Friday, June 14, 2013

Parallel lives

Nicky Gumbel, best known for creating the Alpha course, has also created a chronological yearly Bible reading plan that I've been working through over the past few weeks.

Here's some commentary about Stephen's speech in Acts 7:20 to 43. The providence of God is the focus of this passage. I've posted it here because of the numerous similarities between the lives of Jesus and Moses, even though they lived hundreds of years apart.

"We see in this passage the extraordinary way in which God planned and prepared for the coming of Jesus.  God in his providence foresees the future, and so in a mysterious way anticipates, prepares for it and guides it. 

Stephen’s speech rehearses the ways in which God had guided and watched over Israel’s history, and through it prepared for Jesus’ coming. In this section he focuses particularly on Moses.

Moses had said that God would raise up a prophet like him (Deuteronomy 18:15).  Peter has already applied this to Jesus (Acts 3:22–23). Now Stephen does the same. He says, ‘This is that Moses who told the Israelites, “God will send you a prophet like me from your own people” ’ (7:37). 

Moses was a ‘type’ of Christ. He foreshadowed and prepared the way. There are at least fifteen similarities between Moses and Jesus:

Like Jesus, Moses was ‘no ordinary child’ (v.20).  The circumstances surrounding the births of both Moses and Jesus were appropriately extraordinary.

Like Jesus (Matthew 2:16–17), Moses was born at a time when newborn babies were being killed off (Acts 7:19–21). 

Like Jesus (Luke 2:40), Moses was noted for his wisdom.‘Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians’ (Acts 7:22).

Like Jesus (John 7:46), Moses was ‘powerful in speech and action’ (Acts 7:22).

Like Jesus, Moses had a season of preparation. We know little about the first thirty years of either of their lives.  Both spent this time being trained for the task ahead (vv.22–23).

Like Jesus (John 2:16), Moses showed righteous anger at sin (Acts 7:24).

Like Jesus (John 1:11), Moses was sent by God to rescue his people, but was not recognised as such at the time. ‘Moses thought that his own people would realise that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not’ (Acts 7:25).

Like Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:19), Moses aimed at reconciliation.  Moses ‘tried to reconcile them’ (Acts 7:26).

Like Jesus (John 5:22), Moses is described as ruler and judge.  It was said to Moses, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us?’ (Acts 7:27).

Like Jesus (Luke 3:22), Moses heard the Lord’s voice (Acts 7:31).

Like Jesus (John 1:14; 2:21), Moses recognised that the holy place was not in a specific religious location, but where God is present.  For Moses this was at the burning bush for God said, ‘The place where you are standing is holy ground’ (Acts 7:33). 

Like Jesus (John 8:36), Moses set the people free from oppression.  The Lord said to Moses, ‘I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free’ (Acts 7:34).

Like Jesus (4:11), Moses was misunderstood and rejected by his own people.  ‘Moses whom they had rejected ... they rejected him’ (Acts 7:35, 39).

Like Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:10), Moses succeeded in delivering his own people.  Moses ‘led them out of Egypt’ (Acts 7:36).

Like Jesus (2:36), Moses’ rejection brought God’s judgement, but led to eventual victory (7:42). As the apostle Peter put it on the day of Pentecost, ‘God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ’ (2:36)."

Moses and Jesus were both key figures in God's plan of redemption. Through Jesus, God will eventually reconcile all of creation to Himself, vanquishing sin, suffering, death and evil forever. God and humanity will dwell together upon the earth, just as was intended from the beginning. I cannot help but read these passages as a reminder that if we haven't already, each person has to consider the claims of Christ upon their life, and choose whether to accept or reject the opportunity to be a part of this restored creation.

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