Updated: Mar 16
Moses said: The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet. This is what you requested of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: “If I hear the voice of the Lord my God any more, or ever again see this great fire, I will die.” Then the Lord replied to me: “They are right in what they have said. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command. Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable. But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak—that prophet shall die.”
This is the Old Testament selection to be read aloud in Episcopal churches on the fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, which will next come on January 31, 2021. This is a Year B reading; but verses 15-18 are also read yearly, as a selection for the feast of Saint Bartholomew, recognized each year on August 24th [in 2021 that will be a Tuesday]. In that regard [a feast for a Saint], it is good to know that the reading above cannot be only seen as prophetic of Jesus [Saint Bartholomew also, minimally]; and, that is necessary to realize during the season when a personal epiphany is the expectation for all calling themselves Christian.
This is a fairly simple conversation between Moses and the Israelites, promising them that after Moses will come another who will lead the Israelites like Moses led them. To then think beyond Joshua, to the time of Jesus, is ludacris. If there had not been a long series of prophets who truthfully spoke what God’s Will was, then the Israelites would have been overrun by the tribes of Canaan, which is the lesson taught in the Book of Judges, where one judge after another had to come with the Word of God to save those days. Each time the Israelites had to be willing to believe and follow that prophet [judge], for their salvation to be realized.
Saul was the choice of the Israelite people and Saul was not a prophet who spoke the truth of God, so Saul died. David was the choice of God, after the Israelites rejected God, much in the same way the Israelites told Moses they feared the fire leading them. So, Jesus was the one who came after all the prophets who wrote of the collapses and exiles, all who spoke the truth of God's Word. The coming of Jesus, however, meant he would become the foremost prophet being fulfilled; but Jesus still was not the last.
Jesus would immediately be followed by twelve Apostles [Saints], who were all reproductions of Jesus, as the Christ reborn in the flesh of others. Those twelve then immediately transferred the Holy Spirit to three thousand other Jews / pilgrims, who all became reborn in the name of Jesus Christ on Pentecost Sunday [aka Shavuot]. The advent of Christianity was based on the one seed of Jesus being planted in fertile flesh, so plenty of good fruit came forth over the subsequent centuries, which is why there are people calling themselves Christians today. The problem is there is a great shortage of Saints [Apostles] now, so Christianity has reverted back to the state of being followers of Yahweh that have become lost and in dire need of a judge to come make everyone get back on the path of righteousness and be saved as a people.
When Moses said to God, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me,” and then the Lord said back to Moses, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you,” this says Moses was a model of all prophets who will act as he acted. God told Moses: “I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command.” Moses did that.
When John began his Gospel by writing, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” that says “the Word” [“ho Logos”] was that model, with Jesus being the one born of God to be in the flesh speaking His Word, as He commands it. This makes Jesus be, in essence, the ‘prototype’ of that model, which Moses had enter his flesh [reference "the burning bush"]. Thus, Moses was in the name of Jesus Christ, as was Elijah [and all others in Judaic lineage], such that Simon Peter, with James and John of Zebedee, saw this multiplicity of the Christ Mind shining through the ages [reference "the Transfiguration"] as having been Jesus … from the beginning. The "Christ" is the Mind of God, with "Jesus" being the model of all flesh that would speak for God, always known by God as His 'prophet sharing' plan.
This means “in the name of Jesus Christ” is the model of all prophets of YHWH. So, when God told Moses to tell the Israelites [give them fair warning]: “I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command. Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable,” that means hear the truth or be judged accordingly for not understanding the truth. The message of Jesus said the old model of one prophet being sent to act as the liaison for God, to the people, so the people can be led like sheep by a divine leader of many, those days are over. The new model brought by Jesus [sent by God] is one that from then on demands each and every one of “the people” have God speak the truth of His Word directly to them, so they become His prophet who speaks His commands [the truth of the Word].
The Hebrew words that translate as saying “does not heed” are “lō-yiš·ma,” from “lo shama,” they actually mean “not to hear.” This leads one to seeing a refusal “to listen” to the Word of God, which comes from every prophet of YHWH. While Moses spoke audible words to the Israelites that were his people, he later had them write everything down on scrolls, which means all of the Torah [et al the Mishnah] is the Word of God through His prophet; and, every book written by one of God’s prophets [those of canon and non-canon designation] is the Word that must be heard [read] as the truth that must be followed. All divine Scripture acts just like Moses going to his people saying, “Listen up guys, this is what God told me to tell you to do.” It means every book in the Holy Bible [a collection of divine books] is God speaking to the reader[s], such that if the reader[s] is one of God’s people, then that reader[s] will heed [hear, listen to] those Words and ACT accordingly.
This means that those who do not listen and act accordingly will be judged for that inaction. In that judgment, God will hold each soul accountable. When the translation above says, “I myself will hold accountable,” the Hebrew written [“’ā·nō·ḵî ’eḏ·rōš mê·‘im·mōw, from “anoki darash im”] says, “I [God] will require with.” The word “darash” brings about the aspect of an “inquiry” or “a reckoning,” from “careful study,” which means an “accountability” that each soul must go through, because God will “seek” the truth as to why one would read the Word of God [written through a prophet] and not heed that Word.
The biggest reason for that failure of ordinary souls in flesh is the answer, ‘Nobody told me I had to do any of that stuff!” That places the blame of oneself on those who oneself followed in life, like a sheep. That always places the blame on the teachers [a rabbi then; a pastor, priest, minister, preacher and a rabbi today]. Therefore, God then told Moses to tell the Israelites [modern Christian readers of the above text], “any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak—that prophet shall die.” That needs to be understood.
Here, the use of the Hebrew word “nabi,” which translates as “prophet,” should be read as a secondary [lesser] distinction, as “a spokesman” or “speaker.” This means one who speaks, without making a claim to be a “prophet,” while explaining divine text [i.e.: anyone who stands before people who say they believe in Yahweh], they become seen as “prophets,” when they are not. The literal translation of the Hebrew presents the possibility that someone will be a “speaker” who “presumes” [from the Hebrew word “yā·zîḏ,” from “zud” or “zid”] to speak for God [this perfectly fit the Pharisees Jesus pointed out, where “presumption” is a display of “arrogance”]; and, the option can also be an “or” situation, where the “speaker” stands before followers of Yahweh, while speaking “in the name of other gods” [“elohim”]. This use of “gods” is very important to grasp.
Christians [especially Episcopalians] love to translate all the uses of “elohim” in the Old Testament [especially those found in Genesis 1 and 2] as meaning “God” [rather than the clarity of the word stating “gods”]. This means Christians struggle with accepting there are many “gods” in the world, with many of them creations of God, designed to do the physical works on the material plane. Such works of “gods” are then the gods of physics, biology, mathematics, and others with laws and truths founding them. The aberration of such “elohim” are human brains, which misconstrue such “gods” created by YHWH as an understanding within their brains, which makes them stand before audiences [including those who follow God] and speak in reverence to the “gods” of science, philosophy and politics. Those are the intelligent, from whom God has hidden the truth of his Word, so they beat their chests, saying, “Look at me as a god, because I am smart!” In reality they have no authority to speak for God. They see themselves as the “gods” others should follow.
Now, when this warning that has been set forth by God, through Moses, to the Israelites [his people] and by writing to us [all readers] who follow God, the punishment stated is clear: “that speaker shall die.” Here, again, is where people refuse to accept the grander meaning of “shall die” [Hebrew “ū·mêṯ,” from “muth”]. That grander meaning says everyone born as a soul in human flesh is going to eventually die, where death is the separation of the soul from matter. Matter has no life, meaning the material plane is the plane of death [the absence of life]. Therefore, the judgment for anyone who speaks falsely as a prophet of God, and/or anyone who listens to a false prophet [or a bad shepherd] is likewise being led down the path to death. At death, the soul condemned "to die" can only be placed back into a temporary body of flesh [reincarnation].
The true prophets of God [all in the name of Jesus Christ] offer life eternal for a soul, which means a release from the physical plane. To be given eternal life, one’s soul must become married to God, as was Moses and Jesus [and all true prophets who spoke the Word of God]. Such a marriage [call it a divine spirit possession - a soul merged with the Holy Spirit of God] yields the birth of God’s Son [many names in Judaic history with the Christ Mind, the model always being Jesus]. So, the result of that marriage is one becomes Jesus Christ resurrected within one’s flesh. If one wants to avoid the judgment of death [call that reincarnation (at best) or sent to wander in darkness forevermore (at worst)], then one needs “to heed the words.”
Then one needs to act righteously, as a prophet of the Lord, who then takes the truth to others who seek eternal life, not death.
In today’s perverse state of being that is found in the “United States” of America, people calling themselves “Christians” are down on their knees thanking God for having allowed theft to be the way to dethrone Donald Trump. As they do that, others calling themselves “Christians” are down on their knees praying to God for vengeance and justice, to stop the thieves and demonstrate the power of God, by casting out lightning bolts that destroy half of the people in the U. S. of A. [a political distinction]. Every one of those calling themselves “Christians” needs to look hard at the words God spoke to Moses [in Deuteronomy 18:15-20], meant to be known by them [as readers]. None of you are true prophets of the Lord. All of you are worshipers of false speakers [Joe Biden, Donald Trump, all politicians], thus your souls will be held accountable, after an inquiry as to why you think God gives a stinky about who runs the place where the name is a misnomer, with nothing being “united” about it. The leaders are all going to face the judgment “you shall die,” just as will all those who lament and rejoice the happenings related to those “other gods.”
As a lesson read aloud for followers of God to hear [thus heed] as part of a season where the expectation should be on a personal Epiphany, this says one needs to understand where one truly is. The people of Moses (by the time the book of Deuteronomy was orated by the prophet) were those who had long before left Egypt behind, where Egypt is symbolic of the world that America is today [a mess of idol worshipers]. The people of Moses were the true followers of God, walking behind a true prophet [Moses], who was born in the name of Jesus Christ, the model for all true prophets of YHWH. This country lived in today has no Moses, has no Jesus, and has no prophets who heed the Word of God and lead the flock of God’s followers, because that old system was changed with the coming of Jesus, born of a woman in Bethlehem. Thus, a personal Epiphany is YOU have come to the clear realization that little ole You is expected to lead yourself to the truth, with God’s help, as a prophet who hears, listens, and acts on what one hears the Word say … to you.
Next, look at how the Episcopal lectionary pairs this reading with one from Mark 1, where Jesus spoke in a synagogue and one with an unclean spirit spoke out against Jesus being there. The personal Epiphany all Episcopalians should have is YOU have become people with unclean spirits that need to be cleansed. The problem is clear: You think you know some things, when there is no truth in what is known by You.