Advent Devotional | Day 6: Jesus and Moses

Burmese text

Burmese / Deuteronomy 18:15–22

The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.
– Deuteronomy 18:15

Myanmar has for centuries been a strongly Buddhist country, but in the daily life of the Buddhists, religious practices are different from the teachings of Buddhism. Thus, the Burmese spiritual quest is connected to a belief in all spiritual beings in the most inclusive form. They are still fascinated by horoscopes, fortune telling, witchcraft, and weird cults as means to find the solution to their daily survival in a socio-economic crisis. On the other hand, there are a variety of so-called prophets in Myanmar today who utter things outside the Bible’s teaching, and many Christians follow their utterance without testing to make sure that what the prophet says fits with the Word of God.

God’s people in the wilderness faced the question of how they would know God and His ways in the world. Deuteronomy 18:15–22 is preceded by a section in which Moses commanded the Israelites not to “imitate the detest­able ways” of the Canaanites and other tribes who listen to magicians and diviners. The prohibition against using the pagan sources mentioned in the section does not mean that the Lord would not provide a way to access Him or receive His guidance. Moses promised the people: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him” (Deuteronomy 18:15). This passage teaches that the Lord would supply prophets to Israel who would proclaim His Word to His people and make Him and His ways known. Eventually, He would send the ultimate prophet, Jesus Christ.

As one of the great prophets and leaders of the Old Testament, it is not surprising that Moses should be a type of Christ. The prefiguring of Christ we see in Moses goes beyond the prediction of a prophet like himself. Several significant events in Moses’ life foreshadow the life of Jesus and so help us to recognize God’s work in and through Him. Like Moses, Jesus’ life was threatened as a child and God intervened to preserve Him. Like Moses, Jesus had a sojourn in the wilderness and a key experience lasting forty days and nights. Both provided bread for God’s people miraculously. Both delivered God’s instruction to the people authoritatively (and both from a mount, no less). Both were rejected by God’s people and yet delivered God’s people. Both fill the roles of prophet, priest, and ruler among God’s people.

Given these connections between Moses and Jesus from the Old and New Testaments, we can confidently conclude that Deuteronomy 18:15–22 is ultimately a messianic prophecy, fulfilled in Jesus. In its immediate context, the last verses help God’s people distinguish between true prophets and false prophets so they know whom to trust of those who would come after Moses. But the ultimate fulfilment of this prophet like Moses is Jesus the Messiah, God Himself in the flesh (John 6:14; 7:40). This second Moses serves as the mediator between God and people through His death on the cross and His intercession at God’s right hand. Jesus is the living Word of God who, like no one and nothing else, makes God known through what He says and does.

Amid false prophets from the church and other false hopes for answers, we know that God has not remained aloof, unknowable, and silent. Rather, through Moses, the prophets that followed him, and in the last days through Jesus, God has faithfully revealed Himself and His ways to us. What great news to celebrate and affirm again this Advent season! While people in Myanmar face the current socio-political-economic crisis, the false prophets are twisting the biblical truth in the name of God to follow the ways of envy, self-seeking, and exploitation, and many look to other sources for wisdom to navigate these hard times. But the people of God in my country and around the world can and must look to Jesus. His teaching and example of obedient love for God and sacrificial love for neighbour are God’s way and the way to life.

Author in Southeast Asia

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