I will raise them up a prophet from among their brothers, like you; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I shall command him. It shall happen, that whoever will not listen to my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. –Deu. 18:18-19
One of the things I think my Sunday-brethren lack is a real appreciation for Moses. In fact, there’s a real tendency to put him down. “You’re going back to the Law of Moses!” I’ve heard in derisive tones, as if the Torah of Hashem that was delivered to us through Moses were a bad thing. “Well, Christ is superior to Moses!” Okay, that’s true, but unless you actually appreciate who Moses was and what Hashem did through him, that’s not much of a compliment to the Messiah, now is it? Only if we understand just what an elevated state of holiness that Hashem bestowed upon Moses does calling Messiah superior properly exalt Yeshua.
That’s a subject that really deserves its own post, so let me put it aside for the moment and concentrate on the above passage of the Torah, which speaks specifically of the Messiah. First, how do we know that it speaks of Messiah? Simply put, because through the whole of the Tanakh, there was never a prophet quite like Moses:
The LORD came down in a pillar of cloud, and stood at the door of the Tent, and called Aaron and Miriam; and they both came forward. He said, “Hear now my words. 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. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant, against Moses?”// (Num. 12:5-8)
There has not arisen a prophet since 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 in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, and in all the mighty hand, and in all the great terror, which Moses worked in the sight of all Israel. (Deu. 34:10-12)
All the prophets of the Tanakh knew Hashem only through dreams and riddles–that is, the strange prophecies that He put in their mouths. And the Torah tells us as its postscript that Moses is yet unique among the prophets for two reasons: In knowing Hashem face-to-face and in the mighty signs and wonders that he did in the sight of all Israel.
Now what do the Renewed Covenant Scriptures tell us about Yeshua?
For the Torah was given through Moses. Grace and truth were realized through Yeshua the Messiah. No one has seen God at any time. The one and only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him. (John 1:17f)
In other words, Yeshua was claiming to have gone beyond Moses, who was able to behold only the “back” of Hashem’s Glory (Exo. 33:20-23); Yeshua, in His pre-incarnate existence as the Word and Sh’khinah of Hashem knew what Kabbalists term the Ein Sof, the Infinite One that we know only by the traits that He emanates into the world. Yeshua knew Hashem and had come from Hashem so intimately that He was able to say, “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except he who is from God. He has seen the Father” (John 6:46), but, “He who has seen me has seen the Father. How do you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?” (14:9f)
“But,” one of my Jewish brethren may object, “Jesus may have said that, but he didn’t prove it. After all, Moses is still unique in the miracles that he did ‘in the sight of all Israel.'”
That’s partially true, in that we who know Yeshua believe that the signs that will accompany His Second Coming will outstrip those that accompanied His First, but even in His earthly ministry in the 1st Century, His signs were shown to “all Israel.” Even His enemies acknowledged them:
Some therefore of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he doesn’t keep the Sabbath.” Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” There was division among them. (John 9:16)
The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said, “What are we doing? For this man does many signs. If we leave him alone like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” (John 4:47-48)
“Men of Israel, hear these words! Yeshua of Nazareth, a man approved by God to you by mighty works and wonders and signs which God did by him in the midst of you, even as you yourselves know. (Acts 2:22)
Incidentally, even the Talmud acknowledges that Yeshua did miracles which could not be explained by natural trickery when it accuses Him of learning Egyptian magic or somehow getting power by sewing a parchment with Hashem’s Name under His skin (b.Shab. 104 and b.Sanh. 107). (One wonders why the Talmudists think that would give a man such power.) What does that tell us? That Yeshua’s miracles were so well-witnessed and so well-known that the rabbis could not deny that He had done them “in the sight of all Israel,” but having denied that He was a prophet, let alone Messiah, they had to offer an alternate explanation.
So what’s the point of all that? Simply this: In both terms of intimacy and in terms of the public display of signs and wonders, Yeshua was indeed the Prophet Like Moses.
But the comparison doesn’t end there, which is where I really want to take this post. (Like Bill Cosby’s famous “Fat Albert” routine, I told you that story to tell you this one.) As we go through our own Exodus and time “in the wilderness,” we find that at every step of the way, Yeshua acts just like Moses. To start with, He comes to us before we go with Him.
Moses did not send messengers from Mt. Sinai telling the Hebrews to come to him to meet Hashem. They never could have responded to such a call, for they were in bondage just as those who are without Hashem are in the present day (an issue we explored in the last post on this subject). Instead, Hashem sent Moses to the Hebrews to liberate them from their slavery.
And how did Moses accomplish this task? With the Ten Plagues, of course–but why the Ten Plagues? Hashem tells us, “For I will go through the land of Egypt in that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and animal. Against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD” (Exo. 12:12). Now that of course refers to the Passover specifically, but as many scholars have noted, all of the Plagues were targeted at the gods the Egyptians worshiped. (Chuck Missler has a good article on the subject here.)
There’s a connection there to Yeshua’s ministry that is often missed, for just as Moses contended with the gods of Egypt, so Yeshua contended with the demons which the Gentiles worship (Deu. 32:17, 1Co. 10:20)–through His miracles and through the deliverances (exorcisms, if you prefer) that were a defining trait of His ministry.
Did you realize that before you ever came to faith–or to repentance, for those born into households that raised them in faith but who fell into whatever sin–Messiah, like Moses, came to you in your bondage and fought the gods of this world for you?
And of course, the ultimate Deliverance was effected through the Passover, which we’ll look at next time.