TO MANY scholars and critics, Moses is little more than a figure of mythology. They reject the Bible’s account, applying standards of proof that would demand that men like Plato and Socrates also be dismissed as myths.
As we have seen, though, there is no legitimate reason to reject Bible accounts of Moses. On the contrary, for people of faith, there is abundant evidence that the entire Bible is “the word of God.”* (1 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 11:1) For such ones, studying the life of Moses is no mere academic exercise but, rather, a means of building faith.
The Real Moses
Moviemakers often highlight Moses’ heroism and physical courage—qualities that have audience appeal. Granted, Moses did have courage. (Exodus 2:16-19) But he was first and foremost a man of faith. God was real to Moses—so real that later the apostle Paul said that Moses “continued steadfast as seeing the One who is invisible.”—Hebrews 11:24-28.
Moses thus teaches us the need to cultivate a relationship with God. In our daily lives, we too can behave as if seeing God! If we do so, we will never act in a way that displeases him. Note, too, that Moses’ faith was instilled in him while he was a mere babe. His faith was deep enough to survive exposure to “all the wisdom of the Egyptians.” (Acts 7:22) What an encouragement that is to parents to begin teaching their children about God from infancy!—Proverbs 22:6; 2 Timothy 3:15.
Also noteworthy was Moses’ humility. He was “the meekest of all the men who were upon the surface of the ground.” (Numbers 12:3) Moses was thus willing to admit his mistakes. He writes of his own negligence in failing to have his son circumcised. (Exodus 4:24-26) He candidly relates his failure to give God glory on one occasion and the devastating punishment God meted out. (Numbers 20:2-12; Deuteronomy 1:37) Further, Moses was willing to take suggestions from others. (Exodus 18:13-24) Would not husbands, fathers, and other men in authority do well to imitate Moses?
True, some critics challenge whether Moses was truly meek, citing the violent actions he took. (Exodus 32:26-28) Says writer Jonathan Kirsch: “The biblical Moses is seldom humble and never mild, and his conduct cannot always be regarded as righteous. At certain terrifying moments, . . . Moses rears up as arrogant, bloodthirsty, and cruel.” Such criticism is painfully narrow. It overlooks the fact that Moses’ actions were driven, not by cruelty, but by a passionate love of justice and an intolerance of wickedness. In these days when it is fashionable to tolerate immoral life-styles, Moses stands as a reminder of the need to have uncompromising standards of morality.—Psalm 97:10.
The Legacy of Moses’ Writings
Moses left behind an astonishing collection of writings. These include poetry (Job, Psalm 90), historic prose (Genesis, Exodus, Numbers), genealogies (Genesis, chapters 5, 11, 19, 22, 25), and a remarkable body of legislation called the Law of Moses (Exodus, chapters 20-40; Leviticus; Numbers; Deuteronomy). This divinely inspired Law contained concepts, laws, and principles of government that were centuries ahead of their time.
In lands where the head of State also serves as the head of the Church, the result is often intolerance, religious oppression, and the abuse of power. The Law of Moses included the principle of separation of Church and State. The king was not allowed to take on priestly duties.—2 Chronicles 26:16-18.
The Law of Moses also contained concepts of hygiene and disease control, such as the quarantining of sick people and the disposal of human waste, that harmonize with current science. (Leviticus 13:1-59; 14:38, 46; Deuteronomy 23:13) This is remarkable considering that much of Egyptian medicine in Moses’ day was a dangerous mixture of quackery and superstition. In developing lands today, millions could be spared from disease and death if the standards of hygiene taught by Moses were practiced.
Christians are not obliged to follow the Mosaic Law. (Colossians 2:13, 14) But studying it is still of great value. That Law exhorted Israel to give God exclusive devotion and to shun idolatry. (Exodus 20:4; Deuteronomy 5:9) It commanded children to honor their parents. (Exodus 20:12) The Law also condemned murder, adultery, stealing, lying, and coveting. (Exodus 20:13-17) Those principles are cherished by Christians today.
Principles of hygiene taught in the Mosaic Law can help prevent disease
A Prophet Like Moses
We live in distressing times. Mankind certainly needs a leader like Moses—someone who has not only power and authority but also integrity, courage, compassion, and a heartfelt love of justice. When Moses died, the Israelites must have wondered, ‘Will the world see the likes of him again?’ Moses himself answered that question.
Moses’ writings explain how sickness and death came about in the first place and why God permitted wickedness to continue. (Genesis 3:1-19; Job, chapters 1, 2) At Genesis 3:15, the very first divine prophecy is recorded—a promise that evil will eventually be crushed! How? The prophecy indicated that an individual would be born through whom salvation would come. This promise gave birth to the hope that a Messiah would arise and deliver mankind. But who would the Messiah be? Moses helps us to identify him conclusively.
Toward the end of his life, Moses uttered these portentous words: “A prophet from your own midst, from your brothers, like me, is what Jehovah your God will raise up for you—to him you people should listen.” (Deuteronomy 18:15) The apostle Peter later applied those words directly to Jesus.—Acts 3:20-26.
Most Jewish commentators vigorously deny any comparison of Moses with Jesus. They argue that the words of this text apply to any true prophet who came after Moses. However, according to Tanakh—The Holy Scriptures, by the Jewish Publication Society, Deuteronomy 34:10 says: “Never again did there arise in Israel a prophet like Moses—whom the LORD singled out, face to face.”
Yes, many faithful prophets, such as Isaiah and Jeremiah, came after Moses. But none had the unique relationship with God that Moses enjoyed—speaking with him “face to face.” Moses’ promise of a prophet ‘like him’ must therefore apply to one individual—the Messiah! It is noteworthy that before the advent of Christianity—and religious persecution from false Christians—Jewish scholars viewed things similarly. Echoes of this can be seen in Jewish writings, such as the Midrash Rabbah, which describes Moses as the forerunner of the “latter Redeemer,” or Messiah.
That Jesus was like Moses in many ways cannot be denied. (See the box “Jesus—A Prophet Like Moses.”) Jesus has power and authority. (Matthew 28:19) Jesus is “mild-tempered and lowly in heart.” (Matthew 11:29) Jesus hates lawlessness and injustice. (Hebrews 1:9) He can therefore give us the leadership we sorely need! It is he who will soon crush wickedness and bring the earth to the Paradise conditions that the Bible describes.*
See the book The Bible—God’s Word or Man’s? published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
If you want to learn more about the Bible’s promise of an earthly paradise under Christ’s Kingdom, please contact Jehovah’s Witnesses. They will be happy to study the Bible with you free of charge.