have been the numerous “latter day prophets” of the last 2000 years, such as Ellen G. White of the 7th Day Adventists, Joseph Smith of the Mormons, Rutherford and Russell of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and many, many more. All of them predicted things that did not come true and none of them predicted the future with 100% accuracy, and yet their followers still regard them as true prophets and their writings as equal in authority to the New Testament. There were inspired prophets in the first century church (Ephesians 4:12) just as there were inspired apostles and teachers. But after the first century and the cessation of the miraculous, there have been no true apostles or prophets. The Mormons even claim to have 12 apostles who have the same authority as the original apostles. Well I read where Jesus told the apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all the truth. John 15 13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. But I don’t read where Jesus gave any truth to any prophet or apostle after those original apostles and prophets. If one of these latter day prophets could pass the true prophet test and predict the future with 100% accuracy, then I might have to rethink all this, but they can’t.
Back to the main point about Jesus being a prophet. He spoke the words of the Father, but did He predict the future accurately to confirm that He was a true prophet? Yes He did. He predicted his death, burial, and resurrection on several occasions. He even predicted that his death would involve being lifted up from the earth. John 12 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” 33 But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die. Of course, he was talking about being crucified. He predicted that Judas would betray Him. John 13 18 I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.’ 19 From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He. He clearly tells them that he is predicting the future so that they can believe He is the Prophet when the event takes place.
But the most powerful and amazing prediction Jesus made over and over again was the prediction that the temple and Jerusalem would be destroyed within the lifetime of those He was speaking to. In the “Olivet Discourse” in Matthew 24, He predicted that and then said that it would happen before that generation passed away. Matthew 24 34 Truly I say to you, this [x]generation will not pass away until all these things take place. That word in the Greek “genea” always means a period of about 40 years or a group of people living in a period of about 40 years. It never means a generic race of people over a long period of time which is what some claim it means. The same author, Matthew, in Matthew chapter 1 lists the genealogy of Jesus in 3 sets of 14 generations and the meaning is obvious. The word was used in the same way we use the “baby boomers’ generation”, a group of people living at about the same time who in turn produced the next generation. Jesus predicted this event many times. His predictions were all made during His 3 year ministry around 30 AD. The temple and Jerusalem were destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD just as Jesus predicted. If that prediction did not come true, then Jesus should be declared a “false prophet”. But it did come true.
In Mark’s gospel, He made other amazing predictions. Mark 9:1 And Jesus was saying to them, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.” Mark 1:15 14 Now after John had been [h]taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, [i]preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God [j]is at hand; repent and [k]believe in the gospel.””Daniel had predicted that God would set up His kingdom in the days of the Roman Empire (Daniel 2:44). Jesus clearly predicted that kingdom to be established within the lifetime of those He was speaking to. Either that or, if it wasn’t established as He predicted, there must be some 2,000 year old people still alive today! That kingdom was a spiritual kingdom and it was established just a short time after Jesus spoke this. That kingdom was the church established as the apostles preached the gospel and baptized believers into that kingdom. And yet there are many who say the kingdom was not established as Jesus predicted. They say He “delayed” its establishment even though they have no passages in the NT where He said that. Their problem is that, like the Jews, they expect it to be a physical power type kingdom like Israel was in the OT under David, which it is not. But to the point again, if that kingdom was not established in the lifetime of those He was speaking to, then He is a false prophet.
Just one more “teaser” to get you thinking. In the only 4 times in the synoptic gospels (i.e. Matthew, Mark, and Luke) where Jesus predicts that He is coming back, i.e. His 2nd coming as we call it, Jesus said that His 2nd coming would be within the lifetime of those whom He was speaking to. Matthew 10:23 23 “But whenever they persecute you in [t]one city, flee to [u]the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes. He was talking to the apostles who would be going through all Israel preaching the gospel after He died. Matthew 16 28 “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” Matthew 24 30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 4 verses after this, He said all these things would take place before the generation He was speaking to passed away. Matthew 26 64 Jesus *said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, [v]hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Jesus told this to Caiaphas. What could Caiaphas have possibly seen that would fulfill this? It had to be when Jesus “came” in judgment on the wicked Jews, using the Roman Empire to destroy over a million of them.
I challenge you to find any passage in any of the synoptic gospels where Jesus predicted some “coming back” that would occur beyond the lifetime of those whom He was peaking to. So, He either fulfilled that prediction of else He is a false prophet. He did come in judgement on the Jews, using the Roman Empire. If we gave the synoptic gospels to someone who had never heard about Jesus or never read the gospels or never had someone tell them when this 2nd coming would occur, and if they read these 4 predictions, would they not judge Jesus to be a true prophet or not by whether He returned within the lifetime of those He was speaking to or not? Of course, we would. BTW the Muslims, Jews, and atheists all say Jesus was a false prophet because they don’t think His prediction came true. Their problem is that they don’t understand the figurative language of the Bible. His 2nd coming was imminent as He predicted, but it was not some “end of the earth”, body of Jesus coming as people have taught it to be. Christian preachers have confounded this problem by not understanding the fulfillment of the prediction, saying that He did not return soon as He predicted, that His 2nd coming is still in our future and here we are 2,000 years after Jesus made His prediction. Digest all that because it is very imporant that we show that Jesus was not a false prophet in any of HIs predictions, including His prediction that His 2nd coming would be imminent. BTW the apostles taught the same thing. Just one example: James 5 8 You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. The 1st century early church expected His 2nd coming to be within their lifetime because that is what He and the apostles had told them. Either it happened as predicted, or Jesus and the apostles are false prophets! Period!
I hope this article has helped us appreciate Jesus as the Prophet of Deut 18:15. I hope it stimulates your thinking on some of the predictions that He made.