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Passover and Easter - Moses and Messiah

Part 1

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Posted on: 
16 Apr 2019
Passover and Easter - Moses and Messiah
*Photo credit: Google Images*

There is much we could say about the inseparable connection between the Jewish holiday of Passover and the Christian celebration of Easter, or what I prefer to call “Resurrection Day.”

In the most basic terms, the physical deliverance of Israel from the bondage of slavery in Egypt was a foreshadowing of the spiritual deliverance we have in Christ, whose atoning death has set us free from the bondage of sin (Romans 6:17-18; Galatians 5:1; Colossians 1:13-14). Just as God spared the Israelites from the “destroyer” when He saw the blood of a lamb sprinkled on their doorposts, the shed blood of Jesus the Messiah allows God to “pass over” our sins completely (Romans 3:25; 1 Corinthians 5:7).

The figure of Moses is so central to the Passover story, and he also serves as a type or foreshadow of the promised Messiah. Moses himself even said that one day “the Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear” (Deuteronomy 18:15). Indeed, the parallels between Moses and Jesus are quite remarkable, and the first similarity is brought out in this very prophetic passage: that both would suffer rejection by their own people.

Moses and the Rejection of Messiah
Christians often look to Joseph or David as models of the coming Messiah because they were both scorned by their brothers. But when Stephen the Martyr is confronting his fellow Israelites in Acts chapter 7 concerning their rejection of Jesus, he uses Moses as his primary archetype for their repudiation of Messiah. This cut to the quick, because Moses was the most revered figure in the eyes of those he was addressing. Yet Stephen rightly pointed out that the Hebrew children had refused to accept his leadership over and over again.

Stephen said that even though Moses was the “one who received the living oracles to give to us” at Sinai, he was still the one “whom our fathers would not obey, but rejected. And in their hearts they turned back to Egypt …” (Acts 7:38-39).

This should not have been the case. Moses was the one who had warned them to put the blood over their doors, and every Israelite family who escaped the destroyer that night and made it out of Egypt did so because they had listened to him. They owed their lives to Moses, and yet they kept questioning his leadership and ability to hear from the Lord. In fact, it happened “ten times” and actually reflected their “testing” and rejection of God (Numbers 14:22). And eventually, Moses declared that another prophet would arise one day and this time they better listen to him. “And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. (Deuteronomy 18:19).

Now we know that the Jewish rejection of Jesus was for a redemptive reason – first it was necessary so that Christ might make it to the Cross, and secondly, so that the Gospel would go out to the nations (Acts 3:14-18, 13:46). Thus, we do not condemn them for it. This partial hardness of heart also was only for a season, and will lift one day once the “fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Romans 11:25). Yet the point here is that the Moses of the Passover story suffered rejection even though He was chosen and used mightily by God, and he foretold that the Messiah would experience the same from his own people – which also occurred at Passover.

Moses the Deliverer
Moses was raised up by God to be a Deliverer for the Hebrew children from the bondage of slavery in Egypt. He spent 40 years in the courts of Pharaoh and then 40 years in the wilderness being prepared by God for this special mission. The Israelites also anticipated his coming because God had promised Abraham long before that after 400 years He would bring them out from hard service and affliction in a strange land (Genesis 15:13-14).

Likewise, Christ was a promised Deliverer from the bondage of sin and death for all who call upon his name (Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13, 11:26). The Angel of the Lord told Joseph to name his son “Jesus” – meaning “salvation” – “for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The Jewish people in his day knew it was time for the Messiah to arrive (Daniel 9:24-26; Galatians 4:4); and they even knew where he was to be born (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:4-6). Jesus also spent 40 days in the wilderness being prepared for his ministry of deliverance ahead.

Moses the Lawgiver
Moses was the great Lawgiver, because he gave both Israel and the world the Ten Commandments. “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them’” (Exodus 24:12). Even the five Books of Moses are called the “Torah”, which means the “law” or “teachings.”

Likewise, Christ was a great Lawgiver. Indeed, Jesus beautifully proclaimed the laws and virtues of his Kingdom in the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5). In referring to the Lord Jesus, the Apostle James said: “There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy” (James 4:12).

The Apostle John said: “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17 - NIV). This actually means, “the law of grace and truth” came through Jesus.

The great difference between these two great Lawgivers in the Bible is that Moses delivered to us a law which was written on tablets of stone, while Christ writes the law of God on hearts of flesh (2 Corinthians 3:3). Indeed, the prophet Jeremiah cites this as one of the great distinguishing characteristics of the promised new covenant, when the Lord said: “I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts …” (Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10, 10:16).

Click here to read part two!

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