Meditations On The Messiah - Shadow And Substance

by Ray Hawkins


The LORD God told Moses His servant, "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him ... The LORD said to me: 'What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him ...'" (Deuteronomy 18:15,17,18).

As we read Deuteronomy 18:14-22 we read of the man of God, Moses, this statesman, this very human man through whom God declares a very startling promise. God has made him as a shadow of the Messiah -- "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brethren." It would be to that prophet the people would respond.

During the centuries this promise became a standard of measurement whenever a possible claimant to the position of THAT PROPHET appeared. It was asked of the child John born to Zechariah and Elisabeth when he appeared from the Judean wilderness. Was he the looked-for Elijah? Was he THAT PROPHET? Both queries received from him a negative reply. His ministry was to be a road-leveller and a fore-announcer: "A voice of one calling: 'In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.'" (Isaiah 40:3)

There have been many prophets of God since Moses. They have been all shapes and sizes, abilities and personalities, yet not THAT PROPHET. Men have longed for Him, written about Him and many have rejoiced by faith to know His day.

God does not give clues as to the identity of THAT PROPHET, the Messiah, lightly. He gives 'checking stations' on the life and work and relationship of any claimant who appears from out of the 'shadow' purporting to be the 'substance'. He does not allow men to make an irrational judgement or one based on emotion in such an important matter. God is aware how easily our emotions can be manipulated.

God does not promote the irrational 'leap in the dark' experience for that is merely despair dressed in religious garb and jumping to – it knows not where. Rather the sovereign LORD treats His creation with respect and dignity by setting down guide-lines and an identikit of the Messiah, so that there will be no mistake when the 'shadow' and 'substance' are placed together. And when that happens the Almighty requires the praise of committed faith to reach His ears.

In the Scripture referred to above we notice that the Prophet is to come from out of the midst of the people. He will not be of the tribe of Levi for from other Scriptures we know He comes from the tribe of Judah. He will emerge "from the midst" which to some extent makes recognition a little more difficult, for it is hard for a prophet to receive his due recognition from those with whom he has associated over the many years before his epiphany as the promised Prophet.

All of us know the truth of the cliché: we cannot see the wood for the trees. "A prophet is not without honour except in his own country and in his own house." (Matthew 13:57)

As Moses is the standard, there are certain features we should look for in any Messianic contender. Firstly, Moses' people were under a foreign power; the child Moses' life was under threat of extermination. Secondly, Moses had authority to do miracles and to speak on behalf of the Eternal. Thirdly, Moses was a prayerful man with a deep love for his kinsmen. Fourthly, Moses displayed a humble spirit yet had the strength of character implied in meekness. Fifthly, Moses was a Law giver as well as one faithful to the Mosaic Law. Sixthly, he led his people into the fullness of the blessing of God.

So, wrapped up in the person and ministry of the Messiah, THAT PROPHET, will be all these likenesses, all the attributes God has revealed in the Scriptures. The Author of the Scriptures calls upon us all to be alert to His arrival. The Messiah is too good to miss and being from God is too important to allow vanity or stubbornness or pride to prevent from bowing the knee to Him.

My desire: O Lord, the past and the present crowd in on me and distract me with their clamour. I find it difficult to give consideration to the Promised One and His claims upon my life. Hold the reins of my intellect and emotions and direct them to the One who is the 'substance' of the 'shadow' as mentioned by Moses.