In the Bible, prophets are important spokesmen for God. True prophets always spoke in line with the will of God and in line with the Word of God. Many times, they were the lone voice of truth.
15 “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. 16 This is what you requested from the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, ‘Let us not continue to hear the voice of the LORD our God or see this great fire any longer, so that we will not die!’ 17 Then the LORD said to me, ‘They have spoken well. 18 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. 19 I will hold accountable whoever does not listen to My words that he speaks in My name. 20 But the prophet who dares to speak a message in My name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods—that prophet must die.’ 21 You may say to yourself, ‘How can we recognize a message the LORD has not spoken?’ 22 When a prophet speaks in the LORD’s name, and the message does not come true or is not fulfilled, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.
Here are five truths about prophets.
1. God raised up prophets (v15). The prophets didn’t just choose a vocation or decide they wanted to be God’s spokesmen. They felt an overwhelming sense from the Lord that He had called them and equipped them to do what He called them to do. Those in that day who just “decided” to become prophets eventually were exposed as false prophets. True prophets were called by God to that ministry.
2. Prophets spoke for the Lord (vv16-18). Not only did God raise up the prophets, but He also told them what to say. He did not just leave them to make up a message. He literally put His message in their mind and heart so they could share it with the people. Sometimes the message was a prediction or warning of future events. Always the message was the truth of what was going on in the present, a declaration of right and wrong, instructing the people on what to believe and what to do to live in accordance with God’s will and His Word.
3. The people were accountable to the message from the Lord (v19). As the prophet spoke, the people had a choice to make: should they believe the prophet and respond to the Lord’s message, or ignore the message and continue living however they chose to live, no matter what the prophet said? Their decision would have real world and eternal consequences. The people were accountable to obey the Word of the Lord.
4. There were severe consequences for false prophets (vv20-22). Because the message of the prophet was so weighty, it was a humbling task to be a prophet. Yet some people who were not genuinely called by the Lord claimed to be prophets . They chose to speak on their own, claiming to be spokesmen for the Lord. Sometimes they did so for prideful reasons. Others chose to do so for political or other reasons. The test of a true prophet was this: does their prophecy come true 100% of the time? If not, they were not a true prophet and they should be put to death, so as to not mislead the people or misrepresent the Lord anymore.
5. Jesus was the perfect Prophet (v15). In John 12:44-50, Jesus declares that His words are the very words of God. In Luke 13:31-33 and Matthew 13:54-58, Jesus declares Himself to be a true prophet of God. In Acts 3:17-26, Simon Peter preaches a message declaring Jesus to be the ultimate fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18:15, the one Perfect Prophet. Of course Jesus was much more than a prophet. He was literally God in the flesh!