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Hebrews Study #4: “God has Spoken, By His Son”

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

A Better Message than Moses, Better Listen Up!

By Richard Allen – March 6, 2023

As important as Moses’ ministry was to the Israelites, he also realized that an even greater revelation was yet to come from God. Moses was inspired to write the Book of Deuteronomy, or “Second Law” while Israel was camped on the east side of the Jordan River, across from Jericho. He was prevented from entering the promised land himself, but did see it from a distance. As Moses reflected and prophesied, he knew that God would raise up “another prophet, like himself” with far-reaching scope and authority, to speak one final time to Israel. So important would be this coming prophet’s ministry and message, that when John the Baptist appeared on the scene prior to Jesus’ appearance, one of the first questions that Israel’s religious leaders asked, was, if he (i.e. John the Baptist) was “The Prophet” spoken of by Moses. John honestly told them “no.”

“This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites to him from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ And he confessed and did not deny; and this is what he confessed: ‘I am not the Christ.’ And so they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ And he said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the Prophet?’ And he answered, ‘No.’ Then they said to him, ‘Who are you? Tell us, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ He said, ‘I am the voice of one calling out in the wilderness, Make the way of the Lord straight,’ as Isaiah the prophet said. And the messengers had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, and said to him, ‘Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?’ “ (John 1:19-25).

It's interesting to consider who the Jewish people and their leaders thought Jesus might be: “Are you: The Messiah? Elijah? Or The Prophet?” To any Jew knowledgeable of Old Testament prophecy, it was common belief that God’s most important promise was to send the Messiah, that is the Christ. But it was also a common belief among the Jews that Elijah would come first before the “Day of the Lord” (Malachi 4:5-6), when God would bring judgement, and deliver Israel from six centuries of bondage to Gentile rule. But this group of priests and Levites who John’s gospel tells us came from Jerusalem to inquire of Jesus, was well informed. They also knew there was The Prophet, like Moses coming” as Moses predicted. Twice more in the gospel of John, Jesus is thought to be The Prophet (John 6:14; 7:40). John the Baptist’s preaching caused such a stir that they came to ask him who he was. Yet John proclaimed that he was a “voice crying in the wilderness” (Isaiah 40), and honestly told them he was not the one of whom Moses spoke:

“The Lord thy God shall raise up to thee a prophet of thy brethren, like me; him shall ye hear, according to all things which thou didst desire of the Lord thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, we will not again hear the voice of the Lord thy God, and we will not anymore see this great fire, and so we shall not die. And the Lord said to me, They have spoken rightly all that they have said to thee. I will raise up to them a prophet of their brethren, like thee; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them as I shall command him. And whatever man shall not hearken to whatsoever words that prophet shall speak in my name, I will take vengeance on him.” (Deuteronomy 18:15-19, Septuagint).

As we’ve been working our way through the Book of Hebrews, we’ve seen that the revelation God has given us through Jesus, His Son, has supremacy over any witness coming from Angels, or even the Prophets, because He was God the Son. The Prophets, looking forward to Jesus, on some level understood they were just one step along the path God was using to bring redemption to all mankind. Remember, these Jewish believers were in danger of apostatizing, that is, going back on their Christian faith and returning to their Jewish beliefs. From what we’ve learned in the early chapters of the Book of Hebrews, the obvious challenge for these struggling believers was: “Which authority do we believe?” These Jews had their Torah, the first 5 Books of the Bible, the historical books and prophets. But their faith was also being compromised and divided by traditions of interpretation and radical beliefs coming from Jews living outside of Palestine. These false radical beliefs included the revelation of angels and an expectancy for a mysterious priest like Melchizedek to come in the latter days and “finally atone for sin.” I hope looking at their struggles will help us clarify whom we must listen to, and ground us on the Authority of the Scriptures, which alone are able to make any of us “wise unto salvation” (2 Timothy 3:15).

In chapter four, the writer of Hebrews turns to the fading authority of Moses. Tension between Moses and Jesus (John 1:17) has troubled the Church for 2,000 years. How ironic that the passage quoted above from Deuteronomy chapter 18, also includes Moses’ account of the Israelites’ fearful contact with God at Horeb, as discussed in a previous blog on February 20, 2023, “Fear of Intimacy With God.” So fearful were they of God’s presence, He acquiesced to their plea that He not speak to them directly (Exodus 20:18-21). The Lord tells Moses: “They have spoken rightly all that they have said to thee. I will raise up to them a prophet of their brethren, like thee; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them as I shall command him” (Deuteronomy 18:17-18). In this prophecy God reveals their fear of Him will only be resolved by His sending another Prophet – like Moses in scope and authority to reveal God’s will.

It’s clear that Jesus, as John’s Gospel calls Him, “THE WORD,” was “the Prophet” God sent. No fire or thundering mountain, but a gentle healer and a Prince of Peace coming to seek and save those who are lost. And as “the Prophet” Moses spoke of, He came to speak fully and finally, proclaiming God’s salvation. All the Prophets before Him spoke of His coming, so, there is No other Messenger coming after Him! As we learned from Hebrews 2:3, the divine flow for the “chain of God’s authoritative revelation,” started with God the Father speaking in these “last days through His Sonwhose words were “attested to by the Apostles who heard Him.” When we hear Moses’ prophecy quoted in the Book of Acts, the writer Luke makes clear that hearing or rejecting Jesus’ words will have eternal consequences:

“Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days” (Acts 3:22-24).

According to Acts, it was none other than the Apostle Peter who quotes Deuteronomy 18 and makes it clear that anyone who does not listen to “The Prophet” (i.e. Jesus), in whatever He tells you shall be “destroyed from the people.” This certainly does not sound like obedience to the Gospel of Jesus by His Apostles is an option. I know many friends in mainline denominations who have copied the hierarchy of leadership, rituals and sacrifices by human priests wearing priestly garb right from the Old Testament. Be aware, there are NO BIBLICAL OR APOSTOLIC COMMANDS telling them to do so! Sadly, they all have this in common: “Their denominations either downplay the authority of the Biblical record, or they make it subservient to Church Councils, Church Leaders or Edicts spoken by men.” The written Biblical record, that is the: “Chain of God’s authoritative revelation” is not accepted. So, they are actually DISOBEYING “THE PROPHET” WHOM GOD HAS FULLY AND FINALLY SPOKEN THROUGH, HIS SON JESUS!”

Is it any wonder that in a lengthy section of Scripture (Hebrews 3:7 - 4:13), the writer of Hebrews warns those “who have heard God’s voice (through Jesus and His Apostles), NOT TO HARDEN THEIR HEARTS?” He reminds us that almost all the Israelites who were freed from bondage in Egypt, “heard God but refused to listen and obey God’s word.” They all ended up dying in the wilderness (Hebrews 3:17). So, he pleads with us that if we want to enter into God’s rest “not to harden our hearts” as the Israelites did in the wilderness. This inspired writer of Hebrews tells us:

“Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:11-16).

Many Bible scholars point out that in the Book of Hebrews, Jewish Christians, suffering persecution for their faith (Hebrews 10:32-33), do not appear to be facing the same doctrinal errors that other Jewish Believers struggled with in the early years of the Church. Other inspired New Testament writers, specifically the Apostle Paul, dealt with: Faith vs. Works, or being Circumcised or Trying to Keep the Law. There are some issues that this specific group of Jewish Christians faced, like eating special foods and ceremonial washings (Hebrews 9:10). But there is one common message front and center in Hebrews: Faith! The subject of Faith will get to a crescendo in Hebrews chapter 11, but for now, let’s close with an exhortation from the writer of Hebrews to these struggling Jewish-Christian believers:

“Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:1-3).

To state it simply, we who have believed “the Prophet,” that is Jesus, God’s Son, through the “chain of God’s authoritative revelation” in the Bible, have entered into God’s Rest, the Real Sabbath, a Sabbath Rest of Faith! And more important, it’s not just faith in any-old-teaching or cultural tradition, no, it’s faith in the Final Word that God has spoken by His Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 10:17).

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