By Joe Nell Clayton
The Shadow of Christ
When the children of Israel had dwelt in the land of Egypt for that period of time predicted by God to Abraham, God raised up a leader to bring them out to the land he had promised to their fathers. Moses thus became to the Israelites an everlasting symbol of the care of God for His people. Every word that has dropped from his lips, and every line written has been respected, rightly so, as the word of God. His reputation as a leader of Israel causes even Christ to speak of the Old Testament as “Moses’ law.” (John 7:23). Yet, Moses was only important in the fact that he served as a “shadow” of Christ. He functioned in regard to the Old Law in a way similar to that of Christ for the New.
Some would say that we can compare Moses and Christ, but it is probably better to say that they appear in contrast. The writer of Hebrews calls Moses “the house,” while speaking of Christ as “he that built the house.” (Heb. 3:1-16). This figurative use of terms draws a definite contrast between the two.
In three ways, we may see a contrast between Moses and Christ. First, they were both prophets. Moses must be considered the great prophet of the Old Testament, superceding all others, for he speaks only of one other prophet to come, and says that He will be “like unto me.” (Deut~ 18:15). Now, all prophets have the same function, in that they “speak for God.” However, Moses was confining his prediction of the coming of another prophet to only one. This was understood by men of Jesus day to refer to Christ. (see John 1:45). And, men were conditioned by Moses’ words to look for “the” prophet. (John 1:21). The Apostles were moved by the Holy Spirit to make application of Moses’ prophecy to Christ, and to warn their hearers of the consequences of rejecting Him. (Acts 3:19-23).
The things prophesied by Moses and Christ help to establish the contrast more keenly. The Father demonstrated this in the mount of transfiguration (Mark 9:2-8), and the Apostles said that this event caused them to have “the word of prophecy made more sure.” The consequence to us is the warning, “Whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a lamp shining in a dark place.” (2 Peter 1: 16-19).
The second contrast is seen in the fact that they were both “lawgivers.” No one questions the idea that Mows was yoked with a. law, but many religious people will read passages such as John 1: 17, Romans 6:14, or Galatians 5: 18, and conclude that there is no manner of law connected with Christ. To come to this conclusion would deny the truth of other passages which speak of the word of Christ as “law”, such as Romans 8:1-2, 1 Corinthians 9:21, and Galatians 6:21 Because the Law of Christ has a larger importance than that of Moses, the apostles adorn it with terms such as “grace … truth,” “faith.”
The Law of Christ is contrasted to Moses’ by the term “perfect.” The writer of Hebrews says, “There is a disannulling of a foregoing commandment because of it weakness and unprofitableness (for the law made nothing perfect), and a bringing in thereupon of a better hope, through which we draw nigh unto God.” (Hebrews 7:18-19). Yet, of the word of Christ, James says, “But he that looketh into the perfect law, the law of liberty,” continuing to “hear” and “do,” will be blessed.
The third contrast must be seen in the roles of Christ and Moses as “saviors.” When
Israel was in bondage in Egypt, God sent Moses to them, and saved them. (Exodus 14:30-31). This “salvation” was from physical oppression and slavery of the body. Ever since that day the Jews celebrate the Passover to remember the deliverance of their ancestors. But this limited salvation, involving only one small nation, and surpassed in physical magnitude by other more modem liberations has one unique feature to make it stand out. God was the final deliverer!
Now God has concern, not for one nation, but for all nations, and has sent His son to be savior of the whole world! (I John 4:14). At the same time the deliverance is from a greater and more deadly bondage, the bondage of sin (John 8:34-36). No wonder, then, that the Holy Spirit caused it to be spoken of as “so great a salvation” (Hebrews 2:3). It is so great, as not to be compared in force, scope, or purpose to that of Israel from Egypt. Anyone sharing in the salvation wrought by God in Christ has no need to honor Moses, for the prophetic, legal, and saving services of that early servant of God have been supplanted and surpassed by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Let every Christian hold his Master in such esteem that all men, especially Jews, may see these contrasting virtues of the Lord, and be brought to give Him comparable praise.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 21, pp. 8-9
March 30, 1972