There Is Only One Voice, All Other Voices Are Secondary

Text: Deuteronomy 18:15-19

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

As you may have heard, the Pope recently authorized the blessing of same-sex couples.  While the Vatican is saying that this should not be confused with its stance on heterosexual marriage, it is nonetheless a change that the Pope has decreed.  And so, the Pope has spoken, many have listened, and the Catholic Church has drastically shifted.  

This does not only happen with the Pope and the Catholic Church; it also happens in other segments of society.  For example, when the CDC or World Health Organization issues a scientific report or finding, policies change with a snap of the finger.  Yesterday’s policies are no more; new policies and guidelines take shape due to the CDC and World Health Organization declaring their new findings.  

Presidents do this, too.  They declare an executive order, which then causes all sorts of reactions, adjustments, and changes.  Furthermore, the chairman of the Federal Reserve has this effect as well.  He or she will announce a change in the federal reserve interest rate on reserve balances, resulting in a domino effect of changes in the economic system.  

To the point, though, whether it is the Pope, the President, the CDC, the World Health Organization, or the Federal Reserve Chairman, these leaders and institutions will speak like a prophet, and we, the public, will listen.  We listen and follow suit.  Often, we are quick to conform to their decrees without questioning the decrees. 

There is only one problem, though: many times, what these systems and leaders decree and speak will contradict what the true prophet speaks and decrees.  

In our reading from Deuteronomy, Moses says that a prophet like him will be raised up.  That is to say, as a prophet, Moses obviously spoke in ways that were different from what the Egyptian Pharoah spoke.  What Moses decreed and what the Egyptian Pharoah desired and spoke were often in conflict.  You see, when God called Moses to be a prophet, He said, 

“…Go, and I will be with your mouth and [will] teach you what you shall speak.”

And so, through a series of events, Moses spoke to Pharoah,

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast … in the wilderness’.”

However, Pharoah did not listen.  Pharoah said, 

“Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go?” 

And so, as we can see with Moses and Pharoah, there was a conflict between what God said through Moses and what Pharoah wanted.  In the end, Pharoah’s heart was hardened, and the people of Israel left Egypt.  God’s Word and will endure.  

The point is that Moses said in Deuteronomy that there would be a prophet coming from the people of Israel – He would be a prophet just like Moses.  He will be a grand prophet that the people shall listen to.  And who is this prophet that Moses speaks of?  This prophet is none other than Christ Jesus.  

But what does it mean when we say that Jesus is a prophet?  

The prophets of the Old Testament spoke rebukes towards sin, proclaimed mercy to the crushed, and spoke in connection to events of the past, present, and future.  They functioned as mediators between God and people, proclaiming only what was revealed to them by God.  

Take, for example, Moses again.  He was a prophet when the Hebrews were in slavery in Egypt.  He spoke, acted, and occupied the office of prophet, bringing about genuine redemption for the Hebrew people who were in slavery in Egypt.  Indeed, Moses was a mouthpiece of God, for he rebuked sin, proclaimed mercy, and told the Hebrews and the Egyptians how it was with God.  And we also think of other great prophets, prophets like Jeremiah, Isaiah, Micah, and so forth.  They were voices that spoke boldly amid difficult circumstances in Israel’s history.

But again, what does it mean when we say that Jesus is the great prophet Moses spoke of?  

Jesus stands in the office, this place of the prophets, just like Moses, Jeremiah, and Isaiah did to speak in the last days.  However, we must keep in mind that He is not just an ordinary prophet but greater than all of the other prophets because Jesus is God – and as God, He came and pitched a tent in human flesh while teaching and proclaiming on earth.

Think of it this way!  When Moses spoke, he spoke of the great prophet to come; however, when Jesus spoke as a prophet, He spoke about Himself. And that is the point to consider.  Jesus’ message does not point ahead beyond Himself, for He is not only the beginning but the end point of the Old Testament.  And so, without a doubt, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Micah were great prophets; Moses was the greatest of all the Old Testament prophets, but in Christ, we have the Lord of the prophets; in Christ, we do not have a mere man but God Himself speaking to us.

And so, when Jesus speaks, we are not hearing the voice of some mortal man – an old sage.  We are not hearing from a self-help guru giving us life tips.  We are not hearing empty promises from a well-polished politician.  No!   When Christ speaks, we are hearing the words of eternal life.  

And so, back to the Pope, the President, the CDC, the World Health Organization, and the Federal Reserve Chairman (to name a few).  When they speak, we are certainly bound to listen as faithful citizens.  However, if they speak in a way that contradicts or opposes what Jesus says, it is imperative for us to remember that they speak as mere mortals and not as God in the flesh.  

And so, as we embark on the Season of Christmas, we are preparing to not only behold the Christ child that was born unto us but also to listen to the Christ that was born unto us.  And so, whether it is the Pharoah, King Darius, Pontius Pilate, the President of the United States, the Governor, the Mayor, the CDC, the Federal Reserve, the Pope, or the Missouri Synod President – their voices are all secondary compared to the child born in Bethlehem.  In fact, let’s make it perfectly clear.  When these voices speak, we will certainly listen and obey insofar as what they say is good, right, and salutary.  However, if the President of the United States, the Governor, the Mayor, the CDC, the Federal Reserve, the Pope, or the Missouri Synod President speak in a way that contradicts what Jesus says, well… let’s call it as it is, they are then speaking as an antichrist.  They cannot say they are a friend of Christ and then speak contrary to the Christ.  And for you and me, we need to repent of the times that we have demoted Christ to a secondary prophet and elevated other prophetic voices in our culture above the Son of God.  We must repent of the times that we have listened to anti-christ voices in our culture and neglected to hear from the Christ.

John the Baptized was right in our Gospel reading.  He pointed away from himself.  Moses did this, too, in our Old Testament reading.  They both pointed to the Christ.  They told us to listen to the Christ and behold the Christ.  The reason is that Jesus is God among us.  He is the Word of God that has put on human flesh.  He spoke to us in the days of old through the prophets, and He came to us that Christmas long ago so that we might listen to Him.  For when we listen to Him, we are given truth; we are given life; we are given faith. 

This Christmas Season, behold and listen to the Christ who came for you.  In Him, there is forgiveness, truth, and life - for you.  In Christ, you have a voice that gives to you and does not manipulate, shame, or condemn you.  Christ’s Word will not plunge you into insecurity, greed, and covetousness.  His Word will grant you assurance, a clean conscience, and hope.  

Christ is born unto you; it is Him you shall listen to.  

In the name of Jesus: Amen.  

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