At church we have been working through the book of Exodus, with a focus on how God rescues His people from captivity. And as we get closer to Easter, we have rightly been connecting the Exodus with the finished work of Jesus Christ. The interconnectedness of the Exodus/Passover and the Last Supper/Good Friday are too numerous for this one blog post; suffice to say that the former foreshadows the latter.
But what about Moses?
Moses is one of the central figures in the Old Testament, and he is mentioned more in the New Testament than any other Old Testament character. So naturally there should be some connections between Moses and the central figure in the New Testament: Jesus. Here are three key areas in which Jesus is foreshadowed in the person of Moses:
Journey to Ministry
The road to adulthood was trying for both Jesus and Moses. Both survived a ruthless political leader bent on infanticide1. Later they find themselves in the wilderness for a time of testing or preparing—Jesus for 40 days, Moses for 40 years2. Eventually it is an encounter with God that launches their ministry3.
Method of Instruction
Both Jesus and Moses provided the people with instructions and teachings from God—and both do it on a mountain4. Both of their teachings are divided into 5 segments: the 5 major discourses in Matthew5 and the 5 books of Moses.
Type of Leader
During the Exodus, Moses serves Israel in the three traditional roles of leadership: prophet, priest, and king—all of which are perfected in Jesus Christ. Charles Scobie notes that Moses holds 3 additional roles, roles that are “unique and unrepeatable” in the Old Testament: “deliverer of God’s people from oppression, as covenant mediator, and above all as lawgiver.”6 When we get to the New Testament, we see Jesus reviving and fulfilling these roles too.
The Old Testament is rich with characters, images, and allusions that all point to Jesus. And while the Exodus is filled with images that find their fulfillment in the work of Jesus, let us not forget that Moses also foreshadows Jesus. As Tim Keller said, “Jesus is a true and better Moses;” likewise the author of Hebrews writes:
For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (Hebrews 3:3 ESV)