23 Behold, I am he of whom Moses spake, saying: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that every soul who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people.
24 Verily I say unto you, yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have testified of me.
(3 Nephi 20:23-24)
After leading the children of Israel out of Egypt, Moses “sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God” (D&C 84:23). But when they saw “thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount” (Exodus 19:16) and heard the voice of God, they were afraid. “And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die” (Exodus 20:19).
Forty years later, near the end of his life, Moses delivered three sermons (recorded in the book of Deuteronomy) to help his people prepare to enter the promised land. In the middle of the second sermon, he reminds them of their fathers’ request and tells them that God will continue to honor that request by sending prophets–mortal messengers carrying His word. But He also makes it clear that they will be accountable for their response to the words of those prophets:
The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;
According to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not.
And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken.
I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.
When the Savior visited the American continent following His death and resurrection, He identified Himself as the one “whom the prophets testified shall come into the world” (3 Nephi 11:10). Then, on the second day of His visit, He referred specifically to this prophecy from Deuteronomy. In talking about prophets, Moses had used the singular word “prophet,” which suggests that he was not only teaching them about the role of prophets generally, but was singling out a specific prophet who would bring God’s word to His people. Nephi had identified this passage as a prophecy of the Savior’s coming (1 Nephi 22:20-21). Now, 600 years later, the Savior confirmed that interpretation of the passage, by declaring, “I am he of whom Moses spake.” Then, He went on to affirm that all prophets have testified of Him. His ministry and His Atonement are the heart of the gospel, and so it makes sense that every messenger sent from God would include the Savior’s mission in their teachings.
Today, I will be grateful for the words of prophets, particularly the words of living prophets. I will remember that I am accountable for my response to the words of prophets, just as though I had received those words directly from God. I will also be grateful for the testimony the prophets provide of the mission and saving power of Jesus Christ.