What unusual similarities do Moses, Elijah, and Jesus share? Is Jesus the prophet of which Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 18:15-18? Find the answers here.
At this point in our study, we realize that there are a lot of similarities between Moses, Elijah, and the Two Witnesses of Revelation. In fact, one
of the Two Witnesses is “a prophet like me [Moses]” (Deuteronomy
18:15-18); and the other Witness comes to the Earth “in the spirit and
power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17). The focus so far in this Bible study has been to emphasize these particular similarities.
However, there are additional experiences which Elijah and Moses share with each other, and also with Jesus. These experiences are almost entirely limited to these three men. Let’s look at a few of them.
The Miracle of the 40 Day Fast
The 40 Day Fast is a fast from all food and fluids. In this fast, the person does not even drink water; this will kill anyone that hasn't been chosen by God to go through it.
Moses fasted in this way twice: once before receiving the first tablets of the Ten Commandments from God (Exodus 24:18; Deuteronomy 9:9); and again, before the receiving of the second, replacement tablets of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 9:18). Elijah also fasted in this way, in 1 Kings 19:8. Jesus also fasted in this way, in Matthew 4:1-2; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-2.
Regarding where the fast takes place, we are only told that Jesus went directly into the “desert” from his baptism in the Jordan River. Going south from the Jordan River is the Dead Sea, and then the Sinai Desert. Moses also fasted in the Sinai Desert, at Mount Horeb, also called “Mount Sinai” (Exodus 24:15; Exodus 34:29; Deuteronomy 9:8). Elijah also fasted in the Sinai Desert, at Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:8).
At the end of his fast, Moses saw and met with God while in an opening in the mountain (Exodus 33:22). At the end of his fast, Elijah also saw and met with God while in an opening in the mountain (1 Kings 19:11). Before Jesus even began His fast in the desert, just after He was baptized, Heaven opened above Him, and the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove; and a verse was heard from Heaven, saying “You are my beloved Son; I delight in you” (Matthew 3:16-17; Mark 1:10-11; Luke 4:21-22).
The Miracle of the Dry Water Crossing
Moses walked across the dry bottom of the Red Sea (Exodus 13:17-14:31; Psalm 77:19-20; Psalm 106:7-13; Isaiah 63:11-14; Acts 7:35-36; 1 Corinthians 10:1-2; Hebrews 11:24-29). Elijah (and the second “Elijah”, which was Elisha) also walked across the dry bottom of the Jordan River (2 Kings 2:8,14). Jesus walked on top of the high waves of water on the Sea of Galilee, until He reached a boat with His Disciples; then the sea became calm, and the boat arrived suddenly at its destination (Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-52; John 6:16-21).
The Miracle of the Water and the Blood
Moses commanded his brother Aaron to strike the water of the Nile River with his wooden staff; and when the staff struck the water, all the water in Egypt turned to blood. The Egyptians dug pools around the Nile, and filtered water flowed through the soil from the river into the trenches; this is how the Egyptians obtained water to drink (Exodus 7:14-25). Elisha (the second “Elijah”) was told by Yehovah (God) to order the digging of pools in Israel. The morning after the pools were dug, water had filled the pools, though no rain was seen; instead, the water flowed from somewhere in the direction of the land of Edom (means “red”). When the Moabites came later that day, they saw the water, and it looked like blood to them. (2 Kings 3:15-23). After Jesus died on the cross, one of the soldiers at the crucifixion dug a spear into the side of Jesus to make sure that Jesus was dead. When the spear pierced Jesus, there was a sudden flow of water and blood (John 19:33-34).
The Miracle of the Transfiguration
Jesus, Elijah, and Moses met at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36). They all appeared together in glorified form.
The Miracle of the Uncorrupted Corpse
It was prophesied that Jesus would not be dead long enough for His body to decay, or become “corrupted”. This is mentioned many places in the Bible: Psalm 16:10; Jonah 2:6; Acts 2:25-32; and Acts 13:33-39. He returned from the dead on the third day after His execution; and His body was not corrupted (Hosea 6:2; Matthew 12:40; Matthew 16:21; Matthew 17:22-23; Matthew 20:17-19; Mark 8:31; Mark 9:31; Mark 10:32-34; Luke 9:22; Luke 18:31-33; Luke 24:7; Luke 24:46; Acts 10:38-40; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Elijah went up into Heaven alive, so there was no corpse to become corrupted (2 Kings 2:11-18). When Moses died, his body was hidden by God, so that the devil could not find it to corrupt it (Deuteronomy 34:5-6; Jude 9). It should be noted that Enoch also went up into Heaven alive, so again there was no corpse to become corrupted (Genesis 5:24).
As you can see, there are several things these three men have in common
which are quite different from what is found in the lives of most
people. Obviously, though, these three men are not entirely the same;
the most important difference being that Jesus is God, while Moses and Elijah are servants of Jesus.
There is also another distinction between these men which needs to be examined. Many people in the past thought that Jesus was Elijah, or some other prophet (Matthew 16:13-16; Mark 6:14-15; Mark 8:27-29; Luke 9:1-9; Luke 9:18-20).
Looking very closely at Mark 6:15, we find that
We can see that some people thought Jesus was “that ‘prophet’”, which is a reference to the “prophet like me [Moses]” who was prophesied to come (Deuteronomy 18:15-18). As mentioned at the end of “Part 8: Stephen the Martyr”, many people have continued to think that Jesus is a fulfillment of that prophecy.
The notion that Jesus was a coming of “Elijah” or “Moses” is not correct. Before His death, Jesus Himself said that John the Baptist was the “Elijah” of that time (Matthew 11:13-15).
As for the mistake of thinking Jesus was a “prophet like [Moses]”, it has come mostly from a misunderstanding of Acts chapter 3. In this passage, Peter and John speak with a beggar, and the beggar is healed. This is followed by a crowd gathering around the men, and Peter attempting to explain to the people how the beggar was healed.
Included in Peter’s explanation are many mentions of “Jesus” and “Christ” (Acts 3:13,16,18,20) and of the fulfillment of prophecies and promises (Acts 3:18,20,21,24,25). Peter also mentions the “prophet like [Moses]” prophecy. Nevertheless, Peter does NOT say that Jesus is the fulfillment of this particular prophecy.
In fact, what Peter says is:
Clearly, Acts 3:22 is a paraphrase of Deuteronomy 18:15,18. However, Acts 3:23 corresponds to Deuteronomy 18:19, which is a verse that is located adjacent to the “a prophet like me [Moses]” prophecy, but is not actually a part of that prophecy.
Deuteronomy 18:19-20 is a complete Bible passage of its own:
Deuteronomy 18:19 and Deuteronomy 18:20 are presented in contrast to each other, with the intent of transitioning between topics, moving from the true “prophet like me [Moses]” in Deuteronomy 18:15-18, to the test for detecting false prophets in Deuteronomy 18:21-22. Both Deuteronomy 18:19 and Deuteronomy 18:20 are true for all prophets: verse 19 is not true solely for the “prophet like [Moses]”. After all, regardless of which of God’s prophets a person ignores, God will demand an explanation.
When Peter paraphrases Deuteronomy 18:19 in Acts 3:23, Peter is also transitioning between topics: he is transitioning from the particular “prophet like [Moses]” prophecy, to prophecy in general. The next verse, Acts 3:24, is about “all the prophets since Samuel”.
Therefore, the flow of Acts 3:20-24 (the part of chapter 3 containing the prophecy of Moses) is like this:
Acts 3:20-21 Peter says Jesus must stay in Heaven “until the time of the restoration of all things”. Jesus talked with Peter about the need for a restoration as they descended the mount of transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-13, particularly Matthew 17:10-11; Mark 9:2-13, particularly Mark 9:11-12).
Acts 3:22 Peter gives an example of a prophecy which must be fulfilled as part of this “restoration of all things”. The “prophet like me [Moses]” must come before Jesus can return; thus, this prophet can not be Jesus.
Acts 3:23 Peter begins to transition from this single prophecy that must be fulfilled, to all prophecies that must be fulfilled.
Acts 3:24 Peters speaks about all the prophecies of all the prophets since Samuel.
Given the flow of this passage, we can see that the “prophet like [Moses]” prophecy had not yet been fulfilled by the time of Acts chapter 3. Therefore, Jesus had not fulfilled this prophecy.
There is another fact that supports the conclusion that Jesus is not “a prophet like [Moses]”: how Peter (the speaker in Acts 3:20-23) got his name. Peter was originally named “Simon”. One day, Jesus questioned His Disciples, asking who people thought He [Jesus] was. The Disciples answered that the people thought Jesus was John the Baptist, or Elijah, or some other prophet--much like Mark 6:15, mentioned above.
Then Jesus asked His Disciples who they (the Disciples) thought He was. Peter replied that Jesus is the “Christ” (Matthew 16:16; Mark 8:29; Luke 9:20). After this, Jesus changed Peter’s name from his birth name of “Simon” to the name “Peter” (Matthew 16:17-18). This story is recorded in Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; and Luke 9:18-21.
The Luke that recorded Peter’s declaration of Jesus as the “Christ” is the same Luke that recorded Peter’s quote of Moses in Acts chapter 3. And the Peter who got his name for declaring Jesus to be the “Christ”--NOT just a prophet--is the same Peter who quoted Moses in Acts chapter 3. Peter only had to remember that he was now “Peter”, rather than “Simon”, to know that Jesus was more than “a prophet like [Moses]”.
In fact, in “Part 8: Stephen the Martyr” (this link will open in a new window), we discovered that Stephen fulfilled this prophecy, in Acts chapters 6 and 7 (very soon after Peter mentions the prophecy, in chapter 3). We can also now consider Acts chapter 3 as further evidence of anticipation for the fulfillment of “the prophet like [Moses]” prophecy around the time of the coming of Jesus.
We now have a better understanding of the relationships between Jesus, Elijah, and Moses. We will answer a few lingering questions of this Bible study; summarize what we’ve discovered; and consider some of the implications of what we’ve learned, in the study’s final portion, “Part 10: Two Witnesses Final Observations”.
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