Is Yeshua the Prophet in Deu 18:15?
Who is the prophet YHVH promised to Israel in Deu 18:15? Is this any prophet from the midst of Israel, or the Prophet promised from the very beginning of the world?
We read from Deu 18:15-16 thus,
Yehovah your Elohim shall raise up for you a prophet like me from your midst, from your brothers. Listen to him, according to all you asked of Yehovah your Elohim in Horev in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of Yehovah my Elohim, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die’. (Deu 18:15-16)
According to the Rabbinical teachings on Deu 18:15-19 regarding a prophet YHVH will raise from the midst of Israel, a prophet like Mosheh, the promise neither relates to one particular prophet, nor directly and exclusively to the Messiah, but speaks with respect to the sending of any prophet.
This the Rabbis extract from what follows with reference to true and false prophets, which presupposes the rise of prophets (plural), and shows that it is not regarding one prophet only, nor is it about the Messiah who is promised in Deu 18:15-19. By no means, they continue, it follows from the use of the singular “a prophet” speaking of one particular prophet, but that at any time when the people need a mediator, YHVH would send a prophet.
The expression “like me” in Deu 18:15 is explain in Deu 18:16 with regard to the circumstances, under which YHVH had given the promise that He would send a prophet. Because, they say, it was at Mount Sinai (Horev) when the people were terrified (see Exo 20), after hearing the Covenant and entreated Mosheh to act as mediator between Elohim and them, that God might not speak directly to them anymore.
The promised prophet, therefore, the Rabbis say, was to resemble Mosheh in this respect, that he would act as a mediator between YHVH and the people.
However, a discrepancy is introduced here between the words “like me” in Deu 18:15, if any prophet is meant, and the words which follow in Deu 18:18, “I will put My words in his mouth”. This discrepancy is expressed in the contrast with the way YHVH spoke with Mosheh mouth to mouth and face to face (see also Deu 34:10) and with rest of the prophets: in dreams or visions.
Please, listen up to My words: If your prophet is of Yehovah, I make Myself known to him in a vision, and I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Mosheh, he is trustworthy in all My house. I speak with him mouth to mouth, and plainly, and not in riddles and he sees the likeness of Yehovah. (Num 12:6-8)
So, if the promised prophet in Deu 18:15 is any prophet to whom YHVH would speak in a vision and in a dream, then we have to face the discrepancy that to that prophet YHVH would also speak mouth to mouth, as he spoke with Mosheh, because this is exactly what the phrase “I will put My words in his mouth” means.
But the teachings of the Rabbis with regard to Due 18:15 are not so monolithic as they look like.
The thirteenth century Rabbinic commentator Ralbag (Rabbit Levi ben Gershon) writes concerning Deu 18:15-19:
A prophet from the midst of you. – In fact, the Messiah is such a Prophet as it is stated in the Midrash (Tanhuma) on the verse, “Behold my Servant shall prosper [Isa 52:13] … Moses by the miracles which he wrought brought a single nation to worship Elohim, but the Messiah will draw all peoples to the worship of Elohim. (Ralbag on Due 18:18)
The Midrash Tanhuma (cited above) says:
It is written, Behold, my servant shall deal wisely, He shall be exalted, and extolled, and be very high (Isa 52:13). It means, He shall be more exalted than Abraham of whom it is written, ‘I lift up my hand’ (Gen 14:22). He shall be more extolled than Moses of whom it is said, ‘As a nursing father beareth the nursing child’ (Num 11:12). ‘And shall be very high’—that is, Messiah shall be higher than the ministering angels. (Midrash Tanhuma Isa 52:13)
Doubtlessly, that was the promised Prophet whom Philip had in his mind when he said to Nathanael,
We have found Him whom Mosheh wrote of in the Torah, and the prophets: Yeshua of Natsareth – the son of Yoseph. (Joh 1:45)
Stephen saw the promise of the Prophet like Mosheh (Act 7:37).
This is the Mosheh who said to the children of Israel, ‘Yehovah your Elohim shall raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brothers. Him you shall hear.’ (Act 7:37)
Peter also expressly quotes it in Act 3:22-23, as referring to Yeshua:
For Mosheh truly said to the fathers, ‘Yehovah your Elohim shall raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brothers. Him you shall hear according to all matters, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every being who does not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Shemu’el and those following, have also announced these days. (Act 3:22-24)
And even Yeshua applies the promised of the prophet in the passage in Deu 18:15-19 to Himself in Joh 5:45-46, when He says to the Pharisees,
Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Mosheh, in whom you have set your expectation. For if you believed Mosheh, you would have believed Me, since he wrote about Me. (Joh 5:45-46)
For more insight on the words of Yeshua “he wrote about Me” refer to the article “To Foresee Yeshua the Messiah“.
The words of Yeshua in Joh 12:48-50, again a reference to Deu 18:15-19 is quite unmistakable, as he made it very clear that the Father was speaking with the Son mouth to mouth and face to face, as He spoke to Mosheh:
He who rejects Me, and does not receive My Words, has one who judges him: the Word that I have spoken shall judge him in the last day. Because I spoke not from Myself, but the Father who sent Me has given Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, as the Father has said to Me, so I speak. (Joh 12:48-50)
And in the words, “Listen to Him” which were uttered from the cloud at the transfiguration of Yeshua (Mat 17:5), the expression in Deu 18:15, “Listen to Him” is used word for word with reference to Yeshua.
While he was still speaking, see, a bright cloud overshadowed them. And see, a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My Son, the Beloved, in whom I did delight. Listen to Him! (Mat 17:5)
Even the Samaritans founded their expectation of the Messiah in Joh 4:25 upon these words of Mosheh.
The woman said to Him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming, the One who is called Anointed. When that One comes, He shall announce to us all.’ (Joh 4:25)
But ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ was actually expressed in the promise of the seed of the woman, and Ya’akov’s prophecy concerning Shiloh, that this is a prediction of the Messiah as the true Prophet, precisely like that of the seed of the woman in Gen 3:15.
And I put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed. He shall crush your head, and you shall crush His heel. (Gen 3:15)
This is the first promise of the Messiah. This is the point the New Covenant Scripture began from.
Therefore, we cannot agree with those Rabbis who say that the promise of a prophet is restricted to the Tanak prophets only, to the exclusion of the Messiah, because not one of the prophets was fully equal to Mosheh, as is distinctly stated in Deu 34:10.
And since then no prophet has arisen in Israel like Mosheh, whom Yehovah knew face to face, (Deu 34:10)
No prophet has risen in Israel, until the coming of Yeshua!
This prophecy, therefore, is very properly referred to Yeshua the Messiah, the Prophet of YHVH.
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.