Sermon Briefs: Deuteronomy 18:15-20
The first verse of today's text is the target of John Henry Newman's homiletic focus in his sermon, Moses the Type of Christ.2 He finds that Christ is the one who took up the mantle of Moses most completely in fidelity to God, firmness, and meekness. The Church, accordingly, is the spiritual inheritor of Israel. Thus he sets up a parallel to be elucidated. Like Israel in the land of Egypt, the Church, he claims, lives in slavery to the Devil, enchained by sin. First, as Moses, armed with God's own power, led the Israelites from bondage to their own land, so the Eternal Son of God has rescued us from the arm of our Tormentor and broken his power. Thus troubles are lightened, and we are enabled to accomplish things beyond our natural strength: "The waves divide, and our Lord, the great Captain of our salvation, leads us over."
Second, as Moses revealed the will of God to his people, so does Christ to His. But, unlike Moses, Christ has seen the face of God, indeed has been with God from eternity. So it is that humans of every class and rank "may know fully the ways and works of God," and so may see themselves afresh in God's light. Yet some, even they who call themselves Christians, tragically live uncaring for this benefit, like those asleep.
So, third, as Moses interceded for the constantly sinning Israelites, his beloved nevertheless—and indeed pled with God to blot out his own name from God's book on their behalf, Christ has made intercession for His ever-sinful Church, being made sin who knew no sin, dying on the Cross for His people. He now summons us, "from His cross and tomb," to be holy as He is holy, to suffer with Him if need be—for He gives us Himself.
Robert R. Howard
1. John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons (Westminster, MD: Christian Classics, Inc., 1968), 7:118-32.