In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. (Hebrews 1:1-3 NIV)
Prophets in the Old Testament
In the Old Testament, Moses is the model of the prophetic role to whom all other prophets are compared (Deuteronomy 34:10). This involved a personal call from God, special enabling that often was accompanied by miracles, and the tasks of both proclamation and prediction (what we call “forth-telling” and “fore-telling). In other words, the prophet’s job was to look backward to the acts of God and remind Israel of God’s covenant with them. A prophet also helped the people look forward and keep believing God’s promises of restoration and salvation.
God promised Moses that he would raise up someone like Moses who would lead God’s people (Deuteronomy 18:15-18). The key mark of this prophet is that he would tell God’s people “everything I command him” (v. 18 NIV).
This is the essence of the prophet’s task. He was someone who stood before people and proclaimed the words of God, before whom he also stood (e.g., 1 Kings 17:1). The prophets spoke in God’s name (Daniel 9:6). They were God’s spokesmen.
God powerfully communicates this in the way he describes the prophet’s responsibility in Ezekiel. God said:
Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, “You wicked person, you will surely die,” and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved. (Ezekiel 33:7-9 NIV)
To believe or disbelieve God’s prophet was to believe or disbelieve God himself.
Jesus Fulfills the Prophetic Office
When we come to the New Testament, we see that Jesus saw himself as a prophet (Matthew 13:57; John 4:44). He only spoke what his Father told him to speak (John 5:19); he had an authority given to him by God (John 8:28), and he only did what the Father told him to do (John 12:49).
Jesus not only viewed himself as bearing the prophet’s role. The New Testament identifies Jesus as the Prophet, to whom all the Old Testament prophets pointed, and about whom God spoke to Moses.
Jesus’ followers also taught this truth. For example, after Peter healed a lame beggar in Jerusalem, he spoke about Jesus to the amazed crowd, quoting from the same promise in Deuteronomy we saw earlier.
“For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people’” (Acts 3:22-23 NIV).
Jesus is called the “Word” (John 1:1) for this very reason. He is God’s supreme communication to humanity.
The Apostle John writes, “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known” (John 1:18 NIV).
In this sense, Jesus not only brings God’s message, he is the message. He perfectly represents God in doing his will, teaching God’s Word, and revealing God’s very nature to us (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3).
The Hebrews 1 passage quoted at the top of this article bears this out. While God spoke in the past through various prophets, he now speaks to us through his Son, who is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Hebrews 1:3 NIV). If you want to know about God, look to his prophet Jesus.
Is Jesus Your Prophet?
Everybody has a theology. You can ask a five-year-old what he thinks about God and he’ll give you an answer. The question is, upon what authority do you base those beliefs?
Do you want to know what God is like? Would you like to know what his will is for your life? You needn’t guess. God has revealed himself to us through his Son, Jesus.
That’s why people were amazed when they heard Jesus teach. He taught with a genuine authority that no one else possessed (Matthew 7:28-29).
Today, you can still hear Jesus speak. Why not pick up a Bible and read some of his teachings for yourself? A good place to begin is with the Gospel of John, which is written so that you’ll believe that Jesus is exactly who he claimed to be (John 20:31). Hear the words of God’s Son, Jesus, the Prophet promised long ago.