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Passover & Easter - Part Two

Moses & Messiah

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22 Apr 2019
Passover & Easter - Part Two
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“Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah”… “And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Luke 9:28-30, 35)

In Part 1 (Click here if you missed Part 1) of this teaching series, we began exploring the inseparable links between Passover and Easter (or “Resurrection Sunday”) by comparing the central figures of each holiday – Moses and Jesus. Previously, we covered Moses as a model for the promised Messiah, including as a Deliverer, a Lawgiver, and as a chosen Leader who faced rejection by his own people. The parallels with Jesus also can be seen in Moses as a Mediator and as an Intercessor.

Moses the Mediator
Moses was the chosen mediator of a divine covenant which God made with Israel in the wilderness. Having been delivered from bondage in Egypt, the Israelites came to the foot of Mount Sinai, where they entered a special covenant relationship with God as a nation. This covenant was initiated when Moses ascended the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments on their behalf, thereby acting as the intermediary between God and His people. Moses also presided over the ceremonies needed to seal this covenant and served as the repository of the divine promises which God made to Israel under its terms. Thus, he became mediator of the Sinaitic covenant, which appointed an earthly priesthood to perform rituals and animal sacrifices as a means to cover Israel’s sins.

Similarly, Christ was the Mediator of the New Covenant sealed in his own blood. The writer of Hebrews actually invites us to make this direct comparison between Moses and Jesus, spending much time laying out their respective roles as mediators of two distinct covenants.

For instance, Hebrews speaks of how Jesus “was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house.” (Hebrews 3:2) Such parallels run throughout the letter (see e.g., Hebrews 3:5-6; 4:14-5:11; 9:1-15). The recurring rituals of the Mosaic covenant are described as earthly “copies” or “shadows” of the eternal salvation secured for us by Christ’s atoning blood offered once and for all in the heavenlies (Hebrews 8:5; 9:23; 10:1). And Hebrews concludes that Christ is Mediator of a “better covenant” (Hebrews 8:6). How so?

First, because the New Covenant has a better mediator. Whereas Moses had his flaws and the Aaronic priests were “weak” and needed to atone for their own sins first, Christ our High Priest “is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens…” (Hebrews 7:26).

Second, because it “was established on better promises.” (Hebrews 8:6b) To begin with, the Lord swore by an oath that the Messiah would be a High Priest forever (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6; 6:20; 7:17-28). Further, the Lord promised this New Covenant would provide for the absolute forgiveness of sins.

As the prophet Jeremiah explained it, the first covenant given through Moses provided a means for God to temporarily overlook Israel’s sins from year-to-year, as the various ritual sacrifices were offered by the changing, earthly priesthood. But because of Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the Cross, God is now able to totally forgive and to even forget about our sins forever (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:7-12). That is a huge difference! And it gives us much reason to celebrate this Passover/Resurrection season.

Moses the Intercessor
Finally, Moses was an intercessor for his people, sparing them on several occasions from the consuming wrath of God (Exodus 32:11-14; Exodus 14:11-20). When the Israelites sinned by worshipping the Golden Calf, God in His anger was poised to destroy them, but Moses pleaded with the Lord to spare them. His last line of defense was to offer his own salvation if necessary, saying “blot me out of Your book…” (Exodus 32:32). Again, when the ten spies delivered a bad report, God was ready to wipe them out for a second time, but Moses interceded and the Lord relented once more. Here, Moses implores the Lord to “pardon the iniquity of this people, I pray, according to the greatness of Your mercy.” (Numbers 14:19) So in many ways, intercessor was the most important role Moses would ever play.

In a similar manner, Christ is our Intercessor and we would be completely lost without him.

In his compelling passage on the suffering Messiah, the prophet Isaiah foretold: “Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12)

In the New Testament, Jesus is presented over and over again as having taken our sins upon himself and that he remains our great Intercessor, seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven (Romans 8:34). For surely, “He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

There was no greater example of Jesus in his role as Intercessor than when he pleads for his own people from the Cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

These are just some of the parallels between Passover and Easter, as seen through a comparison of the figures of Moses and Jesus. We see their closeness as well in the words of Jesus on that fateful Passover 2000 years ago. The Last Supper was a model Passover seder, and Jesus used the occasion to speak words of betrothal to his disciples, just as Moses led the Israelites in marital vows at Sinai (Exodus 19:3-9; 24:3-8).

Jesus said: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)

These are traditional words of betrothal in Hebraic culture. And they remain the great hope of all believers who await the return of our Bridegroom, Saviour, Deliverer, Lawgiver, Mediator, Intercessor, and High Priest forever!

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