“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen” (Deuteronomy 18:15 ESV)
This prophecy about a future prophet, made centuries before Jesus’ birth, is one of the prophecies that Jews hold on to as a promise of the coming Messiah.
The prophet referred to is in certain respects given parity with Moses. In the mindset of the Jew this prophet would be a really big deal.
To be a Jew was more than being a descendant of Abraham; it was to have God’s revelation of His word and His law. This meant that you could become a Jew even if you weren’t descended from Abraham.
To the Jew Moses was the great lawgiver and the one who stood above the rest of the congregation of the people of Israel. He is the paragon of what it means to be a prophet and what it means to fear God and uphold His law.
Anyone who is given the same status is therefore someone of immense importance.
For those of us who believe that Jesus is who he said he was (and is) recognise Jesus as the fulfilment of this prophecy. Jesus is the prophet like Moses and he came from amongst the Jews.
What is fascinating is how many parallels there are between the life of Moses and the life of Jesus which make the words, “like me” mean much more than just in the ‘prophet’ sense:
Both had to escape from the wicked slaughter of babies from paranoid kings.
Both were raised by their natural mother and an adoptive father.
Both found refuge in Egypt yet neither remained there.
Both had an encounter with God in the wilderness which defined their life’s ministry.
Both visibly radiated the glory of God after an encounter with God on a mountaintop.
Both were messiahs who led God’s people out of slavery into a place of abundance.
There are probably even more parallels but it’s interesting just how much they share the same story and how both represent something of who God is and what His mission in the world is.
Whenever you have two things which appear the same there is always the question of which one is the original and which one a copy.
The key difference between Jesus and Moses is that one is the original and the other is a copy, and even though Moses was born and lived centuries before Jesus was born, Jesus is the original and Moses the copy.
This is what the writer of the letter to the Hebrews says about this relationship:
“For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.)
Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” (Hebrews 3:3-6 ESV)
The difference here which clarifies who is the original and who is the copy is that one is faithful to God as a son and the other is faithful as a servant.
When we look to Moses and to the law we can only ever see what is expected of us as servants in being faithful to God as He is faithful to us. We must fulfil this as a servant because it is not innate to us.
Jesus however is God’s unique son and for him it is completely innate to be faithful to God, just as it is innate to any of us to be faithful to our own fathers.
The good news of Christmas is that God has come into the world in Jesus, who is the prophet just like Moses, only instead of being a servant he is a son. He has not come into the world to get rid of the law but to fulfil it by being a faithful son, and he hasn’t come to hit us over the head with the law but to free us from its power over us because of our sin.
If we break the law then we deserve to be punished according to whatever the law prescribes, but Jesus has come to show us an alternative offer. We can be a son instead of a servant.
This is amazingly good news!
We no longer have to live our lives in a way whereby we continually break God’s law as a servant and stand guilty under it. We can choose instead to be sons and treat Him as our Father, being faithful to Him as we would to our own dad.
This Advent, may you know that Jesus is God’s unique son and not a servant.
May you know that he has come to offer you his own life so you too can be a son or daughter of the living God.
May you know that as a son you are free from the law which means you are also free to fulfil it, just like Jesus.