A New and Better Moses (Deuteronomy 18)

In Sermons, The Whole Story, Year 2024 by harvest.admin

“Jesus is the new and better Moses who saves us from our sins, fills us with his Spirit, and leads us back into God’s presence.”

Resource by Eric Weiner

God rescued Israel from their bondage in Egypt and led them to Mt. Sinai where

he established himself as their God and they as his people. He made a

covenant with them that would set them apart from the rest of the nations if

they will learn to listen to his voice and obey his commands.

But from the moment they set out from Sinai, the people complain. When

they get near the land God promised to them, Moses appoints 12 men to

spy out the land. And when they return, they report that the land is beautiful

– it’s flowing with milk and honey. The problem, they say, is that while God

was able to part the waters and destroy our enemies, there’s no way he

can drive these giants out of the land.

Despite Joshua and Caleb’s best efforts, the people respond in fear, not

faith. And seems to be a feature of their sinful hearts. Here’s a summary of

Israel under God’s loving care:

– The Egyptians are coming? Let’s go back to Egypt.

– Out in the wilderness, we don’t have enough food and water? Clearly,

God forgot about us. Let’s go back to Egypt.

– The land that God promised is filled with enemies too great for us?

Appoint a new leader, part the Red Sea, because we want to go

immediately to Egypt.

1 Works Consulted:

– Deuteronomy: An Introduction & Commentary – Thompson

– Deuteronomy: The Commands of a Covenant God – Harman

– I Need a New Moses – Greear

– “How did Jesus fulfill the role of a prophet?” – Armstrong

– Choose to Live – Platt

– Numbers – Expositor’s Bible Commentary – Allen

Why? Life in Egypt was miserable for them. Why would they want to return

to that? Maybe it’s because we think the misery we know is better than the

misery we don’t. Fear can be like this. Fear can turn you into a false

prophet, leading you to act according to how you think your life will go.

Fear is a belief in the present that God will forsake you in the future.

Often, the antidote to fear is to confess it as we learn to embrace a new

story. We don’t grow in courageous faith by forsaking the promises of God.

We grow in courageous faith by positioning ourselves to receive the

promises God made to us.

But see, the people refuse to trust God. They become hard-hearted toward

His Word. You know, they actually sound a bit like Pharoah. And because

they refuse to enter the land, God will wait them out. Forty years they

wander in the wilderness until the unbelieving generation dies out.

Now, this is where the book of Deuteronomy comes into the picture. Forty

years have passed and this new generation is ready to enter God’s

Promised Rest. Moses is encouraging them to remember their story, to

remember the covenant God made with them, and to love the Lord their

God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. He wants them to choose

life with God.

But listen, these are Moses’s final words to them. Which brings up another

important detail. The people are bent toward rebellion. They are prone to

fear and unbelief. They need a leader who will remind them of God’s

faithfulness and continue to lead them back to God.

That’s what Moses was assigned to do. But like I said, these are Moses’s

final words. He’s about to go up the mountain to die because God will not

allow him to lead the people into the Promised Land. Moses had

disqualified himself.

Back in Numbers 20, when the people are at Kadesh Barnea, they come

complaining to Moses that they need water. And this is not the first time

Moses has received complaints. When it comes to grumbling, people are

repeat offenders.

So Moses and Aaron go into the Tent of Meeting, and the Lord appears to

instruct Moses to stand between the people and the rock. He is to speak to

the rock and it will yield water.

So Moses takes his staff and goes before the people. But here, we get an

out-of-character moment for Moses. He says to them in Numbers 20,

“Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?”

Excuse me Moses, but we? You mean God, right? I wonder how long

Moses had been waiting to say something like that. He just explodes. And

in his anger, he doesn’t do what God says. The text says, “Moses lifted up

his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out


In this moment, Moses acts in self-righteousness. He thinks the sin inside

the people is great, but he’s blind to the unbelief in his own heart. He acts

in pride. He wants to enact judgment where God wants to show mercy.

See, Moses is of great importance in Israel’s history. He’s the one God

used to redeem the people and lead them out of Egypt. Moses would serve

as God’s prophet, speaking God’s Word to God’s people. God delivered the

Law through Moses.

When the people broke God’s covenant before it even started Moses was

there to plead their case. Moses said to God, “I would rather you blot my

name out of the Book of Life than you separate your presence from your


Moses would instruct the people in the way they should go. He would teach

them to observe and obey all the LORD had commanded. That was the

purpose of his prophetic ministry. But see, even Moses fell to sin, which is a

reminder that even the most noble and righteous among us stumble and

fall. They cannot save us.

Moses could speak God’s Word to the people, but even he was subject to

the legal requirements and the Law found him guilty.

Surely, being disqualified from the Promised Land would have been difficult

to accept. Deuteronomy 3 tells us that Moses pleaded with the LORD to let

him enter the Land, but God would not allow it.

At best, in Numbers 27, the LORD lets Moses go up on the mountain to

look out over the land God promised the people. But because he had

rebelled against God, he would not be leading them. Even Moses had to

admit, “I am not who the people need.”

Just think about that. The people probably wondered, if not even someone

as great as Moses can enter the land then what chance do any of us have?

Moses wants to assure them in Deuteronomy 30:11 that “the

commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is

it far off.” He says in verse 14, “the word is very near you. It is in your

mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”

But then he goes on to sing a song all about how they’re not going to be

able to obey the commands of God.

See, the people still need someone to bridge the divide between them and

God. Someone who will plead their case. Someone who will call them out

on their sin and teach them to obey all that God commands. Ultimately,

Moses couldn’t do it. And when he finally came to accept that he asked the

LORD to “appoint a man over the congregation who shall go out before [the

people] and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them

in, that the congregation of the LORD may not be as sheep that have no

shepherd” (Num. 27:17).

Moses will not be that shepherd. But here’s the positive takeaway. It wasn’t

Moses who led the people in the first place. It was God. Moses was just an

agent of God’s divine activity. But he wasn’t God himself. When Moses

acted in pride, he stepped out in front of God. But the people need

someone who will “express the very character of God, and [who will]

sustain everything by the mighty power of his command…” (Heb. 1:3a).

So in our text this morning, Moses assures the people that one day the

Lord will provide someone who won’t just instruct them on how to choose

life but who will supply them with the Word and Spirit to truly live. Look with

me at Deuteronomy chapter 18:

Starting in verse 15 Moses says, “The Lord your God will raise up

for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to

him. 16 This is what you requested from the Lord your God at Horeb on the

day of the assembly when you said, ‘Let us not continue to hear the voice

of the Lord our God or see this great fire any longer, so that we will not die!’

17 Then the Lord said to me, ‘They have spoken well. 18 I will raise up for

them a prophet like you from among their brothers. I will put my words in

his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. 19 I will hold

accountable whoever does not listen to my words that he speaks in my

name. 20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a message in my name

that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of

other gods—that prophet must die.’

21 You may say to yourself, ‘How can we recognize a message the Lord

has not spoken?’ 22 When a prophet speaks in the Lord’s name, and the

message does not come true or is not fulfilled, that is a message the Lord

has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously. Do not be

afraid of him. (Deut. 18:15-22, CSB)

Moses had failed. But it needed to be clear that Moses’s failure was not

God’s failure. What Moses was unable to do, God will accomplish.

One day God will raise up a man of his own choosing. A final prophet

whose ministry will be similar to Moses. He will be the Teacher who

instructs the people to obey God’s commandments. Muslims believe

Muhammad was this prophet. But twice in our text, Moses makes clear that

this final prophet will be raised up from “among your own brothers.” He will

be an Israelite.

Now, I want you to consider the magnitude of this promise. The LORD says

in verse 18, “I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them

everything I command him.” These words will have God’s very name

attached to them. God is saying I will put my reputation on the line through

this prophet. How important do you think God’s Word is to him? Not to you.

But to him.

God’s Word is of infinite importance. Everything he speaks will come to

pass. God’s Word should be believed in all that it teaches, obeyed in all

that it commands, and trusted in all that it promises.

Moses rightly foretold that this Anointed leader would be greatly

anticipated. And at the opening of the gospel accounts, the people are still

waiting. So when John the Baptist arrives on the scene preaching a

message of repentance, people want to know – “Are you the Prophet” (John


John says “I am not the Prophet,” but the overwhelming witness of the New

Testament is that Jesus is the Prophet.

For example, in Acts 3 Peter is addressing a crowd of people when he

exclaims the continuity of the prophetic message up to his day. He tells the

people in verse 19 that they should repent and turn back to God, “that your

sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the

presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you,

Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things

about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago” (Acts

3:19-21). And then he goes on to quote from Moses in Deuteronomy 18.

IOW, Jesus is the prophet God promised through Moses.


How was Jesus like Moses? Well, let me try to point out where Jesus is

similar and where he’s superior, and you can judge for yourself.


Like Moses, Jesus was Jewish. He came from among their brothers; from

the tribe of Judah.

Like Moses, Jesus was born at a time when Israel was oppressed. In

Moses’s day, it was the heavy-handed pharaoh who wanted to kill the

firstborn sons. In Jesus’s day, it was King Herod who was concerned about

rumors of the one born King of the Jews.

Like Moses, Jesus spent time in the wilderness before his public ministry

began. For Moses, it was 40 years in Midian. Jesus spent 40 days being

tested in the wilderness.

Like Moses, Jesus delivered his people from great danger. Moses delivered

Israel from their bondage to Egypt. Jesus delivers us from our bondage to

sin and death. Our sin and death are swallowed up, not in the waters of the

Red Sea, but through his blood shed at Calvary.

Like Moses, Jesus gave a law. But under the Law of Moses, people had to

obey to live. And Jesus did not forsake that Law, but became subject to it


Moses pleaded for the people to write the law on their hearts and to

remember it wherever they went. Jesus taught that you could never obey

the Law on your own, so he obeyed the Law perfectly for you. The Law of

Christ is a law of grace. God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.


See, Jesus is the prophet like Moses. But he’s also greater than Moses. Let

me give you an example. Moses ascended Mt. Sinai to meet with God and

to receive his commandments. And when he descended his face shined

because he radiated God’s glory. But at the Transfiguration, when Jesus

brings Peter, James, and John up the mountain it’s Jesus’s face that

shines. Moses reflected God’s glory, but Jesus is the very source of the

radiance because he is in very nature God.

As Jesus and his disciples are up on the mountain, Moses and Elijah

appear, and Luke recounts in chapter 9 that “they appeared in glory and

were speaking of [Jesus’s] departure, which he was about to

accomplish in Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31 CSB). Literally, his departure is his


See, Moses went up to Sinai to meet with God. But at the Transfiguration,

they appear on the mountain to meet with Jesus. And later, a voice from

the cloud says, “This is my Son, the Chosen One; listen to him!” (Luke

9:35) Which is exactly what Moses said we should do with the Prophet in

Deuteronomy. You must listen to him.

Now let’s just pause here. Can you imagine this moment? Moses appears

in glorious splendor. He is a picture of what awaits us in Christ. One day we

will stand in glory with Jesus. We will be radiant with him.

Listen, Moses did great things for God. But he fell short. He didn’t get to

see the fulfillment of what God had set out to do. Yet here he stands, and

Jesus is telling him, “Where you failed, I will succeed. What you were

unable to do I will accomplish.”

Remember, in anger, Moses struck the rock as an act of judgment against

the people because Moses could speak God’s Law and uphold the legal

requirement, but he could not give the people a heart to obey it.

But Jesus says there is a strike of judgment coming, but I will not

administer it on the people. No, I will take the strike of judgment upon

myself. Because this is the will of the Father and I will obey it.

Jesus is the leader Moses failed to be, and His success will lead us into the

Promised Rest; into life with God forever. So if Jesus is the new and better

Moses we should receive his message. But Jesus doesn’t just teach us the

commands of God…


In Deuteronomy 18, Moses provides us with a way to test whether or not a

Prophet is truly from God. In Deut. 18:20 the LORD says that “the prophet

who presumes to speak a message in my name that I have not

commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods—that

prophet must die.’”

If the prophet speaks a word that does not come to pass or does not prove

true, then you don’t need to worry about him.

You see, God does not want there to be confusion around the legitimacy of

His message. He wants to make it plain to us.

Moses warns that there will be plenty of false prophets who come claiming

to speak in God’s name. You know, earlier this week we received a letter

claiming that Jesus was the son of Mary and an Apostle of God, but

nothing more. And that would be a compliment to most people.

But if we’re to take Moses at his word then we should judge Jesus

according to what he said. We should consider the gospels.

In John 5 Jesus says, “…the very works that I am doing, bear witness

about me that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has

himself borne witness about me.…39 You search the Scriptures because

you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness

about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”

And in verse 46 he says, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe

me; for he wrote of me.” In John 6:45 Jesus says, “It is written in the

Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ [Jesus says] Everyone who

has heard and learned from the Father comes to me…”

IOW, Jesus is claiming that he has come in God’s name to accomplish

God’s will. And if you believe the words of Moses, if you want to be taught

by God, if you want life with God, you will come to Jesus. You will listen to


Judge his words for yourself. But let’s not pretend Jesus has some good

teachings and some other teachings that are not worth listening to. Either

you accept all of it or you reject all of it. He offers you no middle ground.

In fact, that matches the response to Jesus in his own day. What did

Jesus’s contemporaries think about him? They were faced with the test of

deciding if Jesus’s words were really from God. What did the religious

leaders of Jesus’s day think about his ministry?

In the final week of Jesus’s life, he gets arrested and put on trial before the

High Priest. Do you know what charges they bring against him? Matthew

26:65 says that after questioning Jesus “the high priest tore his robes and

said, ‘He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You

have now heard his blasphemy.”

Do you know why they sentenced Jesus to death? Because they believed

what Jesus taught had profaned the name of God. Deuteronomy 18:20 tells

us that the prophet who profanes God’s name should be subject to death.

We often speak critically of the religious leaders, but if they’re right about

Jesus they’re doing the right thing.

Interestingly, if you flip over a page, just in case you ever decide to execute

someone by hanging him on a tree, Deuteronomy 21:23a says that “his

body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same

day, for a hanged man is cursed by God…”

At the Cross, Jesus had the appearance of one who was cursed by God.

Jesus really died and was buried. But on the third day, Jesus rose from the

dead. He wasn’t cursed according to his works. But instead, “Christ

redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…” (Gal.


See, Jesus didn’t come only as God’s spokesman. But his life is the

message and his resurrection proves its worth! John 1:1 says, “In the

beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was

God.” Jesus is the Word and through God’s Word you have life. If you want

to know what it means to truly live, then you have to decide for yourself

who Jesus is and if you will follow him.

Moses has given you the criteria to consider. He’s given you the vision for

this Messianic prophet. Through Jesus’s death and resurrection, your sins

are forgiven. But don’t miss this. In the resurrection, God is showing us

what he’s staking his reputation on. God is saying that his name and

renown are most clearly proclaimed through the finished works of Jesus




Jesus’s ministry passes the test. It proves true. And because it’s true, we

can be certain that he has the power to save.

Listen, do you know why the church exists today? To bear witness to God’s

saving work and to call people to enter Christ’s kingdom by faith. But if

Jesus had not risen, do you think the church would exist as it does today?

How would a flawed people like us have any chance at remaining faithful to

God? It must be that we have a perfect leader who never fails. And he will

lead us into his promised rest.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is not some lifeless message, but it’s the power

of God to save. See, the point is not just to shift from trying harder to obey

the Law of Moses to trying harder to obey the Law of Christ. If that were the

message there would be no good news. They couldn’t do it then. You can’t

do it now.

That’s not how the gospel works. Your obedience doesn’t come from you.

Your obedience comes to you. You don’t just do good works. Good works

have been done to you. You don’t need more Law. You need a new heart

that loves God. And that’s what he supplies to you through his Spirit.

Jesus says in John 14:26 (CSB), “…the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will

send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I

have told you.” And if Jesus’s words are really true then we should cling to

his promises.

Listen, if you are in Christ, the Holy Spirit lives within you, teaching you the

will of God. So let the Holy Spirit speak His words of hope, grace, and love

over you.

Maybe you wonder, do my sins condemn me? But the gospel says Jesus

has covered them all in His blood. You ask, do my works fall short? But the

gospel says Jesus’s righteousness is counted as yours. You ask, what

hope do I have in this angry, sinful world? But the gospel says that God’s

word is true and He has promised to care for you and keep you forever.

Maybe you wonder, can I really follow Jesus? And the gospel says if Christ

is in you, then he who started a good work in you will carry it out to


If you receive Christ’s message, you have received his Spirit. God has

moved in you. He has written His Word on your heart. And he will move

through you to testify to his saving power.

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