Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Man over the assembly

A couple months ago, the question arose in the Bible Reading whether Moses is a type of Christ. I don't believe he is, because the Scripture generally speaks about Moses in contrast with Christ. That being said, Scripture holds up Moses as the example of a man in communion with God (e.g., 2 Corinthians 3:7–16). I find it interesting to read the prayers of Moses in light of the New Testament: he truly understood what God was intending to do.

One of my favourite prayers of Moses is in Numbers 27:16–23. Every time I read Numbers, it jumps out at me:

16 Let Jehovah, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the assembly, 17 who may go out before them, and who may come in before them, and who may lead them out, and who may bring them in, that the assembly of Jehovah be not as sheep that have no shepherd. (Numbers 27:16–17, JND)
In the immediate context of Numbers 27, God chooses Joshua to be that man; but we can see that this wasn't a lasting solution to the problem, because when the Lord Jesus came, He found the people exactly as Moses as feared: like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36).

This brings us back to a central theme of the scriptures: God places men and women in various responsibilities, but His ultimate thought is always that those responsibilities will be fulfilled in Christ. So when Paul refers to Christ as the Man (1 Timothy 2:5), he means it more profoundly than we might first realize. It's not merely a statement that Christ Jesus is truly a Man (although it is that), but it goes to the eternal thoughts of God about His Son. It has been God's intention since before the world began that "all things" would be headed up in Christ.

Moses' description of the "man over the assembly" is interesting: he asked for a man to "go out before them" and "come in before them". This description might remind us of John 13:3, He is the One who came from God and went back to God. More than that, He is the One who can lead us in (Hebrews 10:19–22) to God's presence. And some day He will lead us out from God's presence (Revelation 19:11–16).

The New Testament insists that the Lord Jesus died and rose again: He was dead and is alive (Revelation 1:17–18). So where is He? The Scriptures repeat over and over that He has gone into Heaven and sat down on God's right hand (Mark 16:19; Acts 2:32–36; Hebrews 1:3; 9:24–28). Hebrews 6:17–20 takes it a little further even than that: Jesus Christ has gone into Heaven for us, to represent us to God.

I find this an astonishing thought. The Son who is God eternally, who is with God eternally (John 1:1–5), has come to this earth and has gone back to Heaven (John 17:1–5). As the Son, He has returned to the glory He had with the Father. But the Lord Jesus is also the Son of Man: as the Son of Man He has gone into Heaven in order to represent His people here.

The Epistles represent Christ as both Priest and Advocate. They're not the same thing: the Advocate represents our interests to God, the Priest brings us into God's presence. So when a man sins, he needs the Advocate (1 John 2:1–2); but whether we sin or not, we need a Priest to bring us near to God (Hebrews 4:14–16). It is by our Priest that we approach God in worship and in prayer.

So we have right now what Moses saw the children of Israel needed: a Man over the assembly who has come out and gone in, to lead us out and bring us in.

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