Israel needed prophets
It should have been sufficient for the people if Israel when it received the wisdom, the teaching and example which Moshe rabbeinu, Moses our teacher gave us. Moreover this great prophet had direct contact with G-d. Through this G-d’s words are written on parchment directly. But Israel did not have enough and that is why the Lord provided Israel with our Jewish prophets. In the parashat hashavua, the Bible reading of the week, to be found in Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:18-21:9. The promise is given that they will stand up.
One prophet with specific characteristics
In fact the text mentions only one prophet, read 18:15. This is a prophet with a number of specific characteristics:
1. it will be a prophet from “your midst”, which is a Jewish man from among the people (Rashi) and from the country of Israel (Ramban).
2. He will be like Moshe, which means: his quality, his wisdom, and his direct contact with G-d, whereby authentic words from heaven were spoken.
False prophets do not belong here
To him shall you hearken, says Moshe to his people. And then he also talks about false prophets who say things in the name of the Lord, or: on behalf of the Lord, which the Lord did not order to speak. Also there can be false prophets who speak in the name of other gods. These false prophets, says Moshe, will die.
Rule of thumb
Moshe answers a not yet asked question: how do we then know whether a prophet can be trusted, read 18:21. His rule of thumb is as follows:
1. One asks the question: How can we know that Hashem, the Lord, has not spoken.
2. If the prophet speaks in the name of Hashem and that thing will not occur and not come about – that is the word that Hashem has not spoken. With willfulness has the prophet spoken it, you should not fear him.
Does Yeshua satisfy the conditions?
Does Yeshua, who is recognized by the Jewish Messianic movement as the Messiah of Israel and as prophet, have the specific characteristics from 18:15? And does he satisfy this rule of thumb from 18:21?
1. Yeshua is a prophet from the midst of the brethren and he is from the land of Israel. With these facts he shows the required characteristics and the interpretation by Rashi and Ramban.
2. He is like Moshe. His quality, His wisdom and his direct contact with the Most High are present. His proclamations are authentic words spoken from the heavens. He taught Torah. There was nothing new in it, but it contained a deeper interpretation of the literal content (pshat) and it showed a connection with matters regarding the heavens (sod).
Yeshua is clearly satisfactory
The rule of thumb can be applied by asking: How can we know the word Hashem has not spoken. To this the first part of the answer is: “If the prophet speaks in the name of Hashem.” Yeshua did this indeed. For Him there was no other god than the G-d of Israel. The second part of the answer is: “and that thing will not occur and not come about.” There is nothing Yeshua said which did not come about. That means that everything Yeshua said is that which Hashem has spoken. That prophet we ought to pay respect. Moreover we need to listen to him.
Why does Israel need Yeshua?
Yeshua has been sent therefore by Hashem, the Eternal One. He was a prophet, read above. He is priest according to the order of the mysterious Melchitzedek. And he is the king who will be worshipped by the nations on Sukkot, the Feast of Booths, according to the Jewish prophet Zechariah. As Messiah he fulfilled what has been described by various prophets: the one and only permitted human sacrifice. We find this in texts like Beresheet (Genesis) 3:15; Daniel 9:26; Zechariah 12:10; Isaiah 53:1-10 and Psalm 22 by king David. He came for Israel; and the non-Jews who believe in Him are allowed to hitchhike on this delivering sacrifice, which was meant for Israel in the first place.
Yeshua is Torah observant, requires the same from us
It is then important to not put words in the mouth of Yeshua which would make him a false prophet. For instance I mean the “fulfilling of the law” which so often is explained to be that the law, i.e. Torah, would not have to be fulfilled by his followers. Yeshua says (read Matthew 5:19): “Whoever then shall break one of the least of these commandments and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.” Question: if someone does not perform one of the greatest of the commandments like keeping the Shabbat – the 4th of the Ten Commandments! – how will that person be called in the kingdom of heaven? Question: if someone does not observe kashrut, the laws of food and drinks, treated so extensively in the Torah of the great prophet Moshe, how will that person be called in the kingdom of heaven?