Moses prophesied the Messiah
by Wayne D. Turner
As the Hebrews are preparing to move into Canaan to possess it according to God's promise to Abraham, Moses issues a series of warnings, one of which contains a prophecy concerning the Messiah in Deuteronomy 18:15-22.
Deuteronomy 18:15 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;
Deuteronomy 18:16 According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not.
Deuteronomy 18:17 And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken.
Deuteronomy 18:18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.
Deuteronomy 18:19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.
Deuteronomy 18:20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.
Deuteronomy 18:21 And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?
Deuteronomy 18:22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.
On first read, these references to a prophet seem a little vague; one might even think that Moses is referring to Joshua who is to follow him. However, Jesus points out in Luke 24:27 that Moses prophesied concerning the Messiah when he says, "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." Earlier in his ministry Jesus had said in John 5:46, "For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me." This is another reference to Deuteronomy 18:15-22.
Here's the question: Did the Jews of Jesus' day regard Deuteronomy 18:15-22 to be a Messianic reference? To answer this question, let's look at John 1:45, "Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." From this reference, it is logical to deduct that Jews were looking for a fulfillment of Moses' prophecy and had equated the prophet of Deuteronomy 18 to be the same as the Messiah.
Peter himself refers to this passage in Acts 3:22-23, "For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people." Take notice regarding Peter's understanding of Moses' words in Deuteronomy 18:19 when he says, "...whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him." In Peter's message, he understands that phrase to mean, "shall be destroyed from among the people." Without question, Peter regarded Moses words to be Messianic prophecy.
Stephen further confirms this understanding when he mentions it in passing to his all-Jewish audience in Acts 7:37, "This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear."
From these passages of scripture we may deduct the following: