Keyword:

Light from the Sidra

Shoftim

Deuteronomy 16:18-21.9.Haftarah:Isaiah 51:12-52:12

Rabbi Lionel Blue is credited with claiming that Jews are like everybody else, only more so. Is everyone religious? The Jews more so. Is everyone atheistic? Judging by the membership of the British Humanists, the Jews more so. Is everyone into politics? The number of eminent Jewish members of the British parliament and the US congress suggests the Jews are more so. Is everyone into New Age mysticism? Attendance at New Age festivals indicates that Jewish people are into occultism in a big way?

In verses 9-14 of chapter 18 of Deuteronomy, God warns Israel through Moses that the inhabitants of the land into which he is bringing them practice divination, tell fortunes, interpret omens, practice sorcery and spiritualism. These practices are abominations and Israel, as the people of Yahweh, is to be “whole-hearted” (JPS translation) with their God.

In the following verses, Yahweh assures the people that they will continue to have supernatural revelation because he will raise up from among them a prophet like Moses. Like Moses, the prophet will speak God’s words to the people and those who do not obey the prophet will be cut off from Israel.

False prophets – those who claimed to speak from God – were to die but how could anyone know who was a true prophet? Simple. If a prophet speaks in the name of Yahweh and the prophecy he utters does not come to pass or come true, he’s a false prophet.

After the death of Moses there were, of course, a number of true prophets but none of them can be said to equal Moses. Indeed, at the end of the book of Deuteronomy (34:10f), a later scribe has added: “And there hath not arisen a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face; in all the signs and the wonders, which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land” (JPS translation).

“The Prophet” was to be mighty in both word and deed. Like Moses, he was to be a worker of miracles and an accurate foreteller of the future. In the Second Temple period, Moses’ prediction of “Prophet” was regarded by both Jews and Samaritans (who accepted only the books of Moses as the Word of God) as messianic.

Since the Second Temple era there have been a number of contenders for the title of Messiah. Only two of them now have any followers: Shabbatai Tzvi and Jesus of Nazareth. Shabbatai Tzvi has a tiny remnant of disciples but Jesus of Nazareth has millions of Jewish and Gentile followers, a number that grows by the hour.

There are no miracles ascribed to Shabbatai Tzvi, nor did he utter any prophecies that came to pass, but the four written accounts of the life of Jesus (two of them first-hand accounts, the other two based on eye-witness testimony) record his healing of lepers, cripples, the blind, the lame and even the raising of the dead.

Jewish anti-missionaries are quick to respond that Deuteronomy 13 warns Israel against miracle workers who seek to lead Israel astray from their God. Such occasions are a test from Yahweh to see if the Jewish people will love him with all their heart and soul.

“Miracles” alone prove nothing. There have always been charlatans and stage magicians who are smart enough to pull the wool over the eyes of the gullible and the unwary. The test of whether a miracle worker is from God is whether he teaches truth and Deuteronomy 18 adds to that by providing a check and balance to chapter 13. Miracles, loyalty to God and true prophecy are a threefold cord that can’t be broken.

Jesus not only performed astonishing miracles, he also uttered remarkable prophecies about the manner of his own death: he would be betrayed to the Sanhedrin by one of his own disciples; he would be handed over to the Romans to be tortured and crucified; he would rise from the dead on the third day. Speaking in 33CE, he also prophesied that within forty years the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed so completely that “not one stone would be left on another”.

If Jesus is not the Messiah, Israel has been without a prophet of God for almost a millennium-and-a-half. That surely casts doubt on Moses’ qualifications as a prophet of God. But if Jesus is the Messiah, Moses is vindicated and Israel need no longer wait in hope for a Messiah who tarries.


© Shalom Ministries     email: comms@shalom.org.uk      site map
We do not necessarily endorse the contents of this site.