Part One: The Birth of Moses
It is probably the story of Moses where the apostles most radically depart from the way we were taught the OT as children and young adults. The first major departure deals with his significance. It is true that Moses is extremely important in the story of salvation. Unfortunately though because we have not looked at the OT the way the apostles taught it, we have made Moses almost too important. For most of us Moses was the greatest man in the entire OT. From the standpoint of the apostles though, Abraham holds that position. Second, when we think of the major contribution Moses has made for our faith, most of us turn to the Law. As we study this section though, we are going to see that the Law was NOT Moses' greatest contribution. Rather his contribution centered on (1) the Exodus/Passover itself--which is separate from the Law and (2) his role as Israel's greatest prophet.
This interpretation of the apostles may cause some serious consternation on the part of many who have been taught otherwise. Such consternation should not surprise us though. The apostles, especially Paul, faced such consternation and opposition, ultimately at the cost of his own life. What is wonderful though is that whenever we understand Moses and his work from the perspective of the apostles, we truly enter into an even more exciting relationship with Jesus Christ.
THE EXODUS ACCOUNT (Exodus 1:1-3:14)
The way the story of Moses begins is quite deceptive. The last page of Genesis leaves us with Jacob dying in Egypt and his family of 75 taking up permanent residence in Egypt. Now turn one page and you start with the book of Exodus. What a difference that one turn of the page has made. With that one flip of a page 400 years have elapsed. This small family of 75 has grown into a major nation of 1.8+ million people. Quietly for 400 years this small family has been growing and growing and growing until finally they are now ripe to become the formidable force God is going to use in a mighty way for the next 3000 years.
The Pharaoh Who Did Not Know Joseph
Moses tells us that a new development has occurred in Egypt. Because of the wisdom God gave Joseph, Joseph became second in command of all Egypt. Apparently the favor the Pharaoh had shown Joseph 400 years earlier had spilled over onto the Israelites themselves. Not only was Joseph respected and well-treated, his family likewise was respected and well-treated. Yet according to Moses a new Pharaoh emerged who did not _____________ Joseph (Ex. 1:8).
Now this statement seems quite strange. Although Christopher Columbus lived over 400 years ago, we still study him in school. The Egyptians were an educated people who would have taught their children and grandchildren, etc. the history of Egypt including the stories of Joseph. How could a subsequent Pharaoh not know about Joseph? Simple. There had been a radical change in the nation of Egypt since the time of Joseph. Before Joseph came to power, the Hyksos (people living to the west of Egypt in modern-day Libya) conquered what was called Lower Egypt, the northern part of Egypt concentrated on the Nile Delta. This foreign administration would have had no problems with exalting a foreigner like Joseph to second in command of Egypt.
After the death of Joseph though, the Egyptians living in Upper Egypt (that is southern Egypt) rose up and drove out the Hyksos. Whereas the Hyksos favored foreigners, this new Egyptian administration naturally mistrusted foreigners. This new Egyptian administration naturally would not have promoted the history of Joseph since he ruled under a hostile, foreign, occupying administration. This new Pharaoh most likely literally did NOT KNOW Joseph. Moreover, the presence of 1.8+ million people on the northern boundaries of Egypt probably concerned them even more. (The situation is similar to the one France now finds itself in. France is almost paralyzed in the war on terror because of the 4+ million Muslims living in France.)
How to deal with this situation? The new Pharaoh has a 2-part plan to rid the Israelite menace from his land. What is that 2-part plan (Exodus 1:15-16, 22)?
The Pharaoh implements the second part of the plan when the first part does not work. The midwives refuse to honor Pharaoh's instructions. With a comic touch they claim that the Hebrew women are so strong that they give birth to their babies before the midwives are able to get to the scene of the birth.
The Birth of Moses
It is at the darkest point of this plan that Moses is born. Briefly relate the story of the birth of Moses and his rescue from the Nile River (Ex. 2:1-10).
Moses' Early Years
Exodus skips over the 40 years Moses is raised in Pharaoh's household. Although we are told later that Moses would stammer, he was not always that way. According to Acts 7:22 Moses' years in Pharaoh's court developed him in what ways?
Although there was much in Moses that needed changing (if he was to become God's leader), the years in Pharaoh's court most likely helped mold him into the kind of leader God wanted to use to lead His people.
Moses Flees to Midian
Although different movies speculate on what motivated Moses to lead his people out of Egypt, the account of Moses in Exodus and in Acts (Ex. 2:11; Acts 7:23) implies that Moses knew all along that he was an Israelite. According to Acts 7:23-29 when Moses turned 40 years old, what motivated him to visit his brothers, the Israelites?
Moses knows all along that he is an Israelite and that he is to be Israel's deliverer. His actions here probably show us his strategy or even lack of strategy in how he is going to deliver the Israelites. He is going to take on the Egyptian army ONE MAN AT A TIME. He definitely has a lot to unlearn.
How did the Israelites respond to his leadership (Ex. 2:13-14; Acts 7:23-29) ?
According to Ex. 2:15 why does Moses flee Egypt?
For the next 40 years Moses will retire to the land of Midian, the western shores of the Arabian peninsula. Although Moses has developed as a leader during his 40 years in Pharaoh's court, there is much in him that needs to be unlearned. This process of unlearning takes place during the next 40 years of silence in his life.
God Reveals Himself to Moses
Forty years have elapsed and Moses is quietly attending the flocks of his father-in-law Jethro. While the flocks are grazing on the slopes of Mt. Sinai (Horeb) in the southern region of the Sinai peninsula, Moses comes upon what kind of bush (Ex. 3:2)?
Briefly recount the story of Moses’ encounter with God at the burning bush (Ex. 3:2-14):
When Moses’ asks for God’s name, how does God respond (Ex. 3:14)?
The clause “I Am that I Am” refers most likely to God’s eternal existence. Since there were not vowels in ancient Hebrew, the clause can be actually translated 3 ways: “I was that I was,” “I am that I am,” and “I will be that I will be.” That’s the reason you hear the angels praising God as being the "One Who ________ and Who _______ and Who _________ _________ __________" (Rev. 4:8).
This clause sets God apart from all other gods, particularly the gods of the Egyptians. These man-made gods had a beginning and they were about to have an end after God is finished with them. Too often we reduce the story of Moses to being nothing more than a conflict between Moses and Pharaoh, or between God and Pharaoh. According to God though, this is a contest between whom (Ex. 12:12)?
In what sense is this a conflict between these 2 groups? The Egyptian religion basically made a god out of nature. Nearly all of nature was divine or had a god behind it. For example, the Egyptians worshiped the Nile River because it watered the desert and turned it into fertile soil. They worshiped the frogs, the sun, etc., and especially Pharaoh, the son of Ra. When God pours out His wrath upon these different elements, He is pouring out wrath upon the Egyptian gods, proving how much greater He is than all the gods of the Egyptians.
God is first of all going to speak to Moses, and Moses in turn will speak to Pharaoh and the Israelites. According to God how authoritative will Moses' words be (Ex. 7:1; 4:12)?
Because Moses expresses his inadequacy to speak for God, God gives Aaron his brother to him who will assist him in this exodus. Whereas God will speak to Moses, Moses will speak to Aaron who in turn will do the public speaking. After more assurances are given to Moses, Moses departs for Egypt to deliver his people.
THROUGH THE EYES OF THE APOSTLES
Moses the Prophet
Up until the story of Moses we saw that God had spoken directly to both Abraham and Jacob. Yet both of these men seemed to have a strictly individual relationship with God. Whereas God spoke to them, God did not speak to them so that they might speak to other people on His behalf. Their relationship appeared to be solely between them and God.
With the story of Moses though, a new development emerges. God will speak to Moses just like He spoke to Abraham and to Jacob. This time though God will speak to a man so that this man in turn can address God's people on God's behalf. With the story of Moses we see the emergence of the prophets. For the next 1000 years God will send prophet after prophet to Israel to warn them of their sins against God and to warn them of their need to repent.
Although Moses was the first of the OT prophets, he was also the greatest of the OT prophets. Yet despite how great he was, he prophesied that someone was coming AFTER him. Who was that person (Deut. 18:15, 18)?
According to John 6:14 the people realized that Jesus was none other than what?
In what sense was Jesus a prophet? According to Jesus when you heard Him speaking, for all practical purposes you were also hearing whom (John 14:10)?
What amazed the people about Jesus' teachings (Matt. 7:28-29)?
Jesus' style of teaching radically differed from that of the other teachers of His day. Other teachers would select a passage from the OT and then recite quotes from famous rabbis who discussed the passage. "On this passage Rabbi Hillel (the liberal rabbi) said this, while Rabbi Shammai (the conservative rabbbi) said this." Then they would go on to the next passage and again study what the rabbis said about the passage. Not so with Jesus. He didn't quote any rabbi. He would quote the OT passage and then tell you what it meant, not what He thought it meant, but what it actually meant. This stunned Jesus' hearers because they had never heard anybody do this before. They knew that He was claiming absolute authority for Himself.
Some claim that Jesus was no more than a good teacher. That's not the way He presented Himself though to the people. He presented Himself as none other than God's Prophet who spoke God's Word ultimately and authoritatively.
As great a prophet as Moses was though, Jesus was much greater. The following normally upsets people; however, this does not come strictly from the NT. If you read the OT carefully, you will see it comes from the OT itself. According to John 6:46 who is the only person who has ever seen God?
If that person is the ONLY person who has ever seen God, did Moses see God while he was on earth?
It is interesting to note that John says NO MAN has seen the Father right after he mentions Moses. John is specifically referring to Moses in John 1:18.
According to Acts 7:30, 38 who was the one who spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai?
Now Stephen did not originate this belief himself. Look closely at Ex. 3:2. According to Moses who appeared to Moses in the flaming bush?
Paul in addition to Stephen emphasizes this. According to Gal. 3:19 who ordained, that is, who gave the Law to Moses, God Himself or angels?
Some claim that this person was none other than Jesus Himself. That interpretation while possible is most likely not true. Why? Because any time the NT has a chance to tell us the role of Jesus in the OT, it doesn't hesitate to do so. This angel of the Lord did NOT mess up. This angel spoke accurately to Moses the words of God. The fact that it was the angel of the Lord who spoke to Moses and not God directly does NOT undermine the words of Moses. The angel of the Lord spoke God's words perfectly to Moses; however, it was the angel who communicated these words of God to Moses accurately and not God Himself.
On the other hand, who has seen God (John 1:18; see also John 3:11 and 5:19)?
The clause "the Word was WITH God" literally means that Jesus was "face to face" with God throughout eternity.
Because He has seen God, what is He able to do (John 1:18)?
NONE OF THIS UNDERMINES Moses' role as a prophet. Because Moses was such a great prophet, this shows us that Jesus is even greater. He not only spoke God's word accurately; He spoke God's word in a final sense. We shall learn more about God and Jesus only upon the return of Christ and God. On that day, whatever we learn will not contradict what we have learned from Jesus about God; it will only harmonize and deepen this knowledge of God in Jesus. Moses IS a great mountain in the history of Christianity; it's just that Jesus is the Mount Everest in Christianity, dwarfing all who came before and after Him.
The Name of God
The name God applied to Himself was YHWH, which we pronounce "Yahweh." God translated this word to mean "I Am That I Am." Later throughout the rest of the OT the translators translated Yahweh as "Lord." Throughout the OT then whenever you see the word "Lord," you need to remember that the actual word there is "Yahweh," the name God gave to Himself.
This is not just an OT word though. Although the Hebrew word "Yahweh" is not found in the NT, the word "Lord" though is used quite extensively throughout the NT. This word is applied especially to whom in the NT (John 20:28)?
Some claim that whenever the word "Lord" is applied to Jesus, it refers only to Jesus being in charge of a person's life. They claim it has behind it the idea of "Master." Whereas the word does have that meaning, by this word "Lord" the NT means a whole lot more than just "Master." In addition to calling Jesus "Lord," what else did Thomas call Jesus (John 20:28)?
Although Jesus accepts Thomas' claim, this claim did not originate with Thomas. According to Jesus who is He (John 8:58)?
There is some discussion as to whether or not Jesus really applied God's name (I AM) to Himself here in John 8:58. Maybe He did not. One thing I do know: the Jews understood that Jesus was applying the divine name to Himself because right after He says "I AM," they try to stone Him. The reaction of the Jews shows you what Jesus was actually saying.For example, why do they try to kill Jesus in John 5:18?
Why did the Jews ultimately want Jesus dead (John 19:7)?
On Judgment Day at least the Jews of Jesus' day can NEVER say they didn't get it. The bottom line is that they KNEW Jesus was claiming to be God the Son. They understood Him perfectly clear. It's just that they didn't like what they were hearing and so tried to kill Him.
The Jews knew what Jesus was claiming for Himself. The resurrection is the conclusive piece of evidence though that Jesus was right in making this claim for Himself.
This is THE great claim in the NT. When we worship Jesus, we worship none other than God Himself, not God the Father but God the Son. In Jesus we have met no one less than God Himself.