This article is part 6 in a series titled Jesus, the Truer and Greater Moses. You can go back and read the introduction, along with our articles describing how Jesus is the greater prophet, the great law-fulfiller, the greater mediator, and the greater deliverer.
Today, we close the series with a passage from Hebrews 3:
Hebrews 3:1-6, “Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.”
This passage confirms what we’ve been observing all along throughout this series:
Jesus and Moses are categorically different.
The author of Hebrews knows that Moses was venerated among his readers. For them, of all the servants in God’s house, there is none like the prophet Moses. But the Lord Jesus is categorically different. Moses was the servant who lived in God’s house. Jesus is the Son who rules over God’s house.
And this is the heart of Christianity. If you want to know the Lord your God and have forgiveness of your sins, you will need more than just to “be a better servant.” What you need is to be adopted into the household, something that can only be done through Jesus.
Moses’ story was not not end of the story.
The story of Moses is a wonderful story of God’s power, beauty, and redemption. Yet, it was only a testimony of even greater things to come—namely, the greatest Story of all: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Jesus is that truer and greater Moses.
So if you want to know the Great I Am and be led by God out of bondage from sin, darkness, and death, and if you want to find provision during your pilgrimage through life, then you must look to the prophet who is greater than Moses. You must look to Christ.
Jesus is more than a servant. He is a Son. And because of the gift of God’s grace through Jesus that has been unfolding since the beginning of time, we can be sons and daughters too (Gal. 4:4-5).
Praise be to God for His glorious grace.
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This article is part 5 in a series titled Jesus, the Truer and Greater Moses, in which we look at how the life and ministry of Moses is but a shadow of Jesus Christ. You can read part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.
Exodus 1. Here’s the scene: Israel’s prominence was increasing throughout Egypt, and it was increasing fast. It was a fruitful joyous time for the Hebrews. With the growth of their families, it appeared that the Lord was fulfilling His promise to their father Abraham. However, there was a new king in town, and he wasn’t a big fan of Israel or their God. Pharaoh and his Egyptians felt threatened by this rising demographic. And how did they respond? By overpowering and enslaving the nation of Israel. Verses 13 and 14 describe the dreaded event:
They ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves. (Exodus 1:13-14)
Israel was forced into slavery for 400 years. And during this era of seemingly perpetual bondage, the nation of Israel cried out for rescue and redemption. They “groaned and cried for help” (Exodus 2:23). Where was their God? Had He abandoned them? Had He given up on His covenant promise? Indeed, the Lord their God was listening. He heard their cries and raised up a prophet who would deliver them.
Moses, the Great Deliverer
Enter Moses. In Exodus 3, the Lord speaks to Moses through a fiery bush, commissioning Moses to deliver His people.
Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land…Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:7-10)
There, on the mountain of Horeb, through the bush of fire, God made it clear that He would use His servant Moses in huge ways. He gave Moses His very name(“Yahweh”), and He commissioned the prophet to lead Israel out of its four hundred year captivity. It’s no wonder that Moses was considered the ancient hero of Israel. He would become the peoples’ deliverer.
Why Peter Got It Wrong
Centuries later, God would send another deliverer—a truer and greater deliverer who would deliver not only the Hebrews but the Gentiles too.
In Matthew 16, Jesus had an important dialogue with his disciples about this forthcoming deliverance.
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:13-16)
So far in this passage, we think, “Yes! Peter got it right!” But although Peter said the right words, he still missed the whole point. He did not get the fullness of who Jesus truly was or what it meant to be the Christ. Peter’s understanding was that Jesus would lead Israel out of physical captivity. The Romans were oppressive, and Jesus would be the one to deliver them from political oppression (or so Peter thought). The cross was not on Peter’s radar. He thought that the exodus Jesus would lead his people through was a deliverance from Roman tyranny.
As their dialogue continued, Jesus reveals something much different, and far greater:
From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”
But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Matthew 16:21-23)
Jesus, the Greater Deliverer
Peter was right to understand Jesus—the Christ—to be the prophet and deliverer “like unto Moses.” But he assumed this meant Jesus would lead a physical exodus, just like Moses.
But did Jesus come to lead an exodus?
In a sense, yes! He absolutely came to lead His people on an exodus. But the exodus Jesus led was not a physical one. It was a spiritual one that far surpasses an escape from the bondage of Egypt or the oppression of Rome. His was a greater deliverance—a deliverance from death to life (Ephesians 2).
Jesus came to deliver from sin and death.
Moses’ deliverance did not require a cross. It was merely a temporal deliverance, not an eternal one. Jesus, on the other hand, would deliver His people from eternal death to eternal life. This required Him to take up a cross.
Moses’ exodus was possible because God’s wrath came down upon Pharaoh’s son. Jesus’ exodus is possible because God’s wrath came down upon His only begotten son—the Lord Jesus Christ who takes away the sins of the world. Jesus is the truer and greater Moses who leads His people in the greatest exodus of redemptive history—deliverance from the prison of sin and death.
Until Jesus corrected them, the apostles had it all wrong. Jesus didn’t come to be a great like Moses. He came to be greater than Moses.
Next post: Moses the Beloved Servant, Jesus the Beloved Son
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This article is part 4 in a series titled Jesus, the Truer and Greater Moses, in which we look at how the life and ministry of Moses is but a shadow of Jesus Christ. You can read part 1, part 2, and part 3.
Moses not only spoke only behalf of God to His people, he also spoke on behalf of the people to their God. He was a mediator.
Essentially, a mediator is someone who stands in the gap between two opposing parties. Since sin caused a gulf of separation between God and His people, there had to be a God-ordained mediator who would “stand in the gap” between God and man. For the Israelites, these big shoes were filled by the prophet Moses. And in this aspect of his ministry, the prophet Moses became the mediator Moses.
Moses the mediator
We know that Moses had a special and unique relationship with the Lord. Exodus 33:11 tells us that Yahweh “used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” Of all the Hebrews, no one had this type of relationship with the Lord Most High. And what did Moses do with this special friendship that he had with the Great I AM? Did he hoard the benefits of this friendship for himself to enjoy? Not at all. With this direct relational line that he had with the Creator, Moses interceded on behalf of God’s people. In Exodus 33:13, Moses speaks the following words to his God:
“Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.”
Basically, as someone who received the grace of God’s favor, Moses then asked God to consider showing a measure of grace to His people. Moses, the mediator, stood in the gap.
Jesus is the truer and greater mediator
While Moses served as a type of mediator, the Bible tells us there is only one true mediator—a mediator who can perfectly close the gap between God and men:
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.”
(1 Timothy 2:5-6 )
Only Jesus, the God-man, could serve as this perfect mediator.
Have you ever been in a situation where a mediator was needed? When I was pretty young, my little sister and I did not get along. It was classic sibling rivalry. And as sibling rivalries typically go, we were always trying to get one other into trouble. “Mom!!” was a frequent cry for us both. And whenever our mom answered this call, she would walk over to our relational realm of chaos and ask this question: “What happened?” In the moment of sibling opposition, she stood in the gap, serving as a mediator. She wanted good for us both, and so she interceded for us. Her goal was to get to the root of the problem and find a solution that would bring us to repentance and reconciliation.
Though it is just a tiny picture of the type of mediating role that Jesus fulfills, my point is this: a good mediator seeks your good and makes your cause their cause. And that’s exactly what Jesus does for us. Sin had broken our relationship with the Creator, placing our natural depravity in opposition to God’s perfect holiness. So we needed a mediator who would stand in the gap, so to speak—someone to seek our good and make our cause his cause. That mediator is Jesus. He mediated between God and men through the ransom of His blood (1 Tim. 2:5-6).
A good mediator will also pray for others. Because your cause is their cause, they will pray, making pleas to God on your behalf. Moses interceded in prayer for God’s people in the tent of meeting (Exo. 33). Jesus mediated for His people in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mat. 26). In fact, He is mediating right now at the right hand of the Father (Rom. 8:34).
Jesus fills the gap both ways—the gap from God to us and the gap from us to God. Here’s what the author of Hebrews says:
“Long ago…God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Hebrews 1:1-3)
And that’s where He is right now: at the right hand of God interceding in prayer on our behalf.
Jesus is “the radiance of the glory of God.” He is the “exact imprint” of God’s nature. He is not just another mediator, like Moses. He is greater than Moses. Jesus is the mediator who is the very revelation of God. He is the divine Word who was with God, and is God (John 1:1). Moses saw God face to face. Jesus is the one through whom the rest of us can now see God face to face.
Next post: Jesus, a Greater Deliverer than Moses
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This article is part 3 in a series titled Jesus, the Truer and Greater Moses, in which we look at how the life and ministry of Moses is but a shadow of Jesus Christ. You can read part 1 and part 2.
As a prophet of God, Moses spoke God’s words to God’s people. He was a messenger. One of the greatest messages the prophet delivered, of course, was the message of the law of the Lord.
Leviticus 19 unpacks what the Lord told Moses about His law:
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and you shall keep my Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God. Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves any gods of cast metal: I am the LORD your God.”
What is the Law?
We can see from Leviticus 19 that the law of the Lord can be summarized in two words: be holy.
Or, to paraphrase from the apostle Peter: be holy as God is holy (1 Pet. 1:15-16).
Bob Hoekstra is helpful here in explaining:
The message of the law of God is thus: be as holy as God if you want to relate to Him-be as holy as God if, by your best effort, you wish to measure up to His commands and standards. The message of the law of God is that if one wants to relate to a perfect God through his performance before His standards and laws, then there is one thing that person must be: perfect.
Moses Delivered the Law
God called His prophet, Moses, up to the top of Mount Sinai. There, He gave Moses the law that His people would be required to live by, the law that sets them apart as holy just as He Himself is holy.
At the top of that mountain, the Lord pressed His divine finger into tablets of stone, carving the words of His law. Moses took this law and delivered it to God’s people. For generations, the prophet would be considered the herald of God’s Ten Commandments, the one who delivered the law so that God’s nation might be set apart from all other nations, a witness to the world about the character of their holy God.
The Law Is Not Enough
As great and important the law of God is, it can only do what God intended it to do. The author of Hebrews explains:
“For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.” (Heb. 7:18-19)
While the law itself is perfect (Psa. 19:7), it does not ever claim to make anyone perfect. Galatians 2 emphasizes this in stating that the law can never justify.
“We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” (Gal. 2:16)
In other words, God gives us His true and holy standard. And no one, by their own effort, is ever going to live up to the law’s demands.
So then, what gives? What is the purpose of the law? Paul tells us, in Galatians 3, that “the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24).
The greatest ability and purpose the law of God has is to tutor us and teach us, pointing us to the only hope we have from the law’s demands: the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus Fulfilled the Law
John 1:17 tells us, “the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
How does that happen? How does Jesus Christ bring grace and truth?
By fulfilling the law on our behalf. In Jesus’ own words:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
The grace of God in Jesus Christ doesn’t render the law void but fulfilled. Jesus fulfilled it by living the perfect law-abiding life that we could never live and dying the law-satisfying death that we deserved to die.
Jesus was the only human being—the only image bearer of God—who walked upon the dirt of Earth’s ground and did not violate any of God’s laws. With His life, He fulfilled the law’s every demand. As Bob Hoekstra states, “What it said, He did. What it described, He was.”
Jesus was also the only human being who could fulfill the law’s penalty on behalf of sinners.. The law declared that “The soul who sins shall die” (Eze. 18:20). All of us, born from Adam, fall short of God’s glory and standard of life (Rom. 3:23). All of us, that is, except for Jesus. He died a death that He did not deserve so that we wouldn’t have to that death ourselves.
Jesus died on the cross and paid our debt so that we would stand justified, freely by His sovereign grace (Rom. 3:24). While Moses delivered the demands of the law, Jesus fulfilled them when no one else could. And He did so on behalf of sinners like you and me.
This is the grace of God.
Because of Jesus, the white throne of judgment has become a sweet throne of grace.
And from it, He bids the sinner, “Come!”
This article is part 2 in a series titled Jesus, the Truer and Greater Moses, in which we look at how the life and ministry of Moses is but a shadow of Jesus Christ. You can read part 1 here.
When you consider the question, “Who was Moses?”, what is the first word that comes to mind?
“Prophet” is likely your answer. After all, Moses is often considered the prophet of all Old Testament prophets. He’s the one that spoke on God’s behalf not only to Israel, but to Pharaoh and the Egyptians too. His famous line, “Let my people go,” would mark the beginning of the Jewish exodus from Egypt.
Moses, the Exodus, and the universal longing for a God who speaks
In the story of the Exodus, God’s people are enslaved and lost. They have not heard from the Lord for 400 years. Understandable, they longed to hear from Him again. They likely wondered, Did God still care? Would He keep His promise to their father Abraham? Would He ever deliver them? Reminiscing the days of their patriarch Abraham, they longed for the Lord to speak to them once more.
Don’t we all want this? It is one of the most fundamental human yearnings: a God who reveals Himself, a God who speaks. We were wired for it, created by a God who speaks—created by His very words—and He desires to communicate to His creatures and reveal Himself to them. How do we know this? His Word is a testament to this truth. That’s why He has preserved it for us throughout the centuries, and that’s why we read it today. We have a God who speaks, and we are a people who long to listen.
But for God’s people in the book of Exodus, they did not have God’s Word like we do. Thus, God sent a prophet named Moses.
What is a prophet?
Unfortunately, when the average person hears the word “prophecy,” the first thing he thinks of is “foretelling the future.” But throughout the Scriptures, foretelling the future is only peripheral to being a prophet. Primarily, a prophet is someone who speaks on God’s behalf. He is a spokesman for the Lord, someone who simply takes the divinely revealed words of God and brings them to its recipients. This was the job description God provided to Moses when He declared, “You shall speak all that I command you” (Exo. 7:2). Whatever God says, the prophet says. This was the job that Moses, by God’s grace, fulfilled. It was an incredible responsibility.
Jesus is the greater prophet
Moses was a great prophet, indeed, but he was not the greatest prophet. Moses foretold that God would raise up a prophet greater than himself:
“But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. … Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’[Deut 18:15] And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days.” (Acts 3:18, 22-24)
Here, Moses refers to the greater prophet to come—Jesus. Moses was a great prophet, but Jesus would be the truer and greater prophet. Consider the following ways:
Jesus brings the whole truth
While Moses, Samuel, and the other prophets brought truth to God’s people, Jesus brought the whole truth: the good news of God’s kingdom.
When Moses’ life and ministry came to an end, God raised up another prophet named Joshua. While Joshua did not speak to God in the same manner that Moses did (Deut. 34:9), he served as the Lord’s prophet nonetheless. And after Joshua, God brought the era of the Judges, which was followed by the prophet Samuel. Samuel introduced the monarchy, and for generations God’s people would be ruled by kings and spoken to by prophets. Even still, not one talked to God like Moses did. Moses was a prophet set apart by God from the other prophets. Even in the last Old Testament book, some of the last words the prophet Malachi penned were, “Remember the law of my servant Moses.” Then God curiously said nothing to His people for 400 years. Imagine the longing and angst of this season of waiting. When is the Lord going to speak again? When is the great prophet like unto Moses going to arrive? God’s people waited century upon century for that prophet to arrive.
And they were not waiting for just any other prophet. They were waiting for the Prophet, the one prophesied of in Deuteronomy 18:15. They were looking for someone who would be like Moses, and maybe even greater. They were waiting for someone who would bring a new revelation of God to them, and that prophet would be Jesus.
When Jesus finished his famous Sermon on the Mount, Matthew says, “the crowds were astonished at his teaching.” Why were they astonished? Matthew continues, “for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” Jesus is the greater prophet because he brought the whole truth with an authority that is unsurpassed.
Jesus is the truth
Jesus is also the greater prophet because he not only brought the truth, He is the truth. In John 14:6, Jesus proclaims, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (emphasis added). While Moses brought the truth of God, Jesus embodied that truth. In fact, the Apostle John tells us that Jesus is the eternal “Word” who was with God and is God. While Moses was the prophet who brought the words of God to people, Jesus Himself is the eternal Word that was sent from the heavens to save sinners.
Jesus illumines the truth
In Luke 24, the resurrected Jesus walks with two of His disciples and says to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Before His death, Jesus already taught them the very things He’s referring to here. He is speaking of everything that was written about Him in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms.
But in verse 45, something astounding happens. As Jesus is walking with His disciples, Luke tells us, “he opened their minds to understand the Scripture.” Jesus’ disciples had heard and known of His teachings, but their minds were blind to the depth of their meaning. Their spiritual vision was dim, and they needed the light to see. They needed illuminating light, and Jesus would be the one to provide it. So, Jesus is not only the one who is the truth, He illumines truth. He opens eyes. Moses never did that. His job was to speak, and God would open the minds of the Hebrews. Jesus, the greater Prophet, is God in the flesh. So He not only held the authority to speak, He also had the power to open their minds so that they could understand the gospel truth of God’s Kingdom.
What Jesus provides in His prophetic ministry is what every person needs: the truth, the whole gospel truth, and the spiritual power to see and understand its incomparable beauty.
Next post: Moses Gave the Law. Jesus Fulfilled It.
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In this article, we introduce a new blog series called Jesus, the Truer and Greater Moses.
Some people treat the Old Testament and New Testament as the Bible before Jesus and the Bible after Jesus, respectively. But to say this is to miss the point of the whole Book. The Old Testament is much more than just the “before Jesus” stuff. It’s more than just the story of Israel’s history. It’s the story of God preserving the seed of Christ which would come from Adam and Eve, on through Abraham, on through David, and would continue passing along until the proper time (or “fullness of time”) that Jesus would finally come to walk the ground He created (Gal. 4:4). It all points to Him. Thus, both the Old and New Testaments are about Jesus—the Old Testament is about the Messiah who is promised to come and the New Testament tells of the Messiah who has already come.
The whole Bible points to Jesus.
German Bible scholar Gerhard Von Rad says it this way: “The same God who revealed Himself in Christ has also left his footprints in the history of the Old Testament covenant people.” So, the whole Bible is about Jesus. Yes, even “the law and the prophets” are about Jesus. After all, Jesus Himself made that claim:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”
So the whole Old Testament—every jot, dot, and tittle—is about Christ. Do you see it? That is our hope for this blog series: that you will see that and stand in awe at God’s sovereign purposes as we look at Christ through one Old Testament example: the life of Moses. See, God’s amazing plan was always about Jesus. Jesus wasn’t the Father’s plan B. He was plan A all along. The Story and the Law have always been pointing to Him.
What does this have to do with Moses?
Moses. Who is he? In this blog series, we’re going to pick away and examine who Moses was, what was the role he played, and what did his ministry look like. And when we examine his life, we will see a picture of Jesus. Or to put it another way: Moses will be the lens through which we’ll look at Christ.
Moses is a type of Christ.
Moses is a type of Christ. We could also say he is a shadow of Christ. But what does that mean?
Basically, a “shadow” or “type” is a picture of a greater reality that is yet to come. It is something or someone intended by God to prefigure Jesus and give His people a taste so that will anticipate and appreciate what God is going to do through Jesus Christ. Think about the tasting samples they pass out at Costco or food courts. Everybody loves those! Sure, those samples are free and typically delicious, but they alone will never satisfy your hunger. As scrumptious as they might be, they don’t even come close to feasting on the actual meal! That’s what Moses is to Jesus. Moses is the taster to wet your appetite. Jesus is the feast that satisfies.
Jesus is truer and greater than Moses.
If you were to ask an ancient Jew who their spiritual hero was, they might say the same thing: Moses. For them, he was the hero of the Old Testament. The author of Hebrews says, “Moses was faithful in all God’s house” (Heb. 3:5). He was also Israel’s greatest prophet. Even still, because we now have the New Testament and the testimony of Jesus, we know that Moses, great as he was, was just a shadow pointing forward to Christ.
Consider the author of Hebrews:
“Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.”
So we see that Moses prefigures Christ. Jesus is the one who is truer and greater Moses—the one who is “worthy of more glory than Moses.”
To understand what this means, we should consider: Who was Moses? Or, more specifically, what were the roles he played? Throughout this series, we will look at five different roles Moses fulfilled: prophet, law giver, mediator, deliverer, and servant. An in depth study of each of these will help us further understand what we mean when we say that “Jesus is the truer and greater Moses.”
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