Saturday, June 28, 2014
The New Testament church is compared to Israel in the wilderness. Part 3
The number 40 is a very significant and familiar number in the Bible. Let’s take for example the story of Noah and the flood, it rains 40 days and 40 nights (Gen. 7:4,12,17; 8:6). After the sealing of the covenant at Mt. Sinai, Moses is with God on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights (Ex.24:18). Look at when the prophet Elijah is being pursued by Queen Jezebel, he flees for his life and travels 40 days and nights until he comes to the mountain of God at Horeb (Sinai) (1 Kings 19:8). The number appears also in the New Testament. Jesus is tempted in the desert for 40 days and nights; his ascension to heaven occurs 40 days after the Resurrection (Acts 1:3). These are just but a few examples and there are many more.
The Israelites are encamped in the southern desert, within easy reach of the Promised Land. Scouts go ahead to survey the land, which they do for 40 days (Num. 13:25). They bring a glowing report of the land, but also note that some of the inhabitants are large and imposing. Despite the urgings of Joshua and Caleb, the people are afraid to go up into the land. Their refusal is a serious failure of faith in Yahweh's promise to give them the land. As a punishment, the people are to wander for 40 years, one year for each day the scouts were gone.
The Bible says, ‘The Lord's anger was kindled against Israel and He made them wander in the wilderness for forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the Lord was dead (Numbers 32:13). The reason the Lord led them around in circles for forty years, is because way back in those days, they were a stubborn, disobedient, rebellious, unfaithful, wicked, stiff-necked people, who complained incessantly and were constantly ungrateful for the good things the Lord did for them.
There are so many scriptures that expound on these facts that we can not exhaust all the ideas and or types and shadows in a study such as this. We can make numerous analogies between the 40 years of wandering for Israel coming out of Egypt as with the first century church that would be very thought provoking. Such would be, just as Israel ate Manna for 40 years (Ex.16:35). Likewise the word of God was being given by divine inspiration and written down for the true Israel of God to feed on during their wilderness first century journey! Think about this for a moment! This is why you can read your new testament today! It’s the bread of life, manna from heaven that was given to the Israel of God during the first century wilderness journey! We are mindful that on the day that the Law was given, on Mt. Sinai 3,000 died for worshipping the golden calf, (Ex.32:28).
On the day of Pentecost the Spirit was given to 3,000 who were added into Christ and received life! (Acts. 2:41) These are but a few that come to mind, we can give you a few more to look up; ‘Behold, it is a stiff- necked people’ (Ex. 32:9); ‘You are a stiff-necked people’ (Ex. 33:3); ‘You have been rebellious against the Lord... You have been rebelling against the Lord ... O Lord look not at the stubbornness of this people or at their wickedness or at their sin’ (Deut.9:7, 24, 27); ‘They were disobedient and rebelled against You and cast Your Law behind their back and killed Your prophets’ (Neh. 9:26); ‘This is a rebellious people, lying children who will not hear the Law of the Lord’ (Isaiah 30:9); ‘I send you to the children of Israel that have rebelled against Me. They and their fathers have transgressed against Me ... and they are impudent and hard of heart ... for they are a rebellious house’ (Ezek. 2:3 to 5)
The Israelites saw many miracles performed by God in Egypt and later in the desert. Firstly, there were the ten plagues in Egypt (Ex.7:17 to 12:33) then the parting of the Red Sea (Ex. 14:16 to 22). They had an incredible, supernatural cloud by day to lead and protect them, and a fire by night to lead and warm them (Ex. 13:21). Nothing was burned by this pillar of fire – it was wholly supernatural –yet the Israelites became fearful and rebelling against God.
Those same miraculous signs were to be also given to the first century church and was foretold by the prophet Micah: Micah 7:15 (NKJV) 15 “As in the days when you came out of the land of Egypt, I will show them wonders.”
The Lord purified bitter water (Ex. 15:23 to 25). God gave them Manna to eat (Ex. 16:14 & 15) which was angel’s food (Ps.78:25) but they complained about it (Num. 11:1 to 13). God gave them quail to eat (Ex. 16:13) then the Lord gave them so much meat it made them sick and many died (Num. 11:20 to 34). They saw God bring water out of a rock (Ex. 17:6). That Rock supernaturally followed them; the Rock was Jesus (1 Cor.10:4). They moaned against Moses (Ex. 14:11 & 12). At one point they even wanted to stone Moses (Ex. 17:2 to 4). God gave them every thing they wanted and they still complained about their hardships (Num.11:1), and finally God’s anger towards them came to a point where He disowned them and threatened to wipe them out (Ex.32:7 to 11). They ended up bringing judgment upon themselves, by kindling the Lord’s anger just by their incessant complaining.
They were still like that in Jesus’ day; ‘Jesus said, “O you unbelieving, faithless and perverse generation. How long am I to remain ...and bear with you?’” (Matt.17:17). In this passage of Matthew 12:1-14 Jesus and His disciples were traveling about preaching and Jesus does what is called or considered by the religious rulers a work on the Sabbath. This day as stated was the Sabbath, and they were traveling through grain fields. The disciples were hungry so they plucked grain and ate. This was not stealing but was expressly permitted by the law, as long as one did so only to meet an immediate need, not to carry it home and keep it for future consumption (Deut.23:24f).
The Pharisees criticized the act, not as stealing, but as a violation of the Sabbath. This was the first of a whole series of conflicts between Jesus and the Pharisees about the Sabbath. Two things must be remembered. (1) The Pharisees, as they had done with other Laws of Moses (Matt.15:1-14), had added a whole complex system of traditions about Sabbath observance. Much of this was intricate and detailed; but above all it was based on their own ideas, but not on what God's law really said. (3-5) They were motivated in their criticisms, not by sincere concern for the Sabbath, but by a desire to trap Jesus (v14).
Why do the Jews hate Jesus Christ so much? He who performed so many miracles for them, feeding them healing their sick, their blind, their paralyzed, and then, even raising their dead? Why do the Jews hate Jesus Christ so much that they stopped their ears from hearing about Him, and now stopping everyone else’s ears as well? I will tell you. ‘They were like their fathers (ancestors) – a stubborn and rebellious generation who were unloyal ... who were unfaithful to God.
Like their disobedient, rebellious, unfaithful, wicked, stiff-necked ancestors; not everyone from that generation entered the promise land! The Apostle Paul who wrote the letter of Hebrews and urged them to be faithful! (Which happens to be the belief of the authors Terry Cooper & Joe Daniels that the apostle Paul penned this letter) Paul continues to exhort the Hebrews in the face of trials and persecutions to continue to run the race looking to Jesus as their forerunner and example faithful and not without grumbling! Remember 1 Peter 1:9-11 that spoke of “the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.”? Paul in Heb.12:2-3 states the same exact purpose of Jesus in that He endured His suffering (hostility towards Him) so that the church would partake of Him and of His holiness - glories to be realized in Christ at His parousia!
After forty years of wandering in the wilderness, the generation of Israelites who were delivered from slavery had all died, (An interesting fact is that the very same people who placed blood on their door post and were freed from slavery died not entering into the promised land because of unbelief!) except Joshua and Caleb. It was the children who had been born during the wilderness years who were remaining now. He was not to be the one who would bring the Israelites into the promised land. It would be Joshua. (The Hebrew name Joshua is the same as the name Jesus. See the Greek in Acts 7:45 & Heb. 4:8) Yet we learn that the promised land of which Joshua led the Israelites was not the true, but the shadow! (Heb.4:4-11) If Moses would bring them into the promised land it would be by Law. But it was not to be so.
We see the significance of putting blood on the doorposts as pointing to the future shedding of blood of Christ, that protects us from judgment, just as the blood here protected the families from judgment they still were tested and failed! This very same people who had put on their door posts the blood, were the very same people who fell in the wilderness. (Num.14:35) In this we see that the cross is not the end, but the beginning of the journey! That’s not to take anything away from the cross or the blood, for without it, we have nothing! Rather, it’s because of the blood of the cross that the church was being added to, and saved in the parousia of Christ 40 years later! It certainly was not something that marked an end as those in the “Israel Only” camp teach, but rather the establishment of the kingdom in its full maturity and perfection! To this end the church wandered through a first century wilderness.
Hebrews 4:7-9 (NKJV) 7 “again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.”8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.”
We all know that the apostles pointed to the coming Day of the Lord! There are quite a few scriptures we can look at like Heb.10:25 A day of rest Heb.4:4-10 , a day of visitation! 1 Peter 2:12 The day of salvation was near and that “DAY” was at hand…. It was of the coming of the kingdom. It was the entrance into the true “Promised land”. The cross provided the means, it satisfied the sin problem by means of the sacrifice acceptable to God. Its type is the Passover lamb slain, and the blood applied.
Prior to A.D. 70 the saints had "eternal life," but not the actual access to the presence of God after they passed on. When these saved people physically died they went to a place referred to by different names: Sheol, Hades, Tarturus, or Abraham’s Bossom. There they were awaiting the A.D. 70 event. On the other hand, you had the unsaved, the eternally damned, who also waited in a different place.
No one was allowed access to the presence of God until Christ the High Priest finished His Yom Kippur duties inside the heavenly Holy of Holies. Christ now dwells in the spiritual house or church today in a never ending age! Those saved in the first century awaiting the A.D. 70 event were hidden in Christ (Col.3:3) awaiting the Day of Atonement when they would be in the full presence of the Father! (Phil.1:6)
Col. 3:2-4 (NKJV) 2 “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”
This is no longer the state of those who now pass on today. The good news is that we are now in that eternal day of rest! (2 Peter 3:18 Gr.) It took 40 years to arrive from the cross, but arrive it did! The church is now living in the promised land, a spiritual land of rest that Jesus brought us into. This equates to the new heaven and earth which is here now and forever a kingdom that can not be destroyed!