He said, ‘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 Moses?’ Numbers 12.6-8
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—just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.’
Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of the house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting and our hope.
The nature of a prophet is quite a difficult thing. What defines a prophet? We know how we should test a person who says they are a prophet (according to Deuteronomy 18), but we see here that Moses is something greater than a prophet. Earlier in the book of Exodus, God tells Moses that he will seem to be God to Pharaoh and his brother Aaron will be a prophet. We do see that a prophet is someone to whom God reveals explicitly a message. It isn’t a holy unction to talk spiritual words. It is a reception of God’s message to be conveyed to God’s intended recipients.
Now as we consider Moses’ role in all this, it is quite curious. Moses is someone greater than a prophet with whom God speaks ‘mouth to mouth’ and openly. Of all men on this side of the fall of Adam, he was truly blessed. So when we arrive in Deuteronomy, one of the things we should ask is who is the prophet God will raise up from Moses’ brothers? Now on the one hand, I have heard that Joshua and Jeremiah are figures who are prophets like Moses. Certainly, there is some imagery that these men share with Moses, but they are not essentially like Moses in their relationship with Yahweh. It seems to me that although these men might be shadows of the coming prophet, only one human fits this description. Jesus Christ is the prophet in the likeness of Moses, and we learn at his baptism, it is to him that we should all listen. And in Jesus’ teaching we also get a clear picture that those who don’t listen to Jesus will be cursed with death.
But we can say something more than this: Jesus is someone greater than Moses. Moses was faithful in all God’s household, but where Moses was just a servant of the household, Jesus Christ is the great builder of the household. Not only did he establish the house, but his is the heir, Jesus is a faithful firstborn son in the household. And we see why as we look throughout the book of Hebrews and the New Testament. Where Moses is fully human, Jesus Christ is fully human and fully God. He is the son of Mary and Son of God. In the former times, God spoke to his people through the prophets like Moses (even a great prophet like him), but in these latter times, he has spoken to us through his son whom he appointed to be the heir of all things and through whom he created the world. Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.
This Son is much more glorious than the servant Moses. And so our response as we come to know this Jesus is to cultivate a proper attitude of worship to him in all things. He is worthy of all praise and worship because he is this glorious son who is greater than even Moses.