Agents of Salvation

“When Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses.” (Ex.14:31)

There is much spiritual talk in today’s world about where and how to find God. It is popular to think of God as a purveyor of good tidings to all who merely acknowledge Him. Many teachers and authors present God as the equivalent of a type of New Age Life Force who benevolently seeks to give you the desires of your heart, if you just believe. Images abound in Christian media of men and women, usually cast in a meadow, near the ocean, or on a mountaintop, reaching expectantly towards the heavens, arms outstretched, eyes closed, palms open, ready to receive His bounty. It looks like this:

transcendence20lady

This woman has obviously found God

And this is all very nice.  Perhaps you will benefit in some way by standing on a rock near the ocean with your arms stretched towards the sun. But you will not find God this way, because this is not how God is found. This doesn’t mean that God’s handiwork is not revealed to us through these type experiences, but to know Him personally, we must believe the message of those He has sent to represent Him.

Even though the image above seems similar to the mental picture we have of Moses stretching out his staff to part the Red Sea, as we have described to us in Exodus 14, in reality it is far different than that. This is because Moses was the Agent of God, the First Redeemer, the man who delivered the children of Israel from bondage through the power God bestowed upon him. Moses was not trying to motivate or life-coach the people. He was not exampling mindfulness. Rather, he was fulfilling the mission for which he was sent, which was to be God’s Agent of salvation, his Chosen One.

Confused? Don’t be. It’s really simple. God is not revealed by getting in touch with yourself, or by becoming centered. God is revealed through the people He chooses to reveal Himself to and then through.

The question is not, “Do I believe in God?” No, the question is “Do I believe in the One whom God has sent?”  If you don’t believe His messenger, then you don’t believe Him.  That’s the picture we see throughout scripture, but it’s especially poignant when we discuss either Moses or Jesus.

The LORD declares in Exodus that Moses would be as God to both Aaron, the elders of Israel, and to Pharaoh and his court. Moses even accepted the worship of Pharaoh’s court on behalf of God. (Ex.11:8) So, in effect, Moses was God; that is, he spoke for God. Moses could have said that he was one with God, and he would not have been blaspheming, since this office was literally granted him by the Almighty. He was the manifestation of God’s visitation upon His people. Moses acted as mediator between God and man, bringing deliverance from bondage, just as the Messiah does. This is the concept of agency, which is a common theme in the Bible. Those who dared to challenge Moses, or murmur against him, were treated as though they murmured against God.

“Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. Not so, with My servant Moses; he is faithful in all My household; with him I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings, and he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant, against Moses?” (Num.12:6-8)

In every respect, the ministry of Jesus parallels the ministry of Moses. The Master identified himself as the Sent One of God, after the pattern of Moses, so that his followers were able to identify him as the Messiah.

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me.” (Jn.14:1)

Consider this scene portrayed in scripture of Moses’ call and commissioning:

“Then Moses said to God, ‘Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” (Ex.3:13-14)

Notice that Moses declares himself to the people to be the representation of I AM. Commonly, church theologians will use the words of Jesus, when he states “I am”, to mean that he is declaring himself to be God, yet they do not claim the same thing about Moses, even though he said the same things.  This is interesting.  But of course, the church does not teach that Moses is God, whereas it does teach that Jesus is God.  Yet, both Moses and Jesus received worship, and both claimed to be sent by God. So how is it that Moses is not also God?  Furthermore, how did Jesus claim to be God, exactly? This is a little confusing.

Jesus is the Son of God.  But so is Israel.  In fact, God declares Israel to be the “firstborn” of God. (Ex.4:22)  There is some difficulty here.  How does the Trinity fit into all of this?  Let’s leave that question alone for now, and simply stay focused on the agency of God.

God is transcendent.  We know that “no man can see the Father and live”. (Ex.33:20) Yet, the word also tells us, as we saw above, that Moses spoke to God “face to face”. Logically, then, Moses must, in fact, be God manifest in human form, right? Well, no, not exactly. You see, God sends his Agents, or Messengers, to deliver His message.  Often, we see the prophets speaking for God, or we see various kings or even donkeys(!) speaking for God.  Yet, only two individuals in history have been used by God as His agents of redemption:  Moses and our Master and Savior, Jesus of Nazareth.

Christians read the story of the parting of the Red Sea (and the plagues before that), and very few make the assumption that Moses himself performed the miracles. Rather, we tend to look upon Moses as merely an obedient, if not even a bit of a passive participant. So, why is it, then, that when it comes to the miracles performed by Jesus that we come to a different conclusion?  Why do we think that Jesus performed these feats on his own? The answer is because we believe that Jesus is God, and Moses is merely God’s servant.  Yet, this is not how the scripture portrays it. The Bible tells us that God gave Moses the power to divide the Sea:

  “As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it…” (Ex.14:16)

Yet, Moses does not take any credit for these feats of miraculous power, even though we see in passages like those above that God gave him power to do so.  So, why do we claim Jesus performed miracles on his own, even though he also does not claim to do so?

“I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning me?” (Jn.10:31)

As Lazarus was about to be raised from the dead:

“Father, I thank You that You have heard me. I knew that You always hear me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent me.” (Jn.11:41-42)

“All things have been handed over to me by my Father.” (Lk.10:22)

This proclamation is like unto Moses:

“When Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses.” (Ex.14:31)

It was necessary that the people not only believe in God, but that they also believe in God’s Agent. To believe in Moses was to believe in God.  In like manner, to believe in Jesus is also to believe in God. Jesus is the Messiah, the Final Redeemer.  He is the second Moses.

“For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came forth from the Father. I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.” (Jn.16:27-28)

Understand the parallels here: Moses and Jesus both have miraculous birth legends. Both were accepted and rejected by the same people. Both delivered the people miraculously. Both claimed to be uniquely sent by God for this purpose. Both ascended upon their death. (Moses died after ascending the mountain, and his grave is unknown.)  There are many, many more parallels than these.

Both were agents of God. Moses was the mediator of the Sinai covenant, and the giver of the Torah. Jesus is the mediator of a New Covenant, and the upholder of the Torah of Moses and also the Inner Torah. But Jesus, the Messiah, was foreordained of God to be greater than Moses.

Moses divided the water, whereas Jesus walked upon the water. Moses died after ascending. Jesus rose from the dead after dying. The Messiah is the first fruits of the Final Redemption and resurrection of the dead. He brings to completion the ministry of Moses, which had been left incomplete at the entrance to the Promised Land. (This explains John 1:17).

Both, in a literal and also a theological sense, are God’s agents of salvation.

If you want to know God, you must come to know the agents God has revealed Himself through.  You must come to know His ways and His laws through Moses, and you must come to know his grace and redemption through Christ. There is no path to the Father except through His Messiah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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