Deuteronomy 18:15–22 has been chosen for today’s study because it is foundational to understanding one of Jesus’ names—prophet. At various places in the New Testament, we read of how di erent individuals saw our Lord as exercising the prophetic ministry. For example, in John 4:19, the Samaritan woman says to Jesus, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.” Jesus does not deny her use of this title, indicating that it is indeed fitting to see Jesus as a prophet, indeed, as the Prophet par excellence.
What we mean is that Jesus, while performing at least some of the functions of a prophet, is no mere prophet. While all the prophets spoke God’s words to the people of Israel, there was a special class of prophets to which not all prophets belonged. We may call this the prophet-mediator class, and Scripture tells us of only two who exercised that kind of prophetic ministry: Moses and Jesus.
Many people do not think of Moses as a prophet, but he was the most significant prophet of the old covenant. In fact, unless Job was written before the Five Books of Moses (Genesis–Deuteronomy), Moses was the first person to give us the written Word of God. Moreover, in today’s passage, Moses calls himself a prophet, predicting that the Lord will raise up a prophet like him after he is gone (Deut. 18:15). While this text predicts the rise of all the prophets in Israel, it also has a special messianic significance in pointing to a prophet who, like Moses, will also be the mediator of a covenant with God’s people.
Hebrews 8 contrasts the old and new covenants, telling us that the new covenant Jesus mediates is better than the old covenant, which was mediated by another. This another is Moses, who represented the Israelites before God and was the figure through whom they entered into the covenant with the Lord to be His holy people (Ex. 24). Like all the other prophets, Moses and Jesus gave God’s people the words of God, but unlike the other prophets, Moses and Jesus were figures through whom God established covenants and the attendant covenant stipulations, rituals, and processes for atonement.
However, though Jesus is like Moses in terms of being a mediator-prophet, He is far greater than Moses because He is the Son of God (Heb. 3:1–6). Moses represented Israel before God, but he was not God. Jesus, on the other hand, is the mediator in whom God and man are perfectly united, for Jesus possesses both a true divine nature and a true human nature.