Had Ye Believed Moses
By Arlen L. Chitwood
You Would Believed Me
You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.
But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.
Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you--Moses, in whom you trust.
For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.
But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?
(John 5:39, 40, 45-47).
God gave His Word to man in order to reveal His plans and purposes as they surround His Son and pertain to both man and the material creation upon which man finds himself. Everything that man needs to know and understand, to accomplish the end in view, is in His revealed Word. There is nothing superfluous, and there is nothing lacking. The Word is complete and perfect as given.
Man came into possession of the Word of God via supernatural means and, through this supernatural means, order, structure, and design can be seen throughout, from beginning to end. God is a God of complete and perfect order, necessitating that the Word that He gave possess the same inherent nature. And, in this respect, each word comprising God’s full revelation to man is not only said to be “pure” and likened to “silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times [referring to perfection within purity],” but God holds this Word in such high esteem that He has magnified it above His name (Psalm 12:6; 138:2).
And His Word, within its completeness, purity, and perfection, is living (Hebrews 4:12). “Life,” according to Scripture, is imparted through the breath of God (Genesis 2:7; cf. Ezekiel 37:3-10). And the Word of God is revealed to be “God-breathed,” and, through this means, living (2 Timothy 3:16 [see the NIV where the Greek word, theopneustos, in this verse — translated, “is given by inspiration of God” in the KJV — has been more correctly translated, “God-breathed”]).
Some forty different men, over a period of about 1,500 years, recorded God’s Word “as they were moved [‘borne along’] by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). The “Spirit” (Gk., pneuma, the word for “breath” as well in the Greek text) used different men to pen God’s Word, allowing each man to write within the scope of all his experiences and his own style of writing, but, at the same time, guarding him from error in that which he wrote. And the end result — whether understood by man or not — was not the word of the different men who penned this book at all, but the very Word of God, else it could not be both living and perfect (Psalm 12:6; Hebrews 4:12).
Because of all this, the Word of God stands completely and uniquely alone among writings in man’s possession. It is not only of divine origin but is also God-breathed, and thus living. All other writings are of another origin and lack life. Resultantly, this Word can be understood only through two inseparable means: 1) through the guidance of the indwelling Spirit Who gave the Word (John 16:13-15), and 2) through allowing that which is living to interpret itself by comparing Scripture with Scripture (1 Corinthians 2:9-13).
Man is often quick to check the commentaries, to see what another man has to say about a matter in Scripture. But going to that which man has to say is checking that which is lifeless in an effort to shed light upon that which is living. Something of this nature is like trying to set the celestial chronometer by the timepiece in Greenwich. Neither is done, and the inverse of both must always be the case.
It matters not what man may think about the Word or about that which it has to say. Man’s thoughts are totally immaterial. The only thing of any moment whatsoever is the Word’s own testimony about itself or about any matter with which it deals, with the Word understood in the light of itself, under the guidance of the indwelling Spirit.
This is why Paul, near the close of his ministry, in his closing words, told Timothy, “Preach the Word…” (2 Timothy 4:2). Paul exhorted Timothy to proclaim that which God had to say about the matter. Proclaim that which was living, perfect, and eternal, not that which was lifeless, imperfect, and will one day pass out of existence.
And the admonition is no different today. It is still, “Preach the Word…” And those called to minister the Word can either heed the Lord’s instructions (resulting in their own well-being and the well-being of those to whom they minister) or they can disregard the Lord’s instructions (which will be to their own peril and the peril of those to whom they minister).
Moses and the Prophets
Scripture begins with that which the Spirit of God moved Moses to pen. The Spirit moved Moses to lay the groundwork, to set forth the basics, at the beginning of His revelation. And He then moved subsequent writers to build upon this previously laid groundwork, the previously laid basics, at later points in time.
Christ made it very clear in John 5:45-47 that Moses, 1,500 years prior to that time, had written about Him, about His person and work. And a short time later — following His death, burial, and resurrection — when opening the Scriptures to two disciples on the Emmaus road, Christ further dealt with and expanded the matter to include the remainder of the Old Testament as well.
Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!
Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?”
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. (Luke 24:25-27)
Not only had “Moses” written about Christ, but so had “all the prophets.” And a reference of this nature — to both “Moses and all the prophets” — would be all-inclusive. It would include the whole of the Old Testament, beginning with Moses.
(The all-inclusiveness of this statement can be seen in Luke’s earlier reference to “the law [the five books of Moses] and the prophets [all the prophets]” [Luke 16:16; cf. Luke 16:29, 31]. This is simply an expression used in Scripture to refer to all of the Old Testament Scriptures, beginning with Moses.)
The clear statement is made that Christ “expounded to them [these two disciples] in all the Scriptures [all of the Old Testament Scriptures] the things concerning himself” (v. 27b). Attention was first called to the opening five books (Moses), then to all the others (the Prophets); and Christ, with all this referenced material in the possession of the Jewish people — material which, in its entirety, spoke of the various facets of the person and work of Christ — began to draw from this material, expounding to these two disciples the things concerning Himself.
These things had been there all the time, they had been in the possession of the Jewish people for centuries; and the Jewish people, as these two disciples, had missed them. The entire Old Testament — in their possession, and supposedly expounded by their religious leaders — from beginning to end, was about the One Whom they had rejected and crucified. The same Old Testament Scriptures in their possession had even foretold these events, and the Jewish people had not understood their own Scriptures.
The Old Testament is simply one continuous revelation concerning all the various facets of the person and work of Christ. The Christ of the New Testament is the Christ of the Old Testament. He is seen in the Old Testament first, for Moses and all the Prophets wrote about the One Who appeared to Israel and was rejected by the nation centuries before the New Testament writers were even born. And everything about the person and work of Christ was set forth in the Old Testament before He ever appeared to Israel the first time. In this respect, nothing is seen in the New that does not have its roots someplace in the Old.
Moses was chosen to write first, and it was through him that numerous facets of the complete story first began to be revealed. Then, the Prophets, writing later, simply provided necessary additional detail for that which had first begun to be revealed in the five books of Moses.
And, whether in Moses or the Prophets, this revelation has to do not only with Christ’s first advent but with His second as well. In fact, there is far, far more material throughout the whole of the Old Testament, beginning with Moses, which relates to Christ’s second advent than there is that relates to His first advent.
Thus, if an individual desires to study about the person and work of Christ after the order in which this revelation was given, he must begin where God began when giving His Word to man. He must begin with Moses, not with the gospels or the epistles. The person of the latter is first seen in the former. And there is nothing in the latter that hasn’t already been laid out, after some fashion, in the former.
The Old Testament, beginning with Moses, is filled with word-pictures depicting Christ, from His rejection to His acceptance, from His sufferings to His glory, from His humiliation to His exaltation. And the Old Testament also bears witness to the fact that the very same scenes that witnessed His rejection, sufferings, and humiliation will one day witness His acceptance, glory, and exaltation.
Kings in that day will “shut their mouths at Him; for what had not been told them they shall see, and what they had not heard they shall consider” (Isaiah 52:13-15; cf. Psalm 2:1ff). And the Jewish people in that day will go forth proclaiming the message of the One Who, in past time, was “wounded” for their transgressions and “bruised” for their iniquities, but, at that time, will sit enthroned on God’s “holy hill of Zion” (Psalm 2:6; Isaiah 53:1ff). No one part of the Old Testament presents a complete picture of Christ, only a part of the picture. And each part presents something different (though within these individual parts there is usually some repetition of events from previous parts, undoubtedly to show exactly where a particular part of the picture being presented fits within the overall framework).
But, though no one part presents the complete picture, the whole of that revealed in the Old Testament, when brought together, does present the complete picture — the only picture of Christ in existence and the one picture that God would have man fix his eyes upon.
Thus, the Christ of the New has been presented first in the Old, and the whole of His person and work has been laid out first in the Old for all to see. Accordingly, the instructed student doesn’t begin in the New, but in the Old. And he doesn’t begin just anyplace in the Old. Rather, he begins exactly where God began when giving this Word and where Christ began when expounding this Word — with Moses, progressing from there to the Prophets.
You Search the Scriptures
The form of the expression, “search the Scriptures” (John 5:39a, KJV), in the Greek text can be understood as either a command or a statement of fact. That is, it can be understood as it is translated in the KJV (a command), or it can be understood as simply a statement of something occurring — “You search the Scriptures” (ref. NASB). In cases of this nature, the context must always determine which understanding of the expression is correct.
And that is simple enough to ascertain from the contextual usage in this passage. The context plainly shows that a statement is in view, not a command. Christ, rather than commanding the Jewish people to do something, instead called attention to that which they were already doing, though going about it in a completely incorrect manner. They were already searching the Scriptures, but they were failing to see, from these Scriptures, the One of Whom their own Scriptures spoke — the very One standing in their midst, the One of Whom Moses and the Prophets spoke.
And it is evident that these Jews were not simply searching their Scriptures after a cursory fashion. This is not the picture at all. Rather, they were searching these Scriptures as a hunter might stalk game. But, as a hunter could go about his task in a completely wrong fashion, and end up with no quarry, so could a person in his search of the Scriptures. And this is exactly what the Jews of Jesus’ day were doing.
(The word translated “search [Gk., ereunao],” is used five other times in the New Testament, and each of these times, the word has to do with a thorough search [cf. John 7:52; Romans 8:27; 1 Corinthians 2:10; 1 Peter 1:11; Revelation 2:23].)
The Jews of Jesus’ day were seeing the letter of Scripture, but they were not going beyond the letter and allowing the Scriptures to be opened to their understanding. They were not going beyond the letter to the spirit of Scripture. When Moses was read, there was a “veil…upon their heart,” something that remains even to this present day. But this veil could then and can today be “done away in Christ” (2 Corinthians 3:13-16).
Not seeing beyond the letter, they were not seeing that of which the letter spoke. “The letter” spoke of a person. It spoke of Christ, though He is seen only in “the spirit” of Scripture (2 Corinthians 3:6, 17). And the Jews of Jesus’ day, reading and studying the letter of Scripture, but not going beyond this, were failing to see the One of Whom Moses and all the Prophets spoke.
They had the written Word (which was living) in their possession, which told about the Living Word dwelling in their midst. But, though both had come down from heaven, they were failing to see the latter in the former. They were seeing the letter of Scripture, but no further.
They were failing to see a spiritual discernment within the letter. And, as a hunter might search and search but (through a wrong fashion) still fail to find the quarry, these Jews were searching and searching but (through a wrong fashion) still failing to see that of which the Scriptures spoke.
This was something that the Jews were doing at Christ’s first coming, when the kingdom of the heavens was being offered to Israel. And dire consequences followed. The kingdom of the heavens was taken from the Jewish people, with a view to a new entity (the Church) being called into existence to be the recipient of this offer.
But, with the subsequent offer of the kingdom of the heavens to Christians, things in Christendom throughout the present dispensation have followed the same course that they did in Israel throughout the past dispensation.
In relation to the message surrounding the kingdom of the heavens, near the end of the past dispensation, Israel’s religious leaders (mainly the fundamental Pharisees) misled the people; and the people blindly followed their leadership.
And exactly the same thing is happening in Christendom surrounding this same message near the end of the present dispensation. The religious leaders (mainly, relative to this message, those in fundamental circles) are misleading the people; and the people are blindly following their leadership.
What will be the end result? It was all foretold in the history of Israel at Christ’s first coming. That which befell Israel, because of their blindness in this respect, will befall Christians, for their blindness in this same respect (2 Corinthians 3:14-4:6; cf. Romans 11:17-21).
1) They Testify of Me
The Old Testament Scriptures testify of Christ; and, New Testament revelation — which deals with Christ throughout — cannot be properly understood apart from comparing the two Testaments. The gospel accounts in the New Testament have to do with an unveiling of events previously made known through Moses and the Prophets. And it is the same with all the other portions of the New Testament as well — from the book of Acts through the book of Revelation. This is simply the way God has structured His Word, and the checks and balances must be run accordingly if one would properly understand His Word.
How though do Moses and the Prophets testify of Christ in that which they wrote, for their writings deal with numerous events and/or numerous individuals and their experiences?
The answer is evident, for Scripture deals with this issue many places. And these places can be found in the gospel accounts during Christ’s earthly ministry in the book of Acts following His ascension, in the epistles, and in the book of Revelation, which closes the canon of Scripture. The New Testament is replete with instances of how the Old Testament has been structured. It would have to be, for it draws from the Old Testament in its entirety.
First, the kingdom offered to Israel — the kingdom of the heavens — was not something new. This kingdom was first introduced in the Old Testament (cf. Genesis 14:18-22; 22:17, 18; Daniel 4:17-26; 7:18, 22, 25, 27; 10:13-21), and numerous Jews during this past dispensation aspired to a higher calling, a heavenly calling (Hebrews 11:8-16, 32-40; cf. Matthew 8:11, 12; Luke 13:28, 29).
Then, the one initially offering the kingdom to Israel wasn’t unknown. Isaiah had written about John the Baptist over seven hundred years prior to the time he appeared to Israel as the forerunner of Christ (Matthew 3:3; cf. Isaiah 40:3). And this same prophecy will have a future fulfillment in the person of Elijah, when he appears as the forerunner of Christ at His second coming (Matthew 11:12-14; cf. Malachi 4:5, 6).
Then, after John had been imprisoned, Christ continued with the same message. And since all the Old Testament Scriptures have to do with His person and work, we can only expect parts of the Old Testament to deal with Christ’s appearance to Israel at this time. And that is exactly what we find when going back to these Scriptures.
The experiences of Joseph, for example, depict numerous things about the person and work of Christ. They must, for they are part of the revelation that Christ referred to in Luke 24:27. And the same can be said for the experiences of Moses, David, and the multitudes of others throughout the Old Testament.
But how is Christ seen in the experiences of these individuals? He is seen in their experiences exactly the same way he is seen in the experiences of Jonah in Matthew 12:38-40, or in that which Moses did with the brazen serpent in John 3:14. That which is revealed in the Old Testament (individuals and their experiences [e.g., Adam, Abel], events [e.g., that were revealed in Genesis 1:1-2:3], objects [e.g., the tabernacle, the brazen serpent]) forms types, and these types all reflect on some aspect of the person and work of Christ.
(The typical aspect of Scripture, to this extent, is easy to establish. A typical structure of this nature is not only specifically stated to exist but it is self-evident in Scripture as well.
First, 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11 specifically states that the experiences of the Israelites under Moses happened as types [the word in the Greek text in both verses — translated, “examples,” “ensamples” — is tupos, from which we derive our English word, “type”]. This covers that portion of Scripture from Exodus 12 through Deuteronomy. Then, going to Christ’s statement in Luke 24:27, the remainder of Scripture can easily be seen to fall within this same category. It would have to, for the remainder of Scripture is simply a building on that previously set forth by Moses.
And, aside from the preceding, this typical aspect of Scripture is self-evident. As one reads Scripture, this typical aspect surfaces numerous times in the New Testament through the manner in which the writers call attention to or allude to different people and things in the Old Testament. It is something evident at almost every turn as one moves through both Testaments, comparing Scripture with Scripture.)
But back to the thought of Christ at His first coming being depicted through the experiences of individuals in the Old Testament. That can be seen, for example, through the experiences of Joseph when he went to His brethren the first time (Genesis 37), or through the experiences of Moses when he went to his brethren the first time (Exodus 2), or through the experiences of David in association with his brethren (1 Samuel 16ff). And each of these accounts, though presenting one part of the same picture of Christ, adds to the picture by presenting things peculiar to each chapter.
Each of these individuals was rejected, as Christ was rejected. And other types, along with that of Joseph, depict that which immediately followed — His death, burial, and resurrection (e.g., the experiences of Abel in Genesis 4, the experiences of Isaac in Genesis 22, or the experiences of Jonah in Jonah 1, 2).
Then, these same types, among others, continue with material concerning the person and work of Christ following His ascension. Joseph, between the time of his rejection and acceptance by his brethren, took a Gentile bride (Genesis 41:45; 45:1ff); Moses is seen doing the same thing (Exodus 2:21; 4:20, 29-31); and David, between the time of his rejection and the time he took the kingdom, gathered faithful men who would rule with him (1 Samuel 22:1, 2; 2 Samuel 2:4; 5:3-5).
And all the preceding, of course, typifies certain aspects about the person and work of Christ during both the present and coming dispensations. This is something extensively dealt with in the New Testament, referring back to and drawing from the Old Testament.
Christ’s present high priestly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary is patterned after that of Aaron, as he ministered in the earthly sanctuary. Christ, on the basis of His shed blood on the mercy seat (as Aaron, on the basis of shed blood on the mercy seat), is presently providing a cleansing for the kingdom of priests (for whom He previously died) which He is about to bring forth.
Christ alluded to His present ministry in this respect when He girded Himself, took a basin of water, and began to wash the disciples’ feet shortly before His crucifixion (John 13:8-10); and Christ’s present ministry is dealt with extensively by John in his first epistle (1:6ff) and by the writer of Hebrews (chapters 7b-10; cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Ephesians 5:26, 27).
And all the preceding (along with numerous other things about the person and work of Christ) cannot be properly understood apart from an understanding of various things revealed in the typology of the tabernacle. It is here that a cleansing of the priests is seen in the Old Testament. And though this cleansing is shown by repeated washings with water, it points to blood shed at the brazen altar on the Day of Atonement and sprinkled on and before the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies (Leviticus 16).
Then another aspect of the previous type is seen in the experiences of the Israelites under Moses (and later Joshua) during a past dispensation, foreshadowing the experiences of Christians under Christ during the present dispensation (following the death of the firstborn in both type and antitype). A kingdom of priests, residing in another land (Exodus 19:6), was to result from the Israelites being led toward an earthly land in the type; and a kingdom of priests, residing in another land (Revelation 5:10), is to result from Christians being led toward a heavenly land in the antitype. And a cleansing for sin during the journey, through the work of a High Priest, on the basis of shed blood, is seen in both type and antitype.
The book of Hebrews deals extensively with this complete overall type throughout parts of the first ten chapters. The first four of the five major warnings deal with this matter (chapters 2-10), with over three chapters relating various matters surrounding Christ’s present high priestly ministry (chapters 7b-10). And these chapters, leading into the warning concerning willful sin (fourth warning [10:26ff]), have to do with the importance of Christ’s present ministry and the importance of Christians availing themselves of Christ’s present work on their behalf. It has to do with the importance and necessity of Christians presently availing themselves of provided cleansing from defilement.
Thus, the first four of the five major warnings in Hebrews draws from one central type, extending from Exodus 12 through Joshua. And this overall type, made up of innumerable individual types, is the most exhaustive of all the Old Testament types dealing with the present race of the faith in which Christians find themselves engaged (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:24-10:11).
(Note the place which Melchizedek, as opposed to Aaron, occupies in the book of Hebrews [chapters 5b-7a]. Melchizedek comes into view only in connection with events concluding the overall type. Melchizedek, in the Old Testament [Genesis 14:18, 19; Psalm 110:1-4], typifies Christ in His Messianic priesthood — that day when He will be the great King-Priest in Jerusalem, as Melchizedek was a king-priest in Jerusalem.
And that is not only made plain from Old Testament typology but from the book of Hebrews itself. Aside from the fact that the mention of Melchizedek in Hebrews must be in complete accord with the way in which he is set forth in the Old Testament [Messianic], the writer of Hebrews tells the reader that it is Messianic.
Note how Melchizedek is introduced in this book: “You are a priest forever [lit., ‘with respect to the age’] after the order of Melchizedek” [5:6b, quoted from Psalm 110:4]. That can’t possibly refer to the present age, for, not only is this quoted from a Messianic passage, but this present age covers the whole of Man’s Day — extending from the restoration of the earth and man’s creation in the first chapter of Genesis to the beginning of the Messianic Kingdom. “With respect to the age” can pertain to the coming age alone, the Messianic Era.)
And, closing out thoughts surrounding the typical aspect of Scripture and seeing Christ after this fashion within the Old Testament, note Scripture as a whole. That introduced in Genesis 2:1-3 (a Sabbath rest, following six days of work), is seen realized in Revelation 20:1-6 (earth’s 1,000-year Sabbath), following six subsequent days of work (6,000 years of work). And an allusion to this present time of work, followed by a future time of rest, is seen numerous other places in Scripture. But such a teaching, though seen numerous other places, never stands alone. It always rests upon that revealed in the opening two chapters of Genesis.
The Sabbath, for example, was given to Israel as a “sign” (Exodus 31:13-17). It was a sign specifically stated to be connected with that which God had done in the opening two chapters of Genesis (Exodus 20:8-11; 31:17). As God had worked six days to restore a ruined creation in Genesis 1:2b-25, so would He work six more days to restore a subsequent ruined creation. And as God rested the seventh day in the Genesis account (2:1-3), so would He rest the seventh day in the subsequent restoration. The latter would be patterned after the former, and the Sabbath was given to Israel to keep this thought ever before the nation (cf. Matthew 16:28-17:5; Hebrews 4:4-9; 2 Peter 1:16-18; 3:5-8).
And the book of Revelation itself cannot be properly understood apart from an understanding of particularly two books in the Old Testament — Ruth and Esther. The former book deals with the Christian side of the matter and the latter with the Jewish side — both extensively dealt with in the book of Revelation. Both books cover the same subject matter dealt with in the book of Revelation, both together cover the matter in a complete manner, and both provide information necessary to properly understand the book of Revelation.
No part of the New Testament can be properly understood apart from going back to the Old Testament and viewing the wealth of information concerning Christ that God has interwoven within all the various types. The whole of Scripture is about Him, from beginning to end. He is seen on every page, at every turn; and this is something that must be recognized.
2) You Will Not Come to Me
When Christ appeared to Israel the first time, the Jews were going to their Scriptures, searching these Scriptures, but not seeing beyond the letter of Scripture. They were not seeing the One of Whom the letter spoke, the spirit of Scripture — Christ, revealed numerous ways throughout the intricate design and structure of Scripture.
Christ “is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:17), seen and revealed in the spiritual aspect of the letter. Thus, it is easy to understand why “the letter kills, but the spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). “The letter” stops short of revealing Christ. “The letter” stops short of allowing a person to see the One Who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6a).
And this is exactly what the Jewish people at Christ’s first coming were doing. They were searching the Scriptures, but they were not seeing the very One of Whom these Scriptures, in their entirety, spoke. And, as a result, they were not coming to the Son that they might have life, apart from which no man can come to the Father (John 14:6b).