God commands Noah to build an “ark” (Genesis 6:14). In Hebrew, this word is tebah, and it only appears in one other place in the Hebrew Bible, the story of Jochebed and infant Moses (Exodus 2:3-5). In that narrative, Moses’s mother makes a tebah/basket. She covers it with pitch (Exodus 2:3) just as Noah covered his tebah with pitch (Genesis 6:14). She places Moses in the waters of death, but the tebah saves him, just as the tebah saves Noah and his family.
When Moses leaves the tebah, he frees God’s people from the Pharaoh’s oppressive tyranny. He intercedes for Israel and saves them from God’s wrath. He leads God’s people out of slavery back to the Eden-like promised land flowing with milk and honey.
So how might this relate to Jesus?
Well, Matthew presents Jesus as the new Moses; Herod tries to kill the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:1-19) just as Pharaoh tried to kill infant Moses (Exodus 1:22). Moses proclaims God’s law on a mountain (Exodus 20). Jesus expounds the new law in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Moses frees his people at Passover. Jesus is God’s Passover lamb (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Moses gives Israel the law on Pentecost (Exodus 19:1-11); On Pentecost, Jesus gives the Spirit on who will write God’s law on our hearts (Acts 2:1-42; Ezekiel 36:26; 2 Corinthians 3:3). Moses failed to get Israel into the Eden-like promised land. Jesus brings all his people (both believing Jew and Gentile) to the true Eden of heavenly Jerusalem.
Jesus comes to the waters of the Jordan, and after he goes through those waters, he enters the wilderness for 40 days. Israel passes through the waters of the Red Sea and spends 40 years in the wilderness. Israel faces and fails three major temptations: a bread temptation, a testing-God temptation and a worship temptation (Exodus 16:3; 17:2; and 32:8). The result of their disobedience means they are excluded from the promised land. This is just like Adam and Eve’s sin excluding them from Eden.
How will God’s people re-enter Eden? Who will free them from tyranny? Who will intercede for them?
Jesus resists Satan during a bread temptation (Matthew 4:3), a testing-God temptation (Matthew 4:7) and a worship temptation (Matthew 4:10). Jesus is the new, obedient Israel. Like Moses, he becomes the means of grace to save all of God’s people. After Jesus’ baptism, a dove settles on Jesus (Matthew 3:16). In the same way, a dove signals the end of God’s judgment after the flood (Genesis 8:8-12).
Jesus is the true tebah; those in Jesus will safely go through the wrath of God against sin, but in Jesus we are safe.