Preparing for Christmas: A Better Prophet than Moses

Text: Deuteronomy 18; Hebrews 3                                        12/4/2011

Thesis: The supremacy of Christ is seen against the backdrop of the life and prophetic work of Moses.

We are officially celebrating Christmas and celebrating Christmas means celebrating Jesus. In our sermon series so far we have seen that Jesus is worthy of all worship because He is the Second Adam; our new head. Every blessing that belongs to Him belongs to those who by faith are joined to Him. He is the reason for justification. He is the provider of our righteousness. He is the defender of his people and the one who defeats our enemy. Jesus did what Adam could not do. He is a better man than Adam.

And Jesus is worthy of all our obedience and adoration because he’s the eternal Son. From eternity past Jesus was perfectly righteous believing and loving the Father. So, long before Abraham believed God the Son believed. And every promise made to Abraham has and will find its fulfillment through the person and work of Jesus. Abraham’s faith looked backward to the eternal Son of God and Abraham’s faith looked forward to the coming day when all the nations would be blessed through Jesus. The seed of Abraham, the offspring of Abraham, is Jesus Christ.

Adam points us to this seed of the woman. Abraham points us to this single offspring who will receive the promises made to Abraham. And this morning, Moses points us to a coming prophet who is like Moses but better than Moses. If Jesus is a better man that Adam than Jesus is also a better prophet than Moses. My goal is to show you that the supremacy of Christ is seen against the backdrop of the life and prophetic work of Moses.

Read Deuteronomy 18:15-19

I. A prophet has been promised

God made a promise to His people

  1. God will raise up a prophet like Moses (vs 15, 18)

In Deuteronomy 18 Israel is at a turning point. They are about to enter the Promised Land and Moses is about to die. The leader who walked them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and around the wilderness is facing his last days. God has spoken over and over through Moses to the people. He brought encouragement, correction, and leadership. He’s the only leader they have ever known. What will happen when he’s gone? Will they act like the nations around them and go to fortune tellers? Will God’s people listen to those who enquire of the dead, study the stars, or interpret signs? No.

God’s people must not act like the world. God’s people must listen to God alone and God will speak to them through prophets. God will not leave his people without a leader. He will raise up a prophet from their brothers. This prophet will be a Hebrew, one of Abraham’s offspring. So, God’s people will always have access to God’s Word. They will always have the truth. But God’s people will ignore that Word, reject that Word, disobey that Word, and at times lose that Word but God will never abandon His people. A prophet has been promised and God will raise him up. Now this is what he’ll do

  1. This prophet will speak to the people for God (vs 16-17)

When the people came out of Egypt and gathered at Mount Sinai, in the area of Horeb, they were confronted by a terrible sight (read Exodus 19 and Hebrews 12 to get the full picture). The people came into close proximity to the infinitely holy and powerful God. This God spoke to them from the thunder and they were terrified. Terror seems to be the pattern for all those who hear God (Isaiah, Ezekiel, John). The people begged for God to speak to them through Moses because they realized their sinfulness and God’s holiness. Their impotence and God’s omnipotence were unmistakable. This is what they say in verse 16, “Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.” Sinful people in the presence of almighty God should fear for their lives. God told Moses that the people were right in what they asked for so He promised to speak to them through His prophet.

God promises in verse 18, “I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.” Certainly there were many prophets who spoke God’s word. We have 17 books in the Old Testament that are rightly credited to prophets. But none of those prophets said of himself what Jesus said, “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works (John 14:10),” and “What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me (John 12:50),” and “I speak of what I have seen with my Father (John 8:38)”, and “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death (John 8:51),” and “I have given them the words that you gave me (John 17:8),” and “Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you” (John 15:3).

You see, there were prophets who spoke God’s words but none claimed for themselves what Jesus claimed. None of those prophets claimed to be the Son of God. Not one prophet claimed that his words brought life and cleansing. Jesus knew that as the Son of God He was speaking God’s word to God’s people in a way that none had ever done before. Here already we see Jesus surpassing Moses and every other prophet. But before we rush ahead and think that we can listen to Jesus and ignore the other prophets lets be reminded

  1. Ignoring God’s prophet will bring judgment (v 19)

In Deuteronomy 18:19 God says through Moses, “And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.” God does not take too kindly to those who ignore His Word spoken through His prophet. Hebrews 2:2 reminds us of God’s authority invested in the words of His prophets, “the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution.” Don’t get distracted by the truth that God delivered His message through angels. Focus on this: if you disregard or disobey or distort God’s Word He will personally deal with you.

So here is the big picture from Deuteronomy 18 regarding God’s word through His prophet. As God’s dependent people we need God to teach us. You need God’s Word. And if you stood before God in your sin and he spoke to you it would be so terrifying that you would beg for him to stop speaking. It is only the righteous, the cleansed, who can bear to hear God’s Word. So God has promised prophets. These prophets will speak God’s Word to God’s people. If God’s people do not listen they will receive a just punishment for their disobedience. God spoke through Moses and promised a prophet.

II. Jesus is the prophet

  1. God’s people were looking for THE prophet

In John chapter one we find a great account of prophecy fulfilled in history. It begins with the religious leaders of the day asking John the Baptist, “Who are you?” (John 1:19-23). John tells them “I am not the Christ.” So they ask him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He told them “No.” So they ask him, “Are you the Prophet?” He told them “No.” John the Baptist wasn’t the Prophet he was preparing the way for the Prophet who is Jesus.

Later in the same chapter Andrew tells his brother, “We have found the Messiah” (41). Philip told Nathanael, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” They found the One Moses wrote about. The people were looking for the promised one, the prophet like Moses, and he was found. He is Jesus. Now let’s turn our attention to Hebrews 3

III. Jesus is the greatest prophet (Hebrews 3)

Read Hebrews 3:1-6

  1. Moses was a servant. Jesus is the Son (v5)

God did amazing things through Moses. Remember the plagues, the Exodus out of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the giving of the Law, and all the miracles along the way. God rescued His people through the prophet Moses. Moses was faithful. We should look back into history as recipients of God’s grace poured out on His people and say, “thank you God for Moses.” But we should never give to Moses the glory and honor that are due to Jesus.

Verse 3 puts the comparison this way: think about a house and its builder. When you see a beautiful house do you praise that house for building itself? No, a beautiful house can’t build itself. Instead, you give greater glory to the architect, designer, carpenter, and builder of it all. You and I are to give glory to God for what he has done. We are to slow down and ponder the magnificence of our great Creator-Redeemer God.

Now Moses was faithful in God’s house but Moses has no rights. Moses doesn’t possess ownership. Moses was faithfully doing what the owner, the builder, was telling him to do and that is an honorable thing. But there is another. There is a Son. Moses spoke about this Son. Moses testified to the things that were to be spoken later. Specifically, Deuteronomy 18:15, “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.” Moses prophesied that there is a coming One who will speak monumental things. This greater prophet is none other than Jesus, the very Son of God.

  1. The Son has spoken (Hebrews 1:1-4)

Turn in your bibles to Hebrews 1:1. We’ll read through verse 4.

For a long time and in many different ways God has been speaking to his people through the prophets. But things have changed. In these last days, the days of Jesus God has chosen to speak to his people through his Son. This Son is the Creator and Owner of all things. Everything rightfully belongs to Christ. And He is magnificent. He is the radiance of the glory of God. The way the sun emits its burning glorious beams of light so too does the Son of God shine with all the glories of the Father. He is beautiful and he is powerful. This Jesus is exactly like his Father. He is the exact imprint of the Father’s nature. Jesus is fully God and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. You and the stars and the seasons and penicillin and vitamin C all exist because Jesus sustains everything by his power. Everything in this universe depends upon Jesus for its existence. Praise him!

And this glorious Creator and sustaining Son is our Savior. He has made purification for our sins. By his atoning work on the cross all our guilt and shame have been swallowed up in him. He made purification for sins then he took up his rightful place at the right hand of the Majesty on High. Jesus has completed his saving work and is right now honored by the Father with the best seat in the house.

Here is the point: You have a message from this Son. The very perfect and powerful Son of God has spoken to you. For thousands of years God has been speaking through his prophets but now things have changed. Now He has spoken to you through his Son. There is no greater message than what you hold in your hands. The Bible without any mixture of error is the very Word of God spoken by prophets and spoken by the Son. You have a message from the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. You have a message from THE prophet that all of creation has been longing for. There is no greater Word out there. There is no more authoritative word to be had. The Son has spoken. Therefore,

  1. Listen to the Son (Hebrews 2:1-4)

Turn to Hebrews 2:1. We’ll read through verse 4.

Think about it. The law was delivered by angels and when it was ignored people died. Think about Moses’ prophecy concerning the Passover lamb and the angel of death. If you ignored that message you died. Touch the Ark of the Covenant and you died (2 Samuel 6:5-7). Do your own thing in the presence of God and you died (Leviticus 10:1-3). If that and more is true concerning the message delivered by angels how much more should we pay attention to the message delivered by the Son?

We are being warned about the danger of drifting. Here’s how you know you are drifting: you are not paying close attention to what you have heard from God. You’re doing your own thing. Maybe your praying a little and maybe your reading the bible a little but you’re not diligent concerning listening to the Word. Specifically you are not paying close attention to this great salvation.

Drifters are those people who give little to no thought concerning what it means to follow Christ today. Drifters are people who go about their daily routine ignoring the power of God to accomplish the purposes of God for that day. Drifters are good people but they are not godly people. Drifters go to school and go to work. They are faithful to their wives and faithful to their husbands. Drifters go to church and give to the poor. They raise children and love their grandchildren all while neglecting the very reason God saved them. Drifters make salvation a thing of the past; something that happened when they listened to Jesus then but for some reason they’ve grown to believe that this great salvation has no implications for every minute of every day. Oh, but Hebrews 2:1-4 comes like that trumpet blast on Mount Sinai in Exodus 19.

Let’s make it practical. Do you go about your daily life relying on your own strength? Or, do you go about daily life relying on the wisdom and power of God? Have you connected working hard with your great salvation like Titus 2:14 does? Does the fact that you possess eternal life effect the way you parent, do your job, go to the doctor, rest, even eat or drink?

How would a Spirit-led disciple of Christ do your job? How would a Christ-follower raise your children? How would Jesus interact with your spouse? How would someone who is born again by the power of the Gospel interact with your neighbors? Your salvation, the great work of God to cleanse you and make you new, has implications for every minute of every day. Are you listening to the Son? I want to close with this story; hopefully it will help bring it all home for you.

IV. Conclusion

Shortly after noon on April 4, 1943 the B-24 bomber Lady Be Good departed Soluch airstrip on the coast of Libya, with her crew of nine. It was their first combat mission in World War II.  This was a high altitude bombing run on the port at Naples, Italy. Lady Be Good turned back 30 minutes before the target either due to poor visibility or engine problems caused by sand at the takeoff site.[1] As the day waned and darkness fell they were required to find their base using only their radar and their instruments. Because they had flown the route before, they knew the approximate amount of time they would be airborne.[2]

However, they were unaware of the fact that they were being pushed along by a strong tailwind. When their instruments indicated they were over the landing field far earlier than they expected, they refused to believe it. They continued to fly into the night while they looked for the familiar lights of their destination. Eventually their fuel supply ran out, the crew men parachuted, and the plane crashed in the desert. Seven of the eight crewmen survived only to later die in the dessert. All the crewmen were dead because they preferred to trust their instincts rather than the instruments that would have brought them home safely.

God in his kindness has given his Word to you as a certain guide. Life is too complicated to be lived on the basis of instincts, feelings, and commons sense. It is far better to trust the Creator’s revelation of himself than to do what “seems right.” Your life is like that B-24 bomber. If you are going to live a fruitful life, if you are going to arrive safely, it will only happen as you listen to the Word.

On December 18 we will pass out our bible reading plan for 2012. This year we are going to focus on listening to God through reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on God’s Word. As your pastor, my hope is that you will pay careful attention to God’s Word each and every day. We have the sure and perfect Word. We have the instruments by which we can navigate every circumstance. The question is: Are you going to pay attention to those instruments or are you going to try it on your own?


[2] Doug McIntosh, Holman OT Commentary on Deuteronomy, pgs 226-7

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