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Parallels between Moses and the Messiah

The Coming Messiah

Many prophecies of the coming Messiah in the book of Deuteronomy point to Yeshua. But the prophetic promise found in 18:15-19 stands out like bright sunlight on a shadowy landscape:

“The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, according to all you desired of the LORD your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, nor let me see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the LORD said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him’.”

The Prophet In The New Testament

The New Testament actually refers to these verses, but if we are not aware of the perspective of the speakers, we lose the implication of what they were trying to say. For example, why do the following verses all refer to “the prophet”? Because the Jewish people of Yeshua’s time were looking for the one promised in Deuteronomy 18!

“And they asked [John the Baptist], ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not’. Are you the Prophet? And he answered, ‘No’... And they asked him, saying, ‘Why then do you baptize if you are not the [Messiah], nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?’” John 1:21,25

“Then those men, when they had seen the sign that [Yeshua] did, said, ‘This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.’” John 6:14

“Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, ‘Truly this is the Prophet.’ Others said, ‘This is the [Messiah]...’” John 7:40-41

After Yeshua’s resurrection, the disciples used the Deuteronomy prophecy as an apologetic to declare that Yeshua is that Prophet, and then stated that Prophet to be the Messiah. Note how Peter tied these together:

“But those things, which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the [Messiah] would suffer, He has thus fulfilled… For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall come to pass that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people’. Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow… have also foretold these days.” Acts 3:18,22-24

Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin also uses this section of scripture to demonstrate that Israel had a history of not believing Moses.

“This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’” Acts 7:37

In fact, this was one of the major issues Yeshua pointed out as a stumbling block to Israel’s believing in Him.

“For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me [He could be referring to Deut 18]. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” John 5:46-47

The Prophet To Be Like Moses

The Deuteronomy prophecy promised “the prophet” would be like Moses himself. The lives of Moses and Yeshua contain quite extensive parallels. Even rabbis point out that the coming Messiah would be like Moses: “The Rabbinic literature often presents parallels between similar types of fact… One of the most frequently used parallels is the likening of the Messiah to the ‘first savior’, Moses1.” (see footnote)

Let us look at some of these parallels:

Lineage:

Moses and Yeshua are both children of Israel, and are therefore what today we would call Jews, descendants of Abraham, through Isaac and Jacob (Matt 1:1; Rom 9:4-5).

Childhood:

The parallels here are so astounding that we can call them supernatural! Both Moses and Yeshua:

  • were born when Israel was under gentile rule (Exo 1:8-10; Luke 2:1-3);
  • were placed by their mothers in very unusual beds (Exo 2:3; Luke 2:7);
  • were saved from a death decree placed on Hebrew boys by the ruling gentile king (Exo 1:22; 2:1-3; Matt 2:13,16),
  • were rescued in childhood (Exo 2:2-10; Matt 2:14-15)
  • were raised by daughters of a kingly line (Exo 2:5-10; Luke 1:26-33)
  • were raised in the home of men who were not their real fathers (??Exo 2:9-10?? Acts 7:21-22; Matt 1:18-25).

Other life similarities:

Both Moses and Yeshua:

  • fled their land of birth because of a king’s wrath (Exo 2:15; Matt 2:13),
  • returned to that land and performed many miracles (Exo 4:19-21; Matt 2:19-20),
  • were criticized and spoken against by family members and fellow Israelites (Num 12:1-2; John 7:3-5; 12:37-44)
  • endured murmuring from God’s people (Exo 15:24; John 6:41-43).
  • had seventy helpers (Num 11:16-17; Luke 10:1) and sent out twelve on special missions (Num 13:1-3; Matt 10:1,5-8).
  • experienced forty day fasts (Exo 34:28; Matt 4:2),
  • are spoken of as men of deep humility despite their greatness and position (Num 12:3; Matt 11:28-30),
  • fed multitudes (Exo 16:15; Matt 14:19-21), and
  • had a supernatural experience of having their face shine with glory (Exo 34:32-35; Matt 17:1-3).

Their relationship with God:

Numbers 12 describes Moses’ relationship with God as one that no lesser prophet would have.

“Then 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, and I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses; he is faithful in all My house. I will speak with him face to face… even plainly, and not in dark sayings; and he sees the form of the LORD... “ Numbers 12:6-8

Thus Moses was an extraordinary prophet of God (Deut 34:10).

Messiah Yeshua also had a singular relationship with His Father that could also be described as talking “face to face”. This idiomatic term can be interpreted as having direct access to God and His revelation. In fact, we see examples of God speaking audibly to both of them (Exo 19:9-10,19-20; 34:5-6; John 12:23-28). Because of their direct access to the Father, both spoke as oracles of God (Exo 20:18-21; 24:3; John 8:26; 12:49).

Their special relationship was based on God’s sovereign choice in sending them to Israel and was maintained by their faithfulness to Him (Num 12:7; Heb 3:1-6). The very fact of being the one sent by God is another parallel (Exo 3:6-13; John 3:34; 10:36).

Mediator:

Moses often mediated between God and Israel. At times, he mediated God’s words and commands to them (Exo 20:18-22; Deut 5:5,31); at other times, he stood in the gap between God’s righteous anger and sinful man, to turn that anger aside (Exo 32:11-14; Psa 106:23).

Yeshua also acted as such a mediator – as a vehicle to relay God’s word to man (John 5:19-20; 7:17; 8:26) and as the one to turn aside God’s wrath from sinful man (Mark 10:45; 1 Tim 2:5-6).

Both were used by God as mediators of a covenant sealed with blood (Exo 24:7-8; Matt 26:26-28).

Intercessor:

Often the mediation of Moses turned into intercession (Exo 32:31-32; Deut 9:13-20; 10:10; Psa 106:23). Yeshua also interceded for Israel (John 17:9; Luke 23:33-34; Isa 53:12) and intercedes for us today (Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25).

Deliverer:

God chose Moses to deliver Israel from slavery in Egypt (Exo 3:7-10, Acts 7:25). So too, God chose Yeshua to deliver us from the slavery of sin (John 3:16; Rom 6:15-23). To accomplish this, both contended with evil (Exo 7:11,22; 17:8-13; 32:26-28; Matt 4:1-11; 8:28-32; 17:14-18).

Another important parallel is that these deliverances were accomplished through the shedding of blood (Exo 12:3,7,12-13,23; Heb 9:11-15). Moses and Yeshua each established memorial meals to help us remember and give thanks to God for His great salvation (Exo 12:3-11,25-27; Lev 23:5 [Passover]; Luke 22:19; 1Cor 11:26 [Communion]).

Authority:

Both were empowered to declare God’s word with authority. Deuteronomy 18 states that the promised prophet would speak in God’s name and have God’s authority! (??Deut 18:18??). Moses definitely did this (??Exo 4:12??; 20:19), as did Yeshua Himself (??Matt 7:28-29??; Mark 1:21-22; Luke 4:20-21; John 5:24).

Judge:

Moses acted as a judge for Israel (Exo 18:13-23). While Yeshua stated that He did not come the first time as a judge (John 8:15-16; 12:47), it is very clear that He will, when He returns, judge the earth (Psa 96:13; Matt 25:31-46; 2 Cor 5:10).

Shepherd:

Moses and Yeshua are called shepherds of God’s people (Psa 77:20; John 10:11, 27).

Miracles:

Both men demonstrated the Kingdom of God in word and power as they performed many mighty public miracles. Yet each was constrained to do only what they were told by God the Father.

This is obvious in Moses’ life as the ten plagues on Egypt were all commanded by God (Exo 3:20; 4:28; 7:17; 8:2,16,21, etc). Also in the wilderness, God showed Moses what miracles He would do through him (Exo 15:24; 17:5-6).

Yeshua said He did only what He saw His Father doing, so He also was constrained to perform only miracles God ordained for Him to perform (John 5:19-20).

Concerning Death:

Moses was willing to die instead of the children of Israel (Exo 32:31-32). This is also why Yeshua came, to die in our place (John 10:11,17-18; Rom 5:8-10). Both died in a manner previously determined by God (Deut 34:5-6; Psa 22:16; 1 Cor 15:3-4) and each reappeared after death (Matt 17:3; Luke 24:13ff; Acts 1:3).

Special Relationship with Israel:

Since God sent Moses and Yeshua to Israel we would expect them to have a special relationship with the Jewish people. Again the parallels are quite extraordinary: initially rejected by Israel (Exo 2:11-14 [Acts 7:23-28,35]; Acts 18:5-6; 28:17-28) and, in the period of rejection, they obtain a gentile bride (Exo 2:16-21; 2 Cor 11:2; Eph 5:30-32). When Moses returned to Israel, he was accepted (Exo 4:29-31). Yeshua also will be accepted when He returns to Israel (Acts 15:14-17; Rom 11:26).

This extensive look at the parallels between Moses and Yeshua proves again that when the Lord God states something in His word, He means it.

“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth: it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Isa 55:11

No wonder Messiah Yeshua said to Israel:

“You search the Scripture, for in them you think you have eternal life: and these are they which testify of Me.” John 5:39

Finally, even rabbis know that the greatness of Messiah would overshadow the greatness of Moses! “In fact the Messiah is such a prophet as it is stated in the Midrash on the verse, ‘Behold my servant shall prosper’... Moses by the miracles which he wrought drew but a single nation to the worship of god, but the Messiah will draw all nations to the worship of God2.”

“Philip found Nathanael and said to him,
‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the law,
and also the prophets, wrote – [Yeshua] of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’”
John 1:45

Footnotes:

1 The Messiah in the Old Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings, by Risto Santala, Keren Ahvah Meshihit, Jerusalem, 1992; emphasis the author’s.

2 R Levi ben Gershom (The Messiah of the Targums, Talmuds and Rabbinical Writers, by F Kenton Beshore, President World Bible Society, 1971, chart 17).