4th Sunday After Epiphany February 3, 2013
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
16, 134, 583 LSB* [TLH alt. 290], 46 *Lutheran Service Book, CPH ©2006
The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, according to all you desired of the Lord your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, “Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.” And the Lord said to me: “What they have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.”
Dear fellow-listeners to God’s Son:
When you want to know what is going on in the world these days, where do you go? Do you turn on the television to watch a news program? Do you open up a newspaper or news magazine? Do you go to the internet? Perhaps all of these things. But once you’ve found a source of information, a bigger problem remains. Namely, how do you know that what you’ve heard or seen is accurate? Reporting agencies may claim to give you the straight story when in reality it may not be the whole story. There is more information available to us in the United States than in any other country at any other time, and yet we still wonder now and then, “Can I trust what I’m hearing? Is the voice I’m hearing really a voice of authority?”
When the Israelites were led out of their captivity in Egypt during they great Exodus, they did have a voice they could trust—the voice of the prophet Moses. Moses spoke with authority because He was in direct contact with God Himself. In fact, the Bible says this about Moses: “Since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land…” (Deuteronomy 34:10-11). And in another place we find these words: “If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. I speak with him face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the Lord” (Numbers 12:6-8).
Moses was in close personal communication with God. When God wanted the Israelites to know something, He would tell it to Moses and Moses would tell it to the people. There was nobody else in the nation who spoke with the same God-given authority that Moses did.
But as Moses neared the age of 120, he knew that he would not be with the Israelites much longer. Here was a mighty prophet, the greatest the people had ever seen, and the questions on everybody’s mind were: “Who will take his place? Whose voice will follow the voice of Moses? Who will speak with the same authority? Whom can we trust after Moses?”
The people did not have to worry. Moses reassured them: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.” [v.15] After Moses’ death, God would cause another to speak His words with authority.
Over the centuries, God raised up many prophets. The words of the Lord given to them are still there for us to read today in books such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Micah, Ezekiel. All these men spoke God’s Word with authority, and it can be said that all of them were at least a partial fulfillment of God’s promise to Israel to raise up for them “a prophet like Moses.”
But there was one Prophet greater than all the others put together. When God said that He would raise up a prophet like Moses, He especially had this One in mind. It was, of course, Jesus Christ.
Jesus was more like Moses than any of the other prophets had been. Consider His close relationship to God the Father. Remember the relationship that Moses had with God? God spoke with Moses frequently and even face-to-face in ways that He never spoke with anyone else. But in Jesus we find an even closer relationship. This is because Christ is the very Son of God.
Yes, the Son of God. That is the primary revelation of the Epiphany season we are celebrating these very weeks.
Yes, the Son of God. This is what Nathanael said: “Rabbi, you are the Son of God” (John 1:49).
Yes, the Son of God. This is what John the Baptist said: “I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God” (John 1:34).
Yes, the Son of God. This was the Apostle Paul’s testimony, for Scripture says of him: “He began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20 NIV).
Yes, the Son of God. That was Jesus’ own testimony before the Jews when they said: “He must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God” (John 19:7 NIV).
Who can be closer to the Father than the Son Himself? Who can know the mind of the Father better than the Son Himself? Who is one with the Father like the Son Himself?
Like Moses, Jesus also spoke the Word of God with authority since it had been given to Him directly. I…will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.” [v.17], the prophecy had said, and in Christ that prophecy found its greatest fulfillment. In His prayer to the Father recorded for us in John 17 Jesus said: “I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from You, and they believed that You sent Me” (John 17:8 NIV). On another occasion Jesus said: “My teaching is not my own. It comes from Him who sent Me” (John 7:16 NIV).
Therefore, in Jesus we have the Son of God who speaks the words of God with authority. Those who heard and saw the Savior speak knew right away that He was different from their usual teachers. In Christ we have a prophet like Moses, but also a prophet greater than Moses.
Whether we get the right information about a baseball score or a sale at the local grocery store does not really make that much difference in the long run, but when it comes to spiritual information, it makes a tremendous difference who speaks to us. In fact, it makes all the difference. We are talking about the words of eternal life. We are talking about words that can save your soul or derail it. Words that can bring you to trust in Jesus so you will not perish, or words that can lead you away from Him to your destruction. Among the Children of Israel, if someone pretended to speak the words of God but were then found not to be speaking by His authority, they were put to death. The matter was that serious. It was that important for the people to hear God’s words from God’s prophets and nothing else.
It is of greatest importance to us that we have Jesus Christ, the voice of authority, in our lives speaking to us. There are lots of voices that do not communicate God’s message as the Savior does. These voices say things like, “You’ve got to be good and do good, then God will love you,” or “All roads lead to Heaven, it doesn’t matter which you follow,” or “Those things that the Bible tells you about morality, right and wrong, and how God wants you to live were for those days, not for our modern times.” There are a lot of religious messages that surround us. It is important that we hear the ones that come from God, the ones that His prophet endorses. The ones that Jesus speaks.
Jesus alone has the words that can answer our guilt before God. We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. That is a problem that needs a solution if we are to stand before Him in the judgment and make it through. Our words can’t save us. Our own voices cannot calm our troubled consciences or guarantee us a happy ending, but Christ speaks and says, “You are forgiven. I have lived in your place. I have done things perfectly where you could not. The punishment that brought you peace was laid upon Me.” Jesus’ voice is the voice of authority. He is the Son of God. When He speaks, it is so.
In the days of Moses it was important for the Israelites to listen to him. He was the one who prayed to God on their behalf so they would have food to eat and water to drink in the wilderness. He was the one who pointed them toward the serpent on the pole when they were bitten by deadly snakes. To ignore the voice of Moses was to ignore the voice of God. For us, it is just as critical to listen to Jesus. About Him the Father said: “It shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.” [v.19] Those who reject His voice have none to blame but themselves. He is the prophet “like Moses” who has been revealed to all.
Now, Moses was a great prophet, but what is he best known for? Bringing the Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinai, right? From our earliest days in Sunday School we see Moses pictures with those tablets of stone in his hand. While the commandments are an important part of God’s Word—important for revealing the depth of our sin-problem—the commandments do nothing to solve the problem. For that we need the greater prophet, Jesus Christ. He is like Moses in many ways, but He is also greater than Moses. He brings the message of forgiveness and life that was only foreshadowed by Moses. He pleads to the Father in our behalf. He sheds His blood for us to earn for us everlasting bliss. Grace and truth come through Jesus Christ!
Therefore, listen to His voice and trust it. It is the voice of the Son of God, able to drive away the Devil and grant to you peace. It is the voice that calms you when you are afraid. It is the voice that cheers you when you are sad. It is the voice that speaks truth to you in a world of uncertainty. Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.