The In-Between Years - Part 39

Series: The In-Between Years

June 20, 2021
Brad Shockley

Episode Notes

The In-Between Years — Part 39

We are almost done digging down deep into Stephen’s message delivered before the Sanhedrin, recounted by Dr. Luke in Acts chapter 7. It’s long but good. Stephen, a Greek-speaking Jew who accepted the risen Jesus as LORD and Messiah, doesn’t defend himself against charges of blasphemy. Instead, he retells the story of his people through the lens of Jesus.

He anchors his retelling in the Hebrew heroes Abraham, Joseph, and Moses. We’ve had quite a few sermons on just Acts 7 because Stephen summarizes entire OT books in just a few words. I’ve tried to take us back and look at those stories in more detail. I don’t know about you, but I’ve really enjoyed doing this.

We’ve followed Stephen’s retelling of Moses’ story almost to the end. And as I mentioned last week, Stephen is about ready to deliver the thrust of his message, but before we go there, I wanted to take the time — as we did with Abraham and Joseph — to look at Moses through the lens of Jesus. The parallels between the two are striking and obvious when you see them. It’s no surprise when you consider what Stephen said about Moses, actually quoting the words of Moses himself…

37 This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’  Acts 7:37 (ESV)

It’s from the book of Deuteronomy where Moses tells the people…

15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—  Deuteronomy 18:15 (ESV)

Just like Jesus is the fulfillment of the blessing-promise to Abraham, he is the fulfillment of the prophet-promise of Moses.

Jesus is the prophet like Moses who would come from among the Jews. Are you ready to see that more clearly? Put your seatbelts on. Here’s the top ten parallels Stephen saw when he looked at Moses’ story through the lens of Jesus. Here we go…

1. Moses, a Jew by birth, was born when Egyptians (gentiles) ruled the people of Israel (Ex. 1:8-10).[1]

8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.”  Exodus 1:8–10 (ESV) 

Jesus, a Jew by birth, was born when Romans (gentiles) ruled the people of Israel (Lk. 2:1-5).

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. Luke 2:1 (ESV)

2. An evil ruler, Pharaoh, decreed that all male Hebrew babies should be killed by casting them into the river (Ex. 1:22).

22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”  Exodus 1:22 (ESV)

An evil ruler in the time of Jesus, Herod, decreed that all male Hebrew babies should be put to death (Mt. 2:16).

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.  Matthew 2:16 (ESV)

3. Moses was hidden in Egypt 3 months to keep him alive (Ex. 2:2).

2 The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months.  Exodus 2:2 (ESV) 

Jesus was also hidden in Egypt to keep him alive (Mt. 2:13).

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”  Matthew 2:13 (ESV)

4. Moses was brought up by a man who was not his natural father (Ex. 2:9-10).

10 When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”  Exodus 2:10 (ESV)

Jesus was brought up by his stepfather, Joseph (Lk. 2:33).

19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  Matthew 1:19–20 (ESV)

5. Moses, when grown, saw the burdens of his people and had compassion on them (Ex. 2:11).

11 One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people.  Exodus 2:11 (ESV)

Jesus saw His people as sheep without a shepherd and had compassion on them (Mk. 6:34).

34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.  Mark 6:34 (ESV)

6. Moses was in exile in a foreign land until the king of Egypt died (Ex. 2:23).

23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God.  Exodus 2:23 (ESV)

Jesus was in exile in a foreign land until King Herod died (Mt. 2:19-20).

19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”  Matthew 2:19–20 (ESV)

7. Moses was very humble and meek. (Num. 12:3).

3 Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.  Numbers 12:3 (ESV)

Jesus was “gentle and lowly” (Mt. 11:28- 30).

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28–30 (ESV)

8. Moses instructed Israel to remember how the Lord delivered them from Pharaoh with a special passover meal (Ex. 12:25-27)

25 And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. 26 And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’ ” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.  Exodus 12:25–27 (ESV)

Jesus instructed His disciples to remember him through a meal we call the Lord’s Supper.(Lk. 22:14-20).

19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”  Luke 22:19 (ESV)

9. Moses delivered the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage through blood of an unblemished lamb (Ex.12:13, 23). (greatest parallel of all)

1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. 3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. 7 “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.  Exodus 12:1–13 (ESV)

Jesus delivered us all from the bondage and slavery of sin through His blood. Jesus is the Lamb of God slain for our sins..

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!  John 1:29 (ESV)

18 You were rescued from the useless way of life that you learned from your ancestors. But you know that you were not rescued by such things as silver or gold that don’t last forever. 19 You were rescued by the precious blood of Christ, that spotless and innocent lamb.  1 Peter 1:18–19 (CEV)

FYI: Got this list from Messianic Jews. I’m only sharing the top ten of 50 parallels. Look for this in the Sunday Paper. Okay, there’s one more I’d like to share.

10. Moses as deliverer was rejected by His people over and over.

Jesus as deliverer was rejected by His people.

9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.  John 1:911 (ESV)

This rejection parallel is what Stephen will use to make his point before the council. Remember that.

Conclusion: The connections we make when looking at the story of Israel through the lens of Jesus are striking and intentional, evidence that the hand of God has written all of Scripture and influenced all of history. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham. Joseph is a type of Jesus but better. Moses is a type of Jesus but better. The writer of Hebrews wrote…

1 My friends, God has chosen you to be his holy people. So think about Jesus, the one we call our apostle and high priest! 2 Jesus was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in serving all of God’s people. 3 But Jesus deserves more honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house deserves more honor than the house. 4 Of course, every house is built by someone, and God is really the one who built everything. 5 Moses was a faithful servant and told God’s people what would be said in the future. 6 But Christ is the Son in charge of God’s people. And we are those people, if we keep on being brave and don’t lose hope.  Hebrews 3:1–6 (CEV)

I’ll let my favorite NT scholar have the last word in today’s message. He comments on this Hebrew text but it really applies to what we’ve looked at in Stephen’s message…

The early Christians faced two equal and opposite pressures. On the one hand, traditional Judaism was quite clear that God had given Moses his law, and that this law was absolute and binding on God’s people for all time. It was unalterable, inflexible, unchanging, uncompromising. If you took that line, then the best you could say about Jesus was that he was bringing some new insights into the keeping of the law; but Moses would remain the senior partner, and the law would continue to determine the shape of God’s people. And that would mean that God’s new age still hadn’t arrived.

On the other hand, many early Christians were so excited to think that the new age had indeed arrived that they were eager to move as fast as they could in the opposite direction. They were with Jesus, therefore there was nothing good to say about Moses at all; nothing good to say about the law; nothing good to say about Israel … and hence they were in danger of cutting off the branch they were sitting on….

…Moses matters, says Hebrews, but Jesus matters even more; Moses was a true servant of God, but Jesus is God’s son. You don’t diminish Moses by making Jesus superior to him; you give him his rightful place, which is a place of honour even though it’s not the supreme honour.

… that the purpose which God was working out through the long years of Israel’s history, with Moses and the Exodus among the key founding people and moments, really has reached its goal with Jesus.[2]

All of Israel’s history, and all of the world’s history for that matter, reaches its goal in JESUS.

You know I hate it when Christians put out yard signs with religious declarations like “Easter is all about Jesus.” That’s true for sure, but it feels more like a knife than a scalpel. Same for the one that says “It’s all about Jesus.” That is spot on. That’s a theme of Stephen’s message and even the Bible. But how much better to live that out than just stick a sign in the ground. People need to see Christians living like we look at the world and all of life through the lens of Jesus more than they need to see a yard sign.

Today I want to use the truth “It’s all about Jesus” as a scalpel and not a knife. And I want to do that by asking you a question: “What have you done with that?”

If I told you the Chevy Dealer was giving away cars, you’d do something with that. God has spoken to us through Jesus, he’s communicated a truth to us in the form of a promise and it’s this…

13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  Romans 10:13 (ESV)

And another verse like it…

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23 (ESV)

What have you done with that? There are only two responses: receive it or reject it. God doesn’t accept anything in between.

[2] Wright, T. (2004). Hebrews for Everyone (pp. 22–24). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

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