God will see to it that another truth-teller like me emerges from your midst. Listen to that truth-teller. This is what you asked God for back at the desolate place. You got together and said, “If we ever again hear the voice of God or see God’s great fire, we’ll die.”
God concurred. You were right. So God told me, “I will see to it that a truth-teller emerges from their midst, who is just like you, who will tell them what I say. Whoever won’t pay attention to what that truth-teller says will be on the hook. But, then again, any truth-teller who claims to speak for some other god, or one who tells the people a lie – that truth-teller is toast.”
How can you tell whether someone speaks for God? How can you know whether someone is speaking for God and you’re on the hook for what they say, or whether someone is full of crap? Surprisingly enough, the vast majority of the time, it’s fairly easy.
99.44% of the time people who claim for themselves the right to speak for God are the ones who are full of crap. People who make claims that they’re divinely appointed seldom are. Witness Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry.
On the flip side, there are others who never make any claim to divine right, who when you hear them, you know. And the most wonderful truth about it is that they are “from your midst.” They are nearby, not flying in on a private jet to give a speech and then leave. The ones who are speaking for God may not – probably don’t – even know they’re speaking for God.
Maybe she was your grandmother telling you what you needed to hear when nobody else was there for you. Maybe he was the college professor who helped you find your calling. Maybe it was the old guy you barely knew on the bar-stool next to you. Maybe she was the orderly in the neonatal ICU who gave you the thread you needed to hang on to survive. You know the truth when you hear it. Because it, well – because it rings true. When you hear it you’re on the hook. It doesn’t matter whose mouth it comes through. Once in a while, it may even come through you to someone else – more than likely when you’re least aware of it’s happening.
The warning in this passage is that when you do hear it, you still have the choice to follow it, or to ignore it.
Ignore it at your peril.