“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put My words in His mouth.” (Deuteronomy 18:18)
Fifty days after the Israelites were redeemed from Egypt, they met God as a nation at the foot of Mount Sinai.
The LORD descended on the mountain in fire, and it smoked like a furnace. A dense cloud wrapped the mountain and it trembled violently. Lightning flashed and thunder erupted. The sound of the Shofar of God grew louder and louder as Moses spoke to the LORD and He answered. (Exodus 19)
Think about it—the entire community heard God speak! It was a national revelation, an experience that is unique in the history of religion.
This is no mere legend passed down through the centuries. It was an awe-inspiring, terrifying time that all the Israelites experienced.
A Prophet Like Moses
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘I will come to you in a thick cloud and let the people hear Me speak to you. Then they will always trust you.’” (Exodus 19:9)
The scene was so intense and frightening that after hearing the LORD speak, the people feared for their lives and begged Moses to mediate between them and God.
“They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.’” (Exodus 20:18–19)
In other words, they were not just following Moses blindly. They had their own experience with God.
Later, when Moses recounted this terrifying meeting with the LORD at Sinai, he reminded them that they had asked for an intermediary to speak directly to God on their behalf and convey God’s words to them.
Moses did not rebuke the children of Israel for asking for a mediator. Instead, the LORD said that the people had spoken well. Moses then imparted to them the great Messianic hope—that a Prophet like him would come.
The Lord promised Moses:
“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put My words in His mouth. He will tell them everything I command Him. I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to My words that the prophet speaks in My name.” (Deuteronomy 18:18–19)
That Prophet is the Messiah.
This passage in Deuteronomy is the only place in the Torah where Moses explicitly identifies a singular “prophet” like him.
Nevertheless, it remains an important prophecy.
Messianic Expectations in Second Temple Times
During the time before the birth of Yeshua (Jesus) and throughout His life and ministry, Israel was characterized by an expectation that the Prophet like Moses was about to be revealed.
Yochanan (John the Immerser or Baptist) heralded the coming of Messiah.
His ministry was so powerful and effective that the Pharisees sent Priests (Cohanim) and Levites (Leviim) to him, wondering if, perhaps, John himself might be that Prophet. (John 1:21)
John indicated that the one who came after him was the Messiah, the Prophet like Moses for whom they were waiting. (John 1:15)
Soon after, John revealed Him:
“The next day John saw Yeshua coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because He was before me.’” (John 1:29–30)
In Acts 3, Peter also tells the men of Israel in no uncertain terms that Yeshua (Jesus) is this long-awaited prophet.
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that He may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Yeshua.
“Heaven must receive Him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as He promised long ago through His holy prophets. For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything He tells you. Anyone who does not listen to Him will be completely cut off from their people.’” (Acts 3:19–23)
And in Acts 7, the disciple Stephen also associates Yeshua with this same prophecy when he proclaims Yeshua as Messiah prior to being stoned by the council members.
Still many may wonder: how is Yeshua like Moses?
There are actually many ways, but let’s look at seven:
1. Bread from Heaven
God used both Moses and Yeshua to miraculously feed Israel.
Moses fed the Israelites with manna in the wilderness. (Exodus 16:14–17)
Twice, Yeshua miraculously fed the people: once He fed five thousand with five loaves and two fish, and another time he fed four thousand with seven loaves and a few fish. (Matthew 14:19–21 and 15:36)
Moreover, Yeshua, referring to the manna that sustained Israel in the wilderness, said that He was the True Manna that came from Heaven:
“Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread from heaven…. I am the Bread of Life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:32–51)
2. Performs Signs and Wonders
“He led them out of Egypt and performed wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the wilderness. This is the Moses who told the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like Me from your own people.’” (Acts 7:36–37)
The ministries of both Yeshua and Moses were characterized by signs and wonders.
For instance, the forces of nature obeyed both of them.
Two million Israelites witnessed Moses part the sea to save them from the pursuing Egyptian army. (Exodus 14:21–22)
Yeshua’s talmidim (disciples) witnessed Him restore calm to a stormy sea after He rebuked the winds and the waves, and they obeyed Him. They also witnessed Yeshua walk on water. (Matthew 8:26–27; Mark 6:49)
And both Moses and Yeshua cleansed leprosy, among a great number of other miracles. (Numbers 12:10–16; Mark 1:40–41)
“You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, ‘Here is your God!'” (Isaiah 40:9)
3. God’s Spokesperson
“This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I Am has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:14)
Both Yeshua and Moses were God’s spokesmen to and for the people.
Countless times in the Torah, God entrusted Moses with delivering His words to the Israelites.
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them….’” (Leviticus 18:1–2)
Yeshua emphasized many times that He did not speak His own words, but the words that His Father gave Him to speak.
“For I did not speak on My own, but the Father who sent Me commanded Me to say all that I have spoken.” (John 12:49; see also John 7:16 and 14:24)
4. Unique Face-to-Face Relationship
Although, every prophet speaks the words of God to the people, Numbers 12:6–8 distinguishes Moses as above the other prophets.
God did not speak to him in visions, dreams or riddles, but clearly and panim l’panim (face to face).
“And He said, ‘Hear My words: If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses. He is faithful in all My house. With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the LORD.’” (Numbers 12:6–8; see Deuteronomy 34:10–11)
As with Moses, God spoke to Yeshua clearly. No verse in the Brit Chadashah (New Covenant) states that God spoke to Him in visions, dreams or riddles.
Furthermore, in this respect, Yeshua’s relationship with God is unparalleled in depth and authority. Even Moses did not have the same kind of relationship with the LORD.
“Yeshua has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. ‘Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,’ bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. But Messiah is faithful as the Son over God’s house.” (Hebrews 3:3–6)
Yeshua spoke of this unique relationship when He said that He had been personally sent from God:
“I know Him because I am from Him and He sent me.” (John 7:29)
And being from God, Yeshua has seen Him.
John bore witness of this relationship, saying, “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is Himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made Him known.” (John 1:18)
5. Rejected by Their Own, Accepted by the Nations
“He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him.” (John 1:11)
After Moses killed an Egyptian in defense of an Israelite, he tried to mediate between two Hebrew slaves who were fighting. The man in the wrong challenged Moses, saying, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” (Exodus 2:14)
In response to this rejection, Moses fled from Egypt. When he arrived in the land of Midian, he saw several women being bullied. He came to their defense and watered their flocks.
“Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and drew water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. The shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and saved them, and watered their flock.” (Exodus 2:16–17)
This foreshadows Israel’s rejection of Yeshua as their Messiah, and His salvation to the nations.
Paul speaks of the salvation of the nations while prophesying the ultimate redemption of the Jewish People in the fullness of time.
“Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!” (Romans 11:11–12)
6. Moses and Yeshua Delivered Israel from Slavery
“Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34–36)
Both Moses and Yeshua brought deliverance to Israel.
The LORD delivered the children of Israel from physical slavery in Egypt through Moses, who brought them to meet God in the wilderness where they received His Holy Law, the Torah. (Exodus 3:7–10; Romans 7:12)
“I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.” (Acts 7:34; Exodus 3:7–10)
Yeshua delivered His people from a greater bondage—slavery to sin, which results in spiritual and physical death. (Romans 6:16; 1 John 1:7)
Having already dealt with the cruel oppression of sin, the final redemption of His people will take place at Messiah Yeshua’s return.
“Messiah was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.” (Hebrews 9:28)
7. Mediators of a Blood Covenant
“Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, ‘All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.’ And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.’” (Exodus 24:7–8)
Both Moses and Yeshua mediated a blood covenant between God and the people.
After Moses told the Israelites God’s law at the foot of Sinai, the people agreed to keep them, and Moses sprinkled the blood of the covenant upon them. (Exodus 24:3, 7–8)
Yeshua mediated the New Covenant in which the power to keep the law was realized (Jeremiah 31:31–34), and the penalty for breaking the law had been paid through the blood of Yeshua.
“Messiah is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that He has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” (Hebrews 9:15)
The law was given by Moses 50 days after the very first Passover in Egypt on Shavuot (Pentecost). The power to keep the covenant, the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), was given by Yeshua on Shavuot to those who trusted Yeshua as their Messiah.
“The law came through Moses but grace and truth came through Messiah Yeshua.” (John 1:17)