“Moses . . . for he wrote about Me.” – John 5:46b
Are you a “red letter” Christian? Some Bibles have the words of Jesus in red. Therefore some people claim they are “red letter” Christians. They only care about and try to live by the “red letter” words of Jesus. At first glance that seems like a good thing. However, Jesus Himself preached the Old Testament scriptures. He fulfilled them. Therefore to disregard the Old Testament in favor of the “red letter” words in the New Testament Gospels is contradictory to Jesus Himself.
When Jesus spoke of “scriptures” He was referring to the Old Testament. For instance Jesus said to His opponents, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39). The Old Testament testifies of Jesus. When the early apostles pointed to the scriptures to support their gospel message they were pointing to the Old Testament; Genesis to Malachi.
The New Testament is made up of the inspired writings of the apostles and those closely associated with the apostles. The Gospels and letters of the New Testament are spoken of with equal standing and authority as the Old Testament scriptures. For instance Peter commented on Paul’s letters saying they were to be included with, “the rest of the Scriptures” (cf. 2 Peter 3:15-16). Paul told the Thessalonians the words he spoke to them were “as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (1 Thess. 2:13). But at the time of Jesus incarnation in the gospels the New Testament was yet to be completely assembled by the Spirit. When Jesus and the apostles referred to God’s word or scripture they were primarily speaking of the 39 Old Testament books.
There are Christians who minimize and ignore the Old Testament. It’s true the New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old Testament. But the Old and New Testaments are inextricably connected. Without the Old Testament there would be no New Testament. The New Testament is based on the Old Testament. The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed. The New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. We will never truly grasp and understand our New Testaments unless we study our Old Testaments.
Is the “Gospel” found and taught in the Old Testament? Yes it is! When we think of the “Gospel” in the Old Testament students of the Word of God might immediately think of Psalm 22 where the crucifixion of Jesus is depicted. And we might think of Isaiah 53. The book of Isaiah has so much pertaining to Jesus that it is sometimes referred to as “The Gospel of the Old Testament.” There are other portions of the Old Testament that relate to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as well.
But what about earlier portions of the Old Testament; is the Gospel in the earliest portions of scripture too? Read what Jesus said to His opponents, “Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:45-47). Wow! Jesus points all the way back to the first five books of the Bible known as the Pentateuch. These books were inspired by God and written out by Moses. Jesus said these five books of scripture speak about Him. Have you ever thought about that? Could you identify portions of the Pentateuch that speak about Jesus?
Before we look at examples of Jesus in the Pentateuch we need to address some faulty imbalances in the way we view the connection between Old and New Testaments. There are some who so emphasize Old Testament Feasts, holidays and the law that it results in burdening those who Jesus died to liberate from the Law. Read Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews for a balanced Biblical perspective on how to live in light of God’s grace and His Law. And not only is such emphasis burdening, it is divisive.
Those who emphasize the importance of the law of sacrifices and feasts of the Old Testament frequently fall prey to the flesh and begin to look down on others who choose to live freely in God’s grace. Some go so far as to reject being called “Christian.” Honestly, there has been a great deal of hurt and harm done in the name of “Church” throughout history. I personally do not believe a genuine “Christian” born again of the Spirit and empowered by the Spirit could possibly bring people before inquisitions and torture for any purpose. But it happened. And it is indefensible. But to deny the label of “Christian” is not the answer. The early believers (both Jew and Gentile believers in Jesus) were called Christians (cf. Acts 11:26). The name “Christian” means literally little Christs.
Rather than shun the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, why not show in the Spirit what it really means to be a little Christ. Why not honestly point out the contradiction between real Spirit filled Biblical believers in contrast to what has been perpetrated by those who are merely religiously dead members of a dead “church.” It would be better to live as a genuine Spirit filled Christian so that people can see the difference between the genuine and the counterfeit. Speak the truth of God in His love and be known by the name God ordained His followers to be known by, “Christian.”
Jesus came to unite Jew and Non-Jew in Himself. This is a HUGE emphasis in the New Testament. Jew and Gentile must come together in Christ and the unity of the Spirit if the church is ever to be all God intended it to be. Think of the bigotry and prejudice in our fallen sinful world. Discrimination is a MAJOR issue that even the lost see. The world unites at the expense of truth. The world has “unity” all wrong. They need God’s revelation. The GOSPEL is God’s means to bring together the descendants of Babel. The scripturally based gospel of God’s grace in Christ is the means God brings people together before Him. The Gospel contains the true message of what God intended to be united. How sad it is when the world is so divided. Sadder still is when the church is divided. Shame on us followers of Jesus!
When Paul was inspired to write to the Gentile believers in Jesus in Ephesus he addressed the issue of Jews and Gentiles who received Jesus as Yeshua Ha-Meshiach or Jesus the Christ. He was inspired to speak “of a mystery.” This “mystery” was something that had not been mentioned in the Old Testament. But God in Christ was now revealing a glorious truth. That mystery was the church. Man’s striving sin at Babel had led to division and dispersion. Now in Christ all who were scattered from God and each other could be brought together again. The church was and is God’s instrument to unite people in His presence. This is part of His gospel of grace. And it can be received and experienced through faith in His only Son Jesus.
From Ephesians 2:11 through chapter 3 Paul is directed by the Holy Spirit to speak very clearly about how both Jew and Gentile who accept Jesus as Savior are to be united in the church. There are no second class citizens in the church. Paul wrote, “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one [i.e. Jew and Gentile], and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father” (Eph. 2:14-18). It’s time for people, Jew or Gentile who believe in Jesus, to come together in Christ in the church. Stop the divisive babbling and come together in Jesus!
We can never support unity at the expense of truth. We are to be sanctified by the truth of God’s word (John 17:17). Some claim Jews do not need to believe in Jesus as Savior to go to heaven. They say there is a separate way for the Jew as opposed to the Gentile Christian to get into heaven. This claim is more often than not made out of a love for the Jew. However, such a stance does a great disservice to the Jew. It keeps the Jew from their promised Messiah. It keeps the veil on their heart (cf. Romans 11 and 2 Cor. 3). And more seriously, it is a lie. At best it is a compromise rooted more in sentimentality than scripture. At worst it is a bigoted prejudice. We need to proclaim, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16). That’s God’s honest truth. There is only one way to get into heaven and in heaven there will be only one group not separate groups. There is no other name but the name of Jesus that can save a sinner from their sin (e.g. Acts 4:10-12). Jesus is that way, the only way to the Father (John 14:6). Only those who bow the knee and confess with tongue Jesus as Lord will be in heaven (cf. Phil. 2).
Moses is the most revered figure in Judaism. And so it is to Moses that Jesus made His appeal. Jesus goes right to the root of his opponent’s basis for rejecting Him as Messiah. His opponents felt accused of spiritual dullness by Jesus. But Jesus said it was the very one, Moses, “in whom you trust” who accused them (John 5:45). Why is this true? because in denying Jesus and His message they were denying the Old Testament foundational message of Moses that was the groundwork for Jesus and the gospel. Jesus states, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me” (John 5:46). The Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, inspired by God and penned by Moses were the source of evidence supporting Jesus as Messiah as well as His gospel of good news.
The word gospel means “good news.” And there is indeed very good, fantastically good news in the body of inspired writings of Moses. The good news of God about Jesus began in Moses’ inspired writings. Now let me ask you a question. Could you preach or explain the gospel of Jesus Christ from the first five books of the Bible? You should be able to. Jesus and the early apostles and disciples did. If you aren’t aware of Jesus in the foundational first five books of the Bible, you’re missing out on a rich portion of God’s revelation.
In the book of Hebrews it states that the “volume of the book,” the Bible, is all about Jesus (Heb. 10:7). There is a singular salvation thread from Genesis to Revelation and Jesus is at the heart of that revelation. The Old Testament points to Jesus in a number of ways. For instance we see Jesus foretold in over 300 prophecies of the Old Testament (e.g. Psalm 22; Isaiah 53; Daniel 9:24-27). But in our passage Jesus mentions specifically Moses, the most revered figure in Judaism, as a prime source that identifies who He is.
Where specifically does Moses speak of Jesus? What is the Gospel of Moses? Let me direct you to a few references in the Pentateuch that point to Jesus. First, Jesus is the "Seed" that crushes the serpent's head. This is the first allusion to the good news of the gospel in the Bible and is referred to as the proto-evangelium (Ge. 3:15). Women have eggs not seeds. This is a prophecy of the future virgin birth incarnation of the Deliverer promised from the beginning by God. The serpent would wound the heel of the “Seed” Savior. The Savior would suffer. That suffering we know was His death on the cross. But the Savior rose from the dead! And in doing so fulfilled Genesis 3:15 by destroying the power of the serpent with a crushing fatal “head” blow. Satan the serpent of old is a “loser.” Don’t ever forget that.
Jesus is the sacrifice of the Father. The sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham illustrates God the Father’s sacrifice of Jesus (Gen. 22; Rom. 8:32; Heb. 11:17-19). A little bit of digging will bless the student of the word with the fact that Isaac was offered in the same place Jesus was offered on the cross; Golgotha; Calvary; Mount Moriah. Incredible! Thank You Lord!
Jesus is the suffering Messiah; Messiah ben Yosef. Joseph was unjustly treated by His brothers and others. In the same way Jesus was unjustly treated by his family and others (e.g. John 7:5). While Joseph was a normal man and therefore had a sinful nature, he was, like Jesus, persecuted and tempted, with no mention of sin. Joseph is a type of Christ. Just like Joseph Jesus is our Deliverer (Gen. 37-50 and Romans 11).
Jesus is the kingly Messiah; Messiah ben David. Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah (cf. Genesis 49:8ff as interpreted by Revelation 5:5). From the tribe of Judah King David would come. And from King David the King Messiah Jesus would descend. A title of Messiah is “Son of David” (e.g. Mat. 1:1).
Jesus is the Passover Lamb. He is the reason God could Passover the sins of Old Testament saints. God passed over the sins committed in the Old Testament dispensation in foreknowledge of Jesus actual atoning sacrifice on the cross (Rom. 3:25; Gal. 3:10-13). The Passover is one of the richest and earliest illustrations of the atoning work of Jesus Christ (Exodus 12). This imagery is given deeper meaning in the sacrificial system that would come with the giving of the Law. Jesus is the Lamb of God that came to take away the sins of the world. Jesus was foretold by the Old Testament sacrificial lambs on the Day of Atonement (John 1:29 and Lev. 16). Jesus shed blood cleanses us from sin. This is the fulfillment of the Old Testament statement that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin (Leviticus 17:11 and Hebrews 9:22 and 1 Peter 1:18-19).
Jesus is the Bread from heaven. This was foretold in the manna God provided His people in the wilderness (John 6:51 and Exodus 16). Jesus is the living water that quenches our spiritual thirst. This was foretold in the water that came from the rock struck by Moses (Ex. 17:1-7 and Num.20:1-12; John 7:37; 1 Cor. 10:1-13). Jesus died “once for all” on the cross just as the rock needed to be struck only once by Moses for water to come from it. Moses, when he struck the rock more than once, was severely punished for ruining this type of Christ (Ex. 17:1-7 and Num. 20:1-12; Heb. 7:27; 10:10; 1 Peter 3:18)
Jesus is the One we look to for salvation. Jesus, like the snake in the wilderness, was lifted up that whoever looks on Him in faith would be delivered from the curse of sin and death (John 3:14-15; Num. 21:4-9). The concept of salvation by faith is first mentioned with Abraham. Abraham believed God and God accounted his belief as righteousness (Gen. 15:6). In the wilderness with Moses the groundwork for salvation by faith is further laid with the look of faith. Jesus would fulfill this pattern on the cross. Look to Jesus in faith and be saved from your sins.
Jesus is the Revealer; the Divine Messianic Prophet. Jesus is the One Moses said God would raise up as "a prophet like me" (Deuteronomy 18:15). Jesus fulfills the role of “prophet” like Moses, while fulfilling the deeper fuller incarnation of God in the flesh (e.g. John 1). Jesus’ prophetic role is only one aspect of His mission. Look at the Olivet Discourse (Mat. 24 and 25; Mark 13; Luke 21) and you will see a clear and full prophetic aspect of Jesus. No one, not even Moses, ever spoke prophetically like Jesus did. Jesus is “the word made flesh” (John 1:1-3, 14).
There are more references to Jesus in the writings of Moses. But these are a good sample. From Genesis to Revelation the Bible is about Jesus, our Redeemer and Deliverer. Jesus is the One in whom we must trust for eternal life whether Jew of non-Jew. Let’s not get detoured from the path of the whole counsel of God’s word. Focusing on anything less than all of God’s word leads to imbalances in our beliefs and the susceptibility to error. It could very well lead to “a different gospel” and “another Jesus” (2 Cor. 11:3-4). It’s not enough to be “red letter” Christians. The Old and New Testament cannot be separated. God has inspired Genesis through Revelation; no more; no less. Paul ministered “the whole counsel of God” or the entire canon of scripture (cf. Acts 20:27). Have you heard or read the gospel of Moses? The gospel of God starts in Genesis and continues through the Bible to the last verse of the Bible. And that final verse says, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Rev. 22:21). God’s gospel is a gospel of grace. By grace He has revealed it to those lost in sin. By grace He offers it to those who by faith trust in Jesus. Have you trusted in Jesus as Savior according to the gospel Moses spoke about?