Prophet

God raised up Jesus Christ as his supreme Prophet

Read: Deuteronomy 18

The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the LORD your God has not permitted you to do so. The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. (Deuteronomy 18:14-15)

“I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name.” (Deuteronomy 18:19)

Reflect:

Moses had earlier spoken of God’s choice of Joshua, the son of Nun, to succeed him (Deuteronomy 1:38), leading the people into the land to inherit it. God had told Moses to commission Joshua, to encourage and strengthen him (Deuteronomy 3:28).

Now, Moses tells the people that God will provide them with a leader like himself, a prophet, who will relay to them the messages of God. Moses may well have been thinking of Joshua, or of the long line of prophets that would following after him. But God placed these words into Moses’ mouth and God meant them to be also a hint of his final, supreme Prophet, the Lord Jesus Christ, who would one day dwell with God’s people in the flesh.

Jesus himself said, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me” (John 7:16), indicating in his following words that the one who sent Jesus was the LORD God. Jesus Christ is God’s Prophet because he spoke all God’s words and he spoke only God’s words.

Here, in Deuteronomy, I am warned to listen to Jesus, because God will judge people for failing to listen to his prophet. The same words were proclaimed by the voice of God the Father from heaven at Jesus’ transfiguration, when he was revealed in the fullness of his kingdom glory: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:5; my italics).

crux:

God raised up Jesus Christ as his supreme Prophet.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

You are Light and Word and Truth.
You spoke and your creation began.
You are the source and sustenance, the joy and delight, the plumb-line and straight-edge by which all else is measured.

LORD, you are Light and your Word is Truth.
You speak through prophets and you spoke through one supreme and ultimate Prophet, the LORD Jesus Christ.

He is your image, the full revelation of your divine essence, making visible the invisible.
He spoke only what you wanted him to say and spoke all you wanted him to say, including the words, “It is finished!” when he had completed the task you set before him at the cross.

Thank you for Moses, for Joshua and most especially for Jesus. Help me to listen to their words, to your words to me, spoken by them.

Amen.

Discern

It is wrong to be judgemental, but discernment is right

Read: Matthew 7

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1)

“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5)

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognise them.” (Matthew 7:15-16a)

Reflect:

Jesus’ words hold a conundrum. He tells the crowd not to judge. Yet he follows this up with a series of instructions for godly discernment.

Jesus says we need to judge ourselves, examine our own faults and failings before eradicating them. Only when we judge ourselves may we judge others in ways that help them. Jesus says we should judge others enough to determine if they are “dogs” and “swine” (words which may possibly have been cultural slurs for Gentiles and religiously unclean people). Then when we’ve judged we can decide whether the sacred would be wasted on them. Jesus says we should judge prophets, people who claim to speak God’s message. We are to judge them by their “fruit”, the results of their life and ministry. When we have judged them, we’ll know whether to listen to their words or reject their message.

All this judging is perhaps more correctly described as discernment – distinguishing between right and wrong, righteous and unrighteous. In all this discernment, we must be careful, because God will judge us just as harshly and strictly as we judge others.

crux:

It is wrong to be judgemental, but discernment is right.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

You have set a plumb line in the heavens. Your Son said, “No one comes to the Father, except by me.”¬†You say through the apostles, “No other name is given to men by which they must be saved.”

Your Son spoke of ferocious wolves, of weeds planted among wheat, of rootless plants that flourish briefly before falling away. Not all who claim to know you and say they speak truth do so. Please make me faithful, honest and righteous in all I say and do to glorify your name.

Please grant me discernment to know when to listen and when to block my ears.
Please grant me discernment to know when to agree and when to disagree.
Please grant me discernment to identify the planks in my own eye as well as any false prophets in my own denomination.
Please enable my discernment to be godly and wise.

Amen.

Details

What the LORD said through the prophets was fulfilled in Jesus Christ

Read: Matthew 2

“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written.” (Matthew 2:5)

And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” (Matthew 2:15b)

Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled. (Matthew 2:17)

And he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene. (Matthew 2:23)

Reflect:

It can be hard to re-read such a familiar passage in the Bible carefully, without my attention drifting. But when I think of the author of this gospel, Matthew (the disciple also known as Levi, who had once been a tax collector), I realise that this was a man who paid very close attention to his Rabbi’s story.

Matthew had the skills and talents necessary for being a tax collector: he could pay attention to fine detail, he could remember facts and analyse interconnections. He must have had an analytical brain, must have thrived on minutiae, or at least so it seems from his writing.

For Matthew, the most important details of Jesus’ birth and babyhood are found in the connection between the events themselves and Old Testament prophecies. Matthew finds four occasions in Jesus’ early life, five if I count the “virgin will conceive” reference (2:22-23), where the prophets predicted what Jesus’ life fulfilled. And it is not as if Baby Jesus could exert control over any of these events from the womb or his mother’s arms. The prophets’ words all came true by the sovereign will of the Father.

Isaiah, Micah, Hosea and Jeremiah spoke as the LORD spoke through them. They spoke (unknowingly) of Jesus.

Crux:

What the LORD said through the prophets was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

You are Sovereign: You make plans, you speak promises; you bring your plans to fruition and your promises to fulfilment. You are the Omnipotent God.

Thank you for your promises through the prophets that help me to see your plan and recognise your Son. Thank you for gifting Matthew with the talents and skills necessary to chronicle Jesus’ life and ministry. Thank you for equipping him to research and record the ways and occasions Jesus fulfilled the prophets’ words. Thank you for revealing yourself in the words of the prophets, in the words of Matthew, and in your Word, Jesus Christ.

Thank you for the skills and talents you have given to me. May I be faithful in using them to proclaim your glory, the glory of your Son. May I know the truth of your word as well as the details of your word, and be confident and capable to share this truth in speech and in writing. May I be faithful in obedience to your word so you are glorified by my words.

May you bless everyone who hears or reads my words with a better knowledge of you and a deeper love for you, for your glory.

Amen.