4.4 Moses As A Type Of Christ
By the time he uttered Deuteronomy, Moses would probably have been the
oldest person any of the congregation had ever known. Many of the earlier
generation had been cut down in the wilderness. He was nearly twice the
age of Joshua. He had dominated their lives from birth, had stuck with
them, with their fathers and even grandparents. Just as the Lord Jesus
is to be the central figure in the new Israel. Moses was also a representative
of his people, just as the Lord Jesus is in a sense ‘Israel’- the suffering
servant refers to both Israel and their Messiah. Moses was “adopted by
an imperial parent, punished for his rashness, sentenced to wander forty
years in the wilderness, forgiven, restored, hand-selected for an impossible
task, accompanied by the overwhelming presence of God at every step…”,
just as his beloved people. In the same way as Moses was the mediator
of the old covenant, so Christ was of the new. Christ was the prophet
like unto Moses (Dt. 18:18). Moses was the shepherd of the flock of Israel,
leading them on God's behalf through the wilderness towards the promised
land (Is. 63:12), as Christ leads us after baptism to the Kingdom. It
was only through Moses' leadership that they reached Canaan: " The
Lord said unto (Moses), Arise (cp. Christ's resurrection), take thy journey
before the people (as Christ, the good shepherd, goes before
the flock, Jn. 10:3), that they may go in and possess the land"
(Dt. 10;11). As Moses very intensely manifested God to the people, so
he foreshadowed the supreme manifestation of the Father in the Son. The
commands of Moses were those of God (Dt. 7:11; 11:13,18; and 12:32 concerning
Moses' words is quoted in Rev. 22:18,19 concerning God's words); his voice
was God's voice (Dt. 13;18; 15:5; 28:1), as with Christ. Israel were to
show their love of God by keeping Moses' commands (Dt. 11:13); as the
new Israel do in their response to the word of Christ. Indeed, the well
known prophecy that God would raise up a prophet " like unto"
Moses to whom Israel would listen (Dt. 18:18) is in the context
of Israel saying they did not want to hear God's voice directly. Therefore
God said that he would raise up Christ, who would be another Moses in
the sense that he too would speak forth God's word.
It is possible that Moses appreciated that he was a type of Christ
the future Messiah; he considered " the reproach of Christ"
enough to motivate him to reject the attractions of Egypt (Heb. 11:26);
he knew he was sharing the sufferings of the future, ultimate saviour,
and the wonder of that alone was enough to motivate him to leave the attractions
of this world- even the possibility of being the next Pharaoh, the most
powerful man on earth. The similarities between Jesus and Moses are too
many to sensibly tabulate. There is ample opportunity to enter deeply
into the attitude of Moses towards Israel, and it is this which perhaps
most valuably deepens our appreciation of the love of Christ for us, and
of our own liability to failure after the pattern of Israel.
The Rejection Of Moses
Stephen in Acts 7 stresses the way in which Moses was rejected by Israel
as a type of Christ. At age 40, Moses was " thrust away" by
one of the Hebrews; and on the wilderness journey the Jews " thrust
him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt"
(Acts 7:27,35,39). This suggests that there was far more antagonism between
Moses and Israel than we gather from the Old Testament record- after the
pattern of Israel's treatment of Jesus. It would seem from Acts 7:39 that
after the golden calf incident, the majority of Israel cold shouldered
Moses. Once the point sank in that they were not going to enter the land,
this feelings must have turned into bitter resentment. They were probably
unaware of how Moses had been willing to offer his eternal destiny for
their salvation; they would not have entered into the intensity of Moses'
prayers for their salvation. The record seems to place Moses and "
the people" in juxtaposition around 100 times (e.g. Ex. 15:24; 17:2,3;
32:1 NIV; Num. 16:41 NIV; 20:2,3; 21:5). They accused Moses of being a
cruel cult leader, bent on leading them out into the desert to kill them
and steal their wealth from them (Num. 16:13,14)- when in fact Moses was
delivering them from the house of bondage, and was willing to lay down
his own salvation for theirs. The way Moses submerged his own pain is
superb; both of their rejection of him and of God's rejection of him from
entering the Kingdom. The style of Moses' writing in Num. 20:12-14 reveals
this submerging of his own pain. He speaks of himself in the third person,
omitting any personal reflection on his own feelings: " The Lord
spake unto Moses...Because ye believed me not...ye shall not bring the
congregation into the land...and Moses sent messengers from Kadesh unto
the King of Edom..." . Likewise all the references to “the Lord spake
unto Moses” (Lev. 1:1). Moses submerged his own personality in writing
It is simply fantastic that Moses could love those people so intensely,
despite their aggression and indifference towards him. He was prepared
to give his place in the Kingdom so that they might enter; he prayed
God to accept his offer. He knew that atonement could only be by sacrifice
of blood (Lev. 17:11); and yet he climbed the Mount with the intent of
making atonement himself for Israel's sin (Ex. 32:30); he intended to
give his life for them. And he didn't make such a promise in hot blood,
as some men might. He made the statement, and then made the long climb
to the top of the mount. And during that climb, it seems he came to an
even higher spiritual level; he was prepared not only to offer his physical
life, but also his place in the Kingdom (Ex. 32:32 cp. Ez. 13:9; Dan.
12:2; Lk. 10:20; Phil. 4:3; Rev. 3:5; 20:12). Now although hopefully we
are not rejecting Christ as they did, the fact still stands that the love
of Moses for Israel typifies the love of Christ towards us. The degree,
the extent of Moses' love, is but a dim foretaste of the degree
of the love of Christ for us. Now in this is something wonderful, something
we really need to go away and meditate about. And the wonder of it all
is that Israel did not realize the extent of Moses love at the time. At
the end of his life he recounts how God has threatened to destroy the
people, and then “I turned and came down from the mount” (Dt. 9:15). He
doesn’t record his 40 days of pleading with the Father, and how he turned
down the offer of having himself made into a great nation. In this we
see tremendous spiritual culture, pointing forward to the Lord’s own self-perception
of His sacrifice.
The loneliness of Moses as a type of Christ in showing this kind of
love must surely represent that of our Lord. They went to a height which
was generally beyond the appreciation of the men among whom they lived.
The Spirit seems to highlight the loneliness of Moses by saying that at
the same time as Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's
daughter, Israel refused him (the same Greek word is used; Heb.
11:24; Acts 7:35). He was rejected by both the world and God's people:
for 40 long years. As Israel envied Moses for spiritual reasons (Ps. 106:16;
Acts 7:9), so they did Christ (Mt. 27:18), after the pattern of the brothers'
spiritual envy of Joseph (Gen. 37:11). Spiritual envy leading to persecution
is quite a common feature in Biblical history (Job, Jeremiah, Paul...).
And it isn't absent from the Christian experience either.
The tragedy is that Israel's rejection of Moses is typical of the rejection
of Christ by those in the new Israel who turn away. The same word used
about Israel refusing Moses as their deliverer (Acts 7:35) is
used about those who deny (same word) the Lord (Jesus) that bought
them (2 Pet. 2:1). This latter verse is prefaced by the information that
as there were those who lost their faith in the ecclesia in the wilderness,
so there will be among the new Israel (2 Pet. 2:1). Therefore " the
Lord that bought them" is an allusion back to Moses as a type of
Christ. The illogicality of Israel's rejection of Moses when he first
appeared to them is so apparent. They were slaves in Egypt, and then one
of the most senior of Pharaoh's officials reveals that he is their brother,
and has been sent by God to deliver them. Yet they preferred the life
of slavery in Egypt. This same illogicality is seen in us if we refuse
baptism, preferring to stay in the world of slavery, or later when we
chose the world as opposed to Christ. We deny, we refuse, we reject, the
Lord who bought us by going back to the world from which he redeemed us.
The illogicality of going back to the world is brought out by the illogicality
of Israel's rejection of Moses. Israel rejected Moses because it was easier
to stay where they were. Such is the strength of conservatism in human
nature; such is our innate weakness of will and resolve. They rejected
the idea of leaving Egypt because they thought it was better than it was,
they failed to face up to how much they were suffering (Num. 11:5). And
our apathy in responding to Christ's redemptive plan for us is rooted
in the same problem; we fail to appreciate the seriousness of sin, the
extent to which we are in slavery to sin- even though the evidence for
this is all around us.
" The same did God send..."
Stephen in Acts 7 brings out the sheer grace of God in redeeming Israel.
Although Israel rejected Moses as their ruler and deliverer, " the
same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer" (Acts 7:35).
They didn't want to be saved from Egypt through Moses, and yet God did
save them from Egypt through Moses. Israel at that time were exactly like
us; while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, we were redeemed in
prospect from a world we didn't want to leave. We were saved- and are
saved- almost in spite of ourselves. That we were predestined to such
great salvation is is one of redemption's finest mysteries.
And so God sent Moses to be their saviour, pointing forward to His sending
of the Lord Jesus to redeem us. Moses came to Israel and " shewed
(Greek 'optomai') himself" to them (Acts 7:26). Yet 'optomai'
really means to gaze at, to watch a spectacle. He came to his people,
and gazed at them as they fought among themselves, spiritually and emotionally
destroyed by the oppression of Egypt. He invited them to likewise gaze
upon him as their saviour. This surely prefigures our Lord's consideration
of our sinful state. As he grew up in Nazareth he would have thought on
this a lot. As Moses " looked on their burdens" at age 40 (Ex.
2:11), so at the start of his ministry, our Lord assessed the weight of
ours. His concern for our burdens in Mt. 11:30; 23:4 is perhaps a conscious
allusion back to Moses' awareness of Israel's burdens, and his desire
to deliver them, even though it cost him all that he had in this world.
Moses fought with the temptation to just observe from a distance,
but then he came out into the open, declaring that he was a Hebrew,
rejecting his kind Egyptian foster mother, openly declaring that
he was not really her son, as both she and he had claimed for 40
years. He would have borne the shame of all this, " the reproach
of Christ" (Heb. 11:26). But he was not ashamed to call Israel
his brethren, as Christ is not ashamed of us (Heb. 2:11- one of
many allusions to Moses in Hebrews). All this suggests that like
Moses, our Lord came to a point where he " came down"
from obscurity to begin his work of deliverance. The references
to 'coming down' in John's Gospel allude to this (1)
. " When Moses was grown, he went out unto his brethren,
and looked on their burdens...when he was full forty years old
it came into his heart to visit his brethren...by faith Moses, when
he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's
daughter" (Ex. 2:11; Acts 7:23; Heb. 11:24). The implication
seems to be that Moses reached a certain point of maturity, of readiness,
and then he went to his brethren. God looked on the sorrows of His
people through the sensitivity of Moses, He saw and knew
their struggles, their sense of being trapped, their desire to revive
spiritually but their being tied down by the painful business of
life and living; and He sent Moses to deliver them from this. But
these very words are quoted about our deliverance through the 'coming
down' of the Lord Jesus (Ex. 3:7; 4:31 = Lk. 1:68).
And so Moses as a type of Christ came to his brethren, and saw one of
them being beaten by an Egyptian. Moses " looked this way and that
way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian"
(Ex. 2:11,12). This little incident is typical of how Christ was to destroy
the devil, the power of sin, on the cross. The common translation of this
passage can give them impression that Moses was very nervous. Yet it does
not say that when he saw no man was looking he slew the Egyptian.
There was at least one man looking- the suffering Israelite. And there
must have been others looking for news to get round that Moses had killed
the Egyptian. So I would suggest that Moses saw the Israelite suffering,
and looked round in wonder to see if any other Israelite was going to
go to his rescue. Because he saw there was no man, he himself got involved.
This is an eloquent essay in the humility of Moses and the Lord he typified.
This is exactly the same picture which we find in Is. 59:16 concerning
Christ's decision to achieve our redemption: " He saw that there
was no man (quoting the words of Ex. 2:11), and wondered that there was
no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation" (God saved Israel
from Egypt by the arm of Moses, manifesting His arm: Ex. 6:6;
15:16; Dt. 4:34; Is. 63:12). Is. 63:4-6 also contain allusions to Moses
and the exodus (the rest of the chapter speaks explicitly about this):
" The day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year (time) of my
redeemed (the one I will redeem) is come. And I looked, and there was
none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore
mine own arm brought salvation" . The implication of these passages
is that he was surprised, he " wondered" , that there was no
one else to save Israel. He looked round for someone else to do it, but
he found none- exactly after the pattern of Moses. This is not only an
eloquent essay in our Lord's humanity, and the monstrosity of the 'trinity';
it indicates the true humility which he manifested in his work of redemption.
Yet Israel rejected Moses as their deliverer, they failed to see in that
dead Egyptian the ability of Moses to save them completely from the life
of slavery. And so Moses fled away from them, he came to Gentile, pagan
Midian, and rescued a Gentile woman from the persecution of men, married
her, and started a new life in the wilderness- to return many years later
in the power of the Holy Spirit and redeem Israel when they were
in truly desperate straits. All this naturally points ahead to the work
of Jesus after Israel failed to respond to his work on the cross. The
word used to describe Moses rescuing his future wife from the shepherds
is the same used concerning God rescuing Israel from Egypt (Ex. 2:19;
18:10). Thus Moses was manifesting the redemptive work of God when he
saved his wife. In full view of Israel (as Moses killed the Egyptian,
according to our reconstruction above), Christ openly shewed his ability
to destroy the power of sin, on account of which we lived in fear of death,
" all (our) lifetime subject to bondage" (Heb. 2:15)- clear
reference back to Israel in Egypt. The passage in Hebrews 2 says
that Christ can deliver us from such bondage because he is our representative,
our brother, of our nature, not ashamed of his connection with us (2:11).
Reasoning back from this, we can see that Moses' ability to redeem Israel
from Egypt, his appropriacy for the task, was because he had openly declared
that he was one of them. Yet the wonder of that was lost on them. And
if we are not careful, the wonder of the fact that Christ had our nature,
that he was our representative and is therefore mighty to save,
can be lost on us too. The thrill of these first principles should ever
remain with us.
Moses As Mediator
Israel were certainly representative of us. The degree of love
shown by Moses to Israel is only a shadow of the degree, the kind of love
shown by Christ to us, who hopefully are not rejecting him as Israel did.
The power of this point just has to be reflected upon. That Moses could
love Israel, to the extent of being willing to give his life and salvation
for them, is a fine, fine type of the devotion of Christ. There is another
oft emphasised aspect of Moses' love for Israel: the power of his mediation
for them. We are told that God " hearkened" to Moses' prayers
for them (Dt. 9:19; 10:10). He prayed for them with an intensity they
didn't appreciate, he prayed for and gained their forgiveness
before they had even repented, he pleaded successfully for God
to relent from His plans to punish them, even before they knew that God
had conceived such plans (Ex. 32:10,14; 33:17 etc.). The fact
we will, at the end, be forgiven of some sins without specifically repenting
of them (as David was in Ps. 19:12) ought to instil a true humility in
us. This kind of thing is in some ways a contradiction of God's principles
that personal repentance is required for forgiveness, and that our own
effort is required if we are to find acceptability with Him. Of course
ultimately these things are still true, and were true with respect to
Israel. But the fact is that God was willing to hearken to Moses as he
prayed so, so earnestly, He was willing to change His expressed purpose
in respect to destroying Israel (perhaps Ps. 90 is the transcript of this
prayer- v.3 in Hebrew asks God not to destroy the children of men, and
to repent concerning His servants in vv. 13-17. In Dt. 16:15 Moses sounds
as if Ps. 90:17 has been answered). It should also be noted that Moses
as a type of Christ was not the High Priest. He mediated for Israel on
a voluntary basis; not because he was under any duty to offer up their
prayers. Indeed, they didn't make any prayers for him to offer up. He
pleaded with God for them on his own initiative, rather than being asked
by them to do so. And this is the basis of Christ's mediation for us;
he pleads for us even when we know not what to pray for, even when we
don't realize the need to beseech the Father. Moses' mediation, not so
much Aaron's offerings, are the prototype which the New Testament uses
to explain the Lord's present work. In the Apocryphal Assumption of Moses
(1:14), Moses is made to say of God: " He designed and devised me
and he prepared me before the foundation of the world, that I should be
the mediator" . These words are alluded to in a number of NT passages.
Clearly we are intended to see Moses' mediation as typical of the Lord's.
His freewill mediation was the basis of Israel's salvation: " By
a prophet (Moses: Dt. 18:18), the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, and
by a prophet was he preserved" (Hos. 12:13). This last clause may
be a hint that Moses prayed for the gift of life-preserving manna, and
thus sustained Israel, all unbeknown to them. Likewise the intensity of
his prayers and the supremacy of his willingness to sacrifice himself
for them was tragically unknown to them at the time. It's almost sad that
these things have to be typical of the Lord's preservation and redemption
of us his thick-skinned and unknowing people.
When we sin, the sentence of death is passed again and again upon us.
Tragically, we sense that our forgiveness through Christ is almost
effortlessly achieved by Him, benignly rubber stamped by a God who
is eager to overlook sin. This is not the case. The intensity of
Moses' pleadings for Israel, the grievousness of their sins, points
forward to the work of the Lord Jesus for us on our wilderness journey
to the Kingdom. Rom. 8::26,27 allows us to enter a little into our
Lord's heavenly agony for us: " the Spirit itself maketh intercession
for us (the language of Moses interceding for Israel) with groanings
which cannot be uttered" . And even more wondrously, we are
probably unaware of all Christ's prayers for us, as Israel were
far from completely aware of the passionate dialogues between Moses
and God on their behalf. They just got on with their lives at the
foot of the mountain, occasionally jerked into a repentant frame
of mind, assuming Moses would sort it all out up there in the mountain,
full of their petty murmurings and wistful thoughts of Egypt. What
tragic similarity with much of our lives. Can't we learn from them?
Surely we must.
Moses As An Agent Of Grace
Moses, like the Lord, was an agent of grace. Israel
no longer knew the Name of the God of their fathers- and the same
passage in Exodus states that Pharaoh likewise didn’t know
the Name of Yahweh. Ezekiel 20 makes it clear that the Israelites
worshipped the gods of Egypt and even took them with them through
the Red Sea. Therefore God’s saving of His people out of Egypt
was an act of pure grace. It wasn’t because they were righteous,
they had forgotten Him. And likewise, our calling out of the world,
our exodus from it through baptism, is a result of the calling /
election of grace.
The Farewell Discourse
The lives of both
Moses and the Lord ended with a farewell discourse and prayer. Not
only do the words of the Lord consciously allude to Moses’ words
in Deuteronomy, but John’s comments do likewise. John’s comment
that “Jesus knowing that his hour was come that he should depart
out of this world…” (Jn. 13:1) is without any doubt referring to
the well known [at the time he was writing] Jerusalem Targum on
Dt. 32: “And when the last end of Moses the prophet was at hand,
that he should be gathered from the world…”. Consider the
following obvious allusions of the Lord Jesus to Moses’ final words:
“If ye love me ye will keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15,21,23;
15:10) reflects a major identical theme in Dt. 5:10; 7:9; 11:1,22;
13:3,4; 19:9; 30;16.
“Let not your heart be troubled… neither let it be afraid”
(Jn. 14:1,27) repeats Moses’ final encouragement to Israel “fear
not, neither be dismayed” (Dt. 31:8; 1:21,29; 7:18).
“I go to prepare a place for you” = the idea of Moses and
the Angel bringing Israel “into the place which I have prepared”
“Ye did not choose me, but I chose you… out of the world”
(Jn. 15:16,19) corresponds to the oft repeated theme of Moses that
God has chosen Israel “out of all peoples” (Dt. 7:6 RVmg.), by grace
(Dt. 4:37; 10:15; 14:2).
The Lord’s common Upper Room theme of ‘abiding’ in Him uses
the same word as Moses used when exhorting his people to ‘cleave
unto’ God (Dt. 10:20; 11:22). This abiding involved loving God and
keeping His commandments- all ideas which occur together in Dt.
The Lord told the Father that He had given the disciples
His words, “and they have received them” (Jn. 17:8). This is evident
allusion to the editorial comment in Dt. 33:3 about how all Israel
received God’s words through Moses. Likewise “I manifested thy name…
they have kept thy word” (Jn. 17:6,26) = “I will proclaim the name
of the Lord… they have observed thy word” (Dt. 32:3; 33:9). One
marvels at the way the Lord’s mind linked together so much Scripture
in the artless, seamless way in which He did.
“Holy Father… righteous Father” (Jn. 17:11,25) was a form
of address which the Lord had in a sense lifted from Moses when
he addresses God as “righteous and holy” (Dt. 32:4 LXX).
There are many other references
in the Upper Room discourse to Moses- without doubt, Moses was very
much in the Lord’s mind as He faced His end. Consider at your leisure
how Jn. 14:1 = Ex. 14:31; Jn. 14:11 = Ex. 14:8. When the Lord speaks
in the Upper Room of manifesting the Father and Himself unto the
disciples (Jn. 14:21,22), he is alluding to the way that Moses asked
God to “manifest thyself unto me” (Ex. 33:18 LXX). The Lord’s allusion
makes Himself out to be God’s representatives, and all those who
believe in Him to be as Moses, receiving the vision of God’s glory.
Note that it was that very experience above all others which marks
off Moses in Rabbinic writings as supreme and beyond all human equal.
And yet the Lord is teaching that that very experience of Moses
is to be shared to an even higher degree by all His followers.
It would’ve taken real faith and spiritual ambition for those immature
men who listened to the Lord that evening to really believe it…
And the same difficult call comes to us too.
Moses: Representative And Saviour
It is a fundamental, if neglected, doctrine that Christ was our representative.
This really ought to be a source of comfort to us, as we sense the
involvement of the Son of God in our lives, one who can truly empathise
(rather than just sympathise) with our spiritual struggle. This
is so clearly taught by the typology of Moses as a type of Christ.
Although he spoke to God as a friend, with an open-faced relationship,
he still took upon himself the sin of Israel, he felt as condemned
as they felt (Ex. 34:9 cp. 33:11); when he pleaded for God's sentence
on him to be lifted , he pleaded for the same sentence on Israel
to be lifted too ( Ps. 90:8). When Yahweh met Moses, it was as if
He met with Israel (Ex. 3:18). God promised to go with Moses, but
Moses re-quotes this as God going with “us” (Ex. 33:14-16). This
is how inextricably linked were Moses and his people, even in their
condemnation. And so it is, thankfully, with us and the Lord.
Moses manifested / represented both God and Israel, superbly prefiguring
the nature of the Lord's work and mission far later. As God "saw"
the oppression of Israel (Ex. 2:25; 3:7,9; 4:31; 5:19), so did Moses
(Ex.2:11). He looked on God's people with the eyes / perspective
of God- just as we should. Moses 'struck' the Egyptian who was persecuting
the Hebrew just as God would strike Egypt (Ex. 2:11 cp. Ex. 12:12,13,29
etc.). And Moses helps and delivers (Ex. 2:17,19) the daughters
of Jethro, just as God would help and deliver Israel (Ex. 12:27;
14:13,30; 15:2). Note that at that time when Moses first met Jethro's
daughters at the well, Moses was in depression. His plans and vision
rejected by his own people, fallen from riches to rags, homeless
and alone... and yet in that low moment he was chosen to be a manifestation
of God! And this is the wonder of how God rejoices to work with
the broken. However, Moses' desire to save others, his concern for
the oppressed and helpless, shines through- he seeks to save the
slave beaten by his Egyptian master; the neighbour wronged by his
Hebrew brother; the unknown women deprived at the well by male nomads
(Ex. 2:11,13,17). In all this Moses was manifesting the concern
and saving help of God. And when we do likewise, we show God's face
to this world.
In line with this, we find Moses as a type of Christ also presented as
representative of Israel, and therefore able to completely sympathise
with them in their physical afflictions and spiritual weaknesses. Thus
the Spirit says (in the context of presenting Moses as a type of Christ)
that Moses was " in (not " with" ) the ecclesia
in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38), stressing the way in which he was
in their midst rather than distanced from them. The commands which
constituted the covenant were given to Moses personally (Neh. 1:7,8),
insofar as he represented Israel. Thus there is a parallel drawn
in Ps. 103:7: He made known His ways unto Moses, His acts unto the children
of Israel" . " After the tenor of these words have I made a
covenant with thee and with Israel" (Ex. 34:27). In the context of
describing Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, they are said to have been
delivered from “the basket” (Ps. 81:6 RV)- clearly associating them with
Moses’ deliverance. Is. 63:11 (Heb.) is even more explicit: " He
remembered...Moses his people" . Moses seems to have appreciated
fully his representative role on that last glorious day of life when he
addressed Israel: " The Lord said unto me...I will deliver
[Og} into thy hand...so the Lord our God delivered into our
hands Og" (Dt. 3:2,3). David recognized this unity between Moses
and Israel; David describes both Israel and Moses as God's chosen (Ps.
16:5,23). Moses is described as encamping in the wilderness, when the
reference clearly is to all Israel (Ex. 18:5). Moses recalled how “the
Lord said unto me, Behold, I have delivered up Sihon and his land before
thee [you singular- i.e. Moses]; begin to possess it, that thou [you singular
again!] mayest inherit his land”. Yet Moses then comments that therefore
God “delivered” Sihon “before us” (Dt. 31,33 RV). The land and
victory that Moses personally could have had- for it was God’s wish to
destroy Israel and make of him a new nation- he shared with Israel. Ex.
7:16 brings out the unity between them by a play on words: “The LORD God
of the Hebrews hath sent me [lit. ‘let me go’] unto thee, saying,
Let my people go”. “Let go” translates the same Hebrew
word as “sent me”. Just as Moses had been let go by Yahweh, so Israel
were to be. Likewise, both the Lord Jesus and Israel are called "
the elect" (Is. 42:1; 45:4); both are fulfilments of the servant
songs in Isaiah. The days will be shortened for the elect's sake (Mk.
13:20); for the sake of Christ's intercession, as well as ours.
Israel are called " the body of Moses" in the same way
as the church is the body of Christ (Jude 9; 1 Cor. 10:2). His very
name, 'Moses', can mean both one who draws out, and also one who
is drawn out (2). As Moses was drawn
out of the Nile and saved, so he later drew Israel out of Egypt.
He could exactly enter into their feelings when they emerged from
the Red Sea, as Christ exactly knows ours after baptism- better
than we appreciate ourselves. Moses was saved by being surrounded
by water in an " ark" (Ex. 2:3)- the only other time this
word is used is concerning Noah's ark, which is a type of our salvation
through baptism. God even worked through Moses' weakness to make
him even more representative of his people; as he drew back from
the theophany of the burning bush through a bad conscience, so did
Israel at the foot of Sinai; as they were excluded from the land
for inattention to Yahweh's word, so was Moses. He was touched with
the very feeling of their sinfulness. In a marvellous way, the Lord
Jesus achieved the same, yet without sin; he really felt like a
sinner in his death. As the firstborn, Moses should have been slain
on Passover night (Ex. 13:15); but he made the Passover sacrifice
for his own redemption, although Heb. 11:28 says that he did it
for the sake of Israel's redemption. Likewise the Lord's almost
incomprehensible victory over human nature was not motivated by
a selfish desire for his redemption; he did it for himself, that
it might be for us. And this is what strengthened him. And on a
far lower level, our own salvation is surely worked out through
the sacrifices we make for the sake of others' spirituality. The
fact that Christ, as Moses, has gone along the same path to salvation
really should be a comfort to us, it should lessen the distance
which we feel between us and our Lord. Thus a study of typology
and of the atonement is not barren; it really will bring us closer
to the Lord Jesus if we do it in the right spirit.
Moses' persecution by Pharaoh enabled him to enter into the feelings
of Israel in the slave camps; and as they fled from Pharaoh towards
the Red Sea, Moses would have recalled his own flight from Pharaoh
to Midian. The whole epistle to the Hebrews is shot through with
allusions to Moses. " In all things it behoved him to be made
like unto his brethren" (Heb. 2:17) is alluding to Dt. 18:18:
" I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren
like unto thee (Moses)" . The brethren of Christ are
here paralleled with Moses; as if Moses really is representative
of not only natural Israel, but spiritual too- as well as Moses
being a type of Christ. For this reason he is such a clear pattern
for us, and we are invited so often to identify ourselves with him
by copying his example (3). Moses was
made like his brethren through his similar experiences,
as Christ was progressively made like us by his life of
It can be shown that much of Moses life, especially his Midian
years, were lived in a spirit of semi-spirituality, aware of his
responsibility to God, but being slack to rise up to what it really
meant, being content, year after year, to live the life of a spiritual
minimalist, ever making excuses for himself (4).
Yet somehow God overruled this, as He did the fact that Moses sinned
and was excluded from entering the land. The result was that Moses
was able to enter exactly into the feelings of rejected, spiritually
apathetic Israel in their 40 years wilderness wanderings. For 40
years he too had wandered in the same desert as a shepherd, with
the same apathy. This points forward to how the Lord Jesus can enter
into the feelings of active sinners, whilst himself being sinless.
This phenomenon is discussed more fully elsewhere (5).
So there is no doubt that Moses as a type of Christ was also representative
of Israel to a very high degree. And yet we have also seen (6)
that in no other Old Testament character was God so intensely manifest
as in Moses. So the concepts of being God manifest and also being
representative of a sinful Israel come together in Moses in a wonderful
way. Ex. 3:18 is an example of this. The elders of Israel were to
tell Pharaoh that " the Lord God of the Hebrews hath met with
us" . Yet Yahweh God of Israel had only met with Moses. Yet
because he was representative of Israel and also because he himself
manifested Yahweh God of Israel, the elders had met Yahweh when
they met Moses. In this we see a superb prefigurement of the Lord
Jesus. He was the supreme, faultless manifestation of God, and yet
also the total, empathetic representative of sinful man.
Moses himself realised the extent to which God saw him as representative
of Israel; thus he told Israel: " The Lord talked with you face to
face in the mount out of the midst of the fire, I stood between the Lord
and you at that time, to shew you the word of the Lord" (Dt. 5:4,5).
This is similar to Christ saying that because he had spoken God's words
to us, we have seen God (Jn. 14:8). It was Moses who saw God face to face
(Ex. 33:11), yet he knew he was so representative of Israel that in reality
they had seen God face to face. All the honours and glory given
to Moses were thereby given to Israel if they identified themselves
with him. And ditto for us and the Lord Jesus.
(1) See The 'Coming Down' Of Christ.
(2) See Trevor Dennis, Sarah
Laughed p.102 (London: S.P.C.K., 1994).
(3) See Moses And Us.
(4) See Moses In Weakness.
(5) See " My God, Why
hast thou forsaken me?" .
(6) See God Manifestation