In addition to a scathing critique of Harry Potter*, Deuteronomy 18 also contains some fascinating information about the future of Israel’s spiritual leadership.
There is a whole section about a “prophet like you.” The “you” in question is Moses. And I really wanted to rewrite the words to “I Wanna Be Like You” from the Jungle Book, but didn’t for some dumb reason. Anyway, like many sections of the Bible I’ve read, it left me with more questions than answers. Here are a few of them.
Question 1) Is This About a Specific Person?
When God says he will raise up another prophet like Moses, does he mean that there will only be one of them?
I know the basic plot of the rest of the story and that doesn’t seem to be the case. What does happen is that there is always someone to pick up the mantle of spiritual leadership in Israel. This person takes many forms: warrior, judge, poet, king, prophet, man, woman, old, young, etc.
So is God pointing to a specific person here? If so, who is it? If not, is it reasonable for the Israelites, based on this information, to expect that there will always be some kind of spiritual leader? And while I’m at it . . .
Question 2) When Should We Expect Them?
This is definitely tied to the first question, but is there a timeframe on this?
How long will it be until the new Moses shows up? God doesn’t seem to give any details about when this will happen. But if I had to guess based on what I read, I would guess it was going to happen soon. That’s just how I read it. But I might be totally wrong.
A lot of people think that this is a reference to Jesus. If so, you would never get that from just reading this. And that would mean it won’t happen for another 1,200 years or so.
Question 3) How Will We Know When He’s Here?
The chapter offers some tests for determining if a prophet is legit or not. One is if the person prophesies in the name of some other god. That seems like a no brainer.
The other is a little more confusing.
You may say to yourself, ‘How can we recognize a word that the Lord has not spoken?’ 22If a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord but the thing does not take place or prove true, it is a word that the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; do not be frightened by it.
Sounds simple enough. If it happens, God said it. If it doesn’t, he didn’t. Until you remember chapter 13.
If prophets or those who divine by dreams appear among you and promise you omens or portents, and the omens or the portents declared by them take place, and they say, ‘Let us follow other gods’ (whom you have not known) ‘and let us serve them’, you must not heed the words of those prophets.
So maybe the real difference is whether or not they point you towards other gods.
What do you make of these passages?
*I love Harry Potter.