I am the vine, you are the branches. In me you will bear much fruit, but you can do nothing apart from me. John 15:5

Did Moses Know Jesus?

From Paul Blackham:http://www.theologian.org.uk/bible/blackham.html

Did Moses know Christ? Of course he did. This is clear when we examine Exodus 3:1-6.

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush… [verse 4] When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then He said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

The Angel of the LORD appeared to Moses – a Person who is also called Yahweh. This title is first used of the One who appeared to Hagar in Genesis 16. When she met the Angel of the LORD she said [Genesis 16:13], “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Moses reacts to the Angel of the LORD in much the same way – as does everybody who meets with Him in the OT. See Judges 13 for an excellent example.

The word angel simply means ‘sent one’ – thus one of the most common titles of Christ in the Old Testament is simply The One sent from the LORD. Once we recognize this it makes sense that Jesus in the gospels prefers to define Himself in just that way. He calls Himself The One sent from the Father, The One sent to do the Father’s will.  That is not a random way of expressing himself; it is set against the OT. [Note from Bryan: this is exactly how Jesus describes himself in John 5:38, a few verses earlier, “But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe.”]

If I can be permitted one more quotation from John Owen, he says about the Son of God in Exodus 3:1-6:

He is expressly called an “Angel” Exod. 3:2 – namely, the Angel of the covenant, the great Angel of the presence of God, in whom was the name and nature of God. And He thus appeared that the Church might know and consider who it was that was to work out their spiritual and eternal salvation, whereof that deliverance which then He would effect was a type and pledge.  Aben Ezra would have the Angel mentioned verse 2, to be another from him who is called “God,” v 6: but the text will not give countenance to any such distinction, but speaks of one and the same person throughout without any alteration; and this was no other but the Son of God.

We see the Angel of the LORD lead Israel across the Red Sea in Exodus 13 & 14. And just a footnote about the Angel of the Lord.  Judges 2:1 is a striking verse about who is the Redeemer and deliverer of Israel.  “The angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.’ Yet you have disobeyed me” and in chapter 24:9-11 the seventy elders of Israel actually see the God of Israel. In chapter 33 we see that Moses and Joshua see the LORD face to face in the Tent of Meeting. In Numbers 12:8 tells us that Moses saw the form of the LORD.

How are we to explain all this away? And why would we want to, when the NT makes much of it?

1 Corinthians 10:1-4 speaks of the presence of Christ with Israel during the Exodus – verse 4: “They drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.”

What about Hebrews 11:26? It answers the question, “Did Moses know Christ personally?” What else could be meant by this: “Moses regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward” ?  It was knowledge of Christ that motivated Moses.  Did Moses know Christ? Of course, that is why he did what he did. This is no imposition upon the OT – the writer to the Hebrews insists that we recognize the Trinitarian character of the OT. We need only study the quotations in chapters 1 & 2 to see that, where he says, “This is the Father speaking to the Son…”  Is the writer to the Hebrews imposing that on the OT?  Of course not. That is the natural meaning of the OT.

Do we need the NT to see these things in the OT? Not at all – these things can be clearly seen within the OT itself. There is nothing secretive or mysterious about this: the plain surface reading of the text shows us the Trinitarian and Christological nature of the OT. However, the fact that Jesus and His apostles notice all these things about the OT is worth noticing. It encourages us to keep going, because we are only drawing the same conclusions that they did.

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2 responses

  1. Andrew

    Thanks for taking the time to write this up. Great stuff. Very thoughtful.

    Reminds me of one of the best sermons I’ve ever heard: Did Jesus preach the justification that Paul did?

    October 18, 2011 at 8:00 pm

  2. Jeff

    One reason I think this is important to recognize is to refute an Islamic and/or atheistic argument that doubts the eternal nature of Christ. If Christ was borne of a woman in the New Testament how could he be eternal? – so it goes. Other than John 1 saying He was there at creation, what evidence to we have prior? The presence of Christ in all of these places in the Old Testament is a proof of not only His existence but His involvement.

    Going back to John 1, and Christ being the “word”, I see the correlation to Him “communicating to Moses” in the burning bush – what a connection! Thanks Bryan for posting this.

    October 18, 2011 at 8:22 pm

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