A Prophet Like Moses
In the early part of Deuteronomy 18, Moses speaks of the authority of priests who were intercessors between God and men. Then he warns of the lawless manner of intercession, which is to use mediums and spiritists. Intercession does indeed change things, but when men attempt to manipulate other people in a carnal and lawless manner, it is not intercession, but witchcraft.
Contacting God is a good thing, but there are unlawful ways that men try to do this. Receiving a prophetic word is a good thing, but when men do so in unlawful ways, they seek information that God has not authorized. Ever since God put the tree of knowledge off limits in the Garden, men have thought God’s restriction to be unjust or unfair. Hence, they have sought access to that knowledge from other sources or from other gods.
God’s desire is that we hear His voice and obtain our knowledge and guidance from Him alone. As Creator, He has the right to expect this. He gives revelation as we need it and as we grow to spiritual maturity. But many people do not want to wait. They feel that they are already mature, and so they become impatient as their curiosity overcomes them.
I recall many years ago asking God a question about someone else. He replied, “That is none of your business.” I learned a great deal from that answer. We do not have the right to meddle in other people’s private affairs, unless we have their permission.
Israel Needed Another Prophet Like Moses
Immediately after banning mediums, spiritists, sorcerers, and witches, Moses prophesied of a later Prophet who was yet to come. Deut. 18:15-19 says,
15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen; you shall listen to him. 16 This is according to all that you asked [sha’al] of the Lord your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, “Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, lest I die.” 17 And the Lord said to me, “They have spoken well. 18 I will raise up a prophet from among your countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And it shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.”
This, of course, was a messianic prophecy, which was applied to Jesus Christ in Acts 3:22 and 23 in Peter’s Pentecostal sermon. Yet the deeper question is WHY was such a prophet needed? We may understand why a messiah was needed, but why was a prophet like Moses necessary?
This prophecy was most applicable on that very day, for Pentecost commemorated the giving of the law on Mount Horeb. It was the day that the people refused to hear God’s voice and wanted Moses to hear God for them in Exodus 20:18, 19,
18 And all the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. 19 Then they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, lest we die.”
The people wanted to hear God’s word through a man. They preferred an indirect relationship with God. As time passed, Moses came to understand the seriousness of this mindset. In effect, God said, “If you do not want to hear Me directly, then I will raise up a prophet greater than Moses for you to hear. You will be held accountable if you refuse to hear Him, for “I will put My words in his mouth.”
It is ironic that whether men wish to hear God directly or indirectly, they all refuse to be obedient as long as their hearts remain in rebellion against God. A heart of rebellion will not hear God either way. And so the people revolted not only against God but even against Moses, often wanting to stone him.
They did the same later when the Prophet like Moses came in the Person of Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself was nearly stoned after giving His first sermon in the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:28-30). This manifested the hearts of the people, foreshadowed their rejection of His words, and prophesied of His crucifixion.
Nonetheless, God always had a remnant with ears to hear, both in Moses’ day and again in the time of Christ’s rejection.
Drawing Near at Pentecost
Those with ears to hear followed Jesus’ instructions to tarry in Jerusalem. Luke 24:49 says,
49 And behold I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.
The 120 disciples went to the upper room to hear His voice. Like Moses, they went up the Mount unafraid of the fire that was God’s presence. Hence, they fulfilled Pentecost in a manner that might have been seen in the days of Moses, if the people had been unafraid.
Yet as time passed, many of the people during the Pentecostal Age failed to draw near to God and repeated the same mistakes made under Moses. Many remained in rebellion against God, refusing the “power from on high” that God had offered them. In time, the baptism of the Holy Spirit became a historical relic, applicable only to an earlier company of saints.
The result of such rebellion has been a tragic tale. Yet there are great lessons to be learned even from their mistakes, once we understand the story.
The Great Commission
Pentecost in the book of Acts empowered the disciples to carry on the work of teaching, as Jesus commanded in Matt. 28:18-20,
18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
The disciples did this, and so the Gospel spread throughout the world by the power of that anointing. This is also what God offered the Israelites at Mount Horeb on that first Pentecost. If the people had been able to hear at that time, they would have experienced Pentecost as well. Then, with the power of the Holy Spirit, they would have had faith to enter the Promised Land the following year when the 12 spies gave their report.
If the Israelites under Moses had been able to receive the baptism of the Spirit at Mount Horeb on that first Pentecost, they might have had the faith to believe the good report of Caleb and Joshua. That decision was made on the 50th Jubilee from Adam, but they turned the day into a day of mourning and fasting, which came to be known as the Day of Atonement.
Yet if they had had sufficient faith, they might have entered the Promised Land later five days later on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles. They would have fulfilled that feast by becoming the manifested sons of God. Their entry into Canaan, then, would have been far different from what it was, for they would have been sent into Canaan, not to kill with a physical sword, but to baptize the people into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (i.e., Joshua, or Yeshua).
The entire Canaanite war would have been won by the Sword of the Spirit instead of a carnal sword. The Canaanites (and all others) would have been converted, rather than destroyed. In other words, Canaan would have been conquered by the Great Commission. It is unfortunate that the Israelites had already rejected the Sword of the Spirit at Mount Horeb, for their disobedience and rebellion had severe consequences on the Canaanites and many other nations in later history.
Thus, one cannot justify the destruction of the Canaanites, regardless of how corrupt their religion had made them. The world today is just as corrupt, but we are not called to kill all corrupt men in the world. We have been given the power of the Holy Spirit by which to manifest the presence of Christ to them, so that they will desire what we have and ask how they too may obtain the same blessing.
If the Church had continued to demonstrate the power of the Spirit as Paul did, history would have been vastly different. The world would have been converted long ago. The world’s rejection of the gospel is not the fault of unbelievers. The fault lies at the feet of those who claim to be believers, those of whom Paul spoke in 2 Tim. 3:5, who were, “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.” By way of contrast, Paul says in 1 Cor. 2:4 and 5,
4 And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
If the Israelites had demonstrated the power of the Sword of the Spirit, the Canaanites would have been converted, even as many came to Jesus Christ at the preaching of the Word in the first century.
In the bigger picture, of course, this was not destined to happen prior to the Cross. There is a time for everything in the divine plan. Nonetheless, there is much to learn by the mistakes of the past, even as we rejoice that the divine plan will indeed be fulfilled in time.
It is important, then, that we draw near to God and hear His voice. If we hear what God has spoken to men, we are instructed to meditate upon that food which we have eaten in order to change it from flesh to spirit. Whether our revelation is direct or indirect from God, we are to hear the words of Jesus Christ, who is the Prophet like Moses, except that “in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Col. 2:9).
Even as in times past men were accountable to the word of God through Moses, now men are accountable to the word of God through Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is thus pictured as the prophet like Moses, for He is the civil ruler as well as the high priest like Aaron. One distinction between Moses and Jesus is that Moses lived in a time when the callings had been separated and distributed to various tribes. But Jesus is called to bring all of those callings back under one Head, in order that Kingdom government may have only one King-Priest holding also the birthright.