The LORD your God will raise up to you a Prophet from the middle of you, of your brothers, like to me; to him you shall listen;
Captious men of the present day complain that they cannot see God - cannot hear his voice. In their heart they do not wish to see him. He will not reveal himself, as an object of curiosity, to the eye of speculation. He reveals himself to the conscience and to the loyal heart. But men do not wish to see him as the embodiment of righteousness. They shudder and flee away. Yet in no other way can they see him than as he truly is. In this circumstance of mutual estrangement there is need of a mediator - prophet.
I. GUILTY MEN DEBAR THEMSELVES FROM PERSONAL FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD. There is nothing in common between unrighteous men and a righteous God. They are mutually repellent. The heart-language of such men is this, "Let us not hear again the voice of the Lord our God; neither let us see this great fire any more." To them, his voice is the thunder of war; to them, his presence is a consuming fire. They have no eye except to see his burning anger. Hence they flee to hide themselves. Their wish projects itself into reality; he removes himself.
II. MEN'S DESIRE TO HOLD COMMUNICATION WITH GOD THROUGH A MEDIATOR CONCEDED. The gracious disposition of God towards men yields to his creatures' necessity. Ask what they will, if righteousness be not dishonored, it shall be done. The all-wise God candidly admits that the Jews had, in this matter, spoken well. But the mediator must be a prophet. He must convey the thoughts and dispositions and will of God to men. Human obedience, to have any worth, must be intelligent - the fruit of choice and purpose.
III. THE PERFECT PROPHET IS INTRODUCED BY SUCCESSIVE STAGES. Our moral instincts often outrun our clear intelligence. The Jews desired an intermediate agent, who should convey God's will to them; but they scarcely knew what it was they asked for. Could any mortal man clearly reveal the mind of the Eternal? Would not the pure stream be defiled by the impure channel? Nevertheless, God will do the best for them in their present condition. As yet the perfect Prophet will not be understood nor appreciated. Knowledge of God's character and purpose sufficient for the present shall be revealed by imperfect men - types of the coming perfect Mediator. By easy gradations, the human family must be divinely educated.
IV. THE TRUE PROPHET IS A PERFECT VEHICLE OF GOD'S THOUGHTS. "I will put my words in his mouth." Unless the prophet be a mere mechanical automaton, his words must be the result of his thoughts. If God shall use a human person to reveal himself to men, he must use his mind, heart, and will: yea, his entire being. This has been realized only in the person of Jesus Christ our Lord. Hence he could say, "The words that I speak, I speak not of myself: but that Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." Hence, again, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father also." For the advent of this real Prophet, humanity stood for centuries on the outlook, on the watch-tower of hope.
V. CONTUMACY OF THE TRUE PROPHET IS CONTUMACY AGAINST GOD. Such is the value of this Divine gift, that to treat it with indifference is heinous crime. No human penalty may be annexed, but God himself undertook to punish the deed. Hunger is God's voice within the body, and he who disregards that voice shall surely die. Pain is God's voice in human nerves, and he who neglects that summons shall die. Truth is everywhere the voice of God, and to turn deaf ears to truth is to deprive one's self of life. And, by parity of reasoning, the voice of God is heard more clearly and more authoritatively yet, in the person of his dear Son: it is his prerogative to give to men eternal life. Hence, to turn a deaf ear to him is folly, contumacy, despair, ruin. God will exact a most fitting retribution.
VI. GOD SUPPLIES A TEST BETWEEN THE FALSE PROPHET AND THE TRUE. The eagerness of men to discover the Prophet of Jehovah, led many to impersonate him for the purpose of personal reputation and gain. Every true prophet of God came with sufficient credential, so that no candid mind need have been deceived. They had the power to read the near future: this was a token of their heavenly commission. But better still, their message commended itself to the conscience of the hearers; and thus might every hearer find in an honest conscience that the herald was from God. If the prophet summoned men to repentance and assured them of a share in the mercy of God, they could readily ascertain for themselves whether relief came to their burdened consciences - whether better feelings arose in the heart. The truth is never very far distant if we really wish to find it. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;