December 2014 Yavoh

The Miracles of Yeshua - Signs of Moses

There are many miracles in the New Testament in the form of healings, providing food, and resurrecting dead people.  Many believers today think that miracles still happen while others dismiss the idea.  In fact, you will find a variety of definitions for what a miracle is or isn’t.  For purposes of this article, let us define a “miracle” as an act of God that is beyond the capability of men.  With that definition in hand, let us examine and weigh the evidence supplied in the Scriptures about miracles and consider why they are recorded for us.  In particular, let us compare the miracles of God demonstrated with Israel and those done by Yeshua of Nazareth.

When Moses was drawn to the wonder of the burning bush that was not consumed, we are quickly taken by the dialogue between God and Moses.  Instead of focusing on the miracle of the burning bush that was not being consumed, we find ourselves listening to their conversation as God dispatches Moses to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt.  The burning bush apparently was the method that God used to draw Moses into His presence.

The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.  So Moses said, "I must turn aside now, and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up."  When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush, and said, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am."  Exodus 3:2-4

The passage continues, telling us that Moses was commissioned to speak to the elders of Israel with a message of deliverance by God and to confront Pharaoh so that the people would be released.  Moses had a number of questions about God’s plan that reflected his own hesitation.  In particular, he finally asked God why should the children of Israel believe him.  Why would they believe that God had anointed him to do this work of deliverance and to lead the people?  

Then Moses said, "What if they will not believe me, or listen to what I say? For they may say, 'The Lord has not appeared to you.'"  Exodus 4:1

God answered by giving Moses three miracles he could call upon to prove his charge.

The first was accomplished with the staff in his hand.  Moses could throw it to the ground and it would suddenly become a venomous serpent.  He could then grasp it by the tail and it would be transformed back into a staff.  The second was a miracle of healing.  He could thrust his hand into his clothing and bring it out leprous.  It was said that his hand was leprous like snow.  This means that the flesh of his hand was completely destroyed with no life left in it because of the leprosy.  But then he put his hand in his clothing against his chest again and withdrew it completely restored and healed.  The third miracle God gave Moses was turning water into blood.  Moses could take water from the Nile and pour it out as blood upon the ground.

While these miracles are mysterious in themselves, the purpose of the miracles is plain to see.  They were given so the children of Israel would believe that God did dispatch Moses to them.  They were intended to authenticate the anointing upon Moses so they would follow his instruction and leadership.

As we follow the story of Moses and the exodus, we learn that Moses did use these signs (miracles) with the people and before Pharaoh.  Moses and his staff were also used to give additional signs (miracles) and judgments upon Egypt to convince Pharaoh.  The most powerful of the miracles and judgments was the blood of the lamb over the doors of Israel that brought about the “Passover” (the death of the firstborn of Egypt).  Pharaoh relented.  Israel left.

But then Pharaoh changed his mind and pursued Moses and Israel.  Blocked by the mountains and the Red Sea, Israel was trapped by Pharaoh (or so he thought).  God then did a big miracle.  He parted the sea, making a way for the children of Israel to cross to the other side.

God used miracles to force Egypt and Pharaoh to learn about Him and to bend to His will to release His people.  But the miracle of the Red Sea is clearly one of salvation and deliverance.  Never again would the children of Israel find themselves threatened with captivity by Pharaoh. You could argue that going into the Red Sea and coming out was a concluding sign of God’s deliverance out of Egypt.  What began at Passover was concluded at the crossing of the Red Sea.

It should not be strange for us to understand the remembrance we are commanded in keeping the annual Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread.  On the 14th of Nisan we keep the watch night of Passover, eating the seder meal and recounting the story to our children.  Then on the 15th of Nisan we keep the first High Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  We commemorate walking out of Egypt eating the “bread of haste.”  Then on the seventh day of Unleavened Bread, the 21st of Nisan, we have another High Sabbath that commemorates the crossing of the Red Sea.  We are to memorialize how God did miracles for us with “His mighty hand and outstretched arm.”

As strange as it may seem, some people think that the God of the Old Testament and His miracles are different from the Messiah of the New Testament and His miracles.  Let’s consider the miracles of Yeshua of Nazareth and compare them to those done by God earlier and see if they are the same or really different.  But first, let us review the promise of the Messiah which originates from Moses and the Prophets.  As I am about to explain, there is a striking parallel that follows the previous miracles we have reviewed.  In fact, the understanding of the Messiah to come is embedded in those previous miracles.  There is much more to the purpose of those miracles than just getting our attention (the burning bush), proving God’s anointing (the three signs), putting judgments on our enemies (death of the firstborn), and proving salvation and deliverance (the crossing of the Red Sea).

The promise of the Messiah was given to our spiritual father Abraham and Moses (the giver of the Torah).  With Abraham, the promise came when God sent Abraham and Isaac to the mountain to sacrifice Isaac.  As they journeyed, Isaac soon realized that they had no sacrifice.  Abraham answered his question with the promise of the Messiah.

Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." And he said, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"  Abraham said, "God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." So the two of them walked on together.  Genesis 22:6-8

It is well understood that Abraham knew what was going to happen; Isaac was to be the sacrifice.  However, Isaac did not understand until Abraham’s answer was given.  The final expression, “So the two of them walked on together,” is understood by all Torah teachers to mean that Isaac now understood he was the sacrifice and he was to be obedient to his father to fulfill God’s request.  What was the transforming moment for Isaac (and us)?  

God will provide for Himself the lamb [in that place]. We will discover later “that place” God showed Abraham later became Jerusalem, the place where God would place His name, according to Moses.

God stopped the actual sacrifice of Isaac once Abraham demonstrated his obedience and trust in God.  God then supplied the sacrifice in the form of a ram, whose head was caught in thorns – a miracle.

He said, "Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son.  Genesis 22:12-13

While Abraham was proving his obedience to God and His voice, the Spirit of God spoke through Abraham to give Isaac and us the promise of the Lamb that would be provided by God in the place God showed him.  The promise of the Messiah was then addressed in a very specific and profound way by God to Abraham.  This statement defines the purpose and scope of the Messiah as the Lamb of God.

…and said, "By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice."  Genesis 22:16-18

Understanding the purpose and scope of the Messiah is the very foundation for why the Messiah will do His miracles and how they define the works of God to us. The promised seed of Abraham is a direct reference to the Messiah to come.  The Apostle Paul specifically speaks to this point.

Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, "And to seeds," as referring to many, but rather to one, "And to your seed," that is, Messiah.  Galatians 3:16

The promise and purpose of the Messiah was defined in many ways by Moses, but let us focus on the most direct reference.  Please permit me to use a common expression used today that explains a very “real moment” in a person’s life, and the pun is definitely intended.

Moses and the children of Israel had their “come to Jesus” meeting at Mount Sinai.  God came down on the mountain with fire, clouds of smoke, lightning and thunder, before they heard Him actually speak.  It was a moving and frightening experience.  In fact, it was so frightening that the children of Israel asked Moses to go up the mountain to speak with God and come down with His instructions so they would not hear the voice of God again in that fashion.  God accepted this proposal of speaking through Moses in the future, but He went further.  God promised that the day would come when He would send the Messiah to us (from the mountain of heaven) and that we would be required to hear Him and do as He said.

This is according to all that you asked of the Lord your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, “Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.” The Lord said to me, “They have spoken well. I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.”  Deuteronomy 18:16-19

The God of the Old Testament has defined the Messiah to us through the relationship with Abraham and that of Moses and all of the children of Israel.  The miracles of Yeshua are not going to be different from God’s previous deeds.  They will be “fulfilling” the purposes defined by God earlier.  This is the very basis for proving that Yeshua was and is the Messiah promised through Abraham and Moses.  

Let us now examine the miracles of Yeshua of Nazareth the Messiah.  Are they different miracles from what God did with Moses and the children of Israel?  Is there a different purpose in how the miracles were presented?  As we will see, they are not; they are the same miracles done by the same God with the same purpose.

From the very beginning, the birth of Yeshua was reported as a miracle.  Many dispute this, but they have no evidence to counter the testimony given in the Gospel accounts.  The testimony is clear that Yeshua was not conceived by a man.  Every man today is born in the image of Adam, the first man.  While Adam was made in the image of God, he sinned and no longer are men born in the image of God.  That is a problem.  We must be “born again” in the Spirit of God to be restored to the image of God.  And Yeshua’s testimony is that He was not born in the image of man.  Instead, His testimony is that He came in the “image of God.”  This is crucial if He is to be the Messiah, because the Messiah is to be the “new Adam,” restoring us to God.  This is exactly what the Apostle Paul teaches us.

For since by a man [Adam] came death, by a man [Yeshua of Nazareth] also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Messiah all will be made alive.  1 Corinthians 15:21-22

He goes on to draw a very direct comparison between Adam and Yeshua.

So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul." The last Adam [the Messiah] became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual.  The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.  1 Corinthians 15:45-49

Simply restated, we are all born first in the image of Adam, earthy and natural.  But when we are “born again,” we are born of Yeshua, who is Spiritual and from heaven.  Thus, we are made in the image of God once again, redeemed and restored to God.  One could argue that the very miracle of creation, when God created light and all things by His spoken word, that we too have been “created” by believing His word and allowing God's "light" to come into our souls.  The Scripture speaks of the Messiah as bringing light into the world.

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came for a witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him.  John 1:4-6

Then Yeshua again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life."  John 8:12

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.  1 John 1:5

The profundity of light and the Messiah is simply stated this way:  God Almighty is He who creates and brings forth light.  Yeshua the Messiah is Almighty God and the Creator!  His miracle birth, born of God and not of Adam, is part and parcel with the creation of spiritual light.  We are not talking about the light of the sun or the moon.  We are speaking of the spiritual light, the original creating force of the Universe and in the hearts of men.

As the Gospels introduce Yeshua of Nazareth to the disciples, we see the same pattern God used when He dispatched Moses to the children of Israel.  If you will recall, Moses was given three signs to convince them that God had in fact anointed him to the task.  Once introduced by John the Baptist as the “Lamb of God” (as promised by Abraham and declared “acceptable” as that sacrifice by a Levite priest), the disciples began to consider Yeshua to be the Messiah, but they needed the signs (miracles) of Moses to prove it.

[By way of some background, most Christians don’t know this but John the Baptist was a Levite priest and, according to the Law of Moses, no sacrifice can be presented to God without a Levite priest declaring it to be an acceptable sacrifice  to God.  This is why Andrew told his brother he had found the Messiah and why Phillip told his friend Nathaniel he had found “Him spoken of by Moses and the Prophets.”]

John the Baptist truly introduced the Messiah prior to any teaching or miracle.  When the disciples began to follow Yeshua, they needed to see the signs (the miracles) to prove He was sent from God just as Moses had been sent.

Yeshua took them to a wedding at Cana.  Apparently, the wedding did not plan for Yeshua to show up with five new friends, and the wine for the wedding meal ran out.  Today, everyone is aware that Yeshua turned water into wine, but they don’t seem to get the connection as to why this miracle is crucial to presenting the Messiah to the disciples and the world.  John records in his Gospel that this was the FIRST sign!

This beginning of His signs Yeshua did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.  John 2:11

Remember Moses?  Moses could turn water into blood. Wine and blood mean the same thing to Hebrews; they are synonymous with life.  Yeshua did the same miracle (sign) as Moses.  Yeshua and His disciples traveled from Cana to Jerusalem at the time of the Passover.  It is only briefly mentioned, but Yeshua drove out the money changers and merchants from the temple.  He was asked at that point for a sign as to who He was. He answered this way.

The Jews then said to Him, "What sign do You show to us as Your authority for doing these things?"  Yeshua answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." The Jews then said, "It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?" But He was speaking of the temple of His body. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Yeshua had spoken.  John 2:18-22

We will conclude this article with Yeshua’s claim, but let us continue to compare the miracles further.  It is said that Yeshua began to baptize and heal many persons. More and more people heard of His wonderful words and deeds and came to hear and see for themselves.  Even John the Baptist gave commentary of Yeshua.

He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.  John 3:31

For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure.  John 3:34

Yeshua went from the Passover in Jerusalem to making many more disciples than John, and His reputation began to build.  He began to heal the sick, and the crowds of listeners grew.  He journeyed into Samaria, speaking with the woman at the well.  He went to His own hometown, Nazareth.  They rejected Him saying He was only a carpenter’s son.  This was followed up with a SECOND sign He did in Cana.

A certain official living in Capernaum had a son who was very ill.  The official had heard that Yeshua was healing people, so he traveled to Cana in hopes of bringing Him to his home.  Yeshua made a rather interesting comment upon meeting the distraught father.

Yeshua therefore said to him, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe."  John 4:48

This is a comment that requires more thought.  Faith does not come by sight; faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of God.  But Yeshua acknowledges something about us.  Sometimes we need miracles to happen to get us out of our natural dull thinking.  Remember how God answered Moses' question of, “Why will they believe me?” Yeshua proceeds to give another of the signs God gave Moses.  He immediately announces that his son lives.  This is the sign of instant healing, like the leprous hand in and out of Moses’ bosom.  The man believes Him and heads home.  On the way, he is met by his household servants who joyously announce that his son lives.  The Apostle John then says.

This is again a second sign that Yeshua performed when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.
John 4:54

The reason for this miracle was to confirm that Yeshua had been sent by His Father just as Moses had been sent.  This is part of the proof set for the messiahship of Yeshua.

Maybe you are already asking about the third sign of Moses: his staff.  This one is easy to see. Moses also used his staff in the wilderness when the fiery serpents came into the camp.  God instructed him to make a bronze serpent and wrap in around his staff, raising it up for everyone to see.  Those who had been bitten who would look at it lived; those who refused to look died from the serpents’ bites.

This is the smallest prophecy of the Messiah given by Moses, only two verses in Scripture (Num 21:8-9); however, it is the most significant prophecy for us.  Yeshua said of Himself and His death on the cross that He would also have the sign of the staff.

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. John 3:14-15

Now let’s examine the most compelling of miracles that Yeshua did – the resurrection from the dead.  I am referring to Yeshua raising Lazarus, his friend, from the grave and of course Yeshua’s own resurrection.

It is clear from Yeshua’s two-day delay that He intended on coming to Bethany after hearing that Lazarus was ill.  When He arrived, He found Lazarus sufficiently dead (four days) and in the grave.  No one could say that he was just unconscious and not dead. The custom of that day was to bury a person on the same day they died.  Yeshua’s own statements reveal the purpose for the miracle – that they would believe in His Father and that Yeshua was sent by Him.  Here is Yeshua’s prayer openly offered before the witnesses.

Yeshua said, "Remove the stone." Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, "Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days." Yeshua said to her, "Did I not say to you, if you believe, you will see the glory of God?" So they removed the stone. Then Yeshua raised His eyes, and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me."  When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth." The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings; and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Yeshua said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."  John 11:39-44

This was a very powerful sign and miracle.  This proved that He had the power of God - the power to give life to someone dead.  This goes beyond healings and restoration.  This goes beyond fulfilling prophetic signs.  This is the evidence of eternal life and only God is the Eternal One!

As you can imagine, this stirred the people.  Those who witnessed the resurrection of Lazarus began to believe in Him, even those from Jerusalem who had opposed Him.  When word got back to the religious leaders in Jerusalem, they were dismayed.  They could no longer dispute His deeds and the signs He was offering.

Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, "What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation."  John 11:47-48

Isn’t it interesting that the religious leaders were more concerned about the Romans and their leadership positions (the Romans confirmed them as the leaders of the Jews)?  You would have thought that they would be most concerned about the truth and seeking the favor of God.  They sound like present day leaders, in my humble opinion.  This was a breaking point for the leadership.  The Scripture states their decision concerning Yeshua of Nazareth.

So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.  John 11:53

At the final Passover, when Yeshua would be offered as the Lamb of God, many people came to Jerusalem having heard of the resurrection of Lazarus.  They wanted to speak with and meet Lazarus.  They especially wanted to find Yeshua and hear Him.  Yeshua’s entrance into Jerusalem on the donkey was an incredible moment for Jerusalem.  The stage was set for His arrest, trial, and execution.

We all know the story at this point.  Yeshua was lifted up on the cross, suffered death, and was buried.  Three days and three nights passed.  Then on the morning after the weekly Sabbath, three women friends of Yeshua came to His tomb to put sweet spices on His body as a part of the burial process.  When they arrived, the stone had been moved and His body was not in the tomb.

The miracle of His resurrection was almost too much to take in.  Some thought that His body had been stolen or moved.  No one was willing to believe that He was resurrected (maybe John believed it a little).  Even the testimony of Mary to the disciples was not enough to believe this miracle.  Finally Yeshua appeared to the disciples, but even Thomas struggled with doubt until Yeshua challenged him to address His wounds.

The miracle of Yeshua’s resurrection is what started Christianity of today.  It wasn’t the Apostle Paul or the New Testament.  It wasn’t the Orthodox Church or the Greeks who believed.  It began with the miracle of His resurrection.  He proved that He had the power over death and could forgive and give life to whoever He chose.

The miracles of Yeshua the Messiah were filled with purpose and awe.  They were accomplished to make the people aware of Yeshua’s presence, His power and authority, and to fulfill the prophecies that authenticated Him as the Messiah.

Some argue today that we don’t have miracles of God anymore, that they were completed once we got the Bible and the Christian Church was established.  But others, and I am one of these, believe that miracles still happen to support the purposes of God.  That is the key to understanding of why miracles do or don’t happen.

Miracles are not a performance by God for our personal amazement and wonder.  We cannot expect God to perform a miracle for us. Those who have sought out miracles for the sake of a miracle are exampled for us by Pharaoh with Moses and King Herod with Yeshua.  God purposed Moses’ staff for Pharaoh and Egypt, but Yeshua denied Herod because of his vanity.

Personally, I have seen God do miracles in many lives and encourage many to believe in Him.  The most significant miracle of God that I have personally witnessed, in my opinion, is when He built the temple of the Living God in my heart, filled me with His presence, and gave me the gift of eternal life.

And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.  1 John 5:11-15

Yeshua proved that He built the temple in three days—He rose from the grave after three days.  When someone asks the Lord into their life and allows God to build the temple and dwell in them, it’s another miracle, something only God can do.