In the New Testament we read that Jesus was the promised Messiah and that he fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies. Even the Torah, the Pentateuch, speaks about Jesus. In John 5:46 Jesus said, “Moses wrote about me”. One of the ways, Moses spoke of him was by being a type of Christ.
Again and again, Moses wrote about the Messiah – the coming Saviour, Ruler and Prophet. In fact, the Messiah is the overall theme that runs through all the books of the Torah. But Moses himself is a type of Christ and there a countless parallels between Moses and Jesus.
What does Moses say about Jesus?
Sometimes Moses speaks of the Messiah directly, as in Genesis 3:15 when God promises that the seed of the woman will crush the serpent’s head. Or in Genesis 49:10-11, when Jacob blesses his son Judah:
“The sceptre will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will honour. He ties his foal to a grapevine, the colt of his donkey to a choice vine. He washes his clothes in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes.” (NLT)
In Deuteronomy 18:15-19 God promises that a prophet like Moses will arise from among “your brethren”, which is the Jewish people. God will put his words into that prophet’s mouth and will hold anyone who does not listen to him accountable (compare to Acts 3:22).
The Torah speaks of Jesus through images, such as the unleavened bread which points to the Messiah’s sinless nature. The Passover lamb points to Jesus, the sacrificial systems of the Sinai Covenant and the two goats killed on Atonement Day – all these are a shadow of the Messiah.
Hidden references also point to the Messiah, such as in Genesis 1:3 “Let there be light”. Many ancient Jewish scholars believed this light is the Messiah who was present at Creation. (Compare to what John 1 says about the “light of the world”)
Finally, the Biblical feasts, as well as their annual order, point to God’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ.
What is a type of Christ?
One of the most striking ways the Old Testament speaks of the Messiah is through what is called “types of Christ”. A type of Christ is a person in the Old Testament that parallels Jesus or Jesus’ ministry.
Joseph (the dreamer) is such a type of Christ. He was rejected by his brothers, thrown into a pit and sold to the Gentiles. He was slandered and unjustly punished before he was promoted second to Pharaoh. Many years later, Joseph saved his brothers and was reconciled to them.
The prophet Jeremiah as well as the nation of Israel is a type of Christ. And Moses is a type of Christ. He delivered Israel out of bondage and was the mediator of a Covenant with God, the covenant at Mt Sinai.
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Parallels between Moses and Jesus
To better understand how Moses is a type of Christ, let’s look at some of the many parallels between Moses and Jesus.
|Was born under Egyptian rule||Jesus was born under Roman rule|
|Moses was born at an appointed time (Genesis 15:16)||Jesus was born at an appointed time (Galatians 4:4)|
|Escaped infanticide in Egypt (Exodus 2:1-10)||Escaped infanticide of Bethlehem|
|Left his Royal palace and identified with his brothers who were slaves to the Egyptians (Exodus 2:11)||Left his Heavenly glory and became man to live with his brothers who were slaves to sin|
|Was rejected by his brothers (Exodus 2:14)||Was rejected by Israel|
|Before his ministry, Moses spent 40 years in the wilderness||Before his ministry, Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness|
|Announced the imminent deliverance (Exodus 4:31)||Announced the imminent Kingdom of God|
|Moses had a stammer (Exodus 4:10)||Jesus had no beauty to behold|
|Did signs and miracles||Did signs and miracles|
|Moses brought deliverance using a wooden staff||Jesus purchased our freedom on a wooden cross|
|Brought judgement on Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt (Exodus 7-12)||Jesus defeated Satan and made a spectacle of the powers of darkness (Colossians 2:15)|
|Moses initiated the Passover (Exodus 12)||Jesus was the Passover|
|Led Israel through the Red Sea where their past was buried (Exodus 14)||At our own water baptism, our past is buried with Christ (Romans 6:3-4).|
|Moses built God’s Tabernacle (Exodus 35-40)||Jesus wants to make our hearts his Tabernacle|
|Moses spoke face to face with God (Exodus 33:11)||Sits at the right hand of the Father (Romans 8:34)|
|Inaugurated the sacrificial system for atonement of sin (Leviticus 4-5)||Jesus became the perfect sacrifice|
|Interceded on behalf of Israel (Exodus 32:11-14)||Intercedes on behalf of Israel and the whole world|
|Moses never abandoned or gave up on Israel||Jesus will never abandon or give up on us (nor on Israel!)|
|Wrote down God’s law for Israel||Writes his law into our hearts|
|Moses gave Israel the Law (Exodus 19-20)||Jesus fulfilled the Law|
|Moses gave Israel the Feasts to keep annually (Leviticus 23)||Jesus fulfilled some of the Biblical feasts and will fulfil the remaining ones.|
|Moses was the most humble man on earth||Jesus was meek and humble at heart|
Moses: A type of Christ
Moses left his palace
One of the many parallels between Moses and Jesus is their origin. Although he as an Israelite of the tribe of Levi and his parents were slaves of the Egyptians, Moses never was a slave himself. He grew up in Pharaoh’s palace until one day, when he left the luxury and splendour of Egypt and joined his brothers and sisters.
Although Moses was amongst his brothers, he remained a free man, a prince of Egypt.
Christ left his Heavenly glory
Jesus left his Heavenly glory and was born of a woman. Although Jesus’ mother Mary was a sinner and in slavery to sin (Romans 3:23; Romans 6:16), Jesus was without sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15). Jesus was the first man since Adam, who was not a slave to sin (and unlike Adam, he remained free from sin).
Jesus left the Heavenly palace, taking on human form to join his human brothers and sisters who were slaves to sin (without becoming a slave to sin himself).
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Moses: Israel’s promised deliverer
The Israelites, Abraham’s descendants, had become Pharaoh’s subjects. Pharaoh forced them to build his kingdom. Egypt was the greatest and most powerful kingdom of its time and it was dominated by occult practices and beliefs.
After several generations in slavery, none of the Israelites knew what it was like not to be a slave. They were unable to free themselves, and unless God would intervene and send a deliverer, the Israelites would forever be without escape.
In Genesis 15:16 God foretold Abraham of Israel’s slavery in a foreign land. He promised, that when the sin of the Amorites would reach its measure, God would bring them back to the Promised Land.
That’s the time when Moses was born, at the appointed time.
Christ: Israel’s promised Messiah
All of us, as children of Adam, were born into slavery to sin (Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 5:21-22). Satan, the prince of this age, had us firmly in his grip. We were part of his dominion, engaging in works of darkness.
Ever since the Fall of man, was mankind enslaved to sin, i.e. prone to sin. None of us knows what it is like, not to be enslaved to sin. By our own strength, we never had any hope of escape (Romans 7:24).
At the appointed time, God sent his Son (Galatians 4:4).
Moses: A wooden staff, baptism in the Red Sea
Moses is a type of Christ in how unusual and unconventional he was when he delivered Israel: Moses had a stammer and shunned public speech. He didn’t invade Egypt with an army, instead he came equipped with a wooden staff and the authority God had invested in him (Exodus 3:10).
As Pharaoh’s resistance finally broke, Moses led the slaves out of Egypt. But their deliverance was not yet sealed until they crossed the Red Sea. As they reached the other shore, Egypt, their past, was buried in the water and Israel was free at last.
Christ: A wooden cross, baptism into his death
Jesus, just like Moses, was an unusual hero and an unconventional deliverer. In Isaiah 53 we read he was despised and had no beauty to behold. Unlike many had hoped, Jesus did not start an uprising against the Roman rule over Judaea.
Instead Jesus came as a shepherd, leading us out of bondage to sin. Jesus didn’t use military power but he delivered us by dying on a wooden cross.
Just as the Red Sea buried the Egyptian slave masters, our sinful past is buried in the water as we are baptised into Christ’s death. Our past sinful nature is no more and we go free.
“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” (Colossians 1:13, NKJV)
Moses: Judgement on the gods of Egypt
Moses was God’s instrument to bring severe judgement on Egypt. As Pharaoh’s heart hardened and he refused to let the Israelites go, the God of Israel put His sovereignty over Egypt’s idols on display.
Each of Ten Plagues was an attack against an Egyptian idol. The Nile-god turned into blood, the sun-god disappeared for three days and Egypt plunged into darkness. Eventually Pharaoh’s first-born son, the heir who one day would be worshipped as a god, died.
God’s judgement went further than Pharaoh and the idols of Egypt. The entire nation was affected by the ten plagues. Just a few generations before, an Israelite – Joseph – had brought great blessing to Egypt. But they Egyptians forgot about him and began to abuse his people.
For the final plague, the death of the first-born, the Egyptians could find protection under the blood of the Passover lamb. When judgement came, it was because they had rejected Moses and God’s means of salvation – and because of how they had treated God’s people, Israel.
Christ: Judgement Day
When God exposed Egypt’s deities, everyone could see they were no match for him. Satan is no match for God either. We must never forget that Satan is not God’s equal and he is not his rival.
At the cross, Jesus won the victory over sin and Satan: “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.“ (Colossians 2:15, NKJV)
As he did 3,500 years ago in Egypt, the God of Israel will again show, that he is sovereign over all – on Judgement Day. The God of Israel is sovereign over all kingdoms, all powers, all idols and all forces of darkness.
God will one day judge the world: because of its hardened heart towards God and towards his Messiah, Jesus (Romans 1). He will also judge the nations according to how they treated the Israel (Joel 3:2).
The Jewish people has been a tremendous blessing to the entire world: through giving us the Bible and the gospel of Jesus Christ they were God’s instrument to give us salvation. Nevertheless, throughout history the world, even the Church, has treated Israel and the Jewish people with a hardened heart. As it was 3,500 years ago in Egypt, still today Israel is God’s measuring line.
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