The Lord God Sent Jesus to Be His Spokesman!
O Lord God, as I enter Your presence for worship this morning, open my mind so that I might learn Your truths. Open my heart so that I might receive Your love. Open my lips that I might sing Your praises. Yes, Lord, open my entire life and enter therein so that I might serve completely and honor Your saving name with my every thought, word, and action. Amen.
We are to exercise our Christian freedom in love, so that we do not in any way harm those whose understanding is weak. Paul says, in fact, that he would forgo his Christian freedom rather than cause a brother to stumble.
Jesus taught with authority and proclaimed the truths of God in ways that amazed His listeners. In addition He used His power to cast out unclean spirits, freeing individuals from Satan’s bondage.
Text: Deuteronomy 18:15-22
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.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’—when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.
In Christ Jesus, through whom God reveals both His grace and truth, dear fellow redeemed:
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2a). Two weeks ago today while in Lima, Peru I held a Bible Study in the home of Ruben Vivanco, in which I outlined a year-long Bible reading course for sixteen people. In order to explain the importance of the proposal I chose nine Bible references to consider in order to demonstrate the importance of Bible reading. The words I just quoted from Hebrews 1 were the first reference.
Why is it important for you and for me to read our Bibles regularly? It is important because God is speaking to us through those words, first of all, through the prophets of the Old Testament and, secondly, through Jesus and His apostles in the New Testament. Do you want to know truth? Then go to the source of ultimate truth—Your God and His Son who reveal ultimate truth to you in the Holy Scriptures.
The words of our text today were recorded for us by Moses fourteen hundred years before Jesus was born, but they speak prophetically of God’s plan to send Jesus to reveal His truth to us. Yes,THE LORD GOD SENT JESUS TO BE HIS SPOKESMAN! He urges us to listen to Him as He proclaims divine truth! He also urges us not to fear those who proclaim their own fantasies!
The Book of Deuteronomy is a series of statements—sermons if you will—by Moses to the children of Israel just shortly before his death and their entrance into the Promised Land of Canaan. In them Moses reviewed God’s faithfulness to them throughout their just completed forty years of wandering in the wilderness. He also recounted God’s law given to them on Mount Sinai.
In our text he recalls to their minds the fact that when God first gave them the law, it was a most frightening experience. In the Book of Exodus we read the following description provided by Moses at that time: “Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, ‘You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.’ And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.’ So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was” (Ex. 20:18-21).
How did the LORD God respond to the people’s fear? He took the opportunity to point their eyes ahead to the Promised Savior who was in the end the reason for their national existence. Moses recounted for the children of Israel: “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.” (Deut. 18:17-19).
The LORD God promised to send Jesus to be His Spokesman to reveal His words, so that they might hear them and know them.
When Jesus was transfigured before the eyes of Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration, God spoke once again and He told them, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matt. 17:5). What had Jesus come to reveal? In the first chapter of his Gospel John tells us: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth…. And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:14, 16-17).
God wants us to listen to Jesus, for He proclaims divine truth concerning God’s love for sinners and His plan to provide forgiveness for our sins. He did not come into this world to proclaim a law-based self-help program leading to a possible salvation. He was not sent to be a mere example of godly living—an example, that if we follow it with sufficient success, will enable us to gain God’s favor and earn our way into heaven. No, Jesus came to proclaim the truth about our inability to save ourselves and His complete capability to achieve that goal for us.
That is why in our Gospel lesson we are told that the people who heard Jesus preach were “astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Mark 1:22). The scribes, as with all religions of this world apart from Biblical Christianity, used the law to attempt to make people righteous. The scribes had studied and taught with precision 613 different laws from the writings of Moses. They added over fourteen hundred additional restrictions formulated over the years by the various rabbinic schools, all of which they claimed if followed would lead men into the good graces of God. But the law cannot change hearts, and that is where the problem is for us men. The law can only and ultimately condemn hearts and leave men living either in a delusion of false self-righteousness or in continuous uncertainty leading to despair.
No, Jesus came and used the law to demonstrate that without Him we have no hope. As the apostle Paul would later tell the Romans: “We know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:19-20). But Jesus also came to fulfill the law so completely and perfectly that He bestowed the righteousness He gained upon all who believe. As Paul once again would say to the Romans: “Through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life” (Rom. 5:18b).
My dear friends, THE LORD GOD SENT JESUS TO BE HIS SPOKESMAN! He urges us to listen to Him as He proclaims divine truth! It is through that truth that we learn of God’s love for us poor sinners. It is through that truth that the Holy Spirit can and does create faith in our heart. That faith brings us into an eternal relationship with our Heavenly Father and bestows upon us the certain gift of eternal life. May we ever be ready to listen to these messages which give us life! If we should choose to refuse to listen, then God says He will require it of us.
May we then listen as He also urges us not to fear those who proclaim their own fantasies! It is a sad fact in this sin-filled world that many do not hear the words of Jesus Christ, and many proclaim themselves to be prophets of God, when they are not. Moses informs us: ‘ 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.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’—when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.’
I would have you note two things in particular from Moses’ words. First of all, it is a serious thing when anyone presumes to speak for God but then fails to represent Him honestly and correctly. In Old Testament times such false prophets were to be executed. God did not want His people to lose the promise of the Savior, for it had been entrusted to them on behalf of all men. In the New Testament God does not tell us to execute false prophets, but rather to separate ourselves from them. In Romans 16:17 He informs us through Paul, “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them.” False doctrine is serious for it can and does mislead and destroy souls!
Secondly, I would have you note that one of the chief tools used by false prophets to gain control over their followers is fear. You will notice that Moses’ final words are an encouragement to the children of Israel and to us not to be afraid of the claims of false prophets. How do those claims seek to instill fear? Quite often but not always the modus operandi of false prophets follows a distinct pattern. They approach individuals who often are isolated in some way—individuals who are confused or uncertain of their situations. They establish a friendship and suggest that they have just the remedy for the concerns or problems being experienced. They intimate that they alone have the true solutions and that all others, although well-meaning, have lost their way. They create a dependency not upon God and His truths, but upon themselves or their organizations. Soon lists of suggestions are presented—suggestions that often become demands—laws that must be fulfilled, but it is suggested when fulfilled will gain the individual the desired goal of being right with God and at peace with him. When questions are raised, subtle threats are made and fear is used to control.
The pattern I have just described is the way that many cults operate. However, fear is a tool used by all law-based religions—not just the cults. This past week I had a very interesting conversation with a young man I have come to know. This young man is Peruvian and currently plans to return to Peru in order to prepare for the priesthood within the Roman Catholic Church. In the course of our conversation, he made it very clear that he believed Christ has built His Church upon Peter and his successors, the popes. He also made it very clear that on Judgment Day I would be judged upon the basis of my obedience to Jesus’ commands, the primary one of which was that I submit to Christ’s vicar, the Pope. I believe this young man was truly concerned about me, but it was quite obvious that he was motivated at least in part by fear, and that fear was definitely a tool being used as he witnessed to me.
My dear friends, THE LORD GOD SENT JESUS TO BE HIS SPOKESMAN! He urges us to listen to Him as He proclaims divine truth! He also urges us not to fear those who proclaim their own fantasies! May we be led to “abide” In the words of our Savior (John 8:31-32), for then, as He promises we will “know the truth” and enjoy the freedom, hope, and confidence that only God can provide! Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting
Soli Gloria Deo!