Jesus and Moses

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The New Testament says something funny about Moses that scholars don't quite understand.  Hebrews 11:32 says that Moses' parents hid him "because they saw that the child was beautiful."  Baby Moses was special, and his parents understood something of his wonderful calling before God.  In fact, the Jewish historian Josephus wrote that Moses' father received a dream in which he learned that his child would grow up to deliver Israel from Egypt.  Christians look back on Moses and realize he was wonderful as one who anticipated the birth of baby Jesus.  

Consider how baby Moses was so much like baby Jesus.  If Josephus is right, Moses' father was told in advance about the saving mission of his baby son.  This is just what later happened to Joseph, when the angel told him about Jesus' birth and gave his name: "you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins" (Mt. 1:21).  Another parallel is the way that Pharaoh was trying to kill all the baby boys in Israel, just as King Herod would try to kill Jesus with all the boys born in Bethlehem (Ex. 1:22; Mt. 2:16).  This shows that Satan was desperate to stop both of these babies from growing up and fulfilling their mission from God.  Moses was saved from Pharaoh when his mother put him in a basket to drift down the Nile, trusting God to protect him; Jesus was saved from danger when the angel warned Joseph and Mary to flee with him to Egypt for protection (Ex. 2:3; Mt. 2:13).  Is this a coincidence that Moses and Jesus had so much in common as babies?  No!  The Bible wants us to realize that just as Moses came to deliver Israel from bondage in Egypt, Jesus was born to free us from the bondage of our sin.

Not only was Moses like Jesus as a baby, but Moses was trusting Jesus for his own salvation.  Jesus taught this when he was once rebuking the Pharisees for not believe in him.  The Pharisees like to talk about how great Moses was.  But Jesus pointed out how Moses believed in him!  Jesus said: "There is one who accuses you; Moses, on whom you have set your hope.  For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me" (John 5:45-46).  When, we wonder, did Moses ever write about Jesus?

One place where Moses wrote about Jesus was Deuteronomy 18, when he spoke of a prophet who come just like Moses: "The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers - it is to him you shall listen (Dt. 18:15).  Jesus was this prophet.  And when Jesus went "up on the mountain" to give his Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5:1), he was completing the teaching of the Ten Commandments that Moses gave on Mt. Sinai.

Another place where Moses wrote of Jesus is the book of Leviticus.  You will not find the name "Jesus" in that book.  But you will read about God forgiving us through the blood of animals sacrificed for our sins.  Moses was writing about Jesus, who was the true sacrifice that the animals only pictured, and whose blood on the cross truly atones for our sins (Lev. 16:34).  Some people teach that Moses had no idea that these sacrifices pointed to Jesus, but Jesus said that he did!  Moses also wrote about Jesus when he described how Israel was protected in Egypt by the lamb's blood on their doors, so that the angel of death passed over them.  God told him: "when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you" (Ex. 12:13).  Moses told Israel to remember the Passover by sacrificing lambs and eating the Passover meal, and in this way to look forward in faith to Jesus' coming (Dt. 16:1-2; 1 Cor. 5:7).  These were some of the ways in which Moses taught about how Jesus would come to "save his people from their sins" (Mt. 1:21).

There is one last mention of Moses' faith in Jesus, in Hebrews 11:24-26.  Like all boys and girls today, when Moses grew up he was tempted to sin.  When Moses' mother put her baby in the Nile River, God arranged for him to be found by the daughter of Pharaoh.  So Moses was raised as a prince of Egypt!  Being in this wealthy family, however, Moses was tempted to live in sin.  Did Moses choose to live this way?  No, instead he remembered his God and the sufferings of his people Israel in Egypt.  Moses left a life of sin in order to serve God's people!  That is exactly the kind of gift we should give to Jesus at Christmas!

Listen how the New Testament explains Moses' faith: "He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward" (Heb. 11:26).  Isn't this a wonderful statement!  No wonder Moses' parents thought he was a beautiful baby, since he would understand how wonderful Jesus and salvation would be!  Moses wanted to trust in Jesus and live a life that would glorify him.  Moses knew that God's greatest gift is his own perfect Son, Jesus the Savior, and that the greatest gift to God is our trusting faith, even if the world does not approve.  And what a reward Moses received for this!  We know from the Bible that even now Moses is in heaven with Jesus, praising God and sharing in his glory (Lk. 9:30).

The New Testament shows us that Moses should be our example in trusting Jesus for our salvation.  As we think about Christmas, perhaps we can marvel that we are trusting the very Savior who Moses loved long before he came.  What a great day it was for Moses when Jesus was born!  And, like Moses, we should worship Jesus by obeying God's Word.  Make the decision that like Moses you will turn from sin in order to glorify Christ!  Then you will get a great reward, as the free gift of God's grace, to join Moses in heaven to live forever in the presence of Jesus.

Posted December 11, 2014 @ 3:09 PM by Rick Phillips
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