For Moses truly said to the fathers, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.” (Acts 3:22-23)
An excited crowd gathered on the temple mount in Jerusalem, because a familiar beggar was miraculously healed of his paralyzed legs. As the formerly lame man walked, jumped, and praised God, the people ran to see the reason for the excitement. Peter took this opportunity to preach to the crowd, and his sermon had so many remarkable parts:
Peter got their attention: Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? (Acts 3:12)
Peter gave the glory to God: Why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? (Acts 3:12)
Peter preached Jesus: His Servant Jesus (Acts 3:13)
Peter spoke to them of their sin: whom you delivered up and denied (Acts 3:13)
Peter preached Christ crucified: and killed the Prince of Life (Acts 3:14)
Peter preached the resurrection: whom God raised from the dead (Acts 3:15)
Peter preached the continuing work of Jesus: His name…has made this man strong (Acts 3:16)
Peter preached the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy in Jesus: those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer (Acts 3:18)
Peter preached repentance: Repent therefore and be converted (Acts 3:19)
After all that, Peter then pointed to a specific prophecy, spoken by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15 and 18:18-19. The prophecy was that God would send a Prophet like Moses – and if they did not hear that Prophet, they would be utterly destroyed from among the people.
It was important for them to hear that the Prophet predicted by Moses was in fact the Messiah, fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Some in that day thought that it might be someone different from the Messiah, but Peter made it clear that they are one and the same.
Peter also gave them the strong warning: every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed. I suppose that some people would accuse Peter of being a “hellfire and damnation” preacher. Peter told them, “If you reject the Messiah Jesus, the Prophet Moses predicted, there is no eternal hope for you, you shall be utterly destroyed.”
In one sense, this was fulfilled in less than 40 years when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. But these inspired words from Peter did not primarily concern building or cities, but every soul.
It is an unpopular and sobering thought but love for every soul compels us to say it: all who reject Jesus, who will not hear Him, will be destroyed, and utterly so. Peter loved his hearers enough to give fair warning of an unpleasant truth. May God give us the same love and boldness.