Who is “that” prophet, mentioned by Moses in the book of Deuteronomy?


The Old and the New Testament speak about the appearance of “THE” or “THAT” prophet. The concept of such a prophet is first introduced in Deuteronomy 18:15, when Moses announces to the people:

“The LORD your God will raise for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.”

In his speech before the Sanhedrin, Stephen makes reference to this passage, in Acts 7:37.

We read in Deuteronomy 34:10-12 that after Moses’ death, “there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, in all the signs and wonders which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land, and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.”

But Moses was inspired to write that subsequently, a Prophet like him WOULD arise. Note, he is making reference to only ONE individual, not several or many. (The concept that Moses was just speaking of general successions of prophets is clearly not intended here.) It is true that God has spoken through holy prophets in the past, and it is also stated that He will use again some of His followers to prophesy in the future (compare Revelation 11:3, 6; Acts 2:17-20), just prior to the return of Jesus Christ (while including the warning that many false prophets will also appear as well, Matthew 24:11).

However, Moses speaks clearly about only ONE particular or unique Prophet, like him, and we are given clues as to what to look for. That Prophet would know God face to face, and He would perform signs and wonders in “Egypt” (note that Jerusalem is spiritually called “Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified,” Revelation 11:8), and He would act with mighty power in the sight of all of Israel.

At the time of Christ’s first coming, there was an expectation that that Prophet would appear. The people asked John the Baptist: “Are you the Prophet?” [or “that prophet,” in the Authorized Version], but John clarified that he was not the one (John 1:21). This he said, even though his father Zacharias declared, under inspiration, that John “will be called the prophet of the Highest” (Luke 1:76). And Christ said that John deserved to be called, “not just a prophet, but even more than a prophet” (Matthew 11:9). He continued to make clear that John fulfilled a unique role in that he prepared the way of the LORD Jesus Christ (verse 10).

John also said he was not the Elijah to come (John 1:21), but he did come in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17). He was not the resurrected Old Testament Elijah, who had died, but he fulfilled the role of a prophesied “Elijah” (Matthew 11:14). He was a forerunner of the true and final future Elijah who would come and restore all things (that is, ultimately, Jesus Christ, compare Matthew 17:11-12; Acts 3:20-21). Likewise, John the Baptist came in the power and the spirit of “that “Prophet,” but he was not that Prophet himself. John confirmed that he was not THE prophet, about whom Moses had spoken. After all, we read that John did not perform one miracle and sign (John 10:41), but as we saw, it was prophesied in the book of Deuteronomy that that Prophet would perform signs and wonders, as Moses did.

Later, when witnesses saw the miracles and signs that Jesus did, they concluded that he was a prophet (John 9:17) and even “a great prophet” who “has risen up among us” (Luke 7:16). Some concluded that Christ was “truly the Prophet who is to come into the world” (John 6:14; compare John 7:40). It appears that Philip felt the same way, when he told his brother Nathanael: “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45). Later, in Luke 24:13, two somewhat disillusioned disciples who were traveling to a village called Emmaus, spoke to the resurrected Jesus whom they did not at first recognize, about the “things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people” (Luke 24:19).

Jesus confirmed that He was a prophet (Luke 13:33), but surely, Jesus was not just one of the prophets. Jesus Himself said that He was sending prophets to the hypocritical people and leaders, and “some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city” (Matthew 23:34; compare Luke 11:49). Without dispute and contradiction, a prophet who sends other prophets is greater than the ones who are being sent (compare the principle in Hebrews 7:7; and the fact that the Father, the highest in the Godhead, sent Jesus Christ as Savior to the world; John 3:17; 8:42). In Hebrews 1:1-4, the difference between Jesus and all the other prophets is made very clear:

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers BY THE PROPHETS, has in these last days spoken to us BY HIS SON, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds, who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.”

But was Jesus “that” special Prophet, who had been announced by Moses?

Matthew 17 sheds more light on this issue. When Jesus was transfigured on the mountain, in the presence of Peter, James and John, and when the glorified Moses and Elijah appeared in a vision, a voice was heard from heaven, saying about Jesus: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”

Moses had told the people that they needed to hear that Prophet. Now the voice from heaven said that the people must hear Jesus. Peter had no doubt what this meant, and he would later write about this incident, as recorded in 2 Peter 1:16-21:

“For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent glory; ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. And so we have the prophetic word confirmed [apparently making reference here, in context and as we will see, to the prophecy in Deuteronomy, speaking of the rise of a Prophet like Moses], which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

Later, Peter made very clear as to whom Moses referred, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, when he prophesied about the coming of the Prophet. We read his stirring sermon to the people of his time, in Acts 3:19-26:

“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The LORD your God will raise for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him shall you hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. You are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ To you first, God, having raised up His servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.”

This inspired sermon reveals that it was Jesus Christ who came as THAT Prophet, and that we must hear and obey Him, and when we refuse to do that, we will be “utterly destroyed from among the people.”

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible includes the following comments regarding Deuteronomy 18:15:

“’The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet’…. the Messiah… who was a prophet mighty in word and deed, and not only foretold future events, as his own sufferings and death, and resurrection from the dead, the destruction of Jerusalem, and other things; but taught and instructed men in the knowledge of divine things, spake as never man did, preached the Gospel fully and faithfully, so that as the law came by Moses, the doctrine of grace and truth came by him; and he was… commissioned and qualified by [the Father] for the office of a prophet, as well as was raised from the dead as a confirmation of his being that extraordinary person:

“’…from the midst of thee’; he was of Israel, according to the flesh, of the tribe of Judah, and of the house of David, born of a virgin in Bethlehem… and was raised from the dead in the midst of them, and of which they were witnesses:

“’…of thy brethren’; the Israelites, of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, and to whom he was sent as a prophet…

“’like unto me’… he was like to Moses in the faithful discharge of his office, in his familiar converse with God, in the miracles which he wrought…”

Moses was inspired to say that a Prophet like him would arise. As the New Bible Commentary: Revised explains, Moses was indeed a type of Christ, “both in his life and his office. Like Jesus his life was spared in infancy… he was a faithful powerful intercessor for his people.”

The Prophet who was to come was none other than Jesus Christ. Jesus has many titles and designations; apart from being the Son of God and the Savior and Messiah (the Anointed One), He is also the only Mediator between God and man, our High Priest and the King of kings and the Lord of lords; He is the Apostle of those apostles whom He appoints (Hebrews 3:1; Ephesians 4:11), as well as THAT Prophet of those holy prophets whom He sends. Anyone who misappropriates any of those titles to himself (or approvingly permits such misappropriations to be applied to him) is claiming privileges and designations which are limited and strictly belong to, and which are reserved for Jesus Christ; and such a person will have to give account for what he claims to be, says and does, whoever he might be.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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