Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Do Not Be Afraid of Him — Part II

By Anthony Rogers


Having shown in Part One that the prophecy of Deuteronomy 18 was not and could not have been speaking of Muhammad, it remains only to show who the ultimate fulfillment of the passage really is. Although the previous article was dispatched in short order, focused as it was on Muhammad, about whom the passage has nothing positive to say, the present paper will naturally be somewhat longer since the focus is now on “... the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (John 1:45)1

Getting the Big Picture

Before coming directly to the heart of the matter, there is something in the wider context that is noteworthy, because suggestive, to state it mildly, of the direction in which one should be looking for the fulfillment of this prediction.

Whereas the prophetic office was a significant one in Israel, the context of Deuteronomy 18 reminds us that there were two other offices that were equally important in the Israelite economy and God’s plan of redemption: the offices of king (Deuteronomy 17:14-20) and priest (Deuteronomy 18:1-13). It is not surprising therefore that along with delivering the promise of another great prophet to come in the future, the Spirit of God moved Moses to speak of these other offices as well. Appointment to all three offices was formally signified by the act of anointing,2 from which the words Messiah (from Hebrew) and Christ (from Greek) are derived, which pointed to the coming of the Holy Spirit to an individual, consecrating and empowering him for divine service.

Although it is clear that a succession of kings and priests is in view in the words of Moses found in Deuteronomy 17-18 regarding these other offices, it is just as clear from other places in the Law of Moses and the rest of the Old Testament that the kingly (e.g. Genesis 49:10; Numbers 24:19) and priestly (Genesis 14; Psalm 110; cf. Hebrews 7:1ff.) offices would each climax in one singularly great individual. Conversely, it is also clear from the whole Bible that there would be a succession of prophets, even though the passage in Deuteronomy 18 only emphasizes one great prophet to come,3 of whom all other prophets would serve, more or less, as types, with Moses being the foremost type of all. In other words, Moses speaks here in chapters 17 and 18 of many kings and priests but throws into emphasis a particular prophet, even as the rest of Scripture (including the Law of Moses) points to the coming of a particular king and priest but details the calling and careers of many prophets, with everything leading up to and converging in one person who would outstrip or be the climax of them all.

Over time this great individual spoken of throughout the Old Testament came to be called the Messiah (in Hebrew) or the Christ (in Greek), because, unlike those kings, priests, and prophets who came before Him, all of whom were anointed, He would hold all three offices simultaneously, would sum up their fullest import, and would discharge the duties associated with them in a way that none of those prior to him ever did or could. Accordingly, this person would not simply be on a par with and anointed like those prior to Him, He would be set above them, being anointed beyond measure. Simply put: He would not merely be an anointed one or a messiah (which is just to say, He would not be just one more prophet, priest, or king among many); instead, He would be the Anointed One or the Messiah. In the words of the Psalmist:

“You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever ... Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” (Psalm 45)

Likewise, the prophet Daniel spoke of the coming of “the anointed one”, “the prince” (or ruler), who would be “the most holy”, and whose coming would be to “put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness”, as well as “to seal up vision and prophecy” (Daniel 9:24-27). The prophet Isaiah said that the Spirit of God would rest upon Him (Isaiah 11:1ff.), thus anointing Him to proclaim the good news, the news that the year of the Lord’s favor had come (Isaiah 61:1ff.). King David even declared in Psalm 2 and Psalm 110 that this anointed one would be God’s own Son, the Lord at His right hand, the king and heir of all things, a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, and therefore that all people must kiss and worship Him.

One of the things this means, among others, is that it can be no objection if the person who comes after the fashion or similitude of Moses is at the same time greater than him, for that is just what the prophecy of Deuteronomy 18 (taken in context and along with the rest of Scripture) confirms. In fact, no Muslim should raise such an objection, since in practice they hold Muhammad to be greater than Moses, with reputable Muslim authorities even being forthright enough to admit this in theory: “Here is a prophet [i.e. Muhammad – AR] and a book [i.e. the Qur’an – AR], greater than Moses and his book. Are you going to reject him and it?”4 Furthermore, the logic of their own Qur’an, at least in some places, forces this posture upon Muslims as well. More importantly, Jewish sources also point out that the Messiah, whom they took to be the one prophesied in Deuteronomy 18, would be greater than Moses (not to mention Abraham and the ministering angels):

It is written, Behold, my servant shall deal wisely, He shall be exalted, and extolled, and be very high (Isaiah 52:13). It means, He shall be more exalted than Abraham of whom it is written, 'I lift up my hand' (Genesis 14:22). He shall be more extolled than Moses of whom it is said, 'As a nursing father beareth the nursing child' (Numbers 11:12). 'And shall be very high'—that is, Messiah shall be higher than the ministering angels.)5

And so the context reminds us of the larger Scriptural expectation of a chosen one who would not only be like Moses, but would, as the promised Messiah/Anointed One, the very Son of Yahweh, also be greater than Moses. In keeping with this the New Testament speaks of the Lord Jesus being conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 1:35), of having the Spirit officially descend and remain upon Him at the time of His baptism (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22), even above measure or without limit (John 3:34), of working mighty miracles and casting out demons by the Spirit of God (Acts 10:38), of offering Himself up on the cross through the eternal Spirit (Hebrews 9:14), and even of being vindicated (1 Timothy 3:16) and “declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness” (Romans 1:4). It is upon this very basis – that because Jesus became a man, even the appointed Messiah, and was anointed and invested with the Spirit to perform the great work given to Him by His Father, a work that He willingly undertook and perfectly executed – that Jesus received a kingdom and the promised gift of the Holy Spirit, which He in turn bestowed and poured out upon His people.6 (See John chapters 14-17; Acts chapters 1-2)

The Case for Jesus

With the above in mind, we may now move on to the specifics of Deuteronomy 18.

As was already pointed out in Part One, whatever else may or may not be true of the coming prophet, and whatever other points of comparison there may or may not be between him and Moses, the Chosen One has to be like Moses in at least the following three ways in order to meet the specific terms of the prophecy: a) he has to be an Israelite; b) he has to speak directly with God; and, c) he has to have a divinely attested public ministry marked by miraculous signs and awesome deeds. These are the sine qua non of the prophecy, the bare necessities. If a prophet comes and puts forward all manner of other credentials, however impressive, but fails to meet even one of the aforementioned criteria, let alone all three, as we saw in the case of Muhammad, he is not that prophet. However, provided a person does in fact meet these criteria, other considerations or comparisons may most certainly be made, especially if the points of correspondence are of such an unusual and striking nature as to virtually demand that we see a link between them.

Accordingly, we turn now to see how the Lord Jesus exactly fulfills the specific terms of the prophecy, and, following this, how other points of correspondence between the life and ministry of Moses and Jesus are so arresting that we are compelled to view Moses’ life as a divinely decreed, providentially ordered and prophetically revealed type or foreshadowing of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Among Thy Brethren

The fact that Jesus was an Israelite is a matter beyond question. The genealogies and other statements of Scripture bear this out, and since the Qur’an and other Islamic sources do not dispute but rather confirm this, it is a point that doesn’t need to be stressed. There is however a very pregnant observation to be made from this: not only was Jesus an Israelite, He was – given the exalted dignity of His royal person, divine nature, and high calling and work as the appointed Messiah – the embodiment and the completion of Israel itself. The following points demonstrate and draw this out:

1. Above all individuals it could be said of Him, Jesus, that he was/is the Prince of God, which is involved in the meaning of the word Israel: “And he [i.e. the LORD] said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed (KJV, Genesis 32:28).”7 As the true Son and Heir of the Father, the one by Whom and for Whom all things were made (Colossians 1:15ff.), Jesus was, and is, “the Mighty God, the prince of peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Furthermore, Jesus was chosen (and chose) from all eternity to be Messiah the Prince (Daniel 9:26-27), the one who would appear in the fullness of time and seal up vision and prophecy to become – through His incarnation, perfect life, atoning death, victorious resurrection, glorious ascension and session at the right hand of the Father – the “Prince and Savior” of those who believe (Acts 5:31).

2. Not only is Jesus the epitome of what the name Israel means, He is even called Israel by the prophets, as can be seen not only by a careful examination of the great Servant Songs, as they are called, of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 42:1-9, 49:1-7, 50:4-10; and 52:13-53:12), where the corporate solidarity between the promised Servant of Yahweh and His elect people gives rise to the name Israel being applied alternately to each, but by the way these same prophecies are applied to the Lord Jesus in the New Testament (Luke 2:25-35; Matt. 12:15-21; Acts 13:47). Furthermore, Jesus puts Himself forth in this light, as for example when He says He is the true vine (John 15:1ff.), a figure elsewhere used for Israel by the prophets (Isaiah 5:1; Jeremiah 5) and even by Jesus Himself (Matthew 20 and 21).

3. That Jesus is the true Israel is why (and is also further confirmed by the fact that) Jesus recapitulates the history of the nation of Israel. Just like Jacob (who was renamed Israel) had twelve sons (Genesis 49:28), so Jesus called twelve disciples (Matthew 10:1ff); just like Israel as a young nation was brought down into Egypt under the patriarch Joseph (Genesis 48-50), so also Joseph, Jesus’ (adoptive) father, took Jesus down into Egypt when a child (Matthew 1:13-15); just as Israel was called God’s son by elective birthright (Exodus 4:22; Deuteronomy 8:5), so Jesus was God’s Son by nature (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9); just as God called His elect son, Israel, out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1), who then passed through the Red-Sea to be tested in the wilderness (where Israel failed), so Jesus, God’s eternal Son, His perfect image, was called out of Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15), eventually passed through the waters of baptism, and was immediately driven by the Spirit into the wilderness where He was tested by God and tempted by Satan (wherein He proved Himself and prevailed).8

In these ways and more Jesus is shown to be not only an Israelite but Israel par excellence, the true prince of God, the one who embodied in His own person all that God desired of the nation of Israel, the one who overcame where the entire nation failed (for in retracing Israel’s steps He also atoned for her missteps), the one in whom all Israel’s hopes (and the hope of the world) were centered and realized.

This means that Jesus was not only qualified to fulfill the promise of the coming prophet who would be an Israelite, one of their own brethren; it shows that if anyone was qualified, then Jesus was qualified all the more.

I Will Put My Words Into His Mouth

It is also clear from many lines of evidence that Jesus was a prophet who received and spoke the words of God, not only in the general sense that was true of all prophets from Moses onward (Numbers 12:4-8), but in the special sense that was only otherwise true of Moses since his time.

This is true on more than one level. To see this, several things should be remembered: in the first place, God spoke audibly to Israel under Moses, as Exodus 20:18 makes plain. Secondly, because the Israelites were terrified by this direct encounter with God, attended as it was by awesome displays of God’s power, glory, and holiness, they beseeched Moses to speak with God alone, to be, as it were, a go between with God, a mediator of divine revelation (Deuteronomy 5:22-32). Thirdly, when Moses did as the Israelites implored, and as God Himself approved, Moses returned to them with a face that radiated with the glory of God, having been transfigured in the presence of Yahweh on the mountain and successively thereafter in the tent of meeting where they spoke face to face (Exodus 34).

In each of these ways we have a direct correspondence to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, for not only did God the Father audibly testify to Jesus from heaven at His baptism (Matthew 3:16-17, Mark 1:10-11, Luke 3:21-22), after the triumphal entry (John 12:27-29), and on the mount of transfiguration (Matthew 17:5, Mark 9:7, Luke 9:35; 2 Peter 1:16-18), but, at least on the latter occasion, Jesus’ face was transfigured before His disciples, revealing not simply the reflected glory of God, as was true in the case of Moses, but a glory that was already His by nature (Hebrews 1:1-3), a glory that He shared with the Father from all eternity (John 17:5), a glory that He veiled during His earthly ministry (John 1:1-18; Philippians 2:5-11). This glory of Christ was on full display after His resurrection and ascension, and is a fact to which both Paul and John bore witness (Acts 9:1-9; Revelation 1:9-17). Furthermore, the very words spoken from heaven on these occasions were that Jesus is His [i.e. the Father’s] Beloved Son, and that all men are to “Hear Him.” In fact, at the transfiguration these words were spoken to the disciples in the presence of Moses (and Elijah), as he was conversing with Jesus about His approaching “exodus” (the literal Greek word translated “departure” in most English versions).

In fact, if all that isn’t enough to clinch the matter, the fact that Jesus spoke the words of God is all the more true in the case of the Lord Jesus, for as the very Word of God (John 1:1; 1 John 1:1; Revelation 19:13), the Father’s eternal self-expression, image, or Son (Colossians 1:15; 1 Corinthians 11:7; 2 Corinthians 4:4), Jesus stood in a face to face relationship with the Father from all eternity (John 1:1). This renders Jesus preeminently, even exclusively, capable of exegeting and revealing the Father and His Words to men (Matthew 11:25-30; John 1:18; John 14:1-14), which is something Jesus did in a preliminary and tertiary way through the prophets of old, especially in His role to them as the Angel/Messenger of Yahweh, but perfectly, finally, and publicly in His own person at the time of his advent in the flesh:

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power ... (Hebrews 1:1-3)

Like Unto Me

As for the third and final criterion indicated in Deuteronomy 18, there can be no question that Jesus was like Moses in many striking ways, many of which will be pointed out momentarily. But there is one way that stands out above the others and that calls for immediate mention and particular emphasis, a way that no degree of eloquence or rhetorical flourish could bestride, and that not even a satanically-charged ability to perform lying signs and counterfeit miracles could trump, as Pharaoh’s court magicians learned in the course of their dealings with Moses.

As said in part one, the ministry of Moses was abundantly attested and accredited by the Spirit and Finger of God, who anointed him and superintended his ministry, enabling him to perform and/or herald such miracles, signs and wonders as the world never saw before and was never to see again until the coming of Jesus. Not only is this a clear, identifying feature of Moses’ ministry, one evident from the story itself, written as it is across every page, but it is the very thing that the book of Deuteronomy singles out, along with seeing God face to face, when describing what a prophetic likeness to Moses entails.

And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel. (Deuteronomy 34:10-12)

This is just how Jewish sources understood the prophecy of Deteronomy 18, saying, that, even as Moses brought the nation of Israel to the Lord, so the Messiah would do so as well, but with the difference that the Messiah would not draw just one nation but people from every nation, kindred, and tongue:

'A Prophet from the midst of thee.' In fact, the Messiah is such a Prophet as it is stated in the Midrash of the verse, 'Behold my Servant shall prosper' (Isaiah 52:13) ... Moses, by the miracles which he wrought, brought a single nation to the worship of God, but the Messiah will draw all peoples to the worship of God.9

We’ve already seen that Muhammad was not comparable to Moses in this regard, for so at least the Qur’an concedes, saying that Muhammad was not given miracles like Moses (S. 28:48); over against this there is the Gospel of Jesus, and, as Yusuf Ali said: “There is no story more full of miracles than the story of Jesus.”10

The following passages are but a small sampling of what the New Testament relates on this score:

“Jesus was going throughout Galilee, ... healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics and He healed them. (Matthew 4:23-24)

“When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: ‘He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.’” (Matthew 8:16-17)

“Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, ... and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.” (Matthew 11:35)

“And large crowds came to Him, bringing with them those who were lame, crippled, blind, mute, and any others, and they laid them down at His feet; and He healed them. So the crowd marveled as they saw the mute speaking, the crippled restored, and the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.” (Matthew 15:30-31)

“When Jesus had finished these words, He departed from Galilee and came into the region of Judea beyond the Jordan; and large crowds followed Him, and He healed them there.” (Matthew 19:1-2)

“And Jesus entered the temple ... and the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them.” (Matthew 21:12-14)

“And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.” (Mark 1:34)

“When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, ‘Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands?’”

“They were utterly astonished, saying ‘He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’” (Mark 7:37)

And He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and He was teaching them on the Sabbath; ... And amazement came upon them all, and they began talking with one another saying, “What is this message? For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits and they come out.” And the report about Him was spreading into every locality in the surrounding district. (Luke 4:31, 36-37)

While the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on each one of them, He was healing them. Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But rebuking them, He would not allow them to speak, because they knew Him to be the Christ. (Luke 4:40-41)

Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place; and there was a large crowd of His disciples, and a great throng of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were being cured. And all the people were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all. (Luke 6:17-19)

When the men came to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, ‘Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?’” At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind. And He answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM.” (Luke 7:20-22)

And all of this is just the tip of the iceberg, for not only do the Gospels report that Jesus healed the blind, the deaf, the mute, the lame, the leprous, and all manner of other ailments and diseases, or that He had authority over demons and brought the dead back to life, but they even tell us that He exercised authority over nature, such as cursing a fig tree so that it withered, changing large quantities of water into wine, walking on water, and even commanding and exercising authority over the winds and the waves. Given this it is little wonder the apostle John concluded his account, saying:

Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:30-31)

To single out just one of Christ’s miracles for special mention, after Jesus said the following to the Jewish authorities,

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. I do not receive glory from men; but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words? (John 5:39-47)

He crossed over the sea of Galilee, went up a mountainside, and looking up to see a large crowd of about five thousand people who had followed after him, He took five small barley loaves and two small fish and fed them all. And then we read: “After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, ‘Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world” (John 6:14), a statement that finds similar expression elsewhere, as for example in the very next chapter when Jesus stood up and proclaimed Himself to be the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles, which was enjoined by Moses in the Torah: “On hearing His words, some of the people said, ‘Surely this man is the Prophet.’” (John 7:40)

Moses A Foreshadowing of Jesus

Unlike Muslims who are unable to show that Muhammad met even one of the necessary conditions of the prophecy to begin with, which renders any and all other considerations null and void, Jesus not only met the terms in the fullest sense imaginable, but in His life, words and works Jesus provides us with such substantive parallels to Moses as to easily trounce those that Muslims have proffered in favor of Muhammad. Consider the many striking parallels between the life and ministry of Moses and Jesus that follow:

  1. Just as Moses came after four centuries of prophetic silence as the penultimate fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham, so Jesus came after four centuries of prophetic silence as the ultimate fulfillment of the words spoken by all the prophets from Abraham to Malachi;
  2. Just as Moses was delivered as a baby from the wrath of Pharaoh, a pagan who ruled over the people of Israel, and who ordered the slaughter of the innocents (Exodus 1-2), so also Jesus was delivered as a baby from the wrath of Herod, another pagan who ruled over Israel, who also ordered the slaughter of all male children (Matthew 2);
  3. Just as Pharaoh was outwitted by the midwives, which allowed Moses to survive, so Herod was outwitted by the Magi, which providentially insured that Jesus would not die before the appointed hour;
  4. Just as Moses forsook Egypt’s glory to identify with the people of God (Hebrews 11:24-26), his brethren (Exodus 2:11), so Jesus left heaven’s glory to identify with His people (2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:6-7), not being ashamed to call them His brethren (Hebrews 2:11);
  5. Just as Moses was told to return and see to the deliverance of Israel, because “all the men who were seeking your life are dead” (Exodus 4:19), so Jesus returned to deliver Israel after the word came from heaven: “... for those who sought the child’s life are dead” (Matthew 2:20);
  6. Just as Moses performed miracles by “the finger of God” (Exodus 8:19), so did Jesus (Luke 11:14-28, esp. vs. 20).
  7. Just as the first of the ten signs of Moses’ against Egypt was turning the water into blood, from the water of the Nile all the way down to the water found in their stone jars, so Jesus’ first sign was to turn water into wine at a wedding feast, which was contained in stone jars, and wine is used thereafter to represent Christ’s blood, the blood of the New Covenant (many other parallels can be found between the signs given to Moses and those performed by Jesus)11;
  8. Just as Moses passed through the sea into the wilderness, so Jesus passed through the waters of baptism and was driven into the wilderness by the Spirit (Matthew 3:13-4:11);
  9. Just as Moses fasted for forty days on the mountain as He communed with God (Exodus 34:28), so Jesus fasted forty days (Luke 4:2);
  10. Just as Moses ascended Mount Sinai to receive the law after his forty days of fasting, so Jesus, after forty days of fasting, delivered His great Sermon on the Mount, where He disabused the Law from the false glosses and interpretations of the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 5-7).
  11. Just as Moses was tested in the wilderness, where he proved himself a faithful servant in God’s house, so Jesus was tested in the wilderness and proved Himself a perfect Son, worthy of His rightful place over God’s house (Hebrews 3);
  12. Just as Moses was transfigured on the mountain (Exodus 34), so Jesus was transfigured on the mountain (Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36);
  13. Just as Moses took three men with him up the mountain – Joshua, Aaron, and Hur (Exodus 24:1ff), so also Jesus took with Him Peter, James and John;
  14. Just as Moses interceded for Israel when she sinned, even expressing his willingness to lay down his life on her behalf (Exodus 32:19-35), so Jesus interceded and ever lives to intercede for those He willingly died for (Romans 8:34);
  15. Just as Moses, at God’s command, effected the redemption of Israel by directing every household to sacrifice an unblemished lamb at the Passover (Exodus 12), so Jesus is the true Passover, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (1 Corinthians 5:7; John 1:29, 36);
  16. Just as Moses lifted up a serpent on a pole as a sign to look upon and be saved from temporal calamity (Numbers 21), so Jesus was lifted up on the cross and saves all those who look upon Him for eternal salvation (John 3:14);
  17. Just as Moses provided bread from heaven, which a man could eat but still eventually die, so Jesus is the true bread from heaven, which a man could eat and live forever (John 6);
  18. Just as Moses provided water from a rock by striking it with his staff (Exodus 17; Numbers 20), so Jesus was struck, causing water to flow out of His side (John 19:34; see also 1 Corinthians 10:4);
  19. Just as Moses constructed the tabernacle in which the glory of God came to dwell, so Jesus is the Word and glory of God who became flesh and tabernacled among us (John 1:14); in addition, Jesus is building a New Covenant tabernacle/temple, consisting of all who are indwelt by His glorious Spirit (Ephesians 2:1-22, see esp. vs. 21);
  20. Just as Moses mediated the Old Covenant between God and Israel, ratified by the blood of sprinkling (Exodus 24), so Jesus mediated the New Covenant in His blood (Matthew 26; and Hebrews 9).

This is part of the reason why the apostle John said, “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). The upshot of this verse is that Jesus is the realization, the fulfillment of what was foreshadowed or typified in and by the person and ministry of Moses and the Mosaic Covenant or Law.

Joshua and Jesus

A further line of evidence that helps to solidify Jesus as the true fulfillment of Moses’ prediction is to be found in the person of Joshua, Moses’ long time aide and immediate successor, who, as such, also serves as a type of the Lord Jesus.

Although not in the final sense the prophet spoken of by Moses, as some have erringly asserted, and as Deuteronomy 34:10-12 expressly refutes, it is surely no accident that God chose (Numbers 27:12-23) and commissioned (Deuteronomy 31:1-23, 34:1-9) Joshua to succeed Moses as the prophet-leader of the people of Israel.

The significance of Joshua in pointing the way to Jesus already appears from his very name, which was intentionally changed by Moses from Hoshea to Joshua (Numbers 13:8, 16). Speaking of the import of this name, the book of Sirach says, “Joshua the son of Nun was mighty in war, and was the successor of Moses in prophesying. He became, in accordance with his great name, a great savior of God's elect” (46:1).

The reason this is significant is because Joshua and Jesus are the same name: the former being translated into English from the Hebrew Yehoshua; and the latter being a transliteration into English of the Greek form of this name, i.e. Iesous. (In Aramaic this name is rendered “Yeshua”.)

This can be followed up with another list, similar to that above with regard to Moses, showing prophetically significant parallels between Joshua and Jesus, i.e. how Joshua in the Old Testament provides several prophetic-pointers, pre-pictures or foreshadowings of the Lord Jesus Christ.

1) Although it was given to Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt and reveal the Law, it fell to Joshua to lead the people into the promised rest of Canaan.

In his death and resurrection Jesus is the anti-type of both Moses and Joshua. In his death Jesus paid the penalty of the law, thus serving as the counterpart of Moses, apart from whose death the people could not enter the land; and in his resurrection and spiritual conquest He is the complement of Joshua, leading His people into the eternal rest of God (Hebrews 4). As Meredith Kline said, “... Jesus is both dying Moses and succeeding Joshua. Not merely after a figure but in truth a royal Mediator redivivus, he secures the divine dynasty by succeeding himself in resurrection power and ascension glory.”12

2) Even as the Lord parted the Red-Sea for Moses so that the children of Israel could pass through, so the Lord caused the Jordan River to stand up in a heap for Joshua, allowing the people to cross over into Canaan.

Similarly, at the beginning of His work to secure eternal rest for God’s people, the Lord Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, it being necessary in order to fulfill all righteousness. Even though the Jordan was not then parted or made to stand up in a heap, in good anti-typical13 fashion a much greater thing occurred: “Immediately coming up out of the water, He [Jesus] saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased” (Mark 1:10-11).

The Greek word used for “opening” in Mark means “being parted.” This is reflected in one way or another in various translations, for example: “torn open” (NIV, NEB); “torn apart” (Jerusalem Bible); “split open” (Phillips); “cleft” (Moffat); “parting” (NKJV); and “parted” (Revised Berkley Version).

3) The day the people crossed the Jordan under Joshua is the same calendar day that Moses commanded the people of Israel to choose the lamb for the Passover sacrifice (Exodus 12:1-3; cf. Joshua 4:19); when the Lord Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, John the Baptist, whose mission was to identify the Chosen One to Israel (John 1:29-34), cried out: “Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”.

4) After Joshua and the people crossed the Jordan, Joshua was to choose twelve men, and he was to choose twelve stones to represent them and the tribes over which they were appointed as leaders. The stones were to serve as witnesses of the Lord’s redeeming acts (Joshua 4:1ff.).

Similarly, after Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, He chose twelve disciples (Mark 3); later appointing them to be His witnesses, and not simply throughout Israel but to the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8). These twelve apostles were promised that they would judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28). They are also each represented by a stone (Revelation 21:12-20), the same basic kind of stones earlier given to Moses to represent the twelve tribes (Exodus 28:17-21).

5) Although previously commanded to observe the rites of Circumcision and Passover under Moses, the people of Moses’ generation proved unfaithful to this charge; it was left to Joshua to renew the covenant with their children and administer these rites so the people could receive the promised inheritance (Joshua 5:1-10).

Similarly, after the Old Covenant proved ineffective due to man’s sin, the Lord Jesus came and established a New Covenant, and instituted the rites of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which correspond to Circumcision and the Passover meal.

6) What God was doing with Israel was a microcosm of God’s plan for the entire world. Under Joshua the entire land of Canaan was to be inherited by the Lord’s people; under Jesus the earth is to be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:1-16).

This all serves to show in advance how the prophecy of Moses of one coming who would be like him would be fulfilled. The fulfillment would come in Joshua, i.e. Jesus – the one for whom the very heavens would be parted and upon whom the Spirit of God would come to rest; the one who would be the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world; the one who would appoint twelve men to be His witnesses to the uttermost parts of the earth; the one who would establish a New Covenant, a covenant of grace, and provide the effective circumcision, a circumcision not done with human hands and in the flesh, but a circumcision by the Spirit in the very heart of man, a reality that is signified by baptism (Colossians 2).


Although it leaves a great deal more to be said, for it is truly the study of a lifetime, the facts that have been presented, I am convinced, are plain enough to say, without controversy, that Jesus was an Israelite, He spoke directly with God, and his ministry overflowed with wonder working power, the scope and quality of which had not been seen since the days of Moses and have not been seen since. All of this, accentuated by the many and varied parallels between the life, character, and teachings of Moses and the Lord Jesus Christ, only a select number of which have been given, as well as the foreshadowing of Jesus provided in Joshua, lead to one inescapable conclusion: Jesus is the Prophet whose coming was foretold in Deuteronomy 18. In the face of the evidence presented above, all protestations to the contrary must be put down to an obtuseness and/or obdurateness of the most radical kind.

Since Jesus is the true Prophet, the one Moses wrote about in the Law, the one all men are finally to listen to, the one who calls to all and promises rest to those who come, His words cast out all fear. Those who “Hear Him”, i.e. Jesus, have no reason to “fear him”, i.e. Muhammad.


1 The passage just quoted brings up an important observation: over against the otherwise curious vagaries of the Qur’an, where Muhammad is supposed to have said that his coming was prophesied in the Torah and the Gospel (S. 7:157), but does not there or elsewhere ever go on to quote the relevant passage (or passages) where such prior testimony is believed to be found, even though he should have had access to such even without the help of Jews or Christians since he supposedly held converse with the angel Gabriel, the apostles are clear in seeing the fulfillment in Jesus, providing both clear allusions and direct quotations (e.g. the apostle Peter in Acts 3:1-26 and Steven in Acts 7:37-53).

This observation also has a broader application: not only is Muhammad silent at this particular (and one would assume crucial) point, but he is everywhere silent when it comes to showing his competence in the “previous” Scriptures. In this way Muhammad was very much unlike Jesus and the apostles who time and time again gave evidence that theirs was not a superficial knowledge of the Scriptures, such as one might have by merely overhearing them rehearsed or paraphrased on certain privileged occasions, but a studied and spirit-inspired familiarity. To say the least: Muhammad’s silence is deafening and makes it look suspiciously like he was not only unstudied, as he admitted, but that he was not in touch with the primal source of revelation either.

Not only does it stand to reason that Muhammad would demonstrate such insight, if what he claimed was true, but it is just such an interpretation that is provided by Ibn Kathir when commenting on Surah 2:99-103:

“Imam Abu Ja’far bin Jarrir said that Allah’s statement, ‘And indeed We have sent down to you manifest Ayat,’ means, ‘We have sent to you, O Muhammad, clear signs that testify to your prophethood.’ These Ayat are contained in the Book of Allah (Qur’an) which narrates the secrets of the knowledge that the Jews possess, which they hid, and the stories of their earlier generation. The Book of Allah also mentions the texts in the Books of the Jews that are known to only the rabbis and scholars, and the sections where they altered and distorted the rulings of the Tawrah. Since Allah mentioned all of this in His Book revealed to His prophet Muhammad, then this fact alone should be enough evidence for those who are truthful with themselves and who wish to avoid bringing themselves to destruction due to envy and transgression. Further human instinct testifies to the truth that Muhammad was sent with and the clear signs that he brought which he did not learn or acquire from mankind. Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn ‘Abbas said that, ‘And indeed We have sent down to you manifest Ayat,’ means, ‘You recite and convey this Book to them day and night, although you are an Ummi (unlettered) who never read a book. Yet, you inform them of what they have (in their own Books). Allah stated that this fact should serve as an example, a clear sign and a proof against them, if they but knew.’” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged), Vol. 1, Parts 1 and 2 – Surat Al-Fatihah to Verse 252 of Surat Al-Baqarah, Abridged By A Group of Scholars Under the Supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri, p. 311)

2 The following passages are among those that point to the act of anointing that took place for each of these offices: King (1 Samuel 9:15-16), Priest (Exodus 40:15), and Prophet (1 Chronicles 16:22; Psalm 105:15).

3 Deuteronomy 18 puts the word ‘prophet’, which is singular, in the emphatic position, before the verb in Hebrew, both at verse 15 and at verse 18. Even though this may be taken in a collective or in a distributive sense, as I think it should be so understood, leaving the door open for a succession of prophets, as indeed there were many after Moses, it just as clearly indicates that one person in particular of the class of prophets is especially in view here. For more on this, go to: Appendix I: The Prophet and the Prophets.

4 Yusuf Ali, The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an, fn #2711. See also #’s 289, 366, 779, 1127, 1131, 1132, 1732, 1878, 2181, 2278, 2473, 2501, 3943, 6749, and 6221.

5 Midrash Tanhuma (Israel: KTAV Publishing Company, 1989), p. 166-67

6 One of the characteristic mistakes that Muslims make when it comes to identifying who Jesus is, i.e. both God and man, is confusing His office and function as the Messiah, together with the accompanying messianic investiture, whereby the Father gave the Son the Holy Spirit, authority, and a command to execute a certain work, with what the Son is ontologically or by nature from eternity. But it might be asked at this point, if Jesus was not divine as well as human, how could God bestow such things on a mere creature? The Spirit beyond measure? All authority in heaven and on earth? The task of redeeming and saving sinners? However Muslims might answer all of this, the Bible is clear in telling us that the possibility and reality of such rests upon the antecedent fact that Jesus is divine, the eternal Word or Son of the Father. It is only because Jesus was/is not merely a man but the divine Word of God that such a bestowal could take place. It is a lamentable shame that men would cast the Lord’s condescending love in His exalted face when what He did in humbling Himself was for the sake of saving sinners.

7 The name ‘Israel’ is of disputed derivation, with some scholars and lexical sources seeing it derived from a verb meaning “to persevere”, “to prevail”, or “to struggle”, and others seeing it derived from a verb meaning “to rule as a prince” (coupled with the word El, which means God). I have adopted the latter meaning, which enjoys the support of various translations such as the KJV, used above, Young’s Literal Translation, and is reflected in a footnote to the New King James Version. In addition, this position also appears to have been held by ancient Jewish interpreters, as may be discerned from the rendering found in the Targum of Onqelos: “No longer shall your name be called Jacob, but rather Israel; FOR you are a prince before the Lord and among men; therefore you have prevailed.”

Keeping in mind that Ancient Near Eastern cultures ascribed greater prominence to the meaning of a person’s name – especially in a Semitic and Hebraic context, as here, where we have the added fact that one’s name is being changed by God Himself – so that it is held to reveal the nature, character, and destiny of the one who bears it, and this understanding of the name Israel fits nicely with observations like the following:

When the Lord promised Abraham that kings would come from his loins, He changed his name from Abram, meaning ‘father of many’, to Abraham, ‘father of many nations’, and He also changed Sarai’s name to Sarah, which means ‘princess’ (Genesis 17, whole chapter). Both Abraham and Sarah were the grandparents of Jacob, who was eventually renamed Israel. In fact, another account of Jacob’s name change, which is given in Genesis 35:9-12, is followed up by this same promise to Abraham being made to Jacob:

“God appeared to Jacob again after he returned from Paddan-aram, and He blessed him. God said to him: Your name is Jacob; you will no longer be named Jacob, but Israel will be your name. So He named him Israel. God also said to him: I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply. A nation, indeed an assembly of nations, will come from you, and kings will descend from you. The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you. And I will give the land to your descendants after you.”

“‘He will be prince with God,’ or ‘contender of God,’ (pugnator Dei, Winer), the fut. of the root sarah, to be princely, as regards power, or to wage war, Ge. 32. 29; Hos. 12. 4, and El, God, vid. Abdiel” (Alfred Jones, Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1990), p. 167)

Even if the other derivation is taken as the correct one, there can be no question that Jesus struggled, persevered, and prevailed (had power) with God, both in His work of redemption and in His ongoing work of intercession.

“But it may be asked, wherein consists that resemblance of the Messiah to Israel, on account of which he here receives his name. Most Messianic interpreters here find a reference to the twenty-eighth verse of the thirty-second chapter of Genesis; according to which, the name Israel, ‘one who contends with God,’ was given by Jehovah to Jacob, after his wrestling with him. Christ deserves this name in its highest sense, since by his vicarious life and suffering he mightily contended with God and prevailed.” (E. W. Hengstenberg, Christology of the Old Testament, translated from the German by Dr. Reuel Keith, abridged by Thomas Kerchever (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, [1847], 1970), pp. 237-238)

For a brief online source discussing the etymology and meaning of the name Israel, see here.

8 This gives all the more poignancy to the fact that every one of Christ’s Scriptural responses to Satan during His wilderness experience came right out of the mouth of Moses as they were spoken to Israel during her time of trial in the wilderness. To see this, one may simply compare Matthew 4 with Deuteronomy chapters 6-8.

9 Rachmiel Frydland, What the Rabbis Know About The Messiah (Cincinnati, OH: Messianic Publishing Company, Messianic Literature Outreach, 1991), p. 22

10 Yusuf Ali, The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an, fn #937.

11 Of additional interest here is: Jesus tells them to “draw out” the wine and take it to the ruler of the feast (2:8); and the meaning of Moses’ name is to “draw out”, for he was drawn out of the Nile (Exodus 2:10).

12 Meredith Kline, Treaty of the Great King: The Covenant Structure of Deuteronomy (Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1963), p. 41

13 The type/anti-type language used here should not be misunderstood. The idea is not that the former and the latter stand opposed to one another, but that the two correspond to each other in a way analogous to a sign and the reality that it points to, or to a shadow and the actual substance or embodiment of something. The word “anti” in this connection means “in the place of” rather than “against.” Furthermore, in the nature of the case, the reality is greater than the sign, the substance than the shadow.