Ever since the entrance of sin to our world, God has communicated with man through the dreams and visions given to His prophets. Outstanding among the prophets was Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. Numbers 12:6-8; Deuteronomy 34:10.
God told each of the prophets how they were to present their messages. John the Baptist was to preach in the wilderness. John the Revelator was to write what he saw and send it to the churches. Ezekiel was to present parables by acting them out before the people.
The prophecies of Moses were also to be acted out, but not by the prophet alone. The entire congregation was to join him in acting out the grand prophecies of the gospel. We may call these participatory prophecies, for all the people participated in acting them out. Another term might be ceremonial prophecies. They are certainly symbolic prophecies just as are the books of Daniel and Revelation. Taking up much of the books of Exodus and Leviticus, these ceremonial ordinances were the most comprehensive of all prophecies.
In typological symbols these participatory prophecies foretold the entire plan of salvation. All the animal sacrifices prefigured the substitutional death of Jesus for our sins. The daily intercessory work of the priests represented the continual mediation of Jesus before the Father on our behalf. The earthly tabernacle symbolized the heavenly sanctuary. The Day of Atonement presented an annual prophecy of the end-time cleansing work of Jesus, our great High Priest.
The prophetic ceremonies were also designed to illustrate how man may receive the benefits of Christ's saving work. The sinner would come in humility and faith, confessing his sins and claiming the merits of the Saviour. Willing to lay all on the altar, the sacrifice of a lamb was a token of his entire consecration to God and his acceptance of the Saviour's free offer.
The symbolic prophecies of Moses have much to teach us about Jesus and His plan to redeem us from sin. No wonder Jesus said, "For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?" John 5:46, 47.