Saturday, June 28, 2014

The New Testament church is compared to Israel in the wilderness. Part 4

By Joe Daniels and Terry Cropper

 The land that God has promised Israel

In regards to the land that God has promised Israel, Genesis 15:18 declares to Abraham, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates.” God later confirms this promise to Abraham’s son Isaac and Isaac’s son Jacob (whose name was later changed to Israel).

Now we will learn that it was time for God to bring in a NEW leader for His people. God used Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. God had promised to lead His people through the wilderness into a wonderful land. God said the land was good and spacious, and it would be flowing with milk and honey!  Exodus 3:8 So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. 

The  definition of "milk and honey" as a metaphor meaning abundance of good things.  Moses had led God’s people for many years. Because the Israelites did not obey God while they were in the wilderness, God did not lead them straight into the land He had promised them. The trip from Egypt to their new home should have taken the Israelites only DAYS, but instead, they wandered in the desert for 40 YEARS.

In all that time, God PROVIDED everything the Israelites needed (Deuteronomy 29:5-6). The very people who had been delivered out of Egypt by mighty miracles soon mumbled and grumbled about God and His provision for them! God said none of those grumblers would enter the Promised Land. Only Joshua and his good friend Caleb would enter (Numbers 14:21-24, 30), because Joshua and Caleb followed God whole-heartedly (Numbers 32:12).

 After forty years of wandering, the entire generation of Israelites who were delivered from slavery had died, except Joshua and Caleb. It was the children who had been born during the wilderness years who were left now. By this time, Moses was over 100 years old.

Joshua had been Moses’ helper since Joshua was a young boy (Numbers 11:28). God told Moses that Moses would die soon. Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land because on one occasion he had disobeyed God in front of all the Israelites (Numbers 20:8-12). Moses asked God to appoint another man to lead the Israelites (Numbers 27:15-17).

God told Moses to lay his hands on Joshua, and Joshua received the spirit of wisdom (Numbers 27:18; Deuteronomy 34:9). God told Joshua that he would be the one to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 31:23).   God warned that after the Israelites were in the Promised Land and their lives were going very well, they would turn from God and begin to worship other gods. God said He would burn with anger and many disasters would come upon the people (Deuteronomy 31:16-18).

Then God instructed Moses to climb a mountain. There he could see the land of Canaan, the Promised Land.   On top of the Mountain, Moses died at the age of 120 (Deuteronomy 34:1-4, 7). Moses' role in the Old Testament was a type and shadow of the role Jesus.  Moses was  a deliver who lead the Israelites from captivity in Egypt and the mediator of a covenant.   Moses also symbolized  Mount Sinai and law therefore Moses never set foot in the Promised Land during his lifetime,

JOSHUA–called in the New Testament JESUS (Acts 7:45; Hebrews. 4:8). His name, given by Moses, JEHOSHUA (Num. 13:16), means "salvation” led the next generation of Israelites into the Promise Land. Joshua 21:43-45 NKJV  So the Lord gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it. 44 The Lord gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. 45 Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.

Why was it that the literal Promise Land so important?  The literal land was a type and shadow of a greater promise made to Abraham. Abraham personally had no inheritance in the land, "no, not so much as to set his foot on" (Acts 7:5)   God makes it clear that Abraham and the patriarchs looked for the heavenly country, the Jerusalem which was from above that constituted the true promised land. (Hebrews 11:13–16)   First the natural then the spiritual. (1 Corinthians 15:46)

There are other interesting types and shadow that relate to the Promise Land that is in the book of Ezekiel.  When the Israelites were in the Promise Land they were in will of God.  To be out of their land was to out of the will of God.  It was a matter of life and death figuratively speaking.  This two prefigured the first century church

In Ezekiel 37:1-14 The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. 2 Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. 3 And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” 4 Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. 6 I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”’” 7 So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.  9 Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”’”10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.  11 Then He said to me, “Son of man, (these bones are the whole house of Israel). They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and (we ourselves are cut off!)’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, (and bring you into the land of Israel). 13 Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. 14 I will put My Spirit in you, (and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land). Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,” says the Lord.’” [emphasis added]

"What is the meaning of the Valley of Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37?" This vision symbolized the whole House of Israel that was then in captivity.  Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones coming to life was a directed  prophesy from God of the Israel’s restoration to the promise land. ( vs 12-13)

Historical context.   This vision dates to the period of Israel's history known as the Babylonian Exile. The armies of Babylon forced the capitulation of the rebellious city Jerusalem and deported the Judean king and many Judean leaders to Babylon (2 Kings 24:10-16).  Ten years later, in 587/6 BCE, after Jerusalem had rebelled again, the Babylonians razed Jerusalem and its temple and deported a second wave of Judean leaders. Among the first wave of the deported was the young Ezekiel, whom God later called in Babylon to the office of prophet. For those deportees forced to live in Babylon, the future seemed a black hole into which the people were destined to disappear.

During the Babylonian captivity Israel was cut off from her homeland Palestine.  They spent seventy years in another country. While Israel was cut off from the promised land she was in the sight of God, as dead!  Why? Because Israel was not in her rightful place (the promise land) because of sin.  All of these Jews were alive physically, but as the Lord showed Ezekiel they were a valley of dry bones in a grave nationally..

God in restoring His people to their own land uses the figure of graves opening and His people coming forth in national resurrection.  Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. (Ezekiel 37:12)   The Jews were like “dead men” in a grave corporately in the captivity of Babylon.  Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!

If you now understand this context (when national Israel was cut off from her promised land they were figuratively dead ), then you possess a valuable tool in understanding the types.  There is also a Messianic dimension to these passages that points to the resurrection of Israel in land that comes by Christ that cannot be denied.   In chapter 36. God had just announced, through the prophet, that Israel will be restored to her land in blessing under the leadership of “David, My servant [who] shall be king over them” (Ezekiel 37:24), clearly a reference to the future under Jesus Christ the Messiah, descendant of David (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7; Luke 1:31-33).

So as long as Israel was outside the Promise Land they did not have life.  This two was a prefigure of entering the land  Christ provided. Hebrews 4:8 says that Joshua did not give them rest, although they possessed all the territory that was promised.   Hebrews 4:8 (NIV) For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.

That other day was already dawning on them and the great Apostle Paul hand picked by God was preaching, teaching, and writing under the inspiration of God Himself of this fact! Paul who wrote Rom.13:11-12  tells us that The day of salvation was near and the “DAY” was at hand! (written about A.D.63) Yet even earlier around  A.D. 57 he penned the words of  2 Cor.6:2 which was a quote of Isa.49:8 stating that the Day of salvation was “now” present tense. And at the same time 2 Peter 1:19 penned about the year 64 -65 A.D stated that the day of salvation was then dawning for the church & after the parousia it would raise and shine in their hearts! Need we say this is essential in understanding more clearly the solteriological life of the already but not yet complete land promise fulfillment tied up in the Exodus journey of the first century? Yet many don’t see it!

 Romans 13:12 (NKJV) “ The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.”

1 Thessalonians 5:5 (NKJV) “You are all sons of light and sons of the day …”

 Now here is a mind twister for you! The promise given to Abraham (Abram) was said to be of course physical at the first, but became spiritual, because that is what God wanted! Notice the verse that speaks to this:  Genesis 13:15-16 (NKJV) 15 “for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. 16 And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered.”

 It’s interesting to me that Abram being childless begins to panic in regards to God’s promise! He appeals to God asking Him if his gentile servant Eliezer of Damascus would be heir to the promises. (Gen.15:1-5) Notice God’s response to Abram: Genesis 15:4-6 (NKJV) 4 “And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” 5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”6 And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.”

Is this not a spiritual promise? One promise (Back in Gen.13:15-16) was certainly a physical people and land promise – and God even fulfilled it; (Read Joshua 21:43-45) but the other was to be a spiritual fulfillment! Most Christians miss this! Paul even mentions this fact in Heb.11:12 in the reverse oder putting the spiritual first mentioning the “Stars” first and the “Sand / dust” second!!!

Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. This is also exactly why the Apostle Paul wrote this in Heb. 4:8

 ”For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day.” those who would enter that promised land of Canaan were not the fulfillment of the spiritual! When God told Abraham to “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” He was pointing to the spiritual. This is why we have Paul speaking of  those who have already passed on from this life as going to be made perfect at the same time as those living at the parousia as “a cloud of witnesses” (Heb.12:1) a heavenly Jerusalem and an innumerable company of angels (Heb.12:22) Notice the language of Jude:“… they are clouds without water, carried about[a] by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; 13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.”

 Jude used words like “Clouds without water”; “late autumn trees”; “raging waves of the sea”; “wandering stars”. In this verse we see a negative view of those who should inherit the promised land rest in Christ in language that pictures them as “wandering stars”! This is highly suggestive, if not plain out and out apocalyptic language!!!! The promise to Abraham was of “the stars if you are able to number them” Gen.15:5) And likewise we see a group of people who are also called stars, but they are “wandering stars” do you care to guess who these people might be? These wandering stars are the same as the dust that Abraham was promised but would not be able to enter the promised land. I think that the main point that God wanted  to be grasped by Abraham was that  it wasn’t just about having children (Physical children / dust of the earth), but having the right children! (Spiritual children /stars of heaven)

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