“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me [Moses] from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen” (Deuteronomy 18:15—read Deuteronomy 18:15-22).
The roles or tasks of the Messiah, as described in the Old Testament, are generally listed as prophet, priest, and king. A priest offers sacrifices; a king rules. The job of a prophet is to deliver messages from God. One might consider a prophet to be a press agent for God. The prophet is authorized to speak for God; whatever a prophet says in the name of the Lord is the word of God.
Jesus is the perfect priest, offering himself as the final sacrifice for all sins. Jesus is the perfect king, ruling the entire universe with authority given to him from his Father. Jesus is also the perfect prophet. Jesus is God, so anything he says is automatically a message from God.
As all the priests are pictures of Jesus and all the kings are pictures of Jesus, so likewise all the prophets are pictures of Jesus. When Moses speaks of one prophet who will rise in Israel, clearly Moses is thinking of Jesus. But before Jesus was born, other prophets also preached God’s Word. Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and many more were inspired by the Holy Spirit. He guided them as they spoke and as they wrote, so we may consider all their messages to be trustworthy and true.
Jesus is the ultimate prophet. The last prophet to precede him, John the Baptist, emphasized the difference between Jesus and all other prophets. John said that he was not worthy to deal with the sandals of Jesus. “He must increase,” John declared, “and I must decrease.”
When Muslims say that Jesus is one of the prophets, they severely demote him from his true position. Jesus asked his disciples what people were saying about him, and they answered, “Some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and some say one of the prophets.” Jesus then asked the key question: “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered correctly: “You are the Christ, the Son of God.”
When God spoke the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai, the Israelites were so terrified that they asked for a mediator so they would not have to hear the voice of God. God agreed to their request and named Moses as the mediator between God and Israel. The other prophets, speaking for God, also served as mediators. But in the Christian Church we have one Mediator between God and his people: Jesus Christ, who is the perfect Mediator, because he is fully human and fully divine. As our great High Priest, he pleads to the Father for us, reminding his Father that the price has been paid for all our sins. As our great Prophet, he reminds us why we were created by speaking the Law of God, but he also promises us forgiveness by speaking the promises of God. Being human, he fully understands our needs and our requests. Being divine, he is able to do anything, and he does what is best for us.
Jesus is our Prophet, our Priest, and our King. Through him we have forgiveness of sins, fellowship with God, victory over every kind of evil, and the guarantee of eternal life in a perfect new creation. Thanks be to God! J.