In my last post, we looked at Messiah being the fulfillment of the prophet that Moses predicted. Moses had not made a clear distinction that he was speaking of Messiah, but many wondered if the prophet he declared was to come would be the Messiah. In fact, in the days just before the appearance of Christ, John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness; his ministry became so influential so fast that the Sanhedrin sent an official delegation to interview John and determine who he was (a brief description of this interview is found in John 1:19-28). First they asked him if he was Christ, then hey asked hi if he was Elijah; finally they asked him if he was, quote: “THAT PROPHET.” (v. 21)
The Sanhedrin were the disciples of Moses – their order had been initiated in Numbers 11, when the Lord took of the anointing that was on Moses, and gave it to the 70 elders (so the Sanhedrin always consists of 70). Jesus declared of them that spiritually, they sat in the seat of Moses (Matt 23:2); they, prided themselves on this because Moses was the savior-prophet who led Israel out of Egypt, who preceeded Messiah. Unfortunately, when Messiah came, they proved that they preferred Moses to the Messiah (see, for instance their judgment on the blind man whom Christ had healed – in light of the Messiah’s evident work, they preferred Moses, declaring: “Thou art HIS [Christ’s] disciple; but we are Moses disciples. We know that God spake unto Moses; as for this fellow [Jesus], we know not from whence he is.” (John 1:28 & 29))
When the Sanhedrin inquired about John the Baptist, they inquired about all the relevant possibilities: the question about ‘THAT PROPHET’ was expressly regarding the prophecy of Moses of the prophet who would be ‘like unto’ himself.
According to the testimony of Peter the Apostle (Acts 3:19-26), Jesus was ‘that prophet’ predicted by Moses. And yet by the time that He came, the order established by Moses (the Sanhedrin) did not recognise that prophet which was to come. Yet Christ’s ministry was as superior to Moses as God is superior to man, or, as Paul puts it:
3 For this man [Jesus] was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.
4 For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.
5 And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after;
6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.
Moses was a servant of God – Jesus was the Son of God.
And this is the principal point: Moses brought the knowledge of salvation to the Jews (he led them through the TYPES of salvation (the Spirit, the water, and the blood (1 John 5:6-12): Passover (blood), crossing the red sea (water), passing under the cloud (Spirit)); Jesus brought the FULLNESS of salvation not to the Jews, only, but to all men (to the Jews first, and also to the Gentile (that is, everyone else) (Rom 1:16; 2:9 & 10)).
For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.
23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
According to this prophecy of Moses, heeding ‘That Prophet’ was an absolute requirement; those who neglected to heed the Prophet that Moses predicted would be destroyed from among the people. This portion of the prophecy is ALSO only fulfilled in Christ. Receiving the ministry of Jesus is necessary for salvation… in fact receiving the ministry of Jesus is the ONLY THING necessary for salvation.
John the Baptist was not ‘That Prophet’ like unto Moses; he was the prophet who came in the spirit and power of Elijah (Matt 11:14; Luke 1:17). When the disciples of Moses – the Sanhedrin – came to him, they assumed that the man Elijah who was taken to heaven in a whirlwind (see 2 Kings 2) would bodily return; fully appreciating their mis-apprehension, John told the truth in telling them he was not [literally] Elijah. Yet he was, as Christ declared in Matt 11:14, the second Elijah.
Moses, and Elijah… have you ever wondered why those two prophets appeared with Christ on the mount of transfiguration (Matt 17:3; Mark 9:4; Luke 9:30)? I don’t want to belittle this revelation with brevity, but for the momment I will just point out that Moses brought the Law; Elijah brought the ministry of repentance (returning to the Law); Christ was the fulfillment of the Law. “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; HEAR YE HIM.” (No charge for that; there’s lots more there if you meditate on it.)
When confronted about the ministry of Christ taking pre-emmanence, the second Elijah made some statements which in essence say exactly the same thing that Moses’ prediction of the coming prophet declared:
34 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.
35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.
36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Do you see how similar that is to Moses’ prophecy:
A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.
And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
Just as Moses prophesied, and the second Elijah declared, god’s wrath is upon all those who refuse to heed That Prophet like unto Moses. Jesus, Himself, clarified why this wrath is upon those who refuse to hear His words; He also declared that He had no need of the testimony of prophets because the evident testimony on His life was greater (I.e. even if there were no prophecies of Him – had Moses and Elijah nor any other prophets heralded His ministry – it is evident to anyone who knows God that He is Messiah):
36 But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. [(Remember Deut. 34:10-12 – ‘…like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and wonders, which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharoah, and to all his servants, and to all his land, and in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of Israel.’)]
37 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.
39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
41 I receive not honour from men.
42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.
43 I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.
44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?
45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.
46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.
47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?
According to Jesus, it was BECAUSE God had sent Moses, and the people knew he was a prophet foreshadowing Messiah that wrath would come on those who did not believe Him. The very reliance on Moses was condemnation to those who prided themselves Moses’ disciples. Moses had specifically declared that the Prophet like himself was coming, that we must receive That Prophet and believe His sayings, and that God’s wrath would come on those (specifically those followers of Moses) who refused to hearken. It is the Law that Moses brought which both presented Christ, and presented judgment for refusing faith in Him.
But even if there was no testimony from man, Jesus came in very character, and personification of God, Himself, and therefore to refuse Jesus is to reject God. If any man knows God, he will recognise Him in Jesus Christ.
Just as we read the declaration of the Father from heaven on the mount of transfiguration; not only did Moses and the prophets testify of Christ – God commands that we hear His Son.
Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.
2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;
3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;
4 God also bearing witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? (Heb 2:1-4)