To convince the Jews that Jesus was their Christ, Peter calls Moses to the witness stand (3:22) because the Jews loved Moses (Jo. 9:28). But in clinging to Moses and rejecting God’s new prophet, they were making a dispensational error. You’d think they would have followed the Lord, since their favorite prophet Moses predicted His coming, as Peter says here, but they didn’t.
Of course, it was mostly Israel’s rulers who didn’t believe the Lord was a prophet. Many of the people did (Mt. 21:11). And they knew he was a prophet like Moses for He too could heal leprosy (Ex. 4:5-7 cf. Mt. 11:5).
Moses was a type of Christ in many ways, ways that we’ll consider when Stephen talks about them in Acts 7, when we get there in our study. But here, notice that Peter said that Moses predicted this prophet would arise from “your brethren,” speaking of the people of Israel. This means He’d be Jewish, and everyone knew the Lord was a Jew!
But the Lord was also like the Prophet that Moses said would come in that Moses said of Him, “Him shall ye hear in all things.” Now, we know he didn’t mean all the Jews would hear Him, for Moses also said what would happen to the Jews who didn’t hear Him (Acts 3:23). Having your soul cut off from among the people meant physical death if you disobeyed Moses (Lev. 23:30 cf. Num. 15:32-36). But it also meant spiritual death, for the Jews had to obey the law to be saved. And not hearing the Prophet like Moses also meant spiritual death, of course. But it also meant physical death. Remember, had the dispensation of grace not interrupted prophecy, those who didn’t hear the Lord would have died at the Second Coming of Christ (II Thes. 1:7,8).
Peter didn’t quote the part where Moses explained that he made that promise “according” to the time when the Jews feared to hear God’s voice, so insisted Moses hear it for them and relay God’s Word in a less scary way (Deut. 18:15,16 cf. Deut. 5:17-28). Moses did, but he did it again when he died and came back, so to speak, in the Lord, the Prophet like Moses. The Lord was way less scary (Isa. 42:1-3). The Jews were used to the idea one of their leaders could return (Mal. 4:4,5)
But did Elijah return personally? The Lord said he returned in John the Baptist (Mt. 17:12,13). The apostles asked about Elijah cuz they’d just seen a vision of Elijah (Mt. 17:1-5), and wanted to know why the Lord had come (the prophet like Moses) but Elijah hadn’t, if Elijah was to come “first.” But Elijah had come, and so had Moses—in Christ!
On the mount of transfiguration, God was recreating the scene when the Jews feared to hear Him (Lu. 9:30). He was saying, as it were, “Here’s the Moses you asked for, hear Him. He’s the one I said you’d hear!” Peter quoted Moses, knowing that the Jews he was speaking to would remember all that, and would know that God sent them Jesus in answer to their request. Everyone knew that prophecy (Jo. 1:45)!
Moses was also a king (Deu. 33:4,5) and a priest (Ps. 99:5,6), making him a prophet, a priest and a king—like the Prophet God raised up like him!
The Jews at Pentecost weren’t the literal children of the prophets (Acts 3:25). Ephesians 2:3 calls unbelievers “children of wrath” partly because they’ll be the recipients of God’s wrath, and the Jews at Pentecost were the recipients of the prophecy the prophets made of those days (Acts 3:24), the days when they’d be offered the kingdom (3:19-21).
They were also “the children of the covenant” God made with Moses (Gen. 12:1-3), the covenant where God promised to bless the world with salvation through Israel. But Israel had to “first” be saved, and have their sins turned away (Acts 3:26), because God intended to use Israel to reach the world with salvation, and He insists that His representatives be saved! That’s why the angel said that the Savior was born to Israel, but that was good news for all people (Lu. 2:10,11).
And someday, that’s how it will go down. God will save Israel, and the nations will be blessed with salvation through the people of Israel (Zech. 8:13-23).
Video of this sermon is available on YouTube: A Man Like Moses – Acts 3:22-26