“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”
Hebrews 1:1–2 draws a contrast for us between the ways that God spoke to His people under the old covenant and how He speaks to us today. In the past, God spoke by the prophets, but in “these last days” He has spoken by His Son. The prophets were not God’s final means of speaking; rather, they pointed forward to the means by which our Creator would give us His final Word until the consummation—the God-man Christ Jesus.
Yet, we should not read the contrast between Jesus and the old covenant prophets as an absolute one. That is, the ministries of Jesus and the prophets have a degree of correspondence. Jesus replaces the prophets not because He is entirely different from the prophets; He replaces them because He is the Prophet par excellence, the fulfillment of all that the prophets anticipated. Not only does He speak to us the words of God, but He is the very Word of God made flesh (John 1:1–14). He not only teaches us the wise way in which to live, but He is the incarnation of God’s wisdom (1 Cor. 1:30).
Christ is also superior to the old covenant prophets in the sense that He is uniquely the subject and object of prophecy. The subject of prophecy is the prophet himself, the one who speaks the words that God has given him. Every old covenant prophet was a subject of prophecy—Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Obadiah, Haggai, and all the others who uttered the words of the Lord. But the old covenant prophets were not objects of prophecy, at least not in the sense that Jesus is. Deuteronomy 18:15–22 revealed that God would send to His people another prophet “like” Moses. In one sense, each of the old covenant prophets was a fulfillment of this text. Each was like Moses in the sense that he spoke the words of the Lord to the people. Yet in another sense, none of the old covenant prophets was a prophet like Moses. Moses served a unique role in the administration of the old covenant because he was the mediator of that covenant, the one through whom the covenant was given and established. Only one other prophet is a prophet like Moses in the sense of being a prophet-mediator, namely, Jesus Christ. He is the mediator of a new and better covenant that actually accomplishes the atonement necessary to secure the eternal inheritance of God’s people (Heb. 9:15). The Mosaic covenant was only a shadow of this better covenant mediated by a better prophet who delivered better promises. Jesus, therefore, is the ultimate object of prophecy.
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
Jesus accomplished the work of a prophet through His earthly teaching ministry and by speaking through the Apostles. Now that the Apostolic era has ended, new revelation from God has ceased, but by His Spirit, Jesus is illuminating the meaning of the Apostolic Word—the Scriptures—to us. We must have the help of the Spirit of Christ to understand Scripture, so we must ask Him to bless all of our studies of His Word.