The Testimony of Moses
I’ve been walking on the Emmaus Road in my imagination this past week, trying to overhear the conversation between Jesus and two of His disciples. If you were with us for the first sermon in this series, you’ll remember that Cleopas and another unnamed disciple were making their way home. They had left Jerusalem in the early afternoon and as they walked on the road to Emmaus, they were talking together about everything that had happened in the past three days.
Their Master, Jesus, had been arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, betrayed by a kiss. There had been a mockery of a trial. Even the Roman procurator, Pontius Pilate, had declared that Jesus was innocent, but the religious leaders had demanded that Jesus be put to death. Then there was the spitting and the beating and that dreadful flogging. How could God allow Messiah to be treated like that? And then the crucifixion…suspended naked between heaven and earth. Didn’t the Scriptures say “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree?” (Deuteronomy 21:23; Galations 3:13).
How could these things have happened to Messiah? Or perhaps Jesus wasn’t Messiah after all. Cleopas and his friend were struggling. They had heard the report of the women who went to the tomb where Jesus was laid. Two angels had announced to the women, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” Luke 24:5b-6a. But these two disciples were obviously still struggling with disappointment, discouragement, and doubt.
As they talked together, a stranger joined them. We learned last week in the first message in this series on the Emmaus Road that this stranger was none other than Jesus, the Risen Christ. But Dr. Luke tells us that these two disciples were kept from recognizing him. If you missed the first message in this series, you can watch it and listen to it at www.forestlakechurch.org. Jesus meets them in the midst of their disappointment, discouragement and doubt, and decides to give them a Bible study–the most amazing Bible study ever given!
Take your Bible and turn with me to Luke 24:27. “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”
Today, we are going to prayerfully attempt to reconstruct the first part of that amazing Bible study. “And beginning with Moses...he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself!” I always used to say, “I wish someone had written that Bible study down!” But I am convinced now that Jesus wants us to search for ourselves! What do you think? Jesus wants us to reconstruct that Bible study so that our hearts can also burn within us as we see from the testimony of all of the Scriptures that Jesus is indeed the Messiah!
Before we begin to search the writings of Moses for information about the Messiah, let me ask you a question. Why do you think that Jesus begins His amazing Bible study by sharing the testimony of Moses? There are more than 1000 prophecies and types in the Old Testament fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. Most of them are not in the books of Moses. Most of those prophecies and types are in the Prophets and the Psalms. So why does Jesus begin His amazing Bible study with the testimony of Moses? There are a couple of possible answers.
An obvious answer is that the Hebrew Scriptures begin with the books of Moses. The Hebrew Scriptures in the time of Jesus were divided into 3-parts: the books of Moses, also referred to as the Law, or the Torah, the Prophets, and the Psalms and writings.
We will be examining each of these three testimonies in this Emmaus Road series: the testimony of Moses, the testimony of the Prophets, and the testimony of the Psalmists. So perhaps Jesus begins with the testimony of Moses because Moses comes first, at the beginning of the Hebrew Scriptures. “Let’s start at the beginning and go all the way to the end!” And without a doubt, the writings of Moses were highly esteemed by the Jews.
A second possible reason why Jesus started this amazing Bible study with the testimony of Moses is that Jesus met these two disciples where they were. Perhaps they were talking about the writings of Moses, and Jesus started where they were, and opened all of the Scriptures to them.
That happened when Philip the deacon met an Ethiopian official on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. Dr. Luke records in the book of Acts that the Ethiopian official was traveling in his chariot, reading a prophecy about the Messiah in the book of the prophet Isaiah. We’ll study Isaiah’s amazing prophecy about Messiah in detail in part 3 of this Emmaus road series!
When Philip the deacon ran up alongside the chariot, the Ethiopian invited him to join him in his study. We read the account in Acts 8:34-35. “The eunuch asked Philip, ‘Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?’ Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.”
Notice, Philip started his Bible study with Isaiah the prophet. He started where this Ethiopian was. That’s a lesson for all of us. Don’t start where someone isn’t! That’s not going to work. Meet people where they are! Perhaps the two disciples on the road to Emmaus were discussing the writings of Moses as they walked along. And Jesus meets them where they are. Isn’t that just like Jesus to meet us right where we are?!
Whatever the reason, Dr. Luke records that Jesus began this amazing Bible study with these two disciples by focusing on the testimony of Moses concerning the Messiah. And not just anything concerning Messiah, but particularly the issue of whether or not Messiah would have to suffer. Look again at Luke 24:26 “Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” Jesus said.
You see, the Jews expected Messiah to be a victorious conqueror. They expected Messiah to throw off the yoke of Rome and restore Israel to its former glory. That’s why these two disciples on the road to Emmaus were struggling to understand what had just happened to Jesus. Jesus had been beaten, mocked, flogged, killed. That’s not how they had expected Messiah to be treated.
So where would Jesus have started in the writings of Moses? I imagine that Jesus might have started with the word of hope recorded in Genesis 3:15. Our first parents had both sinned against God. Eve had listened to the seductive lie of that old serpent, the Devil, and Adam had willfully joined her in rebellion against God. But God did not abandon them. Speaking in their presence, God said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
He, that is one of the offspring of the woman, will crush the head of the serpent. That is the first mention of a Deliverer, a Redeemer, who will come. Notice, this Redeemer will be part of the human family. The apostle Paul clearly identifies this Offspring, this Seed of the woman, as Jesus Christ. (Galations 3:16). This One would crush the serpent’s head—that old serpent, the Devil, and Satan, as the apostle John calls him in Revelation 12:9. But notice, the serpent would also strike the Redeemer’s heel. The Messiah would suffer. “Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?”
I imagine that Jesus reminded these two disciples of the story of the great patriarch Abraham and his son Isaac, recorded by Moses a little farther on in the book of Genesis. Isaac was a miracle child—the child of promise. Abram’s wife, Sarai, was barren, but God promised Abram that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars of heaven. And the LORD God was faithful to His promise. Sarai conceived and bore a son. Isaac was a fulfillment of God’s promise, and Abram and Sarai received new names: Abraham and Sarah!
And then, Moses records that the LORD God tested Abraham. The story is found in Genesis 22, beginning with verse 1.
“ Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!"
"Here I am," he replied.
"Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."
"Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you."
"Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, "Father?"
"Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together.
"When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!"
"Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."
"Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided." (1-14).
Perhaps Jesus reminded the two disciples about the first Passover, as the children of Israel were about to leave Egypt. Each family was directed by God to take the blood of a lamb and put that blood on the doorpost of their dwelling. You can read the story in Exodus chapter 12.
Now the death of that lamb didn’t accomplish anything in itself. It was a symbol, pointing forward to the Lamb that the LORD God would provide. Who was that Lamb? John the Baptist declared that Jesus was that Lamb! “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” Did the disciples not understand that the Lamb would be slain? “Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”
I imagine that Jesus told a story recorded in the second book of Moses, the book of Exodus. We can read the story in Exodus 17:1-6.
“The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. So they quarreled with Moses and said, "Give us water to drink."
"Moses replied, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?"
"But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, 'Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?'
'Then Moses cried out to the LORD, 'What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.'
"The LORD answered Moses, 'Walk on ahead of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.' So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel."Who did that Rock represent? The Psalmist declares, “To you, I call, O LORD my Rock.” Psalm 28:1 and in Psalm 95:1, we read, “Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.” Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul specifically refers to the Rock that Moses struck in the wilderness, and says in 1 Cor. 10:4, “(they) drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.”
So what did it mean that the rock was struck? Why did the LORD God instruct Moses to strike the Rock? I imagine Jesus asking the two disciples that question as they walked along the road to Emmaus. When the Rock was struck, a stream of life flowed forth. So Messiah would be stricken and a stream of life would flow forth. “Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”
But someone might ask, “Didn’t Jesus say in Luke 24:26, 'Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?'” Does Moses testify anywhere about Messiah entering into glory? It’s clear from the testimony of Moses that Messiah would suffer, Messiah would be smitten. But what about a glorious ending?”
Well, I’m going to give you that homework assignment! Remember, Jesus doesn’t give us the whole Bible study in outline form because He wants us to search for ourselves. So do some study. Search the Scriptures. Jesus said, “These are they that testify of Me.” John 5:40.
I will share one testimony of a glorious ending. It’s not found in the five best known books of Moses. It’s found in a book that was written even before the book of Genesis—a book that many believe was written by Moses during his 40 year sojourn in the wilderness of Midian.
It’s the story of a man of God named Job who lived in the land of Uz. Now we could spend a whole hour studying the book of Job, but I want to focus on the words of Job, recorded in Job 19:25. There Job declares, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.”
The story of Messiah doesn’t end with sufferings and death. Our Redeemer lives, and in the end He will stand upon the earth! Did Jesus share those words recorded by Moses with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus?
We don’t know for sure. But this much we do know. As Jesus opened the Scriptures to them, beginning with the testimony of Moses, and showing them everything concerning Himself, their hearts burned within them. Why? Because it became absolutely clear to them that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. His sufferings and death did not disqualify Him from being the Messiah. Rather, His sufferings and death demonstrated that He was indeed the Messiah. That precious truth will become even clearer in part 3 and 4 of our series on the Emmaus Road.
Before Moses died, he prophesied in Deuteronomy 18:15, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.” Who was that prophet of whom Moses spoke?
In the time of Jesus, the Jews were still waiting for that prophet. In fact, they asked John the Baptist, “Are you the Prophet?” (John 1:21), referring back to the prophecy of Moses. But John the Baptist said, “I am not.” John the Baptist was a voice crying in the wilderness. He had come to prepare the way for that Prophet. That prophet was Jesus Christ. The Word of God made flesh. This was the One of whom Moses testified.
But there is something that troubled me from my study this past week. It’s true that after Jesus gave this amazing Bible study to those two disciples on the road to Emmaus that their hearts burned within them. That’s the good news. But I want you to listen to the testimony of Jesus spoken later that same day to the larger group of disciples, including the two who were with him on the road. We read that testimony earlier in our study today. It’s found in Luke 24:44.
“He (Jesus) said to them, 'This is what I told you while I was still with you. Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’” Jesus had told them these things before His sufferings and death. He had told them that "everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms.” There was no need for those two disciples to have been downcast that day. If they had diligently searched the Scriptures, their hearts would have burned within them with the clear conviction that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.
But these disciples had allowed their preconceived ideas to blind their eyes. Jesus had clearly declared, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” Mark 10:33-34.
Why didn’t the disciples believe those words? Why weren’t they rejoicing all weekend that Jesus would rise on the third day? Why weren’t they praising God as they walked on the road to Emmaus?
It’s easy for us to sit in judgment of them. But I have a question for you. I have a question for myself. Are we diligently searching the Scriptures to learn more about Jesus, our Messiah? Are we setting aside our preconceived ideas and letting God’s Word be a light to our feet and a lamp to our path?
The testimony of Moses clearly points to Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior of the world. And Jesus, your Messiah, your Savior, wants to walk with you. He wants to open your eyes, to open your understanding.
Remember the testimony of the two disciples on the Emmaus Road? Luke 24:32. “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
I’m praying that you would have a similar experience as you search the Scriptures for yourself, and as we search the Scriptures together to confirm our faith in Jesus as Messiah.
Perhaps some of you will decide to study the testimony of the Prophets concerning the Messiah in preparation for the next message in this series. As you search the Scriptures, prayerfully and carefully, you will discover that every prophecy concerning Messiah was fulfilled in the life of Jesus. You will discover that Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior of the world. And you will be reminded once again, just like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, that Jesus, your Messiah, wants to walk with you!
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By Derek Morris, Pastor of the Forest Lake Church in Apopka, FL. Better Sermons © 2005-2009. Click here for usage guidelines.
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