Moses and Jesus, Comparatively Speaking (Pt 1)
“Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, As in the day of trial in the wilderness, Where your fathers tried Me by testing Me, And saw My works for forty years. Therefore I was angry with this generation, And said, “They always go astray in their heart; And they did not know My ways”; As I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest.’ ” Heb 3:7-11
Having established Jesus’ superiority to the angels in the first two chapters, here, in chapter three, the Spirit through the writer begins to work on Jesus as superior to Moses. In reference to that, the Holy Spirit calls us to consider Jesus in two ways in comparison to Moses. As The Apostle; and as the High Priest of our confession. It is in this context that the writer is moved to quote from Psalm 95:7b-11. “Today, if you would hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness; when your fathers tested Me, they tried Me, though they had seen My work. For forty years I loathed that generation, and said they are a people who err in their heart, and they do not know My ways. Therefore I swore in My anger, truly they shall not enter into My rest.” NAS
Moses-a means to compare
The Hebrew letter is about contrasts and comparisons utilized as a means to help the church to appraise properly the value of the things of the Covenant of the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:6). Moses is just one such means of comparison that helps us to appraise things properly concerning Christ.
Moses was the servant chosen by the LORD to be his apostle to the physical nation of Israel, the one sent to deliver the message of their deliverance from bondage. We should be reminded that this was after 80 years of preparation. Forty years being “educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and a man of power in words and deeds.” (Acts 7:22). Then forty years as “an alien in the land of Midian” (Acts 7:29). After forty years of learning humility, Moses was ready and so was the LORD. At the burning bush on Horeb, Moses was called out of Midian and into service for the LORD as His apostle, sent with a message of deliverance for Israel.
Moses faithfully communicated the words of God first to Pharaoh, then to the physical house of God, Israel. Through Moses, wonders and miracles, the works of the LORD, were wrought to demonstrate that he alone had been given ultimate authority to speak on behalf of the LORD. When that authority was challenged by Pharaoh, another plague was sent, another bitter lesson was to be learned by the owner of the hardened heart.
After having been released from Egypt and delivered from the Egyptian army through the parting of the Red Sea, it only takes three days for the whining to start! Remember brethren, this is after 10 plagues left Egypt a smokin’ hole, and the parting of the Red Sea, to which they were eyewitnesses and participants!
At Marah in the wilderness of Shur, they came across some bitter water, grumbled at Moses (and thus, the LORD) saying “What shall we drink?” Ex. 15:22-24) After a little intercessory action by Moses of throwing a tree into the water to make it sweet and consumable, the LORD then let the nation know through Moses that this was a test and a standard had been set. It had to do with obeying the voice of the LORD via His spokesperson. “There He made for them a statute and regulation, and there He tested them. And He said, ‘If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the LORD, am your healer.’ ” (Ex. 15:25b-26) The point? Provision and protection come when one believes and obeys, which is a description of Biblical faith.
By the second month on the fifteenth day after coming out of Egypt in the wilderness of Sin (apropos, eh?) they’re at it again because they have nothing to eat. One more test the LORD gives seeing if they will walk in His instruction concerning the collecting of the daily manna. (Ex. 16:1-5) Ok, they’ve got it now, right? Wrong. Some go out to collect it when they’re not supposed to on the seventh day, the Sabbath.
Exodus 17:1-7 records the events to which our text refers and the Psalmist alludes. Sometime probably around the end of the second month after coming out of Egypt, they arrive in Rephidim where there’s no water to drink. The people quarrel with Moses telling him to give them water to drink. Moses wants to know why they’re quarrelling with Him and testing the Lord yet again. The LORD has Moses strike the rock, it brings forth water and the rebels’ thirst is quenched. Moses then names the place “Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the LORD saying, ‘Is the LORD among us or not?’ ” (Ex. 17:7)
This event is archetypical of the hardened hearts of the generation that came out of Egypt who would provoke the LORD and test Him continually. The climax of their rebellion came in their rejection of His promise that with His help, they could take the Promised Land. The result was that generation’s carcasses falling in the wilderness.
Moses’ role as apostle to the nation of Israel is there as a type so that we, as the church, can properly appraise that which the Son has spoken from Heaven. Next week, we consider Jesus and His superiority to Moses as our Apostle.