Moses and the Dispensations

By on September 5, 2010

“The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken…” (Deuteronomy 18:15).

“… like unto me,” said Moses, “… like unto me!” Now, we know that Moses was looking forward to the promised Messiah, but for him to say that Christ would demonstrate certain traits or characteristics found in himself is most important. The statement gave me a desire to take a closer look at Moses’ life. I wanted to find out how and why Christ can be compared to Moses. Peter quoted the prophecy while preaching in the Temple during the days follow-ing Pentecost:

“For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you” (Acts 3:22).

As I studied the life and ministry of Moses, I be-came convinced that Moses offers a fascinating prophetic profile of the Messiah. Peter was right when he said, “For Moses TRULY said…” It was no flight of fancy. Moses could humbly say that Christ would bear certain characteristics demon-strated in his own life.

Moses made seven trips up Mount Sinai — a perfect number. Each trip was a prophetic scenario of the dispensations of Innocence, Conscience, etc.

For instance, Moses was born in a time when Jewish male children were being slaughtered. Pharaoh was trying to abort the birth of a Jewish deliverer. Likewise, in the days of Jesus’ birth, Herod the Great had the male children of Bethle-hem slaughtered — an attempt to kill the coming King. Moses was born in Egypt and returned to Egypt to lead his people out. In like manner, Jesus was taken to Egypt as an infant in order that the prophecy might be fulfilled, “Out of Egypt have I called my son” (Matthew 2:15).

Originally, this prophecy was given by Hosea. “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt” (Hosea 11:1). Hosea was referring to the Exodus led by Moses. Yet, Matthew gave a prophetic meaning to the Hosea passage and specifically related it to Christ. The life of Moses is a prophetic profile of Jesus Christ. These are only a few of the many compar-isons that can be made between Moses and Christ.

Grant R. Jeffrey, in his book, Heaven — The Last Frontier, suggested several parallels between Moses and Jesus:

“At least fifty el-ements and events are parallel in both lives. Both filled the roles of prophet, priest, lawgiver, teacher, and leader of men. Both confirmed their teach-ing with miracles. Both spent their early years in Egypt, miraculously protected from those who sought their lives.

“Moses’ family initially did not accept his role, but later his brother, Aaron, and sister, Miriam, helped him. Jesus’ mother and brothers initially failed to follow Jesus, but later his brother James became the leader in the church in Jerusalem. Both confronted demonic pow-ers and successfully subdued them.

“As Moses appointed seventy rulers over Israel, Jesus anointed seventy disciples to teach the na-tion. Moses sent twelve spies to explore Canaan, Jesus sent twelve apos-tles to reach the world. Both fasted for forty days and faced spiritual crises on mountaintops.

“As Moses stretched his hand over the Red Sea to di-vide it, Jesus rebuked the Sea of Galilee and quieted the waves. Both of their faces shone with the glory — Moses on Mount Sinai and Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Moses lifted up a brazen serpent in the wilderness and Jesus was lifted up on the cross. The people were ungrateful and rebelled against the leader-ship of both men. The generations that rebelled against them died in their lack of faith, one in the wilderness and one in the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.”

Let’s consider sev-eral experiences from the Sinai drama and compare the ministry of Moses with that of Christ.

Seven Dispensations

To begin with, Moses made seven trips into the presence of God. Notice how they correspond to the seven dispensations. They are:

  1. 1. The Dispensation of Innocence, from the Cre-ation to the Fall of Adam.
  2. 2. The Dispensation of Conscience, from the ex-pulsion out of Eden to the Flood of Noah.
  3. 3. The Dispensation of Human Government, from the Flood to the Tower of Babel.
  4. 4. The Dispensation of Promise, from the call of Abraham to the bondage of Egypt.
  5. 5. The Dispensation of Law, from Sinai to the Crucifixion of Christ.
  6. 6. The Dispensation of Grace, from Calvary to the Tribulation Period.
  7. 7. The Dispensation of the Kingdom, wherein the Messiah will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Moses’ First Encounter and the Dispensation of Innocence

Let us examine Moses’ first ascent into the pres-ence of God and compare it with the dispensation of Innocence:

“And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;

“Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.

“Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar trea-sure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:

“And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

“And Moses came and called for the elders of the peo-ple, and laid before their faces all these words which the Lord commanded him” (Exodus 19:3-7).

This is similar to the message given to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden:

“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28).

A comparison can be made between God’s promises to Adam and His later message to Is-rael. To “have dominion” corresponds with the statements “a peculiar treasure … above all peo-ple” and “a kingdom of priests … an holy na-tion.”

For God to say that Israel will become a kingdom of priests implies a responsibility to guide the world in its worship of God. This requires a lead-ership position. When Israel finally becomes “a kingdom of priests” the paradise will be re-stored. Therefore, the mes-sage to Adam in the dispensation of Innocence appears to be repeated here, following Moses’ first ascent.

Moses’ Second Encounter and the Dispensation of Conscience

Moses’ second ascent is given in Exodus 19:8-14:

“…And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord.

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the Lord.

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes,

“And be ready against the third day: for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai.

“And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death:

“There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount.

“And Moses went down from the mount unto the peo-ple …” (Exodus 19:8-14).

This corresponds to the dispensation of Con-science — from the expulsion to the Flood.

First, God told Moses to “sanctify them … let them wash their clothes.” Before the Fall of Adam there was no need for sanctifying. After the Fall, however, there was then a need for cleansing — sin had entered the human race. The era was called “conscience” because Adam became knowledge-able on the subject of sin. He learned the difference between good and evil. This corresponds with the command at Sinai to have the people to wash their clothes — a metaphor for spiritual cleansing.

Secondly, The LORD instructed Moses to “set bounds … go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it.” This compares with the story of the expulsion from Eden:

“Therefore, the LORD God sent him forth from the gar-den of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

“So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (Genesis 3:23-24).

Adam was forbidden to enter the garden and Is-rael was forbidden to touch the mountain.

Thirdly, God descended to the summit of Mount Sinai for a meeting with His people on the third day.

“And it came to pass on the third day in the morn-ing, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount…” (Exodus 19:16).

According to Flavius Josephus, it rained:

“So they passed two days in this way of feasting, but on the third day before the sun was up, the cloud spread it-self over the whole camp of the Hebrews, such a one as none had seen before and encompassed the place where they had pitched their tents. And while all the rest of the air was clear, there came strong winds that raised up large showers of rain, which became a mighty tempest. There was also such lightning — terrible to those that saw it. And thunder, with its thunder bolts, declared God to be there” (Josephus, Antiquities, bk 3, ch. 5, para. 2).

Just as the second era ended with a great Flood, in like manner, this second encounter was con-cluded with a great rain — perhaps to remind them of the Flood which came in the days of Noah. Because of these comparisons, I feel that the sce-nario represented a picture of the dispensation of Conscience — from the Fall to the Flood.

Moses’ Third Encounter and the Dispensation of Human Government

Moses’ third trip to the summit of Mount Sinai is recorded in Exodus 19:17-20:

“And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount.

“And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, be-cause the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.

“And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God an-swered him by a voice.

“And the Lord came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the Lord called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up” (Exodus 19:17-20).

It is here that the story corresponds with the dispensation of Human Govern-ment:

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish.

“And let the priests also, which come near to the Lord, sanctify themselves, lest the Lord break forth upon them.

“And Moses said unto the Lord, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, say-ing, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it.

“And the Lord said unto him, Away, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priest and the people break through to come up unto the Lord, lest he break forth upon them.

“So Moses went down unto the people, and spake unto them” (Exodus 19:21-25).

First, the Scriptures inform us of a division be-tween the people and the priesthood. This division corresponds to events during the postdiluvian era. This dispensation of Human Government wit-nessed a separation of the languages and of the three basic divisions of the human race.

Second, at the Tower of Babel the various lin-eages of Shem, Ham, and Japheth were scattered, and the bounds were set. Likewise, God told Moses to set bounds about the Mount and sanctify it.

Third, God spoke audibly to the people of Is-rael and gave to them the most profound set of laws in human history — the Ten Command-ments. No na-tion or group of nations has ever been able to im-prove upon these laws. With the Ten Commandments, God es-tablished a governing covenant for Is-rael — corresponding to the dispensation of Hu-man Government.

The third dispensation is called “Human Gov-ernment,” because of events surrounding the building of the Tower of Babel. The people estab-lished a form of government and built the city with its monument to human inge-nuity.

“And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.

“And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.

“And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.

“And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.

“And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.

“And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

“Go to, let us go down, and there confound their lan-guage, that they may not understand one an-other’s speech.

“So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.

“Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:1-9).

Babel was not a skyscraper that stretched into the stratosphere. It was a temple of worship. At its top was a “holy of holies” of sorts, where the people erected images of idolatry — the sun (Baal), the moon (Ashtoreth), and other signs of the zodiac, which the people regarded as gods. No wonder God said in the first and second commandments:

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above…” (Exodus 20:3-4).

These commandments are a direct reference to the Tower of Babel and the dispensation of Human Government.

Fourthly, The languages were changed at Babel. This compares with an unusual event that oc-curred when God spoke from the summit of Sinai. Joseph Good, author of ROSH HASHANAH AND THE MESSIANIC KINGDOM TO COME writes,

“The Revela-tion at Sinai, it was taught, was given in desert territory, which belongs to no one nation exclu-sively; and it was heard not by Israel alone, but by the in-habitants of all the Earth. The Divine Voice divided itself into the seventy tongues then spoken on Earth, so that all the children of men might understand its world-embrac-ing and man-re-deeming message.”

The Jewish commentary, Exodus Rabba, says:

“When G-d gave the Torah on Sinai, He dis-played un-told marvels to Israel with His voice. What happened?  G-d spoke and the Voice rever-berated throughout the world…. It says, ‘And all the people witnessed the thun-derings’ (Exodus. 20:15). Note that it does not say ‘the thunder,’ but ‘the thunderings;’ wherefore, R. Johanan said that G-d’s voice, as it was uttered, split up into sev-enty voices, in seventy languages, so that all the nations should understand. When each nation heard the Voice in their own vernacular, their souls departed [i.e. they were in fear], save Israel, who heard but who were not hurt.”

Rabbi Moshe Weissman in, The Midrash Says, writes,

“On the occasion of matan Torah (the giv-ing of the Torah), the Bnai Yisrael (the children of Israel) not only heard Hashem’s (the L-rd’s) Voice but actually saw the sound waves as they emerged from Hashem’s (the L-rd’s) mouth. They visual-ized them as a fiery substance. Each command-ment that left Hashem’s (the L-rd’s) mouth trav-eled around the entire camp and then came back to every Jew individually, asking him, “Do you ac-cept upon yourself this Commandment with all halachot (Jewish law) pertaining to it?” Every Jew answered, “Yes,” after each Com-mandment. Fi-nally, the fiery sub-stance which they saw, engraved itself on the luchot (tablets).”

As a reference to Babel, when all languages were established, God is said to have spoken in ev-ery language at the same time. By giving the Torah (Law), God was establishing a divine gov-ernment to counter “human government.” Yes, Moses’ third ascent to the summit of Mt. Sinai corre-sponded to the dispensation of Human Government. A side note: the voice of God came from His mouth as if they were “tongues” (languages) of fire speaking every language. This Sinai experience occurred on the very same calendar day that later became known as Pentecost! Both the dispensa-tion of Law and the dispensation of Grace were inaugurated on the same day! Both occasions wit-nessed the voice of God as “tongues of fire,” in which all languages were heard simultaneously!

Moses’ Fourth Encounter and the Dispensation of Promise

Moses’ fourth ascent to the summit is recorded in Exodus 20:21 to 24:3. The account can be divided into three basic categories:

1. God told Moses to make an altar of earth.

2. God elaborated upon the Ten Commandments.

3. God promised to bring them into the Land.

“An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt-offerings, and thy peace-offer-ings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee” (Exodus 20:24).

First, the “altar of earth” appears to be a tempo-rary place of worship until the Tabernacle could be constructed. It was not to be the final form of worship. It represented the “promise” of a better thing. It is typical of the dispensation of Promise wherein God called Abraham to leave his home and move to a land of “promise” — a land which “flowed with milk and honey” — to look for a city “whose Builder and Maker is God.”

“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an in-heritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

“By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

“For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:8-10).

The word “promise” is used twice in the above passage, indicating the theme of the dispensation. God dealt with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by a promise — the Abrahamic covenant. The account is given in Genesis 15.

“And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.

“And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

“And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it” (Genesis 15:5-7).

The Abrahamic covenant promised a coming “seed” and a Promised Land. Furthermore, it was accepted by faith. Now at Sinai, Moses is given the same kind of promise. Just as Abraham wan-dered and sojourned in the desert areas of the Promised Land, even so Moses and the Chosen People will wander in the wilderness for forty years. The altar of earth will be temporary. Even the Tabernacle to be built was temporary. God ea-gerly awaited a fu-ture Temple to be built on Mount Moriah. But, life must continue during this in-terim period, so God gives further instructions about His moral law:

“Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set be-fore them” (Ex. 21:1).

Secondly, During Moses’ second forty days on the summit, God will greatly expand the Law to include 613 commandments. God brings the dispensation of Promise to a close and opens a new era — the dis-pensation of Law.

Thirdly, God proposes to make good on His promise to Abraham. He is about to give Israel their Promised Land.

“I will send hornets before thee which shall drive out the Hivites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, from before thee.

“And He said, I will not drive them out from before thee in one year, lest the land become desolate and the beast of the field multiply against thee.

“By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased and inherit the land” (Exodus 23:28-30).

What God promised to Abraham, Isaac and Ja-cob, He is about to bring to pass through Moses. This will complete the dispensation of Promise and institute the dispensation of Law.

Moses’ Fifth Encounter and the Dispensation of Law

Moses’ fifth trip to the top of Sinai is recorded in Exodus 24:9-32:14. Moses spends forty days and forty nights in the presence of God — a perfect parallel to the fifth dis-pensation of Law.

It begins on a mountain called Sinai and con-cludes on a mountain called Calvary. It begins with the giving of the Law and concludes with the death of the Lawgiver.

“Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel:

“And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clear-ness.

“And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; and thou mayest teach them” (Ex. 24:9-12).

According to the Scripture, Moses and Joshua, left the elders in the care of Aaron and Hur and went up into the mount. The Shek-inah Glory de-scended upon the mount and hovered there for six days. On the seventh day God called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud of glory:

“And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights” (v. 18).

During this time God delivered the Ten Com-mandments on tables of stone, plans for the Taber-nacle and the pattern for the priesthood. Also, He in-structed Moses in the service of sacrifices.

Forty days! Why forty days? Could these days be a prophetic picture of the time involved in the dis-pensation of Law? If so, then how could forty days fit into the picture? As I pondered this question, I remembered the Jubilee — the fiftieth year. There are forty Jubilees in 1,960 years.

According to the Talmud (Sanhedrin 97B), Rab-binical theologians wrote that there should be 2,000 years of desolation, 2,000 years wherein the Torah would flourish; and 2,000 years for the Mes-sianic era — followed by a seventh millennium wherein the Messiah would be exalted.

Therefore, let me suggest that we include the dispensation of Promise in the overall picture of this period — the dispensation of Law. The total time given by rabbinical scholars for the “flourishing of the Torah” is 2,000 years, thus combining the Abrahamic covenant of Promise (500 years) with the Mosaic covenant of Law (1,500 years).

Likewise, though the tables of stone containing the Ten Commandments were given during this fifth trip of Moses, the Law was spoken orally on the occasion of Moses’ fourth trip, which symbol-ized the dispensation of the Promise. Therefore, the possibility exists that the forty days spent by Moses in the presence of God were comparable to forty periods of Jubilee, during which time the “Torah flourished.”

God commanded that a Jubilee be observed every forty-nine years. Therefore, over a period of 1,960 years the people should observe forty Jubilees. Some theologians feel the forty days and nights Moses spent in the presence of God may well be symbolic of forty Jubilees. Those forty days ended with a rejection of Moses’ efforts, the building of a golden calf, and the breaking of God’s law. As a prophetic overview of the dispensation of Law, the rebellion of Israel fits quite well with the rejection of Christ, some 2,000 years later.

Transition Between Law and Grace

While Moses was atop Mt. Sinai, Joshua also was nearby. When Moses began his descent, Joshua joined him:

“And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written.

“And the tables were the work of God, and the writ-ing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.

“And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp” (Exodus 32:15-17).

How prophetic that Joshua accompanied Moses during his fifth trip! It is a perfect profile of that prophet whom God would raise up “like unto Moses!” The name Joshua in the Old Testament is basically the same as the name Jesus in the New Testament. Fur-thermore, it was Joshua who succeeded Moses. It was Joshua who led the children of Israel into the Promised Land. Surely, the name of the Messiah could have been nothing other than Joshua — the Hebrew counter-part for the Greek word translated Jesus.

As they descend, Moses and Joshua hear a clamor in the camp. They arrive to find a golden calf. At this point, Moses breaks the tablets of stone, grinds the golden calf to powder, spreads it upon the water, and makes the people drink. This tragic affair culminates in the deaths of 3,000 men:

“And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.

“And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men” (Exodus 32:27,28).

The number reminds me of 3,000 converts who submitted to baptism fol-lowing Peter’s sermon. Baptism is a symbol of death, cor-responding with the deaths of those who helped build the golden calf. Therefore, the number of con-verts at Pentecost corre-sponds to the loss of those who died at Sinai.

Moses’ Sixth Encounter and the Dispensation of Grace

Now, for the sixth time, Moses approaches the Lord on behalf of Israel. This time he offers him-self as a substitute — a profile of Christ, the Great Substitute. Moses becomes a mediator:

“And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.

“Yet now, if thou wilt, forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written” (Exodus 32:31-32).

It is here that we can see the ministry of Christ. Moses became the “mediator” before the Lord. He said, “…forgive …  and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book…” Moses offered himself as a substitute for the people. In like manner, Christ became our “Great Substitute.” On Calvary He prayed, “…Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do….” (Luke 23:34). Then from the cross He prayed, “… My God, my God, why hast thou for-saken me?” (Matthew 27:46). The Great Substitute is pictured here as Moses prays, “Forgive … or blot me … out of thy book.”

This encounter prophetically compares with those transition years, which concluded with the dispensation of Law and instituted the dispensation of Grace:

“… Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it:

“And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite:

“Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee: for thou art a stiff-necked people: lest I consume thee in the way” (Ex. 33:1-3).

At this point God turns from the Jewish people in the same way He turned from Israel after the crucifixion, setting aside the Jews and taking His message of salvation to the Gentiles. God said that He would not “go up in the midst” of Israel. In a symbolic gesture, Moses returned to his home, took his tent:

“… and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of the congre-gation” (Ex. 33:7).

This was not the proposed Tabernacle contain-ing a Holy Place and Holy of Holies. This was Moses’ own tent. Moses went to his home, disman-tled his tent, took it outside the camp, and raised it up. It is a prophetic picture of the Lord Jesus Christ who left the camp of Israel and pitched His Tabernacle, or New Testament Church, outside the camp — among the Gentile nations.

With the children of Israel looking on, Moses and Joshua entered the tent:

“And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the taber-nacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses.

“And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and wor-shiped, every man in his tent door.

“And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the Son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the taberna-cle” (Ex. 33:9-11).

When Moses left the tent, Joshua stayed! This is a prophetic picture of the future Messiah who should follow Moses. It is a fulfillment of Moses’ prophecy of the Prophet who would be raised up in his likeness.

Just as Joshua stayed in the tent, Je-sus Christ, the Jewish Messiah, left His people to establish New Testament Gentile Christianity. And Jesus is still in the New Testament Church today. How perfect then, is the parallel — Joshua stayed in the tent!

Moses Finds Grace

In the following encounter, Moses finds grace in God’s sight:

“And Moses said unto the Lord, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight.

“Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this na-tion is thy people.

“And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.

“And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name” (Ex. 33:12-14,17).

The word “grace” is the key. Just as Moses and the children of Israel found grace (unmerited favor) in the sight of God, even so, after Christ’s death on Calvary, a new dispen-sation was instituted — the dispensation of Grace:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

This sixth encounter with God, along with its at-tending events, seems to be a prophetic pic-ture of the First Advent of Christ to establish the dispensation of Grace. When Christ came that first time, He found Israel filled with unbelief. In-stead of setting up the Kingdom, He went to the cross and died in order to obtain grace for the whole world.

Moses’ Seventh Encounter and the Dispensation of the Kingdom

After Moses’ sixth encounter, he asked the Lord to show him His glory. It is here that God promised Moses that, though he could not see His face, he would be allowed to see His back side. The preparation began for Moses’ seventh and final trip to the top of Sinai:

“And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the Lord had com-manded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone.

“And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord.

“And the Lord passed by before him, and pro-claimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gra-cious, longsuf-fering, and abundant in goodness and truth” (Exodus 34:4-6).

It is here that Moses appears to follow a prophetic scenario, which parallels Pentecost when tongues like as of fire descended upon the believ-ers. Moses ascends the mountain where he will spend a second period of forty days. This seems to be a prophetic type of Christ, who as-cended in clouds of glory. Thus began the Savior’s long stay in the presence of God. So far, He has not yet returned to Earth.

These forty days seem to be a prophetic picture of another set of forty Jubilee periods. If this is the case, then Jesus should return soon. We may now be in the countdown for the coming of Messiah!

At this point, Moses illustrated the present work of Christ before the throne of God:

“And Moses made haste, and bowed his head to-ward the earth, and worshiped.

“And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance” (Exodus 34:8,9).

Here, Moses acts as a mediator. In like manner, the Lord Jesus Christ has ascended into heaven to become our Advocate before the Father. He is our High Priest who has gone to plead our case.

In response to the prayer of Moses, God agrees to go. However, He also warned of severe punishment, which would befall the Jewish people:

“And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the Lord: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee” (Exodus 34:10).

This appears to be a promise that God will bring great judgment and tribulation upon the Jewish people. In direct fulfillment of that prophecy, over the past 2,000 years the Jews have suffered. They suffered in A.D. 70 when Titus and his Roman soldiers destroyed the Temple. They suffered in A.D. 135 under the great Diaspora, when the Ro-mans scattered the Jews and sold them on the slave markets of the world.

The Jews have suffered the persecutions of Im-perial Rome; the Crusades and Inquisitions of Re-ligious Rome; the pogroms or massacres of the Russian Czars; and the Holocaust of Hitler. One day, they will experience the worst period of suf-fering they have ever known. God predicted a com-ing Tribulation Pe-riod—referred to in the prophe-cies of Jeremiah as “Jacob’s trouble.”

God said to Moses, “… I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any na-tion … for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee.” I believe this prophecy includes the future Tribulation Period. Jesus said in Matthew 24:21:

“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved…” (Matthew 24:21).

Exodus 34:28 tells us that Moses “… was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.” Moses fasted forty days.

There were three people in the Bible who fasted for forty days — Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. Moses fasted on top of Sinai. Elijah spent forty days fast-ing on Mount Sinai. And Jesus went into the “wilderness” to fast for forty days. Perhaps he fasted at the same place:

“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilder-ness to be tempted of the devil.

“And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterwards a hungered” (Matt. 4:1,2).

Jesus went into the wilderness. The Scripture does not say which wilderness. It is possible that He went all the way to Sinai and fasted there. It would seem fitting that Jesus followed the footsteps of Moses and Elijah in his forty day fast.

The Second Coming of Moses

Finally, after forty days, Moses came down the mountain. His return to the camp of Israel is a tremendous prophetic picture of the Second Com-ing of Christ.

“And it came to pass, when Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.

“And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him” (Exodus 34:29,30).

When Moses made his final descent from Sinai, he returned to the people in power and great glory. Likewise, in perfect prophetic fulfillment, Jesus will return one day in clouds of glory. Moses re-ceived that glory at the beginning of the forty-day period and revealed it unto his people when he re-turned. In like manner, Jesus received His glory at the moment of His resurrection and shall re-veal it to the world when He returns.

When Moses returned to the people after his sev-enth trip to the top of Sinai, he began the construc-tion of the Tabernacle. This is exactly what the Messiah will do when He comes to establish His Kingdom. He will build the Millennial Temple. Zechariah predicted it:

“And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord:

“Even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both” (Zechariah 6:12,13).

According to this prophecy, the Messiah will build the Temple when He comes, just as Moses built the Tabernacle in the wilderness after the conclusion of his final forty days. Christ will re-turn to Earth someday (perhaps at the end of forty Jubilees), in power and great glory to build the Temple and establish His Kingdom on the Earth.

Notice that the entire sequence of events began in the third month of the year. According to the book of Jasher (an ancient apocryphal book), the Law was given on the sixth day of the third month. This corresponds with Pentecost. How fascinating to contemplate the possibility that Pen-tecost marked the introductions of both dispensa-tions — the dispensation of Law and the dispensa-tion of Grace!

Moses made his descent in power and great glory on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. That day represents a prophetic pic-ture of another great sacrifice to be made by God in the midst of the Battle of Armageddon. Blood will run as deep as the horses’ bridles. The Day of Atonement is also a prophetic picture of the coming of Jesus Christ in power and great glory at the conclusion of Armageddon.

Indeed, the story of the ages is played out prophetically in the life and ministry of Moses. No wonder Moses said in Deuteronomy 18:15: “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, or thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall harken.”

In this study we have noted how these seven di-vine encounters of Moses correspond to the great dispensations of human history. It is marvelous to note how history compares with these scriptures. Obviously the Bible was not of human origin. Only God could have foreseen the future and could have guided Moses to become a prophetic pattern of those events, which should one day bring forth the redemption of man.

Go to Lesson 8: You Are A Prophecy

Go to Lesson 10: The Anatomy of a Dream