“For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do so. The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. . . . I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all I command him” (Dt 18.14-15, 18).
A dominant characteristic separated old covenant Israel from every other nation on the planet. They were Yahweh’s people and their God actually spoke to them. No other nation had such a revealing and accommodating god.
Other nations had gods, to be sure, and they looked lifelike. They had hands and feet, eyes and mouths. But those gods “have mouths, but they do not speak; they have eyes, but they do not see” (Pss 115.5; 135.16). Therefore, the pagan nations had to employ a variety of spiritists and diviners to interpret the will of their wax-nosed gods. As we would expect, there was lucrative market for those interested in interpreting the will of the gods. God-whisperers manipulated people for their own purposes. Their “ministry” twisted their marionette-gods to man’s will. For a fee, of course.
Can you take seriously a god that can be milled in high school woodshop or molded by the local potter?
The mammoth stone and wooden gods looked strong. Crystal balls, palm-readers and tarot cards looked impressive. They lent themselves to immediate results masquerading as a word from the gods.
But, Israel was to resist at all costs. They served and were cared for by the One, True and Living God. And He speaks. There would be no need to conjure him up with smoke, mirrors and sleight-of-hand. He needed no bribe because he already owned the universe (Ps 50.7-15). Even if his tummy grumbled, he could make his own meal! Yahweh was always present, always revealing.
Israel needed no medium because God himself would provide his prophet. This prophet would hear from God and communicate to the people. No spooky incantations or two-bit psychics. No elicit sex acts or midnight cookies.
God sent many preparatory prophets who anticipated the Prophet to come. The Prophet would be “like God” (Dt 18.15) and “like you” (Dt 18.18). He would be the God-Man to speak God’s word to God’s people. From the earliest days, God was using Israel to prepare the world for The Prophet — the One to embody God’s Word before us, the Living Word who dwells among us (Jn 1.1-5, 14).
Once, Jesus gave the Three Musketeers (Peter, James and John) a sneak peek at the future of all things (Mt 17.1-8). In a scene of Sinaitic proportions God thundered from heaven, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” (v5). The prophet to whom God’s covenant people were to listen (Dt 18.15) has come. He speaks for God and as God for the salvation of his people. They have no reason to consult any other means for their salvation.
We have a far greater need than to know if we should take this or that flight, love this or that person, spend tonight here or there, or even hear from the dead. We need to hear from God about our sin. We need to hear there is hope for sinners who live rather confused and hypocritical and contradictory lives. We need to hear that there is a remedy for the mess we’ve made of this world and our lives.
Besides, even if someone did speak to us from the “great beyond” would still not be convinced of our greatest need (Lk 16.31). If we will not listen to the voice of the Creator of the Universe then in what universe do we think we’ll listen to a ghost or stargazer?
All the words of God are contained in the Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb 1.1). He teaches us the will of God and supplies the means by which that will is accomplished. He unveiled our future when he rose from the dead (Rom 8.11). He doesn’t align the stars. He created them.
Any desire to divine God’s will by any other means is to seek a treasure far too small. If you are impressed by a daily horoscope, consider that the Eternal God has ordained every one of your days so you might enjoy Jesus (Ps 139.16). We have no need to rub anyone’s belly, massage anyone’s hand or read anyone’s horoscope. We don’t need a “reading,” but to be reading! We open our Bibles in the community of faith wherein God speaks through Christ for our everlasting joy (Jn 15.11).