Evidences of Faith
Prophet Like Moses
The book of Deuteronomy, which was written somewhere around 1450 BC, records the final words of Moses to the nation of Israel, before their long-awaited entry into the promised land of Canaan. One of the things Moses told the people was this:
"The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. (Deuteronomy 18:15)
At first blush, this may not seem very exceptional; throughout the long history of the Israelites, God sent many prophets to them. However, God did not send many prophets like Moses.
On the contrary, God Himself made a distinction between Moses and all of the other prophets:
"Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses; he is faithful in all My house. I speak with him plainly, and not in dark sayings; and he sees the form of the Lord." (Numbers 12:6-8)
Even among the prophets, Moses was exceptional. God spoke of him in a way that set him, as it were, in a class by himself. So, when Moses indicated that God would at some point raise up another prophet like him, he was saying something truly extraordinary.
And, when we consider Moses' life as a whole, it was indeed most extraordinary. At his birth, Moses narrowly escaped death: the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt, and Pharaoh had ordered all of the male Hebrew babies killed (Exodus 1:15-22). Moses' mother hid her newborn son as long as she could, then placed him in a waterproofed basket in the reeds at the bank of the river, where Pharaoh's own daughter found him, had compassion on him, and raised him as her own son (Exodus 2:1-10). Thus, the baby Moses was saved from the king's decree.
Later in his life, Moses was sent by God to lead His people out of their Egyptian slavery (Exodus 3:9-10). After the people were out of the land of Egypt, they became trapped between the Egyptian army and the red sea:
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. (Exodus 14:21)
Thus, God effectively gave Moses power over the sea. Moreover, Moses freed the people from their enslavement to the Egyptians: for the Egyptians were driven back into the sea, and Moses closed it on them, drowning every man (Exodus 14:27-28).
To commemorate the people's deliverance from bondage, Moses established the Passover and the feast of unleavened bread:
So you shall observe the feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance. (Exodus 12:17)
This feast would serve as a reminder of how the people were in bondage in Egypt and were freed by God through Moses. It reminded them how they went from being slaves, to being God's chosen people.
As we noted earlier, God spoke to Moses, giving him laws to deliver to the people. Moses then told the people all the words of the Lord and all His judgments (Exodus 24:3). Moses spoke whatever God told him to say (Exodus 4:12). But when Moses was on Mount Sinai, and God was speaking to him, he did something else impressive:
So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. (Exodus 34:28)
Forty days is a long time to go without food or drink. And that is still not all; as a result of his meetings with God, Moses' appearance changed:
Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses' hand when he came down from the mountain), that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him. So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. (Exodus 34:29-30)
As a result of the meeting with God on the mountain, Moses' face glowed. No wonder the people feared him!
Because of the people's continual complaining, Moses came to realize that the responsibility of leading them was too much for him to handle on his own. So, like all men of faith, he brought his concerns to God in prayer:
So the Lord said to Moses: "Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you." (Numbers 11:16)
God answered Moses' prayer by providing him with seventy men who could help him accomplish his mission.
One of the most impressive things about Moses' character is that, in spite of the repeated complaints and rebellions of the people, he never stopped caring for them. In fact, Moses continually interceded for the people with God:
"Yet now, if You will forgive their sin - but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written." (Exodus 32:32)
In his prayer, Moses reveals a deep concern for the people, that he cared for them every bit as much as he cared for himself: even to the point of being willing to suffer the condemnation they incurred with their sins.
At this point, you may begin to think of someone else in the Bible who was willing to suffer for the sins of His people. You may think of Jesus, who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness (IPeter 2:24). Interestingly, on the night He was betrayed Jesus even prayed for His people in such a way that revealed His deep concern for them:
"Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world." (John 17:24)
Jesus prayed that His people share in His rightful place in heaven, thus showing that He cared for them every bit as much as He did for Himself.
It is also interesting to note that, during His ministry on earth, Jesus had seventy men to work with Him:
After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. (Luke 10:1)
You will recall that this is the same as the number of elders who were appointed to help Moses in his work.
You will also recall that Moses' face glowed while he was on the mountain with God:
Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. (Matthew 17:1-2)
Nor was Moses the only one to fast for forty days:
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He became hungry. (Matthew 4:1-2)
Nor indeed was Moses the only one to speak what God told him:
"For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak." (John 12:49-50)
Thus Jesus related the commands of God the Father to His people, just as Moses had done for the Israelites.
Moreover, Moses was not the only one who was involved in freeing slaves. As Jesus said, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin
John 8:34). By giving Himself on the cross, Jesus paid the price for sins, thus setting His people - His disciples - free (John 8:31-36). Not only that, He provided them with a way to remember the event that brought them from slavery to freedom:
And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." (Luke 22:19)
Jesus established this memorial at His last meal with the apostles before His crucifixion. This meal was a Passover meal (Luke 22:7), and so there would be no bread available except unleavened bread. Thus the commemoration established by Jesus, like the one established by Moses, was a feast of unleavened bread.
And, of course, we all remember what happened when Jesus and His disciples were at sea, and a storm arose that threatened the boat and their lives:
Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still!" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. (Mark 4:39)
Jesus evidently had inherent authority over the sea and the wind, whereas Moses could not have parted the Red Sea without God's direct intervention. And no doubt, Jesus freed His people from a spiritual bondage that has eternal consequences, whereas the deliverance accomplished by Moses was physical and temporal. And while Moses expressed a willingness to die with his people, Jesus actually died for His. In short, Jesus was, in point after point, greater than Moses. Nonetheless, the parallels are striking.
We have yet one more parallel to mention. When Moses was born, Pharaoh had ordered all the male Hebrew babies to be killed, as a security measure. When Jesus was born, it was King Herod's turn:
Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. (Matthew 2:16)
Of course, Herod did not succeed in killing the newborn King, because Joseph had been warned by an angel to flee to Egypt. Thus both Jesus and Moses narrowly escaped death as babies.
Having considered all of these things, it is important to remember that at the time of Jesus' transfiguration on the mountain, two of the greatest prophets of all time appeared with Him: Moses and Elijah. When Peter wanted to erect tabernacles for the three of them, God said:
"This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" (Matthew 17:5)
When the apostles opened their eyes, Jesus was the only one of the three still there. Thus God spoke of Jesus in such a way as to separate Him from all other prophets, as He had once done for Moses. Jesus is indeed in a class by Himself.
Not surprisingly, in Acts 3:22-26, the apostle Peter identifies Jesus as the Prophet whom God had promised, the Prophet like Moses. When we consider that Moses had so many points in common with Jesus, it is difficult to regard them all as nothing more than coincidences. Moreover, Moses was by no means the only foreshadow of Christ in the Old Testament: there are many of them. The various foreshadows do not appear very similar to each other, and yet each and every one points to Jesus. It is simply not within the realm of reason to take all of these as mere coincidence. The Bible is the product of One who cannot only foresee the future, but who can even orchestrate events in such a way as to illustrate what is going to happen hundreds or even thousands of years later. He is a truly mighty God.
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