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.