Acts 3:22

Wednesday, 29 December 2021

For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. Acts 3:22

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Peter had just mentioned “all His holy prophets.” Speaking of one of them in particular, Moses, the great lawgiver of Israel, he next says, “For Moses truly said to the fathers.”

Peter will cite words from Deuteronomy 18, words given to Israel by Moses as instruction and guidance concerning their future conduct. They are words of law, and what they say are binding upon the nation. To fail to heed them will result in whatever penalty is given to accompany them.

In other words, at times Moses might direct that the offender be stoned to death. At others, that he is to be beaten a certain number of times. In the coming verse, the penalty will be mentioned. But first, Peter cites the mandate, beginning with, “The Lord your God.”

In the Hebrew of Deuteronomy 18:15, it says, Yehovah Elohekha – “Yehovah your God.” It is the name of the God of Israel. Moses prophesied that the Lord God would be the initiator of the action that is to come about. With that understanding, Peter next says, “will raise up for you.”

The words, whether in Hebrew or Greek, speak of the Lord raising up or causing to stand. The Lord is the initiator of the action. The sense is that at some point in Israel’s history, what Moses says will come about according to the set plan of the Lord. And what He will raise up, according to Moses, is “a Prophet like me.”

Moses was a prophet of the Lord, and after him came many more prophets whose words were often carefully recorded and maintained, becoming the basis for Israel’s Scriptures. However, none of these were “like” Moses, apart from the fact that they were prophets. The difference between Moses and all others was that the words of Moses formed the basis of the law. He was the one who initiated the covenant.

But more, not only did he initiate the covenant, he also performed the priestly role in its initiation, serving at the altar and ministering the blood. Though he was not to continue in the role of priest, he did serve in this function initially.

And further, not only did he serve in these ways, but he also served as the legislator of the covenant. No other prophet would be like Moses in all of these ways. His position in Israel was unique and distinct from all other prophets.

As Moses said that the Lord would raise up a Prophet like him, it meant that this prophet would – by default – be the Initiator, Priest, and Legislator of a New Covenant. This is carefully and minutely explained to Israel in the book of Hebrews where Jesus is said to be “greater than” Moses and Aaron in all ways.

With this understood, because it came from the unbreakable words of law issued forth from Moses, Peter next says that this Prophet would come “from your brethren.”

The meaning of this was clearly understood by every single person in Israel. The One God would raise up will be an Israelite, not a foreigner. When John the Baptist came, the people wondered if he was this coming Prophet –

“Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’
20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, ‘I am not the Christ.’
21 And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’
He said, ‘I am not.’
“Are you the Prophet?”
And he answered, ‘No.’
22 Then they said to him, ‘Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?’
23 He said: “I am
‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“Make straight the way of the Lord,’”
as the prophet Isaiah said.” John 1:19-23

John denied he was the coming Prophet. Others immediately recognized Jesus as such –

“We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” John 1:45

Saying “of whom Moses” wrote about, it is clearly referring specifically to the coming Prophet. Likewise, Peter is now building his case before the men of Israel that Jesus is, in fact, the One Moses spoke of. The importance of this is that Moses clearly commanded the people concerning this coming One, saying, “Him you shall hear.”

In the Hebrew of the referenced verse from Moses, there is an added stress in the word translated as “you shall hear.” This is indicated by the structure. It says, elav tishmaun – “Him you shall certainly hear.” Further, the sense of the word “hear” is not just to listen to the audible sounds, but to heed them and to obey them.

As such, there will be no excuse for the rejecting of this Prophet. The people must heed the words He speaks. It is a command of Moses, and it is a provision specifically directed by the Lord. Further, the people were to heed him, as Peter says, “in all things, whatever He says to you.”

The basis for these words is found also in Deuteronomy 18 –

“And the Lord said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good. 18 I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.’” Deuteronomy 18:17, 18

The words of the Prophet are equated directly to the words of the Lord. Therefore, to reject the Prophet’s words is to reject both Moses and the Lord. What is said by Him is to be heard and complied with.

Because this is clearly to be understood from the law itself, no person of Israel – to whom the Law of Moses was given – could (or can) say that he was being obedient to Moses if he rejected this Prophet Moses spoke of and that Peter now refers to. To reject Jesus is to reject Moses. Jesus said this explicitly to them –

“Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” John 5:45-47

In rejecting Moses, the people would reject the Lord who commissioned Moses. The logical progression of thought is that only condemnation could result from a rejection of Jesus. To ensure this is understood, Peter will continue this thought in the next verse.

Life application: Jews, and heretical sects of Christianity, will claim that salvation can be obtained through adherence to the Law of Moses. But this is a false teaching. The Law of Moses, from both the words of Moses and those of the Lord, clearly indicated that to not comply with Jesus’ words is to reject Moses.

And Jesus’ words establish a New Covenant –

And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. 21 But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table. 22 And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” Luke 22:19-22

This is explicit and it is clear. The author of Hebrews then explains what this means –

“In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” Hebrews 8:13

The Mosaic code is obsolete. It has served its purpose and it is no longer in effect. Therefore, to fall back on it for salvation means that salvation will never be realized. Be sure to stay away from the damaging teachings of such people. One must either come to Christ, fully and completely, setting aside attempts at self-righteousness through the law, or he will never find salvation. Come to Jesus by faith alone and you will be in the sweet spot.

Lord God, thank You for the surety we possess through faith in Christ. May Your glorious name ever be praised for what You have done for us through Him. May we never set aside this grace by attempting to be justified through our own righteousness. Instead, may we find our hope and rest in Christ alone. Amen.