25
Jun
12

In These Last Days–Chapter 3 Jesus the Messiah: The Apostle Whom We Confess

CHAPTER 3

JESUS THE MESSIAH:
The Apostle Whom We Confess

Clearly, the writer of this epistle assumes his readers have come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. In the first two chapters of his treatise he makes no effort to convince his readers that Jesus is the Christ. Instead, he exhorts them to give careful attention (2:1) to God’s “so great salvation” based on their common acknowledgement that Jesus is Lord (2:3). Jesus has been exalted to the throne and crowned with glory and honor.

In this chapter and the ones that follow we will examine the message of the epistle considering the two-fold division around which the writer arranges his argument. In Heb 3:1 he writes, “. . .fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. In the first main division of his argument, the writer calls on his readers to consider (fix their thoughts on) the Son, the ruler of the world to come, in contrast to the mediator and messengers of the Old Covenant (1:5-4:13). As “the apostle whom we confess,” God has sent Him to give us a full revelation of Himself and His redemptive purposes. In contrast to the fragmentary revelation of the Old Covenant, He has spoken to us by His Son (Heb 1:2). In the second main division of his argument, he contrasts the Son, the New Covenant high priest after the order of Melchizedek, with the high priests of the Old Covenant (4:14-10:18). As “the high priest whom we confess,” He speaks to God about His people. He now appears in the heavenly holy place to plead our cause before God. This He does by presenting His full and final sacrifice by which He has reconciled us to God.

Though the writer refers to Jesus, not as our “prophet” but as the “apostle” whom we confess, clearly it is His prophetic ministry that he has in mind. An apostle was one whom God had sent with divine authority to confront men with God’s message. As we shall see, the same was true of biblical prophets. Since the writer intends to compare and contrast Jesus and Moses, it follows that these two must have had the same or similar ministries. Moses and those who followed him functioned as prophets. Since the people had requested that they not “hear the voice of God anymore,” God appointed intermediaries between Himself and them. Moses was Israel’s lawgiver in the sense that he received the law from God and delivered it to the people. He was a faithful servant in God’s household.

Jesus has now replaced Moses as lawgiver. Yet, He comes not as a servant in the house but as a Son over His own household. He speaks as one having authority.

WHAT IS A PROPHET?

Before we begin to examine the prophetic ministry of Christ, we need to define the meaning of the term “prophet.” Perhaps the most common conception of a prophet is that he is a person who foretells the future. Yet, though it is true that biblical prophets were often involved in predicting future events, this was not a prophet’s primary function. Most often, it was the task of old covenant prophets to confront the Israelites with their disobedience to and rebellion against Jehovah with whom they had broken covenant. God intended the predictive aspect of their ministries to give believers in Israel hope as they anticipated the establishment of Jehovah’s reign on earth.
Normally, we think of the old covenant prophetic order as beginning with Samuel. In one of his sermons, recorded in Acts 3:12-26, Peter says, “Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after. . . .” (Acts 3:24). Yet, Moses made it clear in Deuteronomy 18:15-22, that his function as Israel’s leader was a prophetic function. He said,

15The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. 16For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.” 17The LORD said to me: “What they say is good. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth and he will tell them everything I command him. 19If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account. 20But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death.” 21You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?” 22If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.

These verses provide us with important information concerning the nature and function of the prophetic ministry. They teach us that:

1. A prophet is a person whom God has sent (raised up) to reveal His will to His people (v.15).

2. He is one who speaks in the LORD’s name, that is, on the LORD’s behalf, in His place, and with His authority (vv.16-18).

3. A prophet’s message cannot be safely ignored. His words are God’s words. Those who refuse to hear the words of God’s prophet must give an account to God (vv.15,19).

4. A prophet who speaks his own message or who speaks in the name of other gods is a false prophet. He must be put to death (v.20).

5. The predictions that a true prophet of Jehovah makes will always come true. God’s prophets are accurate in their predictions 100% of the time (v.22).

6. False prophets may be safely ignored (v.22).

Besides stating these general principles concerning the prophetic ministry, Moses predicts in these verses that God will raise up another prophet like himself. The relationship between Moses and this new prophet is that of typical correspondence. If, therefore, we want to understand that relationship, it is necessary for us to understand the nature of biblical typology (see Appendix B).

MOSES, A TYPE OF CHRIST

It seems clear that God intended Moses, as a historic person, and the “redemptive historical” events of the Exodus typically to represent and thus predict Christ and the spiritual redemption that He has accomplished. If this is true, then we should view Christ as a second Moses, the law-giver (and prophet) of the new covenant. There are several factors that support this conclusion. We will briefly consider the following: 1. The widespread acknowledgment by the common people in Israel that Jesus was “that prophet.” 2. Direct references to and application of this prediction (Deut 18:15-22) to Christ as the predicted prophet, 3 Exodus typology recognized by NT writers (including explicit comparisons and contrasts between Moses and Jesus).

“THAT PROPHET”

There can be little doubt that the common people in Israel were expecting “that prophet” that Moses had predicted in Deuteronomy 18. Jesus also plainly presented Himself as a prophet. In all four Gospel accounts of His ministry He, speaking about Himself, reminded the people that “a prophet is not without honor except in his own country” (Matt 13:57; Mark 6:4; Luke 4:24; John 4:44). His disciples recognized Him as “a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people” (Luke 24:19).

The matter about which they were uncertain at the beginning was the identity of the prophet. John relates the account of an interrogation of John the Baptist by the priests and Levites from Jerusalem (John 1:19-28). When they asked him pointedly, “Are you the prophet?” he answered, “no!”(1:21). There can be little question that John was a prophet. Yet he wanted them to understand that he was not the long expected prophet of Moses’ prophecy.

The woman at the well of Sychar perceived that Jesus was a prophet (John 4:19), but there is no indication that she recognized Him as the prophet of whom Moses had spoken

Yet, as Jesus continued to show His glory through the signs that His Father had given Him to do, the common people began to recognize that He was that prophet. Those who witnessed the sign that did in feeding the five thousand concluded, “This is truly the prophet that is coming into the world” (John 6:14). Later, some of those who had gathered for the Passover festival again exclaimed, “This is truly the prophet!” (John 7:40). It was this very idea that those in authority were seeking to dispel (John 7:52). Despite the unbelief of official Jerusalem, many of the common people clearly recognized Jesus as the prophesied prophet.

NT CITATIONS OF DEUTERONOMY 18:15-22

There are two direct citations of Moses’ prophecy in the New Testament Scriptures (Acts 3:22-23; 7:37). Stephen’s citation is shorter than Peter’s and does not reveal the identity of the prophet. Peter’s citation, on the other hand, makes it clear that Jesus is the prophet about whom Moses was speaking. He said,

19Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you–even Jesus. 21He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22For Moses said, “the Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; . . .26When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you. . . .

EXODUS TYPOLOGY

When we consider the pronouncements of our Lord Jesus concerning the Old Testament Scriptures, it must not escape our notice that He claimed to be the theme of that body of truth (Luke 24:27,44; John 5:39,46). There is a real sense in which the Jews of Jesus’ day could claim that they “delighted in the law of God. . .” (cf. Rom. 7:22). Yet, in doing so they had failed to delight in the God of the law. They had become convinced that the Old Testament Scripture was a law-centered book. In truth, it was a Christ-centered book. It was the design of Jesus and the New Testament writers to show that the Old and New Testament Scriptures were not competing and contradictory documents.The same God had inspired both documents. Both reveal one overarching redemptive purpose. Both report God’s redemptive activity on His people’s behalf in a way that clearly lends itself to analogical investigation and discovery. Christ is the central message of both the Old and New Testament Scriptures.

Redemption is one of the dominant themes in the Old Testament Scriptures. Consequently, it is not surprising that the Exodus and God’s mighty, redemptive acts that effected it became a recurring theme throughout the Old Testament Scriptures. God’s powerful deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage was the decisive event that formed Israel as a nation before Jehovah. It was this event that became the prototype for all God’s subsequent acts of redemption in Israel. Throughout the history of that nation, the Israelites were reminded that Jehovah was the God who had “brought them up out of the land of Egypt” (See, for example, Neh. 9:9-25; Isa. 63:11-14; Jer. 2:6-7; 16:14-15; Mic.6:4-5). It is on the ground of this great deliverance, and Jehovah’s revelation about Himself through it, that He encouraged Israel to expect repeated deliverances from her enemies” oppression. Throughout the Psalter, Jehovah is remembered and praised as the one who brought Israel out of Egypt (see Psa. 78:16; 80:8; 81:10; 105; 106:43). R.E. Nixon writes,

But when history and religion are seen to be closely related, when men believe that there is a God who orders and disposes the affairs of the human race according to His own good pleasure, the Exodus stands out as the most significant of His mighty acts until His own entry into the world in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Both the Exodus and other Divine acts of deliverance that conformed to its pattern during the old covenant period became types of the spiritual redemption that Christ has accomplished for His new covenant people.

Though it is beyond the scope of this study to trace every occurrence of Exodus typology in the New Testament, we want briefly to notice three examples in which clearly the writers regard Jesus as the second Moses, the prophet and law-giver of the New Covenant.

Synoptic Gospels

Matthew 2:11-7:29

It is difficult to ignore the striking typological correspondences that Matthew highlights in the arrangement of his Gospel. First, he clearly expects his readers to recognize the analogical relationship between Israel’s departure from Egypt under Moses’ leadership and the Egypt experience of Jesus’ early childhood. He applies an Old Testament text that originally referred to Israel’s Exodus from Egypt (Hosea 11:1), to the flight of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus into Egypt (Matt.2:14-15). He could legitimately use Hosea’s words in this way because the word “son” had taken on generic significance. It could refer to Israel as a nation, to Christ who is the quintessential Israelite, or to those who are in Christ who is the Son, in the supreme sense.

We must not overlook the purpose of this flight into Egypt. Jesus and His parents fled there to escape Herod’s attempt to exterminate all male Israelites under the age of two. Surely, Matthew wants us to see a parallel between this attempt and that of the Pharaoh in Moses’ day. Perhaps there is also a parallel between Israel’s passage through the Red Sea (cf. 1 Cor. 10:2) and Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan (Matt. 3:13-17).

Immediately following Jesus’ baptism, He entered the desert to be tested (Matt.4:1-11). Nixon has pointed out that Israel’s desert experience mirrors that of Jesus. He wrote,

There can be little doubt that the forty days in the wilderness are a miniature of the forty years which Israel spent in the wilderness, as in a sense was Moses’ forty days in the mount. The temptations put to Christ are basically those to which Israel had yielded. Where they had been dissatisfied with Yahweh’s provision of manna (Num.11:1ff), He is tempted to turn stones into bread (4:3). Where they put God to the test at Massah demanding proof of His presence and power (Ex. 17:1ff), He is tempted to jump from the Temple pinnacle to force God to honour His promises (4:5f). Where they forgot the Lord who had brought them out of Egypt and substituted a molten calf for Him (Ex. 32:1f), He is tempted to fall down and worship Satan (4:8). Christ is shown to meet the temptation not arbitrarily but deliberately from Moses’ summary in Deuteronomy of the history of Israel in the wilderness.

Jesus, the consummate Israelite, passed through the desert and was subjected to the same kind of temptations that the nation had faced. But, unlike them, He was the victor.

Following His victory over the temptations of Satan, Jesus began to announce that the kingdom was near. Under Moses’ leadership at the time of the Exodus, God had constituted Israel a nation. In announcing the nearness of the kingdom, Jesus began to establish an antitypical nation. By His visit to Zebulun and Naphtali, He indicated the ethnic makeup of the new spiritual nation that He was about to establish (4:12-17). In His kingdom there would no longer be a distinction between Jew and Gentile. Now people from every nation would, through faith, become the people of God.

Just as Moses had climbed Mount Sinai and received the Law at the time of the Exodus, so Jesus ascends a mountain and gives the laws of His kingdom to His disciples (Matt. 5:1-7:29). In the so-called “sermon on the Mount,” Jesus did not merely speak as an interpreter of the old covenant law. Douglas Moo writes, “The “I say to you” emphasizes a new and startling focus on the authority of Jesus of Nazareth, an authority that goes far beyond a restatement of the OT law.” He spoke as the one who would fulfill (and therefore replace) the old covenant (5:17) and the kingdom with which it was associated.In its place He would establish a new covenant and a universal, spiritual, and eternal kingdom. Obedience or disobedience to His sayings (“these words of mine”–7:24) became the acid test of the reality of a person’s profession (7:24-27). Jesus spoke as the new Moses, the prophet and law-giver of the new covenant. He spoke “as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law” (7:29).

Luke 9:28-36 (and parallels)

Clearly the Synoptic writers regarded the mount of transfiguration experience a fulfillment of “Exodus typology.” Jesus ascended the mount with three companions (Luke 9:28) just as Moses had done (Exo 24:1). Moses’ face shone with the brightness of God’s glory (Exo. 34:29). Both Jesus’ face and His clothing were gleaming and flashing forth like lightning (9:29). Moses and Elijah (representatives of the Law and the Prophets respectively) appeared in glory and were discussing Jesus’ departure (exodos) which He was about to fulfill in Jerusalem. Nixon has commented, “For the instructed Christian reader of the Gospel that could mean nothing less than the repetition of God’s mighty acts of redemption in His death and resurrection at Jerusalem.” Our Lord, as Moses had done, descended from the mount to find a faithless and perverse generation (Luke 9:41).

The most arresting feature of this event is the witness that God the Father gives concerning the prophetic authority of Jesus. It seems significant that Luke informs his readers that Moses and Elijah “were going away from Him [Jesus]” (v.33) when Peter spoke and suggested that they should pitch three tents; one for Moses, one for Elijah, and one for Jesus. Luke then tells us that Peter “did not know what he was saying.” He did not yet understand what was about to happen when Jesus “fulfilled the Exodus.” He was thinking that the authority of the old covenant could remain on an equal footing with the authority of Jesus, the prophet and law-giver of the new covenant. The authority of the old covenant was departing. The force of his suggestion is that the old and new covenants should continue to have equal authority in the kingdom that Jesus came to establish. In the words that came from the cloud “This is my beloved (chosen) Son; hear Him” (v.35), there is a clear echo of the prophecy and promise that God had made to Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.” Finally Luke tells us that when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone (v.36). He does not intend for us to understand that Peter, James, and John were no longer there. Verse thirty-seven tells us that the next day they came down from the mountain. What he is telling us is that the authority of the old covenant (represented by Moses and Elijah) is gone, and Jesus alone remains as the authority for the new covenant believer.

This does not mean that the Old Testament Scriptures are no longer valuable. What it means is that they are not valuable as an authoritative rule of life for believers under the new covenant. Their primary value is in what they teach us about Christ who now rules alone.

Hebrews 3:1-4:13

Clearly the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews drew on the Exodus typology in showing that Christ, our New Covenant prophet, is far superior to Moses and all the prophets of the Old Covenant. In Heb 3:1-4:13 the writer shows that Jesus, the second Moses, although like Moses, is superior to him. He first shows how Moses and Jesus are alike and then draws a contrast between them. He shows that they are alike in the following ways: 1. Both Moses and Jesus were faithful in the execution of their duties (v.2), 2. Both Moses and Jesus were messengers appointed by God (v.2). 3. Both Moses and Jesus are worthy of honor and respect as God’s messengers (v.3).

After showing the ways in which Moses and Jesus are alike, he draws the following contrasts: 1. Jesus is worthy of greater honor than Moses (v.3). Because, a. He built (furnished) the house; Moses is part of the house[hold]. b. Moses is a servant in the house; Christ is a Son over His own house[hold]. 2. The rest that Moses spoke of was only a type of the spiritual and everlasting rest that Jesus gives His people. Neither Moses nor Joshua could lead Israel into the fulfillment of God’s promised rest (3:7-4:13). Therefore, we must conclude, not only that Jesus is “the prophet like Moses’ that God had promised, but also that He is a better prophet than Moses was. We shall consider the details of Jesus’ superiority over Moses and Joshua in a later chapter on the inheritance theme in Hebrews.

THEOLOGICAL CONCLUSIONS

There are certain theological conclusions that we can draw from the material we have examined. The following are some of the more important ones:

1. Moses, and the old covenant he mediates, is inferior to Christ (the second Moses) and the new covenant He mediates. The type is always inferior to the antitype. R.E. Nixon writes, “The Old Testament can only leave men expectant, it cannot make them satisfied. . .The Old Testament predicts a pattern, the New Testament proclaims a fulfillment.”

2. The continuity that exists between the old and new covenants is that of type to antitype and of promise to fulfillment. The Church does not replace the nation of Israel in the sense that the Church now equals Israel. The Church is rather a totally new creation that fulfills that which characterized Israel in type and promise.

3. Christ is the central theme and message of both the Old and New Testament Scriptures.

4. God did not intend for Moses to continue as the law-giver after the antitype he predicted (Christ) had arrived. The antitype (the fulfillment), by its very nature, supersedes the type that predicted it.

5. We must reject every pretended prophet who does not come to us with God’s words.

6. Christ is now the law-giver for His people. We must hear and obey Him. He alone is the Lord of His Church.

7. We who have heard Jesus, the greater law-giver, have a greater responsibility than did Israel under the law (Old Covenant).

8. Christ alone, by His Spirit, can open the Scriptures to us. We must depend on Him.

Advertisements

0 Responses to “In These Last Days–Chapter 3 Jesus the Messiah: The Apostle Whom We Confess”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: