“One of the Prophets”: Jesus as New Moses in the Gospel of Matthew

13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”

14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

20 Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ. (Matthew 16:13-20)

Jesus and the disciples reached a point where the Lord wanted His handpicked men to know who He was, to know His true identity. And there comes a point in the life of every disciple when he or she has to understand who his or her Lord is. As with the original disciples, so it is with us that we must know who the Lord is, not who others say He is. This is why Jesus responds favorably to Peter (giving credit to the Holy Spirit, of course, and not Peter himself because “flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven,” see Matthew 16:17).

And yet, many of us have never asked the question, “Why did the people equate Jesus with one of the prophets?” Sure, Jesus was a prophet, but He was more than that. He peformed more miracles, raised the dead to life on His own by calling Lazarus out of the tomb, calmed the wind and the waves, multiplied food and fed thousands, and so on. And then, He died and rose from the dead. All these things testify to the fact that Jesus wasn’t just a prophet; He was so much more.

When one examines the Old Testament and Jesus’ actions, it’s easy to understand the comparison and similarities between Jesus and the prophets. Matthew has done this with his Gospel, the Gospel of Matthew, as he has established Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Matthew is concerned with Jesus’ fulfillment of the Old Testament, but Matthew is also consumed with Jesus as a prophet — not in the manner of John the Baptist, or Elijah, but as the Moses-like prophet that Moses himself said would arise among the Israelites:

15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, 16 according to all you desired of the Lord your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.’

17 “And the Lord said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good. 18 I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. 19 And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. 20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy 18:15-22)

In Deuteronomy 18:15, 17-19, Moses says that God spoke to him at Horeb and told him on the day that the Israelites came to the mountain and were terrified that He would raise up a second Moses, a new Moses, among His own brethren. The phrases “prophet like you” (v.18) and “from your brethren” indicate that the Moses-like prophet to come would 1) be like Moses and 2) would be Jewish.

Jesus fits the mold: He is Jewish, as can be seen through His circumcision on the eighth day after His birth, observance of the temple tax, honoring the Sabbath and the Jewish law (fulfilling it, rather than abolishing it), eating the Passover meal, reading the Torah in the temple, and so on.

But what Matthew wants us to grasp most about Jesus? Apart from His fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures concerning the advent of the Messiah on earth, Matthew desires that we see Jesus as the fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18:15 — that He is the prophet like Moses, the Jew, that the Lord told Moses He would raise up. To this end, Matthew paints Jesus as the New Moses or the Second Moses.

There are a number of similarities between Moses and Jesus, and Matthew’s Gospel will astound in this regard. What are the similarities? How is Jesus “the New Moses” and the “Moses-like prophet” God said He’d bring to the Jews? It is to the particular details that we now turn.

Moses and Jesus: Jewish and Male

This section is an obvious one, but it fits the purpose of the article to point out the similarities between Moses and Jesus. Both are Jewish, Moses being from the tribe of Levi (both his parents were Levites), Jesus being Jewish from the tribe of Judah (neither of His earthly parents were Levites).

And a man of the house of Levi went and took as wife a daughter of Levi. 2 So the woman conceived and bore a son. (Exodus 2:1-2)

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man,and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:18-23)

Notice how Exodus and Matthew paint Moses and Jesus in a similar light, with the words “the woman conceived and bore a son” and “the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son.” Of course, Matthew’s quote is from the prophet Isaiah, but the statement “and she bore a son” bears similarities with the birth of a number of prophets in the Old Testament.

Moses and Jesus: Why They Hail From Different Tribes

Some would say, “Well, if Moses and Jesus are so alike, why are they from different tribes? As we’ve read before, Moses is from the tribe of Levi, as his parents were from the tribe of Levi. Jesus is from the line of Judah, as Scripture reveals.

When Jacob, known as “Israel,” prepares to die and be gathered to his fathers, he prophesies over his sons. One prophecy of Judah is that the Messiah would come from Judah’s tribe:

“Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise;

Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;

Your father’s children shall bow down before you.

9 Judah is a lion’s whelp;

From the prey, my son, you have gone up.

He bows down, he lies down as a lion;

And as a lion, who shall rouse him?

10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,

Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,

Until Shiloh comes;

And to Him shall be the obedience of the people. (Genesis 49:8-10)

“Shiloh” here isn’t found. What is found in this sentence of Scripture is “the obedience of the people” and Shiloh means “one should come for whom the things are stored up for him.” What things are stored up? And who is coming for that which is stored up for him? Someone coming through the line of Judah, “to Him,” belongs “the expectation of the nations.” What is the expectation of the nations? It is that they will be blessed through Him. Does this ring a bell? It comes from God’s words to Abram in Genesis 12:3, when the Lord says “through you, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” Jesus is the one the Lord promised through Abram that would bless the nations. Theology says that this member of the line of Judah is Jesus, the seed of the woman as Paul refers to Him in Galatians 3:8-14. Judah is the one from whom Christ descends in Matthew 1:3.

If Jesus was to follow in Moses’ footsteps, why is He from a different tribe? Shouldn’t God have chosen someone from the tribe of Levi to make the Moses-like connection?” This is a good question worth asking because, believe it or not, Paul had to explain this very thing to the Jewish Christians to which he writes in the New Testament:

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace,” 3 without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.

4 Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils. 5 And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law, that is, from their brethren, though they have come from the loins of Abraham; 6 but he whose genealogy is not derived from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better. 8 Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. 9 Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, 10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.

11 Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? 12 For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. 13 For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar.

14 For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. 15 And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest 16 who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. 17 For He testifies:

“You are a priest forever

According to the order of Melchizedek.”

18 For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, 19 for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

20 And inasmuch as He was not made priest without an oath 21 (for they have become priests without an oath, but He with an oath by Him who said to Him:

“The Lord has sworn

And will not relent,

‘You are a priest forever

According to the order of Melchizedek’”),

22 by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.

23 Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. 24 But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Therefore 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 7:1-25)

Hebrews 7:11-19 tells us that, while Jesus is Moses-like, He had to supercede Moses and the Aaronic priesthood because the Law of Moses wasn’t meant to last forever. Since it is the tutor or guardian that brings us to Christ, it couldn’t stand forever. Paul makes a point here about how Abraham (from whom the tribe of Levi descends) paid tithes to Melchizedek, indicating that Melchizedek was superior to Levi. Melchizedek, who didn’t have mother, father, beginning of days nor end of life (that his origin is unknown) and “made like the Son of God” (Hebrews 7:3), is set up here to be like Jesus, or rather, a “Christ prototype” in some sense. The difference in Jesus’ tribe as opposed to Moses’ is not random; rather, it indicates that Jesus, while like Moses, would surpass him. Remember, being “like” someone or something doesn’t indicate a 1:1 equivalency or a 100% likeness but rather, a number of uncanny similarities that can’t be explained as mere coincidences.

Moses and Jesus: In Infant Danger

Moses and Jesus, apart from their Jewishness and maleness, found themselves in danger as infants. Their lives were at risk, as their governments sought to execute them.

In the case of Moses, Pharaoh told his people to kill all Jewish males born, after the Hebrew midwives refused to kill their own people:

15 Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of one was Shiphrah and the name of the other Puah; 16 and he said, “When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.” 17 But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive. 18 So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, and saved the male children alive?”

19 And the midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them.”

20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied and grew very mighty. 21 And so it was, because the midwives feared God, that He provided households for them.

22 So Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, “Every son who is bornyou shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive.” (Exodus 1:15-22)

As for Jesus, He was in danger of losing His life as an infant. Herod was ruler over Israel, and when the Magi (wise men) came to Jerusalem looking for Jesus, calling Him “King of the Jews,” Herod felt as though his rule would face political threat and sought to find out where Jesus was so he could kill Him. After the Lord sent the Magi another way (they were God-fearers, having worshipped Jesus and given Him gifts), Herod was so upset he’d been hoodwinked that he ordered the execution of every Jewish male aged 2 and under:

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

5 So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

6 ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;

For out of you shall come a Ruler

Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”

9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”

14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,

Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,

Rachel weeping for her children,

Refusing to be comforted,

Because they are no more.” (Matthew 2:1-18)

The Lord told Joseph to take Mary and Jesus and flee to Egypt to avoid Jesus being killed by Herod. His life was in danger. Moses’ mother, Jochebed, had to hide Moses because the king of Egypt sought his life. Both were in danger of being executed by their governments.

Moses and Jesus had to be placed at risk in order to save their lives. With Moses, he had to be put on the water:

3 But when she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river’s bank. 4 And his sister stood afar off, to know what would be done to him.

5 Then the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river. And her maidens walked along the riverside; and when she saw the ark among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it. 6 And when she opened it,she saw the child, and behold, the baby wept. So she had compassion on him, and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.”

7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for you?”

8 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the maiden went and called the child’s mother. 9 Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. 10 And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. So she called his name Moses, saying, “Because I drew him out of the water.” (Exodus 2:3-10)

One would think that putting a baby on the river would put the child in harm’s way and put the child at risk of losing his or her life; and yet, by putting Moses on the water, Jochebed his mother saved his life because Moses was spotted by Pharaoh’s daughter. She took the child as her own and raised it. It is providential indeed when you consider that all the Jewish males were to be killed. Pharaoh’s daughter said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children” (Exodus 2:6), knowing full well that her father’s decree meant that all Jewish males were to be killed. And yet, she decided to take Amram and Jochebed’s son and raise him as her own. She even names him Moses: “So she called his name Moses, saying, “Because I drew him out of the water” (Exodus 2:10). To name him meant that Pharaoh’s daughter intended to keep the child. Apparently, she wasn’t afraid to go against the king’s decree (or against her own father) to raise a child that was to be put to death.

Moses and Jesus: Ascribed Greek or Gentile Names, Despite Jewish Heritage

Moses and Jesus were Jewish, but they were given Gentile or Greek names. “Jesus” is a Gentile name, though the Hebrew name is “Joshua” or “Yeshua,” and “Moses” is Gentile, given by Pharaoh’s daughter, though his name is “Mosheh” in Hebrew. The Jewish-Gentile play is obvious here: Jesus is the embodiment of Jewishness and a Gentile name because He would bring Jews and Gentiles together within Himself:

11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. (Ephesians 2:11-18)

Jesus brings peace between Jews and Gentiles, and Moses does the same. Though Moses is Jewish, he is given a Gentile name, then raised in the house of the most powerful family in all of Egypt. Reared by Pharaoh’s family, Moses gets the best education that money can buy and learns Egyptian customs, rules, rituals, language, and lifestyles. When Moses comes out of Egypt, a mixed congregation of Jews and Gentiles come out of Egypt under the human leadership of Moses:

31 Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, “Rise, go out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel. And go, serve the Lord as you have said. 32 Also take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone; and bless me also.”

33 And the Egyptians urged the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste. For they said, “We shall all be dead.” 34 So the people took their dough before it was leavened, having their kneading bowls bound up in their clothes on their shoulders. 35 Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. 36 And the Lordhad given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.

37 Then the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children. 38 A mixed multitude went up with them also, and flocks and herds—a great deal of livestock. 39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they had brought out of Egypt; for it was not leavened, because they were driven out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared provisions for themselves.

40 Now the sojourn of the children of Israel who lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. 41 And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years—on that very same day—it came to pass that all the armies of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. 42 It is a night of solemn observance to the Lord for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This is that night of the Lord, a solemn observance for all the children of Israel throughout their generations. (Exodus 12:31-42)

Exodus 12:38 refers to a mixed multitude, evidenced by the Greek word ἐπίμικτος (epimiktos). “Mixed” refers to the fact that “the children of Israel” didn’t just include Jews but also Gentiles. The reason we know this is because the Lord supplies Passover observance laws for the stranger who dwelt among the people of God and wanted to observe the sacred Jewish feast:

48 And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it. 49 One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you.” (Exodus 12:48-49)

Moses not only unites Jews and Gentiles in that he leads them out of Egypt; he also unites the Jews and Gentiles by marrying an Ethiopian woman after the death of Zipporah, a move that didn’t go over so well with his Jewish siblings, Aaron and Miriam:

Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. 2 So they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it. 3 (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)

4 Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!” So the three came out. 5 Then the Lord came down in the pillar of cloud and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam. And they both went forward. 6 Then He said,

“Hear now My words:

If there is a prophet among you,

I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision;

I speak to him in a dream.

7 Not so with My servant Moses;

He is faithful in all My house.

8 I speak with him face to face,

Even plainly, and not in dark sayings;

And he sees the form of the Lord.

Why then were you not afraid

To speak against My servant Moses?”

9 So the anger of the Lord was aroused against them, and He departed. 10 And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam became leprous, as white as snow. Then Aaron turned toward Miriam, and there she was, a leper. 11 So Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord! Please do not lay this sin on us, in which we have done foolishly and in which we have sinned. 12 Please do not let her be as one dead, whose flesh is half consumed when he comes out of his mother’s womb!”

13 So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, “Please heal her, O God, I pray!”

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, would she not be shamed seven days? Let her be shut out of the camp seven days, and afterward she may be received again.15 So Miriam was shut out of the camp seven days, and the people did not journey till Miriam was brought in again. 16 And afterward the people moved from Hazeroth and camped in the Wilderness of Paran. (Numbers 12:1-16)

Aaron and Miriam show their prejudice and racism when they turn angry with Moses because he married the Ethiopian woman. Research suggests that the Ethiopian woman was part of the “mixed multitude” that Moses led out of Egypt, but Aaron and Miriam’s issue with the woman was her ethnicity — nothing more.

We don’t know Moses’ name beyond the one given to him by Pharaoh’s daughter. Isn’t that interesting? We’re never told that Moses’ parents ever named him “Moses,” but the fact that Scripture states Pharaoh’s daughter named him Moses hints that Moses’ parents didn’t give him the name. What his Hebrew name was is a mystery. Perhaps he never had one, since he was only three months old and his parents were well aware of the death warrant published for Hebrew boys.

Moses and Jesus: Genealogies Including Gentiles

Moses and Jesus not only have Gentile names, but they even have Gentile relatives in their genealogies:

14 These are the heads of their fathers’ houses: The sons of Reuben, the firstborn of Israel, were Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi. These are the families of Reuben. 15 And the sons of Simeon were Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman. These are the families of Simeon. 16 These are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. And the years of the life of Levi were one hundred and thirty-seven. 17 The sons of Gershon were Libni and Shimi according to their families. 18 And the sons of Kohath were Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. And the years of the life of Kohath were one hundred and thirty-three. 19 The sons of Merari were Mahli and Mushi. These are the families of Levi according to their generations.

20 Now Amram took for himself Jochebed, his father’s sister, as wife; and she bore him Aaron and Moses. And the years of the life of Amram were one hundred and thirty-seven. 21 The sons of Izhar were Korah, Nepheg, and Zichri. 22 And the sons of Uzziel were Mishael, Elzaphan, and Zithri. 23 Aaron took to himself Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab, sister of Nahshon, as wife; and she bore him Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 24 And the sons of Korah were Assir, Elkanah, and Abiasaph. These are the families of the Korahites. 25 Eleazar, Aaron’s son, took for himself one of the daughters of Putiel as wife; and she bore him Phinehas. These are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites according to their families.

26 These are the same Aaron and Moses to whom the Lord said, “Bring out the children of Israel from the land of Egypt according to their armies.” 27 These are the ones who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring out the children of Israel from Egypt. These are the same Moses and Aaron. (Exodus 6:14-27)

Notice that Exodus 6:15 shows that a Canaanite woman gave birth to a son who is in Moses’ bloodline. Additionally, Abraham and Sarah, the Patriarch and Matriarch of the nation of Israel (though long before Isaac, Abraham’s son, begats Jacob, whose name is changed to “Israel”), are Gentiles. Abraham and Sarah were Amorite (Abraham) and Hittite (Sarah):

Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations, 3 and say, ‘Thus says the Lord Godto Jerusalem: “Your birth and your nativity are from the land of Canaan; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.

44 “Indeed everyone who quotes proverbs will use this proverb against you: ‘Like mother, like daughter!’ 45 You are your mother’s daughter, loathing husband and children; and you are the sister of your sisters, who loathed their husbands and children; your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite. (Ezekiel 16:1-3, 44-45)

Abraham, the one to whom the Lord told he would be “a father of many nations,” was himself Gentile, as was Sarah, his half-sister/wife. In other words, there is no specifically Jewish origin for the nation of Israel. No race was born on the earth Jewish from the start; rather, “Jewishness” represents God’s decision to choose a certain bloodline and set them apart from all the other nations of the earth.

In Jesus’ genealogy, we read of other Gentiles in addition to Abraham and Sarah:

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:

2 Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. 3 Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. 4 Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. 5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, 6 and Jesse begot David the king.

David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah. 7 Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa. 8 Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah. 9 Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah. 10 Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon,and Amon begot Josiah. 11 Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.

12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. 13 Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. 14 Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. 15 Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. 16 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ arefourteen generations. (Matthew 1:1-17)

Abraham and Sarah made the Jewish line “Gentile” enough, but Rahab, the mother of Boaz, was a prostitute who was Gentile:

Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there. 2 And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, “Behold, men have come here tonight from the children of Israel to search out the country.”

3 So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the country.”

4 Then the woman took the two men and hid them. So she said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5 And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them.” 6 (But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.) 7 Then the men pursued them by the road to the Jordan, to the fords. And as soon as those who pursued them had gone out, they shut the gate.

8 Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, 9 and said to the men: “I know that the Lord has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11 And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. 12 Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the Lord, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token, 13 and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.” (Joshua 2:1-13)

Rahab was a harlot, a prostitute who lived in Jericho, but she was smart enough to realize that the Israelites had the one true living God on their side — and she wanted her life and the lives of her relatives spared. And, sure enough, she makes it into the genealogy of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5).

In Matthew 1:6, we read of the conception of Solomon by David and Bathsheba — the same Bathsheba that we are told is “the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” This is a reminder that Bathsheba was a Gentile woman, that her husband, Uriah, was a “Hittite” who served David in the Israelite army, and that David sinned against God to sleep with her, then kill Uriah to take Bathsheba as his wife.

Ruth is another Gentile that makes it into the family of Moses and Jesus. We are told that Ruth and Boaz, Rahab’s son, conceive Obed, who becomes the father of Jesse and David’s grandfather:

Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. 2 The name of the man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion—Ephrathites of Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to the country of Moab and remained there. 3 Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. 4 Now they took wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth. And they dwelt there about ten years. 5 Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman survived her two sons and her husband.

6 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had visited His people by giving them bread. 7 Therefore she went out from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. 8 And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each to her mother’s house. The Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 9 The Lord grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.”

So she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. 10 And they said to her, “Surely we will return with you to your people.”

11 But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Are there still sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? 12 Turn back, my daughters, go—for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, if I should have a husband tonight and should also bear sons, 13 would you wait for them till they were grown? Would you restrain yourselves from having husbands? No, my daughters; for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me!”

14 Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

15 And she said, “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said:

“Entreat me not to leave you,

Or to turn back from following after you;

For wherever you go, I will go;

And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;

Your people shall be my people,

And your God, my God.

17 Where you die, I will die,

And there will I be buried.

The Lord do so to me, and more also,

If anything but death parts you and me.” (Ruth 1:1-17)

Ruth takes Naomi’s God as her God, no longer identifying with the Moabite gods from her roots (she was a Moabitess, a citizen of Moab). Ruth’s faith puts her in the lineage of Jesus Christ, showing yet another Gentile that becomes part of the family of God.

Within Jesus’ genealogy, there are Jews and Gentiles, with all the lineage stretching from Gentile origins. Jesus and Moses, both Jews from the same lineage, are no different in this regard.

Moses and Jesus: God’s Teachers

Moses and Jesus are alike in that, as Moses and “the New Moses,” both are God’s teachers over His people:

9 Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity. 11 But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank.

12 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.”

13 So Moses arose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up to the mountain of God. 14 And he said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you. Indeed, Aaron and Hur are with you. If any man has a difficulty, let him go to them.” 15 Then Moses went up into the mountain, and a cloud covered the mountain.

16 Now the glory of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. 17 The sight of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. 18 So Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights. (Exodus 24:9-18)

Moses is called by God to come up to the mountain to receive God’s law; when Jesus teaches His Sermon on the Mount, He goes on the mountain to teach it (this is the “Mount” in “Sermon on the Mount”). Moses teaches the Law of Moses, the letter of the Law, but Jesus teaches beyond the letter of the Law to the Spirit of the Law. Matthew chapters 5-7 all cover Jesus interpreting the Law according to the Spirit thereof and not the letter:

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.

27You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

31 “Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.

33Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

38You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

43You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:21-48)

Moses goes on the mountaintop to receive God’s Law. The Lord teaches Moses what the Law is; when Jesus comes on the scene, however, He being God, only needs to interpret it. Jesus gives the interpretation of the Law of Moses in a way that Moses couldn’t give it. The Law of Moses was simply a list of do’s and dont’s; Jesus comes and teaches that the Law isn’t just about “do this” and “don’t do that” but rather about the heart. That is, people do the evil they do because of their hearts. It is the heart that is the problem, and the law can only show the knowledge of sin.

Moses and Jesus: Generation Survivors

Moses and Jesus were spared from execution, but think about this: they were the only Jewish boys spared in their generations. All others were killed, except for them, because their parents protected them. Of course, Moses and Jesus were ultimately protected by God, who providentially guided them to safe places.

We read in Exodus that Moses’ mother hid Moses for three months until she could hide him no longer:

And a man of the house of Levi went and took as wife a daughter of Levi. 2 So the woman conceived and bore a son. And when she saw that he was a beautiful child, she hid him three months. 3 But when she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river’s bank. 4 And his sister stood afar off, to know what would be done to him.

5 Then the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river. And her maidens walked along the riverside; and when she saw the ark among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it. 6 And when she opened it,she saw the child, and behold, the baby wept. So she had compassion on him, and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.”

7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for you?”

8 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the maiden went and called the child’s mother. 9 Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. 10 And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. So she called his name Moses, saying, “Because I drew him out of the water.” (Exodus 2:1-10)

Here we see that Moses’ mother Jochebed tried to hide Moses, but eventually had to put him on the water. There is where he was discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter and became her child. She named him “Moses,” and her naming the child showed that he belonged to her. On the water, a place of danger, God preserved Moses’ life. The remainder of his generation was killed by the Egyptians as a way of maintaining political control over them.

When we read of Jesus, we read that He had to be hidden by his earthly parents in order to avoid death. When Herod discovered Jesus was the King of the Jews, he sought to kill Jesus so that his political rule over the Jews would be maintained:

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”

14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,

Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,

Rachel weeping for her children,

Refusing to be comforted,

Because they are no more.” (Matthew 2:13-18)

Both Herod and Pharaoh kill Jewish males out of a desire to maintain political control over the Jews. Moses, then, was one of, if not the only, baby to survive in his generation (which would’ve likely been anywhere from age 2 to newborn). In other words, 6-month olds, year-old babies, and perhaps even some as old as two years would’ve been killed by Pharaoh. In Jesus’ generation, all Jewish males ages two years old and under were killed because Herod believed in the Magis’ calculations that Jesus was two years old (max). Herod killed every Jewish male in Jesus’ generation, but warned Joseph to take Jesus and flee in order to save His life. Both Moses and Jesus were providentially spared from the death sentence brought on the rest of their generations.

Moses and Jesus: Prophets

Moses and Jesus were not only Jewish and male and had to be hidden to save their lives; they were also prophets:

16 So the Lord said to Moses: “Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you. 17 Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone. 18 Then you shall say to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the hearing of the Lord, saying, “Who will give us meat to eat? For it waswell with us in Egypt.” Therefore the Lord will give you meat, and you shall eat. 19 You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, 20 but for a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have despised the Lord who is among you, and have wept before Him, saying, “Why did we ever come up out of Egypt?” ’ ”

21 And Moses said, “The people whom I am among are six hundred thousand men on foot; yet You have said, ‘I will give them meat, that they may eat for a whole month.’ 22 Shall flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, to provide enough for them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to provide enough for them?”

23 And the Lord said to Moses, “Has the Lord’s arm been shortened? Now you shall see whether what I say will happen to you or not.”

24 So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord, and he gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people and placed them around the tabernacle. 25 Then the Lord came down in the cloud, and spoke to him, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and placed the same upon the seventy elders; and it happened, when the Spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied, although they never did so again.

26 But two men had remained in the camp: the name of one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad. And the Spirit rested upon them. Now they were among those listed, but who had not gone out to the tabernacle; yet they prophesied in the camp. 27 And a young man ran and told Moses, and said, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”

28 So Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, one of his choice men, answered and said, “Moses my lord, forbid them!”

29 Then Moses said to him, “Are you zealous for my sake? Oh, that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!” 30 And Moses returned to the camp, he and the elders of Israel. (Numbers 11:16-30)

Here in Numbers 11, the context pertains to the burden of dealing with the people. It gets to be too much for Moses, but this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this (Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, tells him to appoint judges over the people rather than be the leader and the judge). He prays to the Lord and asks the Lord for help, and the Lord tells him to bring seventy men, the heads of the tribes, to the door of the tabernacle. The Lord would take of Moses’ spirit and place it upon them so that he wouldn’t have to bear the burden alone. Notice that the “seventy” here get the Spirit. The “seventy” are also with Jesus, too, the 12 handpicked apostles plus 58 others (the number “70” for both is no mistake). Luke mentions the 70, though, while Matthew doesn’t.

Back to the Spirit of Moses and the seventy elders. The seventy elders prophesy as a result of the Holy Spirit coming upon them, but there are two in the camp, Eldad and Medad, that don’t assemble with the others but prophesy in the camp. Joshua says that the two men in the camp should be stopped, but Moses asks him, “Are you zealous for my sake?” (Numbers 11:29) In other words, “don’t forbid them to stop because of me, or because I am a prophet,” Moses says. Then, he makes the famous statement that “Oh, that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!” (Numbers 11:29)

Some will say, “where does it say that Moses was a prophet in Scripture?” In Numbers 12, we see Miriam and Aaron speak against Moses over his marriage to an Ethiopian woman (a black woman), his second wife, with the words,

“Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” (Numbers 12:2)

Miriam and Aaron were prophets, since “the Lord has spoken through us,” they said in so many words. Unlike the seventy elders in Numbers 11 that prophesied only once and never again, Miriam and Aaron prophesied regularly, consistently enough that Aaron is called a prophet in Scripture by God Himself (Exodus 7:1), and Miriam is called a “prophetess” (Exodus 15:20). Yet their words, “has He not spoken through us also” imply that Moses is also a prophet, for God speaks through him as well. This is an implicit reference to Moses as prophet, but there are other references.

15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, 16 according to all you desired of the Lord your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.’

17 “And the Lord said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good. 18 I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. 19 And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. (Deuteronomy 18:15-19)

Moses and God both say, “A prophet like you,” referring to Moses as a prophet and predicting the future in which Jesus would be that Moses-like prophet the Lord would raise up from among the Jews. In this vein, then, Moses was a prophet, and Jesus, the subject of our study in the Gospel of Matthew, was a Moses-like prophet who stood in the same path as Moses.

In Deuteronomy 34, the last chapter of the Torah (the first five books of Scripture), we get this regal ending regarding the life of Moses at his death:

5 So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. 6 And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor; but no one knows his grave to this day. 7 Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died. His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished. 8 And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. So the days of weeping and mourning for Moses ended.

9 Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses.

10 But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 in all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land, 12 and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel. (Deuteronomy 34:5-12)

In Deuteronomy 34:10, we see the prophets being compared to Moses with the words, “since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses.” This brings back the words of God to Miriam and Aaron in Numbers 12, where they presume to know more than Moses about the black woman he’d married because they too were prophets. And yet, what Scripture teaches is that Moses was one of the stand-out human prophets that none ever really matched. Moses died at 120 years old, the most humble man of his day, still able to see and walk as though he was young.

The Lord places Moses in the same camp as Samuel when He refers to the fact that no holy or righteous prophet before Him in Israel would prevent the calamity He would bring upon them for their sin:

Then the Lord said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My mind would not be favorable toward this people. Cast them out of My sight, and let them go forth. (Jeremiah 15:1)

“Even if Moses and Samuel” stood before the Lord, “My mind would not be favorable toward this people,” the Lord said (Jeremiah 15:1). The fact that the Lord places Moses and Samuel in the same sentence shows that Moses was viewed as a prophet by God, who knew Moses and his calling better than anyone else would.

As Moses was a prophet, so was Jesus. Jesus calls Himself a prophet:

53 Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, that He departed from there. 54 When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55 Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? 56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” 57 So they were offended at Him.

But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” 58 Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief. (Matthew 13:53-58)

Jesus went to His hometown to teach, preach, and do miracles, but the people didn’t believe His message because they were so focused on who His earthly parents and siblings were. Jesus was trying to teach them of His truest identity, but they disregarded Him because He was, to them, “the boy next door.” They’d never believe He was the Lord, God incarnate, the Son of God. And Jesus says, “a prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house,” a statement that refers to Himself. So, in essence, Jesus called Himself a prophet.

Not only did Jesus view Himself as a prophet, but the crowds did too — that is, if you discount those in His own hometown:

At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the report about Jesus 2 and said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.” 3 For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. 4 Because John had said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. (Matthew 14:1-5)

According to Matthew 14:5, the crowds believed Jesus was a prophet. Herod would’ve put Jesus to death, but he didn’t want to become unpopular or an enemy of the public for so doing. Even though Herod was a ruler, rulers still needed the blessing of their constituents to stay in power. This is likely one of the reasons why Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified, though believing Jesus was innocent and without fault.

Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. 3 And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.”

4 All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:

5 “Tell the daughter of Zion,

‘Behold, your King is coming to you,

Lowly, and sitting on a donkey,

A colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ”

6 So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. 8 And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:

“Hosanna to the Son of David!

‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’

Hosanna in the highest!”

10 And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?”

11 So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.” (Matthew 21:1-11)

The city of Jerusalem didn’t know who Jesus was, apparently, but they assumed He must be someone important for palm branches to be laid out for Him and to hear the people shout “Hosanna in the highest!”. When asked, the multitudes respond, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee” (Matthew 21:11). The crowds believed Jesus was a prophet and told others He was a prophet.

“Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country.34 Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. 35 And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. 37 Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him.

40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?”

41 They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.”

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

‘The stone which the builders rejected

Has become the chief cornerstone.

This was the Lord’s doing,

And it is marvelous in our eyes’?

43 “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. 44 And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”

45 Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them. 46 But when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitudes, because they took Him for a prophet. (Matthew 21:33-46)

Herod wanted to kill Jesus, but he feared the crowds who believed Jesus was a prophet. The Jews believed that prophets were “holy men of God,” and many of the masses wouldn’t dare lay a hand on these men of God. In contrast, Matthew 21 shows us that Herod and the Pharisees did fear laying hands on Jesus because the crowds believed He was a prophet and wouldn’t kill Him. Only when they didn’t believe in Him anymore did the crowds shout “crucify Him.”

So, there you have it: both Moses and Jesus were prophets. They believed themselves to be prophets, God called them both prophets, and the people around them believed them to be the same.

Conclusion

Moses and Jesus were males, Jewish, prophets, and were the sole survivors of their generations. And they were two exceptional prophets. No one paralleled or rivaled Moses in his day; the same can be said for Jesus. And yet, Moses wasn’t Jesus. While Matthew does an excellent job of showing that Jesus was the Moses-like prophet in fulfillment of the prophecy of Deuteronomy 18:15, he also shows us something else: that is, Moses and Jesus aren’t alike in everything because, whereas Moses was an early revelation of God, Jesus is God’s final revelation and thus, superior to all other prophets.

The Lord had to set Miriam and Aaron straight in Numbers 12 about their belief that they, being prophets, had the same access and relationship to God that Moses did:

Then He said,

“Hear now My words:

If there is a prophet among you,

I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision;

I speak to him in a dream.

7 Not so with My servant Moses;

He is faithful in all My house.

8 I speak with him face to face,

Even plainly, and not in dark sayings;

And he sees the form of the Lord. (Numbers 12:6-8)

The same Lord that corrects Miriam and Aaron’s view that they were “equal” to Moses is the same Lord that corrects Peter’s thinking when he sees Moses and Elijah with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration:

Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. 7 But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” 8 When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

9 Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.”

10 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”

11 Jesus answered and said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. 12 But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist. (Matthew 17:1-13)

Peter sees Elijah and Moses talking with Jesus, and decides that he wants to honor all three by building tabernacles for all three: “if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles…” (Matthew 17:4)

What God the Father wants Peter to see, however, is that Jesus is not just “one of the prophets” with Moses and Elijah. While Jesus has similarities with these Old Testament prophets, He is greater than them all. This is why God the Father tells the disciples, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased. Hear Him!” (v.5) The Lord is saying in so many words, “You’re praising Elijah and Moses, but One greater than Elijah and Moses is here. My Son, Jesus, is greater than them all. As you’ve listened to Moses, Elijah, and all the other prophets, listen to Jesus. He’s what those Old Testament prophets were speaking of; He’s the One they were pointing to. This is why we see Peter write to scattered Jewish believers years later,

6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into. (1 Peter 1:6-12)

Peter said that the Old Testament prophets searched for the time in which the promised Messiah would come. It was revealed that the Christ would come in the time in which these believers in the Jewish Diaspora lived rather than in their own time. Peter realized that the Lord used the prophets to testify of Jesus, that Jesus was the greatest of the prophets, and that He wasn’t just a prophet but also our High Priest and King of Kings and Lord of Lords. All the prophets pointed to Jesus. In the same way that the Law of Moses was a tutor to bring us to Christ, the prophets of the Old Testament were forerunners, like John the Baptist, pointing us to Jesus Christ — who surpasses them in every way.

Paul says it best in his letter to Jewish Christians:

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. (Hebrews 1:1-4)

Paul says that God spoke through the prophets “in time past,” but that today, He has spoken through His Son, Jesus. After Jesus “purged our sins,” He sat down at the right hand of the Father, “having become so much better than the angels” (Hebrews 1:4). Jesus is not only better than the angels; He’s also superior to the Old Testament prophets, including Moses and Elijah.

Jesus is indeed the “New Moses” in Matthew’s Gospel, but Matthew doesn’t want us to leave his Gospel confused: in the end, no matter how great Elijah and Moses may be, Jesus is better, greater, the best revelation God the Father has given humanity. As God the Father told Peter, so the Lord, speaking through the apostle Matthew, would tell us today: “This is My Beloved Son; Hear Him!”

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One Response to ““One of the Prophets”: Jesus as New Moses in the Gospel of Matthew”

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  1. Ramesh Christian - July 7, 2018 at 1:50 am

    Very nice detailed study , congrats to whoever prepared this study . Really it requires hard work . Thank you.

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