Thanks for joining our very brief study of Moses.
He was a servant of the Lord who led the ancient Israelites – God’s chosen people – out of Egyptian bondage to the edge of the Promised Land. Moses had several personal encounters with God but was never allowed to see His face. Nonetheless, God orchestrated numerous miraculous events through Moses’ leadership, including giving him The Law known as The Ten Commandments. Moses is also credited with writing the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). Hence, one could say that Moses is the Old Testament’s leading figure, with David in second place.
Given that I was born and raised Jewish but accepted Christ as the Jewish Messiah in 1975 – theological misinformation makes me cringe. For example, occasionally, fellow Jews equate Moses to Jesus, saying, “Jews have Moses and Christians have Jesus” – a preposterous statement proved false by the Hebrew Bible. So let’s begin with what the very human Moses did to offend God as recorded in Numbers.
According to Bible Hub’s timeline, when the Israelites arrived in the “Desert of Zin” around 1407 B.C., they had been wandering for 39 years. With no water to drink, the people “quarreled with” and “gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron” [his brother], asking, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place?”
Responding, Moses and Aaron went before God where “they fell facedown and the glory of the Lord appeared to them.” Then:
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.’ So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him.”
Moses and Aaron gathered the people at the rock, and Moses said,“‘Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?’” Raising his arm, Moses “struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.”
Moses pleased his people, but he disobeyed God’s specific instructions, “speak to that rock,” when instead, Moses “struck the rock.” The big difference is God conveyed to Moses that His Word alone was sufficient with no need for physical activity. And, initially, when Moses asked, “‘Listen you rebels, must we bring you water out of the rock?’” – he failed to show deference to the Lord. Thus, God was angry when He said:
“‘Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them’” (Numbers 20:1-13). Our lesson: If the Lord gives you specific instructions, follow them word for word.
The Bible Hub’s timeline says Moses died a year later in 1406 B.C. – his death recorded in Deuteronomy. Shortly before, God showed Moses the Promised Land from the top of Mt. Nebo above Moab and said:
“‘This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it. ’ And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is.” (Deuteronomy 34).
Why God “buried” Moses in an unknown spot remains a mystery. Yet the following passage is revealing: “Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.” (Deuteronomy 34:7).
Although Moses was still strong and could see, his life’s mission was complete from God’s perspective. The Israelites had reached the Promised Land, and Moses had anointed Joshua as their new leader.
Deuteronomy ends with what reads like Moses’ eulogy:
“Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, who did all those signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt — to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.” (Deuteronomy 34: 9-12).
But still, Moses was a man who sinned against God’s instructions and was punished.
In the New Testament, Moses is repeatedly quoted, referenced, and makes a personal appearance at the Transfiguration of Jesus – a miraculous, transformative event recorded in all four gospels. (See Vol. 26 for more details.)
The Transfiguration was when Jesus’s divinity was revealed with radiant glory. There were three witnesses – the Disciples Peter, John, and James:
“As he [Jesus] was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:28-36).
Why did Moses and Elijah appear at the Transfiguration? To discuss “His departure” – meaning, death and resurrection – delivering His believers from the bondage of sin to everlasting life while fulfilling the works of Moses and Elijah written in the Hebrew Bible.
Furthermore, Moses finally got to see the face of God when the face of Jesus “shone like the sun.” (Moses had previously experienced God’s “shine” but not His face.)
Here is the kicker: A verse first recorded in Deuteronomy and spoken by Moses: “‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him’” (Deuteronomy 18:15).
At the Transfiguration, God confirms Jesus is fulfilling the prophecy: “A voice came from the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him’” (Luke 9:35).
Listening to how Jesus connects the Old and New Testament, it is impossible not to “hear” the truth about who He is.
As for Moses, although denied entry into the Promised Land, the Transfiguration proves he earned a prominent place in heaven but absolutely not the “Jewish equivalent” of Jesus, for He is the Name above all Names. Amen!
Myra Kahn Adams is a media producer and conservative political and religious writer with numerous national credits. Her new book, “Bible Study For Those Who Don’t Read The Bible,” reprints the first 56 volumes of this popular study. Myra is also Executive Director of SignFromGod.org, a ministry dedicated to Shroud of Turin education. Contact: MyraAdams01@gmail.com
Cross-posted at TownHall and Substack.