As we read the Bible, it is tempting to focus on the differences between the Old Testament and the New Testament. After all, the Old Testament is centered on God’s relationship with Israel; while the New Testament, particularly the epistles, largely deals with the church. But we must remind ourselves that the two testaments are part of the unified whole of Scripture, penned by a variety of human authors, yet inspired by the same God.
It should not surprise us, then, that throughout the Old Testament Scriptures, God shows Israel shadows of the Messiah. Whether it’s Melchizedek, the prophet-priest of Jerusalem, or Joshua, the man who takes Israel into the Promised Land, God gives the Jewish people glimpses of the coming Savior through the lives and ministries of some of the nation’s early leaders.
For Israel, though, no man in biblical history is so revered as Moses—and for good reason. He is often pictured as the great emancipator, a godly man whom God used to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. He is, if you will, the Abraham Lincoln of Jewish history. That’s a big deal!
As great as Moses was, though, God told him that another leader of Israel would come, one like Moses. “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” (Deuteronomy 18:18).
Although many prophets succeeded Moses, no one was as great as he (34:10). No one, that is, until the Lord Jesus Christ.
Is it appropriate, though, to say that Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, is like Moses? I believe that it is. There are a number of similarities between Moses and the Lord, demonstrating that Moses was a foreshadow of the Messiah.
Like Jesus, Moses was a Jewish man, born into a Gentile-ruled culture. The pharaoh who ruled Egypt at the time of Moses’ birth was a man who had not known Joseph and the good that came to the land through him and his people (Exodus 1:8). He, like the future Herod the Great, was a paranoid man who feared that the Israelites might cause him political and military harm (v. 9).
One of the ways Pharaoh sought to rid himself of this threat was to order the murder of Israel’s baby boys (vv. 15–16). Similarly, Herod the Great ordered the murder of all Jewish boys under 2 years old in Bethlehem following the visit of the magi (Matthew 2:16).
Moses’ and Jesus’ lives were also similar in that they were both royal. Moses, though the biological son of oppressed parents, was adopted into the royal family of Egypt (Exodus 2:10). The Lord Jesus, born of a virgin, is the Son of God, the King of all creation (Psalm 10:16).
The ministries of Moses and the Lord Jesus are also strikingly similar in a variety of ways.
Moses and Jesus are both mediators of God’s covenants with Israel.
Both Moses and the Messiah are sent by God (Exodus 3:10; Matthew 3:16–17). Both are described as Israel’s deliverers (Matthew 1:21; Acts 7:35). Both validated their ministries with miracles (Exodus 7—12; Luke 5:17–26). Both had ministries of intercession (Exodus 32:11–13, 30–32; Hebrews 7:25). And both led their people out of slavery (Exodus 12:51; Romans 6:5–6).
Furthermore, Moses and Jesus are both mediators of God’s covenants with Israel. In Moses’ case, he was the mediator of the Mosaic Covenant at Sinai (Exodus 24:7–8). Jesus is the Mediator of the New Covenant, which will be fulfilled with Israel upon their national conversion (Hebrews 9:15; Jeremiah 31:31–37; Romans 11:26–27).
One of their most significant similarities is Israel’s response to their leadership. When Moses first tried to help his people, “he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand” (Acts 7:25). But 40 years later, when Moses went back to his people, they accepted his leadership.
So, too, the Messiah was rejected by the nation at His First Advent. As Moses left Egypt for a time, He left Israel following the nation’s rejection of Him (Exodus 2:15; Matthew 23:37). But the Scriptures affirm that He will one day return, and at that time the nation will accept Him as Messiah and Lord (Zechariah 12:10; Matthew 23:37).
Additionally, the second advents of Moses and of the Messiah result in judgment on Israel’s enemies. In Moses’ case, it meant plagues, plundering, and the military defeat of the Egyptians (Exodus 7—12; 14:23–28). When the Lord returns, it will mean the destruction of Antichrist’s armies and judgment of those Gentiles who mistreated Israel during the Tribulation (Revelation 19:11–21; Matthew 25:31–33, 41–46).
The Ultimate Deliverer
It would have been an awe-inspiring experience to follow Moses as the Lord used him to lead the nation of Israel out of Egyptian bondage. The plagues, the parting of the sea, the destruction of a powerful army—what a spectacle!
As great as Moses is, though, we must remember that he was just a man, a foreshadow of the ultimate Deliverer who would come.
As great as Moses is, though, we must remember that he was just a man, a foreshadow of the ultimate Deliverer who would come. Believers in the Lord Jesus have seen even greater things than the Israelites did. We are those who have been delivered from the slavery of sin and who will one day return with Him to Earth.
When Jesus sets up His Kingdom, the entire world, Moses included, will say with the writer of Hebrews: Indeed, “this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses” (Hebrews 3:3).