How can I defend my faith to skeptics who say that Moses of the Old Testament did not exist?
To be honest, this is not an easy question. Here is why. The evidence for the historical reality of Moses is relatively indirect. There is no ancient inscription from the second millennium BC which mentions Moses. At the time Moses lived, the Israelites were in extreme poverty. They did not built large cities or monuments. They were slaves, and later wanderers in wilderness areas. For this reason, the Jews at the time of Moses left behind no physical evidence which can be used by archaeologists to prove that Moses was a real person or even that the Jews lived in Egypt. Again, this is what would naturally be expected given the impoverished state of the Jews in Egypt.
I am not saying that there is absolutely no evidence from history or archaeology that Moses was a real person, but the evidence is somewhat indirect or second hand. For example, there are the Tel el Amarna letters from the city of el Amarna in Egypt from the fifteenth century BC. One of them mentions a people called the “Hapiru” who were at that time invading cities in what we know of as Palestine. This is evidence for the incursions into the Promised Land under Joshua. But… this is Joshua, not Moses and Joshua is not named in the inscription. If we can establish that the Jews did in fact invade Canaan in the fifteenth century, which this inscription implies, then belief that Moses was a real person would be very strongly supported. Also, there is evidence of a great destruction, both of Jericho and Hazor in the 15th century BC. The evidence for Hazor is stronger than that for Jericho, but both appear to have been destroyed at the correct time.
The strongest evidence for the reality of the person Moses is found in the Bible. Of course, the skeptic will say that you cannot use the Bible to prove the Bible, as this would be a circular argument. However, I suggest you not be intimidated by such arguments. The evidence for the inspiration of the Old Testament is massive and it is convincing beyond any reasonable doubt. This evidence comes from fulfilled messianic prophecies MESSIANIC PROPHECIES MessiahicPropheciesPrefiguresForeshadows . It comes from hundreds of types, prefigures and foreshadows in the Old Testament fulfilled in the New Testament. I want to suggest you get a copy of my book, “Reasons for Belief” as well as my book “From Shadow to Reality.” The first has a whole range of evidence for inspiration of the Bible, from fulfilled prophecy, to reliability of the Bible as history and much more. The second book has literally hundreds of examples of fulfilled types, prefigures and foreshadows. I also want to suggest my book, “Daniel, Prophet to the Nations.” The fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecies is amazing proof of the inspiration of the Bible. All three are available at www.ipibooks.com
So much more can be said for the inspiration of the Bible. I believe that we can say with great confidence that the Bible is the most reliable source of ancient history that we have. Its reliability as history exceeds that of Heroditus and Theucidides and all the other ancient historians. Because of this when the Bible mentions Moses and the genesis of the Jewish people, it is perfectly reasonable to believe that this history is reliable as well, including the story of Moses and the release of God’s people from captivity in Egypt. Given all this evidence, it is NOT circular reasoning to say that we believe in Moses because he is mentioned in the Old Testament.
Besides, the greatest human being who ever lived believed in Moses. In John 6 and elsewhere we see that Jesus believed in Moses and he believed fully in the reliability of the Bible’s account of Moses. This is the same Jesus who fulfilled dozens of messianic prophecies, who turned water to wine, walked on water, healed the deaf, the blind and the lame, and who raised Lazarus and Tabitha from the dead, and who was himself resurrected from the dead. If Jesus believed in Moses, that alone is sufficient evidence to believe in him as well.
However, it is worth remembering that those who say there is no direct physical evidence for the existence of Moses are speaking truthfully, and you would do well to accept in any discussion with skeptics that this is in fact the case. What you should do is to be honest with the data, but also redirect the conversation to the evidence for the inspiration of the Bible.