“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.” (Deuteronomy 18:15)
In its context, the verse contrasts the chicanery and double-dealing of false prophets and spiritualist celebrities with the truthfulness of the true prophet of God.
How can you tell the difference? The chapter is pretty straightforward: if what is prophesied happens, then the prophet is true. But there’s a little more: Moses is described as a prophet who “knows God face to face.” The real test of a true prophet is in that heightened level of intimacy, of someone who has truly spent time with God. That’s the one you must listen to!
And so this verse became a hallmark, a reference point for a coming prophet like Moses, who would work out of that same intimacy with God. And at the baptism of Jesus, God speaks that word: “Listen to Him!” This prophecy of a Prophet-like-Moses is quoted by Peter (in Acts 3:22-23) in reference to Jesus. And Jesus refers to Himself as a prophet in Luke 13:31-33, (“It cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem“) and in Matthew 13:57 (“A prophet is not without honour except in his own country”).
But a prophet only brings the truth. Jesus went much further. In a moment of almost scary revelation, He called Himself “the Truth.” What did that mean? He did not merely mean that He taught Truth. Neither did He mean only that He lived the Truth. Both of those are included, of course, but they are more the impacts of the fact that Jesus IS the Truth.
And so when Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” the answer was staring him in the face!
We have the same challenge and choice that Pilate faced, to recognise the truth and to stand by it. Churchill once quipped “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.”
It’s a daily challenge. Psalm 51:6 notes that God desires truth “in the inmost part.” Truth must first take root in my heart before it can flow into the lives of others. Jesus said, “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34).
If you fill your heart with truth by reading the Bible on a daily basis and praying for His wisdom, when you encounter a compromising position like Pilate did, you will be more apt to respond ethically and honestly because you have trained yourself to distinguish good from evil.
Buckminster Fuller once said, “On personal integrity hangs humanity’s fate.”
Truth is the only sure foundation on which to build your life, because it is the only stable force capable of withstanding the pressures of this world.
Lord Jesus, I recognise you not only as the prophet who spoke truth but as the truth itself; not only as the messenger but as the message. Today let me be truthful in my dealings, and take my stand with you.