Monday, May 16, 2016

Moses wrote about me (Jesus)

One of the puzzles of Scripture appears in John 5:46. It quotes Jesus as saying, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.”

Let’s look at some context. In John 5:15-18, Jesus defends his authority for healing people on the sabbath by arguing that God (his Father) works on the sabbath and so, being his Father’s son, he also works on the sabbath. Jesus’ explanation disturbed the Jews such that they wanted to kill Jesus. Jesus responds to the Jews. One of his charges is that the Jews do not correctly read the Scriptures.

John 5:39-47
39 "You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. 40 Yet you refuse to come to me to have life. 41 I do not accept glory from human beings. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God in you. 43 I have come in my Father's name, and you do not accept me; if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?"

We are a bit challenged to find where Moses wrote about Jesus.

It is generally assumed by Jewish and Christian tradition that Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). The Torah (first five books) never claim internally to be written by Moses, nor does any other Scripture attribute the authorship of the Torah to Moses. Furthermore, there are some blatant internal contradictions to the assumption of Mosaic authorship of the Torah (e.g., Genesis 4:26; 10:14-15; 12:6; 14:14; 36:31; Exodus 6:3; 13:17; Numbers 21:14; Deuteronomy 1:1; 11:30; 32:49. This is a partial list of evidences. I will leave the study of these passages to the reader... or we can civilly discuss them in the comments below).

If Jesus meant that the entire Torah was written by Moses, then we could comfortably cite Genesis 3:15 in which God tells the serpent that the seed of the woman would strike him on the head and the serpent will strike the woman’s seed on the heel.

The most direct Torah passage that seems to prefigure Jesus is Deuteronomy 18:15-22. That passage is all about the qualifications of a true prophet. Moses, in his speech, is informing Israel how they will receive the word of the LORD. They will not go to sorcerers or practice divination in order to learn the oracles of God. No. They will listen to the prophets. First century Jews, naturally, expected the coming Messiah to fulfil the requirements of Deuteronomy 18:15-22. The passage is referenced and applied to Jesus in the New Testament.

Acts 3:22-23
Moses said, "The Lord your God will raise
up for you from your own people a prophet
like me. You must listen to whatever he
tells you. And it will be that everyone who
does not listen to that prophet will be
utterly rooted out of the people.”

Acts 7:37
This is the Moses who said to the Israelites,
"God will raise up a prophet for you from
your own people as he raised me up.”

Is this the passage Jesus referenced when he said, “Moses wrote about me?” Very possibly. It looks like this quote along with most of the book of
Deuteronomy (including chapter 18) was written down by Moses:

Then Moses wrote down this law, and gave
it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who
carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord,
and to all the elders of Israel.
Deuteronomy 31:9.

Jesus was prefigured by Moses. The Jews, who revered Moses, should have recognized Jesus as a prophet like Moses.

Moses wrote the law he heard from the LORD on the mountain (Exodus 24:4) which had to do with the rule of the LORD and with proper treatment of fellow human beings. Jesus was all about that; so we can comfortably recognize that the things we know were written by Moses directly prefigured Jesus, God’s Messiah.

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