I love the picture here of God giving the people what they asked for. They wanted to hear from God, but they didn’t want to hear his message directly again. It had really scared them in the wilderness. They thought they were going to die. Moses had become that spokesperson, but he wasn’t making the trek into the promised land with them. God would raise up another prophet or many others.
How would they know if it was a true prophet or just a false imposter? This is the answer. “If the prophet speaks in the Lord’s name but his prediction does not happen or come true, you will know that the Lord did not give that message.” Depending on the prophecy, it might take days, months, or years to know if a prophecy was from God. That could seem like a lifetime to be following the wrong message.
This is assuming a distorted role of a prophet. We have somewhere along the line started believing the notion that a prophet will only give prophecies or predictions about the future. But when Moses spoke God’s words, weren’t they more to help people in the present? Moses said God “will put my [God’s] words in his [prophet’s] mouth, and he will tell the people everything I command him.” A prophet is a spokesperson for God, a truth teller, and the prophet’s communication is directly from God whether it’s a present or future message.
We need a prophet. We actually want someone to tell us the truth from God. If we are messing up our lives and making bad choices, we need correction. We want that prophet who will give us help in the here and now (like Moses gave the 10 Commandments) rather than only tell us about future events. If a prophet’s message is about future events, you can be sure that a true prophet will only be sharing a message that will turn people back to God. If the message doesn’t have that intent, it is not from God.
In an earlier reading, we were cautioned against fortune tellers and such. That is because those “false prophets” are not speaking a message from God. Do you want to trust a message from a mere human or some other influence rather than God? That is why we have been cautioned against such things.
We can also look at Jesus. Being God and man, his words are most certainly prophetic. God sent Jesus to be the ultimate truth teller. Jesus himself said “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) We know that Jesus is the only way to the Father. His words point to God and having a right relationship with God. Jesus made a way for us to do just that. True prophets speak about having the right relationship with God. Their messages point us in that direction, many times pointing out our own weaknesses and failings that are getting in the way. I think of John the Baptist’s message to “Repent!”
How are you doing in the relationship business these days? Are you hearing the call on your heart to repent, to follow, to be saved? Or are you confident in your salvation and just needing to be a better friend to your Savior and Creator? Take some time today to reflect on your relationship with God.
Let’s pray… Lord, I thank you for watching over me and sending the right messages just when I need them. I can see how your word is alive and it helps me to thrive. Forgive me for those times when I am adrift and feel lost. Thank you that I have regained my focus today and am waiting on you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.