A Look at Messianic Prophecy: Who is the Prophet of Deuteronomy 18:15-18?
by Eric Chabot
Anyone who has studied evidential apologetics will see that many apologists have laid a great emphasis on messianic prophecy as one of the keys to demonstrating Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. One thing that is left out of these discussions is that when it comes to prophecy, it is not always predictive. The Greek word for fulfill is πληρόω (pleroo) – which has a much broader usage than “the prediction of an event.”
For example, in Matthew 5:17– Jesus says he came to “fulfill” the Law and the Prophets. In this passage “fulfillment” has a sense of embodying, bringing to completion, or perfecting. Fulfillment is one of the main themes of the New Testament, which sees Jesus and his work bringing to fruition the significance of the Hebrew Bible. However, let’s look at a case of predictive prophecy. For a prophecy to be predictive it must meet the following criteria:
1. A biblical text clearly envisions the sort of event alleged to be the fulfillment.
2. The prophecy was made well in advance of the event that was predicted.
3. The prediction actually came true.
4. The event predicted could not have been staged but anyone but God.
5. Clear Prediction: Is the prophecy publicly available with a reliable text and evident interpretation?
6. Documented Outcome: Is the prophecy documented by publicly available facts?
7. Is there evidence for it in world history?
8. Proper Chronology: Is there empirical evidence that is available presently and publicly to document that indeed the prophecy does predate its fulfillment?
It must be remembered that the strength of this evidence is greatly enhanced if the event is so unusual that the apparent fulfillment cannot plausibly explained as a good guess.
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One of the most pivotal texts that speak about the first coming of the Messiah is Deuteronomy 18: 15-18:
The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.” (Deuteronomy 18: 15-18).
I. What is the purpose of a prophet?
1. A prophet (Heb. nabi) was an individual who received a call from God to be God’s spokesperson, often connected with some crisis that was about to occur, and then announced God’s message of judgment and/or deliverance to Israel and the nations.
2. The office of prophet took place in Moses’ day ( Deut 18:15-22).
3. The word “prophet” occurs over 300 times in the Old Testament and almost 125 times in the New Testament. The term “prophetess” appears 6 times in the Hebrew Bible and 2 times in the New Testament…
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