by Gary Arvidson
One NT claim about Jesus is generally overlooked. We are told that Jesus1 “…was a prophet…” (Lk 24:19). Most Christians, even if aware of this text2, tend to perceive it in a limited sense–like with predictive statements Jesus made about his impending death, by crucifixion, his resurrection, and the promise to return3. But in most minds, the concept of Jesus as a prophet4 would not extend much further. Yet it means far more.
Only one great prophet is specified in the Bible. Although he is the central figure of Israel, Rabbinic sources never identify him. The critical text is Dt 18:15,18. It is the ultimate Bible prediction about a future prophetic personality. It was given by none other than Moses. Yet very little is known about “the prophet.”
Although early Christians discerned the prediction was fulfilled in Jesus, the prophet’s mysterious role5 was never fully defined. So when the facts are known, Jesus becomes the greatest prophet of all time. In one sense he could be called the Prince of Prophets6.
Most people think of Jesus as a Savior, King, Babe, Messiah, Lamb, Priest, Lion, or some other such descriptive term. But, how many think of him as a Prophet? Probably not many! For most, there would be little reason for this notion to arise. The rigors and cares of daily life predominate. But the gospel of Luke reveals Jesus was a prophet. Luke said:
“…Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:..” (Lk 24:19).
Suppose the natural conclusion from those 18 words is accepted as a fact? After all, “It’s ‘in the book’!” Then nothing could hinder a frank admission that Jesus was a prophet. Yet if we do, the response might be “so what?” This reaction stems from a misunderstanding about the prophecies of Jesus and their relevancy to our society. After all, the predictions were given nearly 2000 years ago. Everything he said was far back in time. So life just goes on as we know it. Consequently we fail to perceive Jesus in this important context.
For the most part, traditional and conventional denominations have either ignored, or at least downplayed, the significance of prophecy. It is too speculative or sensational. Besides, it is a difficult topic that does not interface well with everyday realities—like work, school, shopping, household maintenance, getting with friends, going to church, and other social occasions. So other realities take precedence.
Furthermore, people living in their communities—and involved with others in business and social life find discussing prophecy “makes people nervous.” So it is easy to see why the topic is not a serious part of every-day life for most church-going people. I know, because I grew up in one7 these churches. Prophecy was irrelevant.
But now we face the clear Bible claim that Jesus was a prophet. Is this important? That could depend upon many8 things. But most of all, it depends upon the times in which we live. It also depends upon the kind of prophet Jesus was.
A Special Prophet
Moses was the most powerful figure in the history of the Hebrew people. Many factors constitute this claim. A few samples include: (1) the infancy stories which compare with Jesus [see: Chart 3], (2) the drama, (3) the miracles, (4) the Exodus, (5) the law, (6) the wilderness journey, and (7) the typology9. This same Moses predicted that a special prophet was predestined to arise in the future. The first of two prophecies states:
The Lord your God will raise up unto you a Prophet from the midst of you, of your brethren, like unto me; unto him shall you hear (Dt 18:15).
The second text is similar, though expansive. It identifies “the Lord” as the original source for the prophecy. This additional text adds authority and emphasis. In biblical terms it fulfills the role of a double witness10. The text says:
…the Lord said…”I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto you, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him” (Dt 18:18).
Notice the characteristics of this prophet. Moses tells in v.15 that he is: (1) a Prophet, (2) from the midst, (3) of brethren, (4) like me [Moses], and (5) hear him [you must]. The additional elements specifically stated by God in v.18 are: (6) God will put his words in the prophet’s mouth, and (7) he will speak everything God tells him. Observe the similarity with Moses’ own situation (Ex 4:10-12). Just two texts provide the complete database about “the prophet.” Exactly seven characteristics are given. Nothing else is said about “the prophet” in the OT.
Moses fulfilled a special role in ancient Israel. Although he was from the priestly tribe of Levi, he was not a priest (his older brother Aaron was high priest). Moses was not a king. A more careful inspection of the OT shows that Moses fulfilled a much larger role. We read that Moses became “as God” (i.e. in God’s stead) to Aaron. This was an incredible thing. Moses was designated as “God himself” (the top job). This is no exaggeration. Notice the incredible statements that follow:
“And he [Aaron] shall be your spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to you instead of a mouth, and you [Moses] shall be to him instead of [as] God” (Ex 4:16).
The force of these words is felt more fully when reading the closure statement about Moses at his death!
“And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” (Dt 34:10).
This is powerful stuff! Besides, the last text comes at the closure of the Torah. For later Judaism, the Torah is the one main revelation of God. It is attributed to Moses. The other books in the Canon were added because of sin—and consequently have limited validity in time. But the Torah is timeless. Torah is Supreme. Similarly, for later Judaism, Moses becomes the most important figure in salvation history.
Moses is a timeless figure whose shadow extends to our day. So, we must consider in this context the power of these two verses. In short, the above texts illustrate the magnitude of Moses’ role in his dealings with Israel. It is little wonder that some hostile associates of Moses, like Korah, perceived that he and Aaron “took too much upon themselves” (Nu 16:3).
Since knowledge about this unique prophet came through Moses, and was compared to Moses; scholars recognize “the prophet” of Dt 18:15,18 is a major designation. But what does it imply? Who is this? An aura of mystery surrounds “the prophet,” especially in Jewish sources. The Interpreter’s Bible tells us:
…Rabbinical references to Dt 18:15 are rare and never identify him with any historical figure. Popular speculation roamed freely, as the mention of Jeremiah (Mt 16:14) shows, though he is never named….11
A problem exists in discerning the fulfillment of this prophet from the Jewish perspective. The few Rabbinic references which quote the texts in Dt 18:15,18 say that it relates to one of the past prophets. In later Judaism, scholars suspect that some teachers held to futuristic interpretations. The renowned Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Kittel) reports:
How later Judaism understood the promise that God would send a prophet like Moses from among his brethren (Dt 18:15,18) is a very difficult problem…we have good reason to believe that a future interpretation also existed, though surprisingly not attested in Rabbinic literature….A lively issue for more than 100 years is whether there was in later Judaism a future interpretation of Dt 18:15,18 in Messianic as well as non-Messianic terms.12
Of course Dt 18:15,18 is a problem. Outside of Jesus, no comparable figure has arisen who could fulfill this prediction. Since Jesus is not acceptable to the Jews, a stalemate exists. Consequently, in the later period many Jewish people held to the notion of “the return of Moses.” We see this idea creeping into various statements made in the NT by people living at that time. Jesus was perceived as fulfilling this role (Jn 6:14; 7:40). In this sense, he was perceived as a “second Moses.”
So if Jesus were not the one who fulfilled Dt 18:15,18; and if no other entity could be identified historically, then futuristic interpretations would be the only recourse. With such limited evidence, it is little wonder that Jewish expositors are silent. Christian claims would cause Jewish scholars to “steer clear” of this troublesome text.
Considering the OT prophecies, we must give careful consideration to the Jewish conception called the return of Moses. It is partially based on implications from Dt 33:21 where it says: “He [Moses] comes at the head of the people.” This text is discussed in the Midrash. The idea holds that Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land—and was buried in the wilderness so that at some future time the wilderness generation could be raised up (on the merits of Moses), and then Moses would lead them into the promised land13. This is a lenient and triumphant view about the wilderness period. It encompasses a much larger perspective of Divine forgiveness.
So it is little wonder that within the context of any OT discussion about redemption, and the deliverer [Moses-like]; that the drama of deliverance from Egypt would pose the supreme Hebrew symbology. Consequently, expanded possibilities would logically include the following idea:
Within the context of this typology of the first and final redemption there is found in Rabbinic literature the much repeated principle, developed in all kinds of different ways: “As the first redeemer (Moses), so the final redeemer (the Messiah).”14
In Jewish sources, the typology of Moses is very strong. An ancient record of the Moses story is called The Moses Legend (see: Chart 3). Both Josephus and Rabbinic tradition contain stories that offer a number of amazing parallels between Moses and Jesus. Yet within the Christian community, very little if any of this information is known (or perceived as having relative value). Consequently, perfect resolution has not been possible.
The NT provides a clear correlation between “the prophet” predicted by Moses, and Jesus. The two primary NT statements connecting Jesus with Dt 18:15,18 are Ac 3:22; 7:37. These texts give confirmation that Jesus was perceived by his disciples as the one who fulfilled Dt 18:15,18. It also illustrates a correlation between Moses and the Messiah. But some difficulties remain. Kittel tells us:
This Moses/Christ typology is not equally clear in all the [NT] books. It is plainly formulated only in Acts, Hebrews and John, briefly indicated in 1 Peter and Revelation, and [is] presupposed in Mark and Matthew, but does not occur in any form in the Pastoral Epistles and the 7 Catholic Epistles.15
So it is obvious the NT provides only a limited data-base. Yet we find evidences of a much larger story. In fact, we see traces of the Moses Legend in the NT. One primary example is in Act 7:22 where it says that: “Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.” This claim is without any basis in the OT.
Furthermore, we learn that Moses was 40 years old when he fled to Midian (Ac 7:23) and stayed there 40 years16 (Ac 7:30). Then we read that two men (Jannes and Jambres) withstood him (2Ti 3:8), that an angel spoke to him on Sinai (Ac 7:38), that the law was given by angels (Gal 3:19), and that Michael strove with Satan for his body (Jude 9). Again, all of this is without any foundation in the OT. Yet Christians accept it as valid data. The book of Acts portrays Moses as the suffering messenger of God who was misunderstood and rejected.
So it is obvious that a strong relationship exists between the experiences of Moses and the future prophet he predicted. Yet, most Christians are unaware not only of this fact, but the deeper implications of the association. Church-goers may understand elements of the typology, but not necessarily the deeper reasons and/or implications of the prophecy. We will find there are several important aspects of the role Jesus fulfilled in the office of this prophet.
The concept of “the prophet” is expansive. Few realize it designates the highest office of Israel. This is because it is associated with Moses’ role. Taking a variety of NT texts, we find that Jesus is defined as: (1) Prophet, (2) Priest, and (3) King17. The prophet aspect is superior during the phase of his brief first appearance and subsequent absence. Christians have only the written word (Bible) upon which to depend.
The prophet element appears to bind the other two offices together. The second coming in Rev 19 concentrates upon other offices to begin then—like priest (“Lord of Lords”) and king (“King of Kings”). Of course Jesus is “the prophet” and will fulfill this role at that time in a direct and personal manner. But for now, we must be content with the past application of Dt 18:15,18 to Jesus, while we anticipate the future aspects of its significance. Frankly, the earth’s inhabitants will be more fully informed on all these matters (Hab 2:14) after the 2nd coming.
Probably the most critical text showing Jesus fulfilled the role of this prophet is the transfiguration episode (Mt 17:1-9). This extraordinary event portrays Jesus in the context of his real power and glory. Meanwhile, the supernatural voice from heaven declared:
This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him (Mt 17:5 [emphasis mine]).
Focus upon the last three words “hear ye him.” This is an obvious reference to the words “unto him you shall hear” in Dt 18:15. But most important is that this is God speaking. The transfiguration account is reported by two other writers, so we have powerful confirming testimony (Mk 9:7; Lk 9:35).
A critical text showing the superiority of “the prophet” is Jn 6:14-15. After Jesus fed the 5000 people miraculously (Jn 6:10), they perceived he was “the prophet” (v.14). Consequently, they intended to “take him by force, to make him a king” (v.15). One miraculous act led to a perception by the people. This created the urge to make Jesus a king. The people saw the miracles and perceived that Jesus was fulfilling the special prophet’s role predicted by Moses. This was all they needed.
In the context of this report, we find a Moses-Messiah typology. In v.30 the people asked Jesus to repeat the manna-miracle. This is clear evidence they saw him as a “latter-day Moses.” It was based upon the popular expectation that in “the last days” the masses would see a repetition of the miracle of the manna18. So Jn 6:30-34 confirms the association of the expected Messiah with a Moses-figure.
In one sense, the prophet’s job is greater than either the king or priest alone. The prophet’s office is the closest to God (hypothetically at least). Consequently, the prophet is God’s messenger to the king (with his court), and the priest (with his retinue). But the prophets were mocked and not heeded. Prophets had a rough life. Jesus was no exception. There was no job security, because to do his work a prophet took his own life into his hands. The Interpreter’s Bible tells us:
As the priest conserved old truth, so the prophet broke new ground. It is just in this provision for new growth, through increasing knowledge of God, that the prophetic institution was most remarkable.19
The prophetic element of Jesus’ mission has been almost totally ignored by mainstream Christian churches. There is good reason. Prophecy has not been understood. Besides, prophecy can be disturbing. Still, this predictive data is one primary aspect of Jesus’ total mission to earth. It is an ultimate “attention-getter” which God uses to educate men, and warn them about sinful conduct. Prophecy reveals the power of God in controlling a sequence of human events through time.
If we accept the notion that Jesus occupied the exalted position Christian literature ascribes to him, then we should expect that he received a substantial formal introduction. We have that with John the Baptist’s prophetic ministry.
Jesus was introduced by several sources. The OT prophecies performed this role (Jn 5:39). The planetary alignments of that time utterly amazed the astrologers (Mt 2:1-2). But there was a unique man with special credentials who confirmed Jesus as the principal herald.
John the Baptist was not merely an isolated prophet who foretold the arrival of Jesus. He was an Elijah-type predicting the imminent arrival of a truly remarkable individual (Mt 11:14). John was asked by the leading Jewish authorities (Jn 1:19) if he were “that prophet” (Jn 1:21,25). The order of inquiry about John was: (1) the Christ [v.20], (2) Elijah [v.21], and (3) the prophet [v.21]. Three separate roles were addressed here. Regarding this interrogation, we read in Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the NT that:
All these passages agree in not equating the expected prophet with the Messiah. It may be seen esp. from Jn 1:21,25 that the prophet was expected along with the Messiah and Elijah, obviously as a forerunner of the Messiah.20
Notice especially the words: “expected along with.” We see that three separate figures were anticipated 2000 years ago. This is a major point that tends to be overlooked21. No wonder three different job functions were addressed relative to John the Baptist. The jury is still out on whether this was a complete perception. We do not yet possess a database from the final (similar) end-time fulfillment to compare it against. When that occurs, those alive will see how these three separate functions play out in the world drama.
But for now, we see that a three-personality fulfillment was considered 2000 years ago. At least this is typology to study. By that means, we may be enabled to learn from it if nothing more22. To entertain some interesting possibilities, write for the preliminary ACD research paper on The Double-Messiah.
Today, most prophecy enthusiasts think only in terms of two entities fulfilling the end-time witness (i.e. the “two witnesses” of Rev 11:3). But is that the whole story? Here in John we see that three individuals were expected. And as students of prophecy suspect, that becomes a basis for understanding the future fulfillment. The quotation from Kittle above continues with:
…the future expectation expressed here is thus restricted to three figures whose eschatological tasks were attested in Scripture, namely, the Messiah, Elijah (Mal 3:23) and the prophet (Dt 18:15,18).23
The notion of there being fully three separate entities specified for the last days may come as a surprise.24. Yet this is the possibility laid out by this authoritative25 research work. As a consequence, it should come as no shock when we read:
…Test.L.8:14f., a passage which belongs to the Jewish original of Test.XII, ascribes to the Messiah the three dignities of king, priest and prophet…26
In order of reporting above we read: (1) state [king], (2) church [priest], and (3) prophet [“the prophet”]. But consider for a moment, whether this is a “descending” or “ascending” order? The king (in earthly affairs) was separate in dominion from the priest (in heavenly affairs). Both were subject to the office of prophet whenever one appeared. The prophet carried God’s Words to either king or priest. The prophet had the superior office. This is because he was God-like (see: Chart 1). “The prophet” appears as superior to king (Messiah [Gk. Christ]) and priest (Elijah [office of]).
Of course, God can do anything he wants. He can send two, three, four, or more individuals to witness whenever he desires. God may even send three entities27 at the end-time to announce the impending arrival of one who will ultimately represent all three offices28 in himself. Realize that the entire concept is based upon the “two or three witnesses” of Dt 19:15 with a NT confirmation in Mt 18:16.
In short, we can only wonder if two or three separate jobs will exist prior to the 2nd coming—and whether they will ultimately be realized (and fulfilled) in one entity—God himself who will reign on earth—in person—in the presence of all (Isa 33:17,22). The Interpreter’s Bible tells:
…The chief difficulty is to determine what was understood by the prophet. The allusion, no doubt, is to the Deuteronomic words ascribed to Moses…the reference is repeated in Jn 6:16; 7:40, but is absent from the synoptics. From Ac 3:33; 7:37 it is clear that the early Christians found the promise realized in Jesus.29
One Great Prophet
We find from NT texts that John was a great prophet: “…he [John] shall be great in the sight of the Lord” (Lk 1:15). In God’s scheme it was critical that Jesus was preceded not just by a prophet, but a great prophet. Greatness of mission demands a preceding great herald. Jesus said:
“…among them that are born of women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist:…” (Mt 11:11).
“…there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist:…” (Lk 7:28 [emph. mine]).
Was it the man, the role, or both that made the difference? Yet this greatest of prophets revealed that he was not worthy to be compared with Jesus. John said: “…the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose” (Mk 1:7 [Lk 3:16; Jn 1:27]). John also said: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn 3:30).
So John was similar to Moses in his quality of humility (Nu 12:3). This is a primary prerequisite for the job. John’s significant stature illustrates the importance of two-foldness within one prophetic mission—especially when it was so pivotal. One entity is witness to the other. This compares with Aaron’s role in support of Moses, and the “two witnesses” of Rev 11:3. These two may be part of a larger mystery.
There is another factor. Two of “the prophet” statements in John’s gospel apply to John the Baptist (Jn 1:21,15). Two are about Jesus during his ministry (Jn 6:14; 7:40), and two are about Jesus after his mission was accomplished (Ac 3:22; 7:37). Besides, just as there are dissimilar prophecies—so are there different kinds (degrees) of prophets. Not all had the same style or message. There were former prophets and latter prophets. We read of major prophets and minor prophets.
Another Great Prophet
The role of Jesus went far beyond any prophet of the OT. Jesus, like John, was called great at his birth:
“He [Jesus] shall be great…” (Lk 1:32)
“…they glorified God, saying, ‘That a great prophet has risen up among us;…'” (Lk 7:16).
The two-fold prophetic witness of these two prophets was spectacular in many ways. But broadness of meaning does not reduce the importance of this particular prophetic office. Jesus said: “I have a greater witness than John” (Jn 5:36). Of course, many would see in this statement the fulfillment of predictions about his crucifixion and resurrection. But that is only a historical example of fulfilled prophecy that illustrates his other predictions about the end times.
Only “the great” can be a legitimate authority about others who are “great.” This applies to the testimony of both John and Jesus. Hence both John and Jesus were eminently qualified to comment upon the respective superiority in each other— and about the relative work of each. Keep in mind that humility was a major quality here. They were not puffed up. Jesus said:
“You know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them…” (Mt 20:25).
When Jesus spoke this, he would have held in mind the greatest human representations—such as Alexander [the Great], Herod [the Great], Simon [the Great 30], etc. Jesus’ lesson follows in Mt 20:26-27. His emphasis is reversed from the notion of “greatness” to an accent on humility (Mt 23:11-12; Jn 13:16).
The Greatest Prophet
Notice that Jesus’ teaching is often underscored by the introductory emphasis of: (1) “Verily, verily,” and (2) “I say unto you.” Whenever Jesus used the words “I say unto you,” take special note. They exist throughout the gospels. This form of emphasis occurs because Jesus is the new lawgiver who is “like unto Moses.”
Jesus was the greatest prophet because he was Moses-like. He came fulfilling a number of roles—but the superior job compares with Moses. Moses is esteemed so highly in later Judaism, that his return was anticipated (see: Chart 2). Now we learn that Jesus was the supreme prophet—and a type of Moses. As we have seen, the key texts are Dt 18:15,18 [cf. Ex 4:16, Dt 34:10]. NT verification is in Jn 1:21,25; 4:19; 6:14; 7:40; Ac 3:22; 7:37. This data is pivotal31, which is why it is repeated here. This brings us to the first of two major comparisons between Jesus and Moses.
First, The Lawgiver
The prophetic role of Jesus has two basic divisions. Despite all notions of curiosity, the predictive element is secondary. So it will be covered second.
First is the role of lawgiver. This quality makes Jesus unique in the category of “prophet.” Anyone who has the notion Jesus came to do away with law, is sadly mistaken. The primary role of Moses was lawgiver. The same was true of Jesus. In the earlier discussion about the transfiguration, we saw that the words “him shall you hear” were spoken by the voice from heaven. God points to the lawgiver.
The ultimate act in Exodus occurred when God wrote The Ten Commandments on two tables of stone. Nothing supersedes that in importance32 or majesty. Moses’ first job was to deliver those ten basic instructions to the people. Then he would model a society upon that supreme moral law. In fulfilling the role of the Second Moses, it is only logical Jesus’ first task would be to “deliver the law.” And that is exactly what we find. After fasting 40 days and 40 nights like Moses (Mt 4:2)—we find that Jesus delivered “the law” in his Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:1-7:29 [see esp: Mt 5:17:18]). This is not coincidental. Jesus was fulfilling the role of “the prophet” (Dt 18:15,18).
The 10 miracles worked by Jesus in Mt 8-9 further underscore this because they compare with the 10 miracles performed by Moses in Egypt. Moses’ miracles were penalties, whereas those of Jesus were healings. Like Moses, Jesus delivered the law, and then taught how a society should be based upon that supreme moral law33. As a separate topic, this would require additional expositions for adequate treatment. But that is not our objective. In short, Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” was: (1) the official Moses-like (2) giving of the law (3) from the mountain, and (4) confirmed by the 10 miracles. This is the lawgiver of Dt 18:15,18 in full force.
There is one other pivotal aspect of this which must not be overlooked. If Jesus were a prophet like Moses in the fullest sense, then he would not only speak the law (like Moses)—but that law would eventually need to be written (like Moses). Since the Moses’ law was written, should it be any different with Jesus? But that is not all. We can go one step further. Suppose we find that Jesus’ law was not only written—but in the same format as that of Moses’ work. That would be striking indeed. It would confirm even further his role of “the prophet.”
When comparing the five books of Moses with the layout of the four Gospels and Acts in the NT, there is a surprise. The arrangement of the four Gospels and Acts conforms to the structure of the Pentateuch (4 + 1 = 5 books). The NT Pentateuch structure (4 gospels + Acts = 5 books) was produced by the 2nd Moses. The reason Matthew comes first in the gospels is because, being a Levite (Mk 2:14), he dealt with the law (Sermon on the Mount). The gospel of Matthew concentrates upon the law from “the prophet.”
There is another factor. The three great divisions of the OT are found in Lk 24:44-45. They are: (1) Moses, (2) Prophets, and (3) Psalms [prophetic]. The three-fold divisions of the NT are similar with (1) the Gospels & Acts, (2) the General Epistles [James-III John], and (3) Paul’s Epistles. The Apocalypse (7) seals the entire OT/NT work.
Finally Jesus echoed the Great Commandment (Mt 22:36). It combines the two overall commandments into ONE (Mt 22:37-40). He is the great lawgiver, like Moses. He is ONE (Dt 6:4; Mk 12:29). So Dt 18:15,18 empowered Jesus’ mission into WARP drive. It announced his great role, which will now embark upon the second aspect of his prophetic work. That is the spectacular futuristic prediction in: (1) The Olivet Prophecy, and (2) The Apocalypse.
Prophecy is Second
The next function of “the prophet” is predictive in nature. Since the reference to “the law and the prophets” (Lk 16:16) places the law first, we followed that pattern. After all, prophecy is reactive.34.Now, we are free to investigate the secondary capacity of predictions. In this sense, our priorities are in proper sequence.
The world is now beginning to witness events coming to pass that Jesus predicted 2000 years ago. In one sense you could say that God (and/or his Messenger) foretold the future. In another form, you could say God (and/or his Messenger) wrote the future. God controls all things—even time—and the events that occur within it. Could one reason be that God “inhabits eternity” (Isa 57:15)?
Consider the fulfillment of prophecy in the context of Mt 28:18. Was “all power” given to Jesus? Did his knowledge of the future compare with a crystal-ball gazer? Or does he have power to control the future? Can he accurately predict future events by controlling them? Compare this with the prophetic statement: “…declaring the end from the beginning…I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass…” (Isa 46:10-11), and: “…my word…it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please…” (Isa 55:11).
What are the prophecies of the great prophet? Where are the prophecies of the great prophet? If they exist, and if they are 2000 years old, we should assume they are written. They are. Jesus’ predictions come in two segments: (1) the Olivet Prophecy [given during his earthly ministry], and (2) the Apocalypse [given from heaven]. These are the two legs of the ONE written prophecy. It compares with the one Commandment (from two). Twofoldness35 is critical when it comes to prophecy.
Jesus’ prophecies were written by proxy36. The writers of his first prophetic discourse (the Olivet Prophecy) were Mt, Mk, and Lk (three versions). John, of 4th gospel fame, omits the Olivet Prophecy—but wrote the second prophetic discourse entitled Revelation (Apocalypse). In John’s own gospel, we find a subtle reference to the Revelation in Jesus’ words just prior to his crucifixion. Only John records this instruction. After all, it was meant for him. Jesus said that the spirit (to come): “will show you things to come” (Jn 16:13). That is what happened when John was “in the Spirit on the Day of the Lord” (Rev 1:10).
John was chosen for this exalted task for specific reasons. Space only permits a brief listing, such as: (1) he was “the beloved” [Jn 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7,20], (2) his humility [never mentions his name], (3) was kin to Jesus [took care of Mary], and (4) was the last living apostle [escaped martyrdom]. John was the final remaining disciple among the 12 who fulfilled Isa 8:16,20. According to this text, the prophecies of Jesus had to be completed before John died.
The prophecies of Jesus were completed before the end of the early church period. After that, a period of darkness descended upon the church and world. But the message was intact—-until the time of its ultimate and final fulfillment—our day today.
The Longest Prophecy
Jesus has the distinction for giving the longest continuous prophecy in the gospels. This is called the Olivet Prophecy. It came at the close of Jesus’ ministry. It is recorded by three witnesses (Mt, Mk, Lk) which exceeds the minimum of “two witnesses” with a triple confirmation.
Following the Olivet Prophecy is the Apocalypse. It is also from Jesus (Rev 1:1). It is another form of the longest continuous prophecy in the gospels. It is the sequel. In many ways it merges with it as a companion prophecy. The two books form one prophetic instrument (with Daniel and 1Th & 2Th [explained later]).
Revelation is the longest continuous prophecy in the NT. Although highly symbolic, it contains pivotal clues that interface with other prophecies. Revelation closes the NT. It is the final word from Jesus. “He who speaks last, speaks best”—Alpha and Omega. The Theological Dictionary of the NT (Kittel) tells us:
On Dt 18:15,18 was based not only expectation of the prophet, but probably also the hope of the coming of an acknowledged prophet of the last days who would repeat the plagues of Egypt, and finally the popular reference to the arising of a prophet after the manner of the prophets or the return of one of the (old) prophets.37
In annotating the above, Kittel points to Rev 11:3 in reference to repeating the plagues of Egypt. But that must wait for a later time. We could have some surprises as this story unfolds.
Part 2 — In the next installment, we will examine a pivotal prediction. Because of its critical nature, it is classed as a core prophecy. This is the text of Mt 24:15 in the Olivet Prophecy. It provides special insight into the book of Daniel, the major time-prophet. A little study of this text in advance will help to prepare for the discussion coming in Part 2.
1. Jesus — There is no need to endnote Jesus, is there? All Christians “know him,” don’t they? What does Paul mean when he says: “…But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve…so your minds should be corrupted…for if he that comes preaches another Jesus, who we have not preached…” (2Co 11:4 [emph. mine])? Prophecy is one component of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus was a prophet. If we don’t know that, then we really don’t know him.
2. text — It is doubtful most church-goers are even aware of this text—let alone the depth of meaning implied by it. Many Christians tend to get “caught up in this world” so that they have little time (or interest) to pursue some of these “more important” and even critical matters.
4. prophet — Not only was he (1) a prophet, or even (2) a major prophet, but if the facts are fully known, appreciated, and confirmed; he may be termed “the most major prophet.” The reasons should become evident as we progress through the exposition. Frankly, it is lamentable to state that little thought is given to this by the vast majority. Jesus is a living prophet who has the declared power to bring his words to pass (Mt 28:18).
6. Prince of Prophets — Since we find terms like “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” [Rev 19:16], “Prince of princes” [Da 8:25], and “God of Gods” [Da 11:36], then why not suggest such a title as Prince of Prophets [or Prophet of Prophets]. There are other examples like “Hebrew of Hebrews” [Php 3:5] and in Jewish literature, the “Sabbath of Sabbaths.” So the idea of a Prince of Prophets is valid based on these examples—and when combined with the force of Dt 18:15,18.
8. many — Such as: (1) who wrote the Bible? (2) is the Bible true? (3) is Jesus who the Bible (NT) says he is? (4) did Jesus tell the truth? (5) was Jesus really a prophet? (6) if so, what kind of prophet was he [there are different kinds, grades, degrees, etc.]? (7) what did Jesus predict? (8) what did [does] it mean [i.e. to you and me]? (9) how can you be sure?
9. typology — The many events and stages of activity of Moses with the budding nation merely typify a much larger story about our human pilgrimage here on this earth in a body of flesh (tabernacles [temporary dwellings]).
16. 40 years — Not only do we have these two 40-year periods (80 yrs) for Moses, but we also learn that he was 120 years old when he completed his mission (Ex 34:7). This gave Moses three 40-year periods which add up to 120 years. This is a form of perfect completion (3 X 40). In ways, the 120 years of Moses compares to two other 120-year periods with Noah and Rome. The latter begins with the 1st Head of 4th Kingdom (Julius Caesar in 49 BC to the destruction of the Temple in AD 70 [120 yrs.]). Inferring Mt 24:37 includes a 120-year period like with Ge 6:3 indicates that we should expect a similar period at the last end.
21. overlooked — There is so much concentration in our day upon the work and arrival of the “two witnesses,” that many fail to recognize the importance of the triple-role of prophet, priest, and king of these and other texts. More on this elsewhere.
24. surprise — Really, this notion should not be a surprise since there were three entities who appeared to Abraham (Ge 18), of which two (Ge 19:1) went on a special mission to Sodom. Also we read about three disciples who experienced the vision of three entities at the transfiguration (Mt 17:1-4). That was a magnum event. Jesus was revealed in vision to Peter, James, and John in full power. They were three witnesses of three beings: Jesus, Moses and Elijah (Mt 17:3). The event compares with Moses’ experience when he saw God with in his power (Ex 33:23).
25. authoritative — Not only do we read: “There is nothing else quite like ‘Kittel’ in authority” (New York Times), but we are told: “One of the few biblical studies of this generation that is destined for immortality” (Journal of Biblical Literature).
27. three entities — This notion is based in part on: (1) conjecture from examination of all these texts together, (2) evidence disclosed in the ACD research paper on The Double-Messiah, and (3) a clear realization by top theological reference works that Dt 18:15,18 may have a secondary application (e.g. an end-time prophet who forms a triad with the “two witnesses” [clearly, more work needs to be done on this]).
28. three offices — Is curiously interesting how these three offices bear some resemblance (though not exactly) to the three branches of United States Constitutional Government in the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches.
31. pivotal — In the above texts, the original Greek shows that Jn 1:21,25; 6:14; 7:40 have “the prophet” [definite article] while Jn 4:19 has “a prophet” [different context]. Then Ac 3:22 has “that prophet” and Ac 7:37 “a prophet.” All uses fit within the context and implied meaning of the texts.
32. importance — The Ark of the Covenant which Moses constructed, and is the object of search in the Indiana Jones movie, contained only the two tables of stone. Here the ultimate container of all time has within it only The Ten Commandments.
33. supreme moral law — Earlier it was stated that The Ten Commandments were “the supreme moral law.” Now, we read that Jesus gave “the supreme moral law.” Is there any difference? Yes and No. First of all, surface appearances would suggest a difference. But that is only an appearance. Actually The Ten Commandments are the substratum of the basic law in codified form that was expanded upon (i.e. its true intent) by Jesus. It is the foundational law that is supreme and everlasting (“…the law is spiritual…” [Ro 7:14]) — but which has many possibilities for elaboration by “the prophet” who would come “like unto Moses.”
34. reactive — Prophecy is not original. The law is. Prophecy is given because people do not follow the law. Jesus said, “…because iniquity [lawlessness] will abound…” Mt 24:12). When God foretells the future in a negative sense, it is because people have broken the perfect law of liberty (Jas 1:25; 2:12).
35. two-foldness — Examine the subtitle Two-Fold Process in Part 6 of In Search of King David’s Tomb, and the Lost Golden Treasure. See also similar data in Part 2 of Jesus Christ vs. The Beast (available from ACD).
©Copyright 1997 Gary Arvidson