“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.’” (Deuteronomy 18:15-20) Probably for most of us, it is a rather obscure text and we might reasonably ask, ‘Why these words during Epiphany?’ Good question and one that can be answered in a couple of ways by reference to the scriptural interpretation of the historic church. First, in Mark 9:7 (in the presence of Moses at the Transfiguration) the ancient church noticed that the command to listen to Jesus was a recapitulation of Deuteronomy 18:15. Here at last is the one raised up from the people who has the authoritative words. Here is the one who brings us God’s truth, because of our terror at standing in God’s very presence. And so we are commanded to listen to this one who spares us the ordeal of getting too close to the all-powerful God. But there may be a second set of concerns that we have here and that is the warning against listening to any other prophet who speak a word different from God’s. That might seem a bit exclusive but I have come to think about false prophets in these terms. First, begin with the true word who is the very Word of God – Jesus Christ. Begin with the word that he brings and incarnates. And what is that? God loves you and me and we have a value which goes far beyond our greatest hopes or dreams. Begin and end with that word that our Lord brings to you. And furthermore, do not listen to any false prophets. How do we know a false prophet? Well they bring a different message. They seek to give authority to contradictory messages from those of our Lord. You have heard them as have I: “You’re too stupid or too plain. You didn’t go to right school or you don’t come from the right family. You’re the wrong color, or nationality or you haven’t paid your dues and you really don’t belong here.” Well, you get the idea? So who have been the false prophet or still are the false prophets in your life? Who do you need to stop listening to so that you may properly hear the true Prophet? And who do you know that needs to be reminded of God’s true Word? The true Prophet wants to use all of us who have heard and seek to believe his words. Have a great week!