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Insight #333 – Moses or Jesus?

Was Jesus like Moses, or was Jesus greater than Moses? Your first reaction may be: “That’s a no-brainer; of course, Jesus was greater. The NT in many ways shows that to be so. But there is an OT prediction that Jesus would be “like” Moses.

Like Moses

Before Moses died, around 1400 B.C., God told him, “I will raise them up a prophet from among their brothers, like you” (Deut. 18:18). “Like.” After Moses died, the book ends with these words: “Since then, there has not arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and the wonders which the Lord sent him to do” (Dt. 34:10-11). From these verses we learn that the promised person:
1) would be an Israelite (brothers of Moses),
2) would be a prophet,
3) would work many miracles,
4) would know God “face to face.”
Fourteen hundred years later, Peter proclaimed Jesus as the fulfillment of this prediction (Acts 3:19-26).

How was Jesus like Moses? First, Jesus was physically a Jew, an Israelite. Second, Jesus was clearly a Prophet.

Third, Jesus, like Moses, performed an abundance of miracles. Through Moses there were the ten plagues, the Red Sea crossing, the manna, the tablets received from God on Mt. Sinai, and on and on. After Malachi, there were 400 “silent years” – no miracles, no prophets. Then came The Prophet giving sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf, raising the dead, calming a stormy sea, walking on water, and much more – Jesus, a great wonder worker like Moses.

Fourth, there is God’s special relationship with Moses. God clarified to Aaron and Miriam, “If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, will make myself known to him in a vision. I will speak with him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so. He is faithful in all my house. With him, I will speak mouth to mouth, even plainly, and not in riddles; and he shall see the Lord’s form” (Num. 12:6-8). No such relationship is recorded with any other human – until Jesus. And Jesus far exceeded Moses’ relationship with God. Jesus declared, “I and the Father are one… He who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 10:30; 14:9).

Other likenesses, not mentioned in Deuteronomy, are that both Moses and Jesus brought in new covenants, and both were mediators. After the golden calf sin, Moses pled with God, “Oh, this people have sinned a great sin… Yet now, if you will, forgive their sin – and if not, please blot me out of your book” (Ex. 32:31-32). Moses, with love for his people, put his own life on the line as he pled for them. Jesus cried “Father, forgive them” and died that we might live, becoming the greatest Mediator.

Greater than Moses

In considering Jesus being “like” Moses, we cannot help but see that although He was like him, yet He was much greater. Let’s consider other ways that Jesus is set totally apart from Moses.

Once, when the religious leaders were so upset with the attention the masses were giving Jesus, they sent officers to arrest Him. The officers returned emptyhanded. The leaders asked, “‘Why didn’t you bring him?’ The officers answered, ‘No man ever spoke like this man!'” (John 7:45-46). Indeed! Never a teacher like Jesus! And Moses? Remember his excuse to God that he couldn’t speak well? God accepted his excuse and chose Aaron to speak for him.

Moses is known as a great law giver. Tablets of the Ten Commandments are icons all over. But if you know your NT, you know that law condemns; it cannot save anyone. Thus, the great contrast: “The law was given through Moses. Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ (John 1:17). What a fantastic contrast and blessing!

And what of that literal “mountain-top experience” that Peter, James, and John had, seeing Moses and Elijah with the transfigured Jesus. “While He was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them. Behold, a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him’… Lifting up their eyes, they saw no one, except Jesus alone” (Matt. 17:5, 8). Elijah gone. Moses gone. Only Jesus. Hear Him! What a difference!

Hebrews 3 speaks of Jesus being like Moses in that both were faithful, yet it says that Jesus “has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses.” Why more glory? “Moses indeed was faithful in all his house as a servant… but Christ is faithful as a Son over his house” (3:3, 5-6). Moses was only a servant in his house. Jesus was and is the Son over God’s house!

And You and Me?

Not only is Jesus much greater than Moses, but He has gone away to prepare for us a much better Promised Land. With that in mind, Hebrews 3 continues with a warning to not react toward Jesus as the Israelites reacted toward Moses.

Hebrews reminds us that most of the adults who left Egyptian slavery with Moses never entered the Promised Land. Why? Unbelief and disobedience (3:18-19). As for Christians today, “We have become partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence firm to the end” (3:14). “If.” “Christ is faithful as a Son over his house. We are his house, if we hold fast our confidence and the glorying of our hope firm to the end” (13:6). “If.” A real danger: “lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (3:13). “Lest.”

Just as most Israelite adults did not make it to their earthly Promised Land, so we are warned of the danger of not making it to our eternal Promised Land. The consequences of their lack of faith in Moses is a warning to us to not lose our faith in Jesus.

As this world crumbles apart, let us hold firmly to our faith in Jesus and the heavenly home He has gone ahead to prepare for us.