About five centuries before Moses lived, God told Abraham, the ancestor of the Israelis, that his descendants would spend time in a foreign country, be oppressed there, have demographic growth there, and be brought out of there back to Israel (Genesis 15:13-14). About a hundred years later, Jacob (Israel) who was Abraham's grandson moved to Egypt with his children. When Joseph (Jacob's son and leader of the Israelis) was dying, he told the Israelis: "God will surely visit you and take you out of here to [Israel]" (Genesis 50:24). After Joseph's death, the Israelis fell out of favor with Pharaoh and were enslaved. After nearly four centuries of slavery, Moses shows up. He approaches the elders of Israel and tells them that God has appointed him to get Israel out of Egypt and to the land of Israel. Now observe the following:-
- Moses' claims fit in with everything the Israelis had learned from God in the past.
- He had "on the spot" miracles to authenticate himself there and then (Exodus 4:1-9).
- Aaron went out from Egypt and met Moses at Mt Sinai, and they returned together to Egypt without coordinating things in advance. They could do this only because God led them both. [If you claim Moses sent a secret message to Aaron, you have to explain his reluctance in Exodus 4:13].
Thus, Moses already had advance authentication.
Any skeptic among the elders of Israel would have a simple retort: "Alright. If God has really sent you, prove it: go talk to Pharaoh and get us out of here!"
That's exactly what Moses did - he got the people of Israel out of Egypt without any military strategy - it was all God's doing. Here we have phenomenal authentication: one man leads out about 2.5 million civilians out of the most powerful country in the world (whose king did not want to let them go). They meander for 40 years in the barren deserts of Saudi Arabia before entering (what is now known as) Israel.
Public opinion is unstable. So although the people of Israel were thrilled that Moses had rescued them out of slavery in Egypt, they often rebelled against him. Moses' greatness lies in the fact that he never defended himself. Those who opposed Moses, such as Korah and even his own siblings, got blunt reminders from God that it was He who had appointed Moses, and so no one should dare to say a word against Moses (see Numbers 16:1-35, Numbers 12:1-15).
On one occasion, there were only two people outside the tribe of Levi, namely Joshua and Caleb, who stood with Moses about entering Palestine. The others wanted to return to Egypt - furious with Moses for having led them on what they considered to be a doomed mission. Thus, Moses was outnumbered at least 11 to 1. In any other nation, this would have led to civil war, the assassination of Moses, dispersion of people, etc. But Israel stayed together. How? God miraculously made it clear that Moses, Joshua and Caleb were right and everyone else was wrong. The people admitted their mistake (Numbers 14:40). Incidents such as these constitute authentication for Moses because they illustrate that his lack of political or military prowess was more than made up for by divine backing.
Was Moses hungry for power or fame?
- When God asked him to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt, he refused. He was content to feed sheep in the obscurity of the Arabian desert. He tried to coax God to send someone else to the point of kindling God's anger (Exodus 4:14).
- During their journey to Israel, Moses complained to God that he was being given the responsibility of handling Israel although he had not given birth to them! (Numbers 11:12)
- When God said that He would destroy Israel and make a new nation whose progenitor would be Moses, Moses begged God not to do so.
- Moses was only too happy to share his powers and responsibilities with others (see Numbers 11:27-29).
- Even when God told Moses that He would not let him into the Promised Land, there was no let down in Moses' commitment to leading the people of Israel.
- Moses NEVER participated in any armed (or unarmed!) conflict between his followers and those who disagreed with him.
All these observations show that Moses was not hungry for power or fame. To any of his contemporaries, there was no doubt that Moses was indeed a prophet beyond compare. With absolutely no effort to defend himself or impose himself on others, he was acknowledged as God's hand-picked man. Note how the Israeli leaders from Ephraim and Manasseh addressed him as "lord" (Numbers 36:2). The Reubenite and Gadite leaders referred to themselves as "thy servants" while speaking to Moses (Numbers 32:5).
Summary: Moses made phenomenal claims about being a prophet - and he (or rather, God), backed it up with phenomenal authentication.
The Lord Jesus was the prophet of prophets
, greater than Moses, and much more than a prophet, and he had the necessary authentication
. His message was elaborated on by the Apostles, the New Testament equivalent of prophets. Miracles were one way in which they were authenticated. Other ways are mentioned in the Authenticity
page. As the Bible comes to a close, Jesus gives a very simple message: there is nothing more to be added. There will be no more prophet or apostle