Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Prophetic Ministry of Christ

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss reminds us after the Old Testament had drawn to a close, 400 years passed with no word from the Lord.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: The silence was deafening after years of one prophet after another speaking for God, but yet the people waited. They held to the hope of the great prophet promised in Deuteronomy 18.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, March 11, 2015.

We’re getting to know Jesus in new ways as Nancy Leigh DeMoss continues in the series "The Incomparable Christ."

Nancy: As you look at the Old Testament, you see three important offices that God ordained. Those three are prophet, priest, and—help me out—king. There were different men who were prophets, different ones who were priests, and different ones who were kings. Some were more than one, but you had people who took those roles that were given to them by God.

All of those offices, and the people who filled them, foreshadowed and pointed to the Messiah . . . Christ. We see in the life of Christ how He perfectly fulfilled all three of those offices. Today we want to take a look at one of those offices—the prophetic office—and see how Christ fulfills the type of a prophet that we learn about in the Old Testament.

Again, this is a session that if I’d been writing a book on the incomparable Christ, I don’t know that it would have entered my mind to do a whole chapter on the prophetic office of Christ, but I’m so glad that Oswald Sanders did in his book, The Incomparable Christ, which we’re using as an outline in this series.

I hope that you’re taking time during this Lenten series, these days leading up to the Passion of Christ and Easter, to focus on Christ, to meditate on Him, to fill your heart and your eyes and your vision full of Christ, to prepare your heart for an appropriate celebration of the Passion Season, the Holy Season, and the Resurrection Day of Christ.

Today we’re considering Christ as a prophet in His prophetic ministry.

Now that word prophet and prophecies . . . you hear it used in a lot of different ways, some of which are more biblical than others. So let’s just stick to Scripture here. The Old Testament prophets were messengers. They were communicators on behalf of God. They were chosen and appointed by God. They were not self-appointed. Nobody got up one day and said, “Oh, I’d like to be a prophet. I think I’ll go to seminary and be a prophet.”

No, God pulled them out of whatever else they were doing and said to them, “I’ve ordained you as a prophet.” Here’s how that worked: God spoke to His prophets and revealed His will to them. He communicated directly to the prophets what He wanted His people to know.

Now keep in mind, they didn’t have the Bible. So this was God’s means of communicating with His people. God would give the prophets announcements, instructions, words of comfort, words of warning. Whatever He wanted the people to know, He would speak to the prophets, and the prophets would hear and speak to the people.

The words from God to the prophets included two essential kinds of speaking. First of all there was forth-telling and then there was foretelling.

  • Forth-telling, giving forth the message of God which could be something about their sin or about His righteousness or about His ways or His will.
  • Then foretelling was of the future.

Sometimes in the prophecies you’ll see one—the foretelling—or you’ll see the forth-telling. Sometimes you’ll see the two mixed together, but you kind of can divide the prophecies that God sent into those two categories. Not all prophecies were about the future. Some were about the present: that was forth-telling. Then some were foretelling the future.

  • So God would speak to His prophets, reveal His will—what He wanted the people to know.
  • Then the prophets had to listen to what God said. They had to receive His revelation.
  • Then it was the prophet’s responsibility to proclaim to the people the message they had received from God.

So there was this dynamic communication going on. God would speak to His prophets; the prophets would listen; they would receive the message; and then they would give the message out to the people.

So often when the prophets spoke, they would say a phrase you see many, many times in the Old Testament: “Thus says the Lord.”

These were not the prophet’s own words. The prophet wasn’t giving his own thoughts or his own opinions. It wasn’t, “This is what I think” or “This is what I believe.” It was, “Thus says the Lord.”

When the prophets spoke with God’s authority behind them, it was as if God were speaking to the people. Now there were sometimes false prophets who would say, “Thus says the Lord,” but they weren’t really speaking for God, and there were severe consequences for those false prophets.

We’re talking here about true prophets of the Lord. They would say, “Thus says the Lord.” These were God’s words. So when they said, “Thus says the Lord,” people needed to stop and listen and realize when this prophet speaks, God is speaking.

Now remember that God had called them and appointed them, so their job was to speak whatever God commanded and directed them to say. They worked for God. They were God’s servants. They were His messengers, His communicators, and they were responsible to say it just as they heard it—no changing it around; no adding; no subtracting. Say it as you heard it.

Let me give you a couple examples of this:

God to the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:

You shall go to all to whom I send you. . . . And whatever I command you, you shall speak. . . . Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me: "Behold, I have put My words in your mouth” (vv. 7, 9 NKJV).

That’s a prophet. Ezekiel chapter 3:

And he said to me, "Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with my words to them” (v. 4).

That’s a prophet . . . hearing the Word of God, speaking the truth and the Word of God to others.

One book on Christian doctrine summarized it this way: “A prophet of God is one who speaks for God, making known and interpreting the word and will of God to man.” That’s a prophet.

Now, I want to point your attention to a really important Old Testament passage. If you have your Bible, let me encourage you to turn to the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 18. This is an Old Testament prophecy about a prophet. It becomes very important once we see Jesus coming on the scene.

Moses is the one speaking here. He is one of the greatest Old Testament prophets. In verses 9 through 14, we won’t read that right now, but he tells the people: “You are not to be like the pagan nations around us who listen to fortune-tellers or sorcerers to divine truth. Rather, you are to listen to God and His messengers. You are to listen to His prophets.” Then He speaks of another prophet, even greater than himself, who is yet to come. Look at verse 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—just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly [when the law was given], when you said, "Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die” (vv. 15–16).

Now, he’s harkening back to an instance at Mount Sinai where the people were terrified to hear the voice of God directly. They couldn’t handle it. They feared they would be consumed by His glory. So they asked God to speak to them through an intermediary, someone who would go between them and God. That’s what a prophet was. Moses was that kind of prophet.

God would speak to Moses there on the mountain, and then Moses would come down the mountain and tell the people what God had said. And Moses is reminding them: “You said, ‘Don’t let God speak to us directly. It will kill us. Send us prophets.’” Verse 17:

And the LORD said to me, "They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, [God said] and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him” (vv. 17–19).

This is a prophecy the Old Testament in relation to the Messiah. The Jews, over hundreds of years, came to believe and to see that this was prophesying of the coming of the Messiah. God promised He would send another Prophet, a prophet like Moses in many respects. He would be a teacher, a ruler, a deliverer—only greater. He would be the ultimate Prophet through whom God would make Himself and His will known to His people.

So throughout the Old Testament era, one generation after another waited for the promised Prophet. During this time, God spoke through many different prophets, but none of them was “The Prophet” who had been promised. These little prophets were merely paving the way for the coming of The Prophet, the Messiah, and those prophets were pointing the way to The Prophet, who, of course, we know was Christ.

So we have these different prophets, many of whom we read about in the Scriptures. They have books named after them. We come to the last part of the Old Testament—Zephaniah, he’s a prophet; Haggai is a prophet; Zechariah is a prophet; and then Malachi—the prophet Malachi. Then we come to the end of the old covenant, the end of the Old Testament and then for 400 years there are no prophetsno true prophets. There were some false ones.

Why were there no prophets during that era? I think there are two reasons. One, the obvious one, is there was no word from God. Why was there no word from God? I think that one reason for that is because the people weren’t listening. They wouldn’t receive. But we know there was no word from God through His prophets during that 400 year period.

The silence was deafening after years of one prophet after another speaking for God. But yet the people still waited. They held to the hope of the great Prophet promised in Deuteronomy 18—The Prophet. “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, [God said] and he shall speak to them all that I command him.” The Prophet. They waited; they waited.

Now, fast forward 400 years from the time of Malachi, and on the scene comes a prophet: John the Baptist. A man sent from God. He was the last of the Old Testament prophets. The priests and the Levites asked John the Baptist in John chapter 1: “Are You that prophet—the one who was promised?” (John 1:21).

Now keep in mind, 400 years they’ve heard no prophet. They have no Bible; they have no word. It’s like God doesn’t exist. They know He does, but they’re not hearing anything from Him. Then John comes, speaking with the voice of God, “Repent. Believe. The kingdom of God is at hand.”

And they’re saying, “Are you the Prophet—that Prophet?”

And John says, in essence: “No, I’m not. I’m a prophet, but not the Prophet—but He’s coming! He’s coming! And I’ve been sent to prepare the way for His arrival.”

Fast forward to after Pentecost, in the book of Acts. Peter is preaching, and he quotes Deuteronomy 18. You’ll find this in Acts chapter 3, and he says, in essence: “Moses was talking about Jesus!” (see v. 18). Jesus was that Prophet. He says this after the death and resurrection and ascension of Christ. He makes it clear, in case there’s any doubt in anyone’s mind that Jesus was That Prophet.

It’s a beautiful thing to see during the life of Jesus here on earth how people gradually began to recognize that He was a prophet sent from God; that He was That Prophet promised in Deuteronomy 18.

The woman at the well, the Samaritan woman, said in John 4: “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet” (John 4:19).

John chapter 7: “When they heard these words, some of the people said, ‘This really is the Prophet’” (John 7:40).

When Jesus did miracles, those miracles were additional evidence, building the case that He was the anticipated Prophet.

After the feeding of the 5,000, the Scripture says in John 6: “When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, ‘This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!’” (John 6:14).

Now, we’re reading this, and we’re like, la-de-da . . . what’s the big deal? This was a HUGE deal to these people who had not heard from God for so many years and desperately needed to know His will and His way. God had promised, “I will send a Prophet,” but then it looked like God wasn’t keeping His promises. They began to realize, “This is The Prophet.”

Part of the purpose of the miracles was to convince people that He really was the promised Messiah.

When He raised the dead son of the widow of Nain, Luke 7 says, “And they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has arisen among us!’ and ‘God has visited his people!’” (Luke 7:16). Whew! True words! “God has visited his people.”

Jesus Himself claimed that the message He proclaimed had been received from God. Listen to these verses in the Gospel of John. Jesus said: "My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me” (John 7:16). Sounds like a prophet.

“I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak” (John 12:49). Sounds like a prophet.

“All that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” Does that sound like a prophet? It does.

And then in His high priestly prayer in John 17, that intimate prayer, Jesus said to His Father, “I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you” (v. 8). Jesus claims that what He was saying had been given to Him by His Father and that He was giving it as a prophet to the people of God.

So we see that Christ fulfilled the office of a prophet. In the two different kinds of prophesies, He fulfilled it—by foretelling and by forth-telling.

By foretelling, He foretold His sufferings, His resurrection, etc. He was a prophet telling future things that God was to do—foretelling. But He also fulfilled that prophetic office by forth-telling as He made known to the people the wisdom of God, the Scripture, the law, the gospel. He said He came to preach good news to the poor. He was making God known to His people by telling the Word of God to the people. So we see Christ fulfilling the office of a prophet.

Now, you know what the next question is going to be. That’s the "what." What’s the “So what?” Let me give you a few thoughts about the “So what?”

The first and obvious one is: If He is truly that Prophet—and He is—then we must listen to Him.

We looked yesterday at the Mount of Transfiguration where God’s voice spoke from heaven, and He said: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Matt. 17:5). Listen to Him. Those are the same words that were spoken in Deuteronomy 18 by Moses.

Deuteronomy 18:15: “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you . . . it is to him you shall [what?] listen.”

So when God spoke those words from heaven, “Listen to him,” those disciples . . . they knew that prophecy in Deuteronomy 18. They knew that God was affirming, “This is that Prophet. Listen to Him. This is the one Moses was talking about. This is the One to whom we must listen above all others, for He is greater than all other prophets and all other voices. When He speaks, God speaks. Listen carefully to everything He says. Believe it. Bow to it. Obey it.”

You say, “Well, how does God speak to us?” He speaks through His Word. Listen to this passage in 2 Peter chapter 1. Remember, Peter was there on the Mount of Transfiguration. He says, “When he received honor and glory from God the Father . . . the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,’ we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have something more sure,” Peter says.

Now, how could it be more sure than that experience you had there on the mountain? Only three guys saw it, in addition to Moses and Elijah—Peter, James, and John. Peter says, "We have something that is even more sure than our experience that night on the Mount of Transfiguration." What is that? What’s more sure, Peter?

It’s “the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention [Listen! Pay attention!] as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (vv.16–19).

The day will come when we will be face to face with Jesus. We will be in the presence of His eternal glory forever and ever, and then we won’t need prophets. We’ll have The Prophet, the Word of God, the presence of God, the glory of God right with us. But in the meantime, we have a prophetic word.

Now, today when you hear that word, it can mean all kinds of different things. But what he’s talking about here is the Word of God. It is in this Book. That’s the prophetic Word. This is the word God spoke to us through the people who wrote these different books—Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus—it’s all the prophetic word. You don’t need another prophetic word when you’ve got this Word.

“We don’t have to walk in darkness,” Peter’s saying. We can rely on His Word. We can know the heart, the mind, the purposes, the will of God because Christ has come to this earth as our Prophet, and He has given to us His Word that we hold in our hands and can read and study and listen to, receive it as a Prophet’s Word.

Now, just as a reminder that it’s not only important to listen to the word of Christ, but there are consequences if we don’t. If we neglect or ignore or reject His Word, we miss out on the heart and mind of God. We don’t get to know Him. We miss out on so much and experience consequences when we don’t listen to Him. So listen to Him.

Then, number two: Believe Him. His Word is true. It’s authoritative.

Remember that passage in 2 Chronicles 20 when King Jehoshaphat was leading the Israelites up against a massive enemy? The prophet said, “Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed” (v. 20).

Believe the Word of Christ, The Prophet, the final, ultimate Prophet. Receive, believe the gospel that Christ came to proclaim.

Now again, just a caution there. When Jesus lived here on this earth, the people who knew Him the best didn’t believe Him. He was a “prophet without honor” in His own country, in His own town. They were so familiar with Him that they missed who He was. They didn’t believe.

Some of us have been trafficking in biblical teaching and truth for a long, long time, but we’re not really believing it. We’re not really receiving it as the truth. Believe it.

And then praise and worship Him.

He is the Supreme Prophet, not just one among many prophets. He is the incomparable Christ. That’s what we read in Hebrews chapter 1, verses 1 and 2: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,” the Prophet.

Jesus is infinitely greater than every other prophet. He is no less than a prophet sent from God. But He is not merely a prophet, as those of the Muslim faith believe. He is the very Son of God. He is the Word of God through whom God has spoken and made Himself known to us.

Then finally, proclaim His Word to others.

There’s a sense in which Christ continues His work as a prophet today—by His Spirit, through His Church, as we proclaim His gospel, as we teach His Word throughout the earth. There’s a sense in which He has entrusted us with His continuing prophetic ministry on this earth.

What does that mean? Well, John 20 says: “As the Father has sent me, [The Prophet] even so I am sending you" to share My Word (v. 21).

“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (see Matt. 28:19).

Leslie: Jesus had a very important role as a prophet. I hadn’t considered how crucial that role was before hearing that message from Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s part of the series, The Incomparable Christ. For details on getting a copy or to listen for yourself, just visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

I usually choose a book on Christ to study during the Lenten season. It’s a way to prepare my heart for Easter Sunday. Meditating on the life and work of Jesus is so valuable. I hope you’ll consider doing this, too, using a book from Elyse Fitzpatrick called, Comforts from the Cross.

Elyse invites you to focus on the cross through a series of daily readings. You’ll find them surprisingly honest and practical. The book will bring comfort to any women who figure that God could never love them.

When you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts, we’ll send you Comforts from the Cross. Just call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

The greatest teacher of all time had no seminary training or advanced degrees. In fact, He was trained as a carpenter. Yet His teaching was riveting to the crowds who gathered to hear. We’ll admire the talent of this amazing Teacher tomorrow.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

 

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