Among the greatest men who ever walked the earth, Moses stands out pre-eminent as a leader, lawgiver, and ruler. Moses also filled the role of mediator of the Law covenant made between God and the nation of Israel. But specifically, was Moses a prophet? By definition, a prophet is “a person who speaks for God under divine guidance; a religious teacher or leader regarded as divinely inspired.” (Webster) Moses’ first encounter with God at the burning bush near the foot of Mt. Horeb set him on a course that would eventually accomplish great things for the nation of Israel. God spoke directly to Moses, and gave him instructions and insight into what he would do for them. Leading up to Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, and continuing on through their journey to the Promised Land, God inspired Moses with the words he should speak, and the way he should lead the people. God gave him his law and the Ten Commandments for the nation. In all of these experiences, Moses fulfilled the role of prophet. In Deuteronomy 18:17, Moses recounts a statement made to him by God, when he said “The LORD said to me:…I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.” This was a prophecy that not only identified Moses as a prophet, but also gave the assurance of the coming of one that would be even greater, and would do greater things. The apostle Paul reaffirmed this in Acts 3:21-23, when he quoted the words of Moses, and additionally identified Jesus as the greater prophet whom Moses had foreshadowed.
A patriarch can be defined as “the father and ruler of a tribe, as one of the founders of the ancient Hebrew families; or a man of great age and dignity.” (Webster) Although Moses lived more than 400 years after the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, he filled the role of a father and leader of the nation of Israel in many ways. From Moses’ youth, God had been preparing him for leadership, and getting him ready to free Israel from Pharoah’s grasp. This position as a patriarch brought Moses great honor and responsibility, as well as great anguish of heart when the nation disobeyed the laws he had brought down from Mt. Sinai. Directing the building of the Tabernacle, and initiating all of the sacrifices and ceremonies at God’s instruction, left his people with a way to approach God and typically atone for their sins.
It is correct to say then that Moses was not only one of the greatest prophets that ever lived, but also a faithful patriarch. “For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future.” (Hebrews 3:4, 5)