John 5:45-47 : “Don’t think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you, even Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote about me. But if you don’t believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
I really struggled with this one. I thought to myself, “Where in the world did Moses say anything about Jesus?” I am grateful for the notes in the English Standard Version at BibleGateway.com. There was a cross-reference to Deuteronomy 18. It’s important to know that Moses wrote the Pentateuch. These are the first five books of the Bible. Here’s what I found. Remember Moses is speaking:
Deuteronomy 18:15-19 : Yahweh your God will raise up to you a prophet from the midst of you, of your brothers, like me. You shall listen to him. This is according to all that you desired of Yahweh your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, “Let me not hear again the voice of Yahweh my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I not die.” Yahweh said to me, “They have well said that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a prophet from among their brothers, like you; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I shall command him. It shall happen, that whoever will not listen to my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.
Now Moses is referring to another incident in another part of his own writing. Let’s look at what happened:
Exodus 20:18-21 : All the people perceived the thunderings, the lightnings, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking. When the people saw it, they trembled, and stayed at a distance. They said to Moses, “Speak with us yourself, and we will listen; but don’t let God speak with us, lest we die.” Moses said to the people, “Don’t be afraid, for God has come to test you, and that his fear may be before you, that you won’t sin.” The people stayed at a distance, and Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.
Do you remember what Exodus 20 is? It’s where God gave the Ten Commandments. So, here’s what happened: God gave the Ten Commandments. The people were scared, literally, to death because they perceived great danger in getting close to God, they asked Moses to let them stay away. Moses let them stay a ways off and he went himself. In the Deuteronomy passage, we see that God was actually happy that the people said this and He responded to their needs with a great blessing! Doesn’t it seem odd that God would bless them for wanting to not hear God right after He gave them the Ten Commandments?
Instead of disapproving of their sheepishness, He promised to send Jesus. Wow! That’s very interesting and something worth thinking about. Moses is accusing the religious leaders in this passage because he records God as saying that “It shall happen, that whoever will not listen to my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.” This is a very serious accusation against anyone who ignores this prophet. This matches with what Jesus had been saying all along about Himself, and what John the Baptist had said.
The thing that amazes me about this event at the giving of the Ten Commandments is that the people, through their little, seemingly insignificant and cowardly act, made a request that God accepted. I believe it was God’s true plan all along for them to choose His love and salvation through faith. God knew that they wouldn’t be able to keep His law in their sinful condition, but they had to recognize it. Here we see that God can use strict commandments to cause a person to realize his inability to build a relationship with Him through good works. Moses made it clear that they were to be watching for someone who would come from the Jews who was to be carefully obeyed. This is one who would speak God’s words to them.