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“That We Might Have Hope” (Rom. 15:4)

Deuteronomy Chapters One Through Thirty-four

Moses, Prophet Of God

The word prophet is most commonly used of someone who is thought to be able to foretell the future. For example, Nostradamus, a French astrologer of the sixteenth century, has been called a prophet because his book of obscure rhymes is thought to have predicted subsequent events.

But in the Bible a prophet is someone who acts as spokesman for someone else. The true prophets of God were men to whom God spoke who in turn conveyed His word to others. False prophets were those who spoke in the name of false gods or who falsely claimed to speak in the name of the true God.

A True Prophet

Moses was the greatest of Old Testament prophets of God. The Bible itself states that after his death there was never again a prophet like him, whom the LORD knew face to face (Deut. 34:10).

Moses was a true prophet in that he faithfully conveyed to Israel all that the LORD spoke to him, subtracting nothing and adding nothing of his own. We see this in the book of Deuteronomy which records the last words of Moses. Before his death Moses reviewed and explained to Israel God’s holy law. He taught them that the essence of the law is not mere outward obedience but love: “To fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 10:12).

The ministry of Moses was largely a “ministry of death” and a “ministry of condemnation” (2 Cor. 3:7,9), for he was given the responsibility of communicating God’s law, which always condemns man for failing to live up to its holy requirements.

Moses taught that the essence of obedience to the law is love, but this also condemns by revealing that not only evil deeds but also loveless thoughts, words, and motives are sin in the sight of God. This is not to take anything away from the importance of the ministry of Moses.

The clear revelation of God’s law in all its uncompromising severity serves God’s purpose in forcing us to acknowledge our sins and to despair of coming to God on the basis of our own merits. Without God’s written law staring us in the face we could easily deceive ourselves into thinking that our life is not so bad, for we can always point to others who are worse than we are. Apart from a clear knowledge of God’s law man can and does imagine that God is pleased with his works. It is this spiritual pride and self-righteousness that leads people to despise Christ and the Gospel. Without the law, who needs a Savior?

The Seed Of The Woman

But the ministry of Moses was not entirely a ministry of death and condemnation. Moses also pointed his people to the Savior who would free man from death and the condemnation of the law. He recorded the first Gospel in which the Savior is spoken of as the Seed of the woman who would destroy the power of Satan (Genesis 3:15).

And in Deuteronomy Moses spoke of Christ as the Prophet whom God would raise up from among His people. He would be like Moses in that He would be a man who would speak to them in a human voice and not terrify them with thunder, lightning, and smoke as God had done when He appeared to Israel at Mount Sinai.

Like Moses Christ would faithfully communicate the Word of God. Yet His would be the far greater and more glorious revelation of God’s incarnate Son. He would reveal not just God’s holiness but especially God’s love. He would proclaim it as He did when He said: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved” (Jn. 3:16-17). He would demonstrate God’s love by laying down His life on the cross as a sacrifice to God for the world’s sin.

The last chapter of Deuteronomy records the death of Moses and his unique burial by the hand of God in a secret place (Deut. 34:5-6).

But this is not his last appearance in the Bible. He makes one last appearance in the New Testament, on the Mount of Transfiguration. There Moses and Elijah stand with Jesus talking with Him about His approaching passion, death, and resurrection. There especially we see that the ministry of Moses the prophet was about Christ. He proclaimed and recorded the divine law to shine a light on human sin to humble human hearts, to prepare them for the Savior. And in his role as prophet he pictured Jesus, the greater Prophet who revealed God’s love for us sinners.

— Pastor John Klatt