by Nick Peters
In Deuteronomy 18:15 we are told that Moses said God would raise up a prophet like himself. Israel was to listen to this prophet. Is he, as some have said, Joshua; or is he, as others have said, simply all the other prophets; or could the case actually be that he is talking about Jesus?
Let’s note some particulars about Moses:
In Exodus 3, Moses is the first one to be told God’s identity as YHWH.
In Exodus 33, we are told how YHWH spoke to Moses through the descending of a cloud. We are told that Moses desired to see God’s glory. The next chapter tells of how radiant Moses’ face was after being with the Lord.
In Numbers 12:6-8 we find a distinguishing mark of Moses above other prophets.
“When there is a prophet among you,
I, the LORD, reveal myself to them in visions,
I speak to them in dreams.
7 But this is not true of my servant Moses;
he is faithful in all my house.
8 With him I speak face to face,
clearly and not in riddles;
he sees the form of the LORD.
Why then were you not afraid
to speak against my servant Moses?”
Finally, at the end of Deuteronomy we are told this in a postscript likely added by Joshua.
9 Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit[b] of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the LORD had commanded Moses.
10 Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, 11 who did all those signs and wonders the LORD sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. 12 For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.
Keep in mind the text explicitly mentions Joshua and says afterwards that no prophets has risen in Israel like Moses. This is not to deny that Joshua could have been considered a prophet, but that he is not the one Moses spoke of since he did not know God as Moses knew God.
Do we have any evidence of other prophets receiving their messages the way Moses did?
If we do, let it be presented. We regularly see dreams and visions taking place in the Old Testament with prophets, but we have no record of the cloud descending on prophets or of them being radiant with glory.
What about Jesus?
In John 1:1, we read that in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The word “with” is pros in Greek and indicates that the Word was towards the God. This would mean a face-to-face relationship. (This would not be literal, as God has no face, any more than it was for Moses since Moses did not see God’s face as no one can see that and live.)
We have no record of Jesus receiving dreams and visions in his ministry, but instead an interesting contrast as unlike other prophets, there is never from him a “Thus sayeth the Lord.” Instead, it is “Truly, truly, I say to you,” which pointed to his own words as authoritative in themselves, as if he was considering his words equal to God’s.
We also have the cases of signs and miracles being done by Jesus. While these are often said by Jewish apologists to be sorcery, asserting it is not the same as demonstrating it. The only way the case is shown is if Jesus was a false prophet. That is what is contended, and it must be shown by other means than “He did miracles.” After all, Elijah and Elisha did as well. It must also be shown by ways other than just saying “He taught apostasy against YHWH.” That must be shown.
Jesus is also a prophet in his prophecy, especially about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., a reason many liberal scholars date the synoptic gospels to a later date. Of course, this is begging the question by assuming that prophecy cannot occur. That is not from the literature, but rather from one’s worldview. If there is no God and no one who knows the future, then of course there can be no prophecy. If there is a God, we must be open to Him knowing the future. (Also, I am an orthodox Preterist in my eschatology and my case for the fulfillment can be found by those endorsing such an eschatological position.)
Of course, the ultimate demonstration of Jesus’ identity is his resurrection. Since he was crucified as a blasphemer and seen as under God’s curse, the resurrection is the reversal of that claim. It is God’s stamp of approval on the work of Jesus. The destruction of the temple is God’s sign of the old covenant being ended and the new one having begun in Christ.
In conclusion, we see that Jesus was a prophet like Moses, but much greater than Moses. Jesus was the one who was in the bosom of the Father eternally (John 1:18), and to know him was to know the Father. (John 14:9)
All other claimants for who the prophets are may come forward, but let the other side deal with the evidence thus far presented.