One of the most well-known figures in the Bible, Moses was a servant and prophet of God whose life, faith and leadership were exceeded by few people. In leading the Israelites out of Egypt and to the Promised Land, Moses’ life shows time and time again, that he is one the greatest types and shadows of Jesus Christ in Scripture.
Types and Shadows – Key to Understanding the Bible
This article is based on the idea of “types and shadows” in the Bible. This is essentially the Bible’s way of foreshadowing future prophetic events through Old Testament Scripture. When discussing Old Testament stories in 1 Corinthians Chapter 10, the Apostle Paul wrote: “Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11). Christians today should read the Old Testament with an eye to their meaning in our present day lives and looking at types and shadows of Jesus Christ and prophetic events to come are most often where they direct us. The life of Moses is one such example.
Officials Wanted Him Dead From Birth
The Pharaoh of Egypt during Moses’ life saw the people of Israel growing within his borders and wanted their population control. He inflicted harsh slavery upon and started a campaign of genocide to wipe out the male children:
Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land… But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.
And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah: And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive…And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive. — Exodus 1:8-22.
Out of hatred for the Israelites, Pharaoh ordered all the male babies to be killed. Moses’ was forced to make an escape plan:
And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink. And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him. And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river’s side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it.
And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews’ children. Then said his sister to Pharaoh’s daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child’s mother. And Pharaoh’s daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the women took the child, and nursed it. And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water. – Exodus 2:2-10.
When Jesus was an infant, he too faced a genocidal campaign at the hands of King Herod:
Behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. – Matthew 2:8-20.
Not only was Jesus subject to a genocide campaign against Jewish male children, he was taken to Egypt during the time his family hid to escape Herod.
Moses Gives Up His Royal Position To Save His People
As the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, Moses was literally a prince of Egypt. He was raised in the palace of the most powerful world empire at that time. Yet he knew all that time that he was a Hebrew and that his people were suffering. And he gave up his lavish lifestyle, to help save the Israelites. Hebrews 11 records the decision Moses made:
By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment. By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. – Hebrews 11:23-27.
Jesus, the Son of God, and God Himself, surrendered His Divine state to literally lower Himself and become a human being. Like Moses, Jesus did not have to become human. He chose to, because it was the only way that humanity could be saved.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. – Philippians 2:5-8.
Hebrews 2 confirms this in saying:
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. – Hebrews 2:9-10.
Jesus voluntarily lowered Himself, from sitting upon the throne of glory in Heaven, to being born in a manger in Bethlehem. He chose to leave the worship of millions of angels who serve Him, to become a human being living among sinful, wretched humanity. He was willing to live a life where he now hungered, thirsted, suffered pain, temptation and even death, so that He could be the “captain” of our salvation, leading all people who believe in Him to Heaven through His sacrifice. Moses similarly left his high position as a Prince of Egypt to become the captain of the Israelite nation, leading them to into the Promised Land, which itself is a type and shadow of Heaven. Moses was willing to surrender the “good life”, riches and splendor, to suffer for The Lord and bring eternal wealth to his people (B&E: The reader would do well to take this example to heart. Are you willing to pass up on worldly goals and achievements if God calls you in a different direction? Pray for the strength to make that decision).
A Unique Relationship With God
As The Son Of God, and God Himself, Jesus Christ had a relationship with God The Father that no one in the Bible ever had. In the Book of John, Jesus says: “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.” (John 6:46). At Jesus’ baptism God also let the world know that Jesus was indeed the Son of God and above all people who had ever lived on Earth by speaking directly from Heaven:
And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. – Matthew 3:16-17.
Moses, who was just a man, and a prophet of God received a special distinction from the Lord as well:
And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold. – Numbers 12:6-8.
Unlike other prophets in Scripture, The Lord spoke to Moses directly. God also appeared to Moses in person at the tabernacle, but only revealed part of Himself:
And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen. – Exodus 33:17-23.
Moses saw a part of God on Earth in His full glory of goodness. Jesus, who is fully man and fully God, was the only one who has seen the Father face to face. Note that in Moses’ request, it was after God told Him to take the people to the Promised Land. Moses, whom God had revealed so much to, wanted to know The Lord even more before the challenges that lay ahead of him. This is the attitude of a humble servant of God. Before taking on a trying situation, seeking the knowledge of God to strengthen and fill one with His Spirit, for the journey to come. Jesus, who knew God in His fullness and was with Him in His Presence since before time itself, still sought God in prayer once He was born as a human being on Earth, showing that all people must rely on God and seek Him, to accomplish things for His glory.
It is difficult to find any person in the Bible who performed more miracles than Moses. As God sought to punish the rebellious pagan Pharaoh for refusing to free the Israelites, Moses was empowered to drop hailstones on the Egyptian empire. He then sent a plague of locusts to destroy the land. And in parting the Red Sea, he allowed God to conquer Pharaoh and all of his armies in one fell swoop by drowning them all when the waters returned to normal. Jesus of course performed many miracles from healing the blind and those who could not walk to making food appear for 5,000 to raising Lazarus from the dead. The miracles served to establish that Jesus was indeed sent of God that people would believe His Words.
Delivering A Covenant
Moses brought the ten commandments and the entire Law of God of the Old Testament to the Israelite nation. The law served as the guiding principles for Israel as God’s chosen nation on Earth to be a light to the world and an example of righteous, holy living. From the Christian perspective, the law, also known as the Mosaic law (in honor of Moses) was the Old Covenant. It was the original a representation of God’s moral standards and what living a truly Holy life entailed. But because of sin in humanity, no person could keep the law. In some way form or fashion, all people violated one of more of the laws and thus were under its curse: “Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.” –Deuteronomy 27:26.
Breaking the law in one place brought the curse of death and punishment on a person. This was a standard that no person could keep. As Romans 3:23 states: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God..”. No one is “good” or “holy” in God’s eyes. That was until the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus fulfilled the law by living a perfect life. And then in offering Himself as a willing sacrifice for the sins of humanity, He became the New Covenant. During the Lord’s Supper, the Passover feast Jesus ate with His disciples just before His crucifixion, he confirmed this:
And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.—Matthew 26:27-28.
Where the Mosaic Law let every person know they were guilty sinners before God, the New Covenant provides forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
The Brass Serpent
During the journey in the wilderness, the Israelites were constantly murmuring and complaining to Moses about the harsh conditions of their journey. On one such occasion in Numbers chapter 21, the Lord punished them severely for it:
And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. –Numbers 21:6-9.
These poisonous serpents were killing many of the people who had complained against God’s provision. This moved the Israelites to go to Moses and confess their sins to him. They repented of their rebellion against God and prayed to be saved from sure death. Moses’ prayed to God on behalf of his people and The Lord provided a cure. The brass serpent was held up in the air on a pole and whoever looked to it, would live. This entire account is a type and shadow of our salvation in Jesus Christ. Because of our sin, all people are “poisoned” and sure to die to live in hell for eternity. But God provided a way to escape certain death through Jesus Christ. The Israelites in the wilderness recognized their sin, confessed it and looked to God for a solution. And all they had to was look at the serpent, to be healed. Similarly, when we acknowledge our sins to God, we also receive healing by looking to Jesus Christ and believing in Him. Jesus confirmed this in John Chapter 3 when explaining the way to Heaven to the Pharisee Nicodemus:
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. – John 3:14-15.
Indeed the brass serpent held by Moses was a foreshadow of what Jesus would do for all mankind, providing eternal life for those who believe in Him.
Marrying A Gentile Wife
And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it. (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.) And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out.
And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth. And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and he departed. And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous. –Numbers 12:1-10.
Moses married an Ethiopian woman which prompted anger and jealousy among his siblings, Miriam and Aaron. At this point, Miriam, a prophetess, was chief among women in Israel and Aaron was High Priest over the nation. Rather than being happy for their brother, they were angry and started to question if Moses should even be leader of the Israelites, despite the fact that He had done so much and God had demonstrated the close relationship they shared. God obviously approved of the marriage and judged Miriam by giving her leprosy, a disease which in ancient times meant certain death.
Jesus too married Himself to a Gentile bride – the Church. Though He came to Israel first, “his own received him not” and thus the Gospel went out to the Gentile nations all over the world who are literally “the bride of Christ.” Christianity does not belong to one particular nation or people. Jesus told His disciples to go into all the nations of the world to share the good news of forgiveness of sins and eternal life in Him. In discussing the relationship between the Jews and the Gentile Christians, Paul explains that in the rejection of Christ, spiritual blindness has come over much of the nation of Israel:
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father’s sakes. — Romans 11:25-28.
And so it is the case that today much of Israel does not acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Son of God or anyone of significance. But once the Gentile church has come to the “full,” the blindness will be removed and Israel will turn back to God and look to Jesus to be saved. This is even seen in Miriam’s punishment as God did not let he die from leprosy:
And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee. And the LORD said unto Moses, If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in again. And Miriam was shut out from the camp seven days: and the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in again. – Numbers 12:13-15.
Notice we see even more similarities here as Moses asks as a mediator between Miriam and God. Jesus too is the one mediator between God and man. And as Jesus redeems those who believe in Him, saving them from hell, Miriam was healed from her leprosy and certain physical death. She was also redeemed and not left behind, neither will the nation of Israel be left out of salvation and the eternal Kingdom when those living near the end times will experience a massive revival during the 7-year tribulation and return to Jerusalem after the 7 years at the Second Coming of Christ.
There are even more parallels between Jesus Christ and His servant Moses but these examples, Lord willing, will highlight the patterns which The Lord uses in Scripture to edify believers. The types and shadows in the Bible help illustrate the importance of knowing the Old Testament and how God has chosen to reveal much of His Word in the Bible. Not only will this help explain why certain accounts are in Scripture but it will help confirm much of the Bible prophecies that have yet to be fulfilled. Continue to read Scripture and look for God’s “writing style” and may you be blessed with even greater revelation.
“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” – Jesus Christ. John 5:39.