Saturday, June 28, 2014

The New Testament church is compared to Israel in the wilderness. Part 2

By Joe Daniels and Terry Cropper.

God used many types and shadows in the Old Testament that were found fulfillment in the antitype of the New Testament. Israel who in the 40 year wilderness journey is one of those types and shadows of the first century church’s own 40 year wilderness trek.

We will begin this study by looking at some of the many parallels we find in the Old Testament.

The Spies Sent into the land of Canaan is one that comes to mind. Numbers 13:17 states: Then Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said to them, “Go up this way into the South, and go up to the mountains, 18 and see what the land is like: whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, few or many; 19 whether the land they dwell in is good or bad; whether the cities they inhabit are like camps or strongholds; 20 whether the land is rich or poor; and whether there are forests there or not. Be of good courage. And bring some of the fruit of the land.” Now the time was the season of the first ripe grapes.

The spies came back with a bad report. Numbers 13: 26 Now they departed and came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 Then they told him, and said: “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28 Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan.”

Caleb’s report about the land. Numbers 13:30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.”

The spies reply to Caleb, Numbers 13: But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” 32 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. 33 There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

Israel Refuses to Enter Canaan. Numbers 14 So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. 2 And all the children of Israelcomplained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! 3 Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” 4 So they said to one another, “Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.”

God not only wanted a people who would be in the Promised Land, but more than that, He wanted a people in whom has faith in Him. In short, God always wants relationship with Him – to equal their POSITION.

Paul notes that what was written before was written for their learning (Romans 15:4), and that many of the examples and situations in the Old Testament were mean to teach Christians a lesson (1 Corinthians 10:11-13).

In the letter to the Hebrews Paul goes into the experience of the Israelites in the wilderness after they came out of Egypt. Paul makes a connection between their experience and the first century Church.

Paul shows very interesting and direct parallels to Israel in the wilderness. To make his point, Paul quotes Psalm 95:7-11: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the (rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert), where your (fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did). That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, `Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.' So I declared on oath in my anger, `They shall never enter my rest'" (Hebrews 3:7-11). [emphasis added]

Don't be like your disbelieving, disobedient ancestors, that were in wilderness he says. They refused God so many times that He set them aside and shut them out. The did not enter the promise land and God’s rest. Don't test his patience. Listen to what God is saying now.

To develop this point, he elaborates on the last part of the quote from Psalm 95: "They shall never enter my rest." Paul then concludes: "There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God" (Hebrews 4:9). Is he bringing up a new subject? No — he is still on the same subject, using different words to develop it further. He is saying, since people did not enter God's rest in Moses' day, nor in Joshua's day, and yet they are still exhorted in the Psalms about God's rest, the conclusion is that this rest still remains for the people of God. It was still available.

Why does he call this a Sabbath-rest? His exhortation throughout this book is telling Jewish people to look to Jesus. He is not urging them to do a better job of keeping Jewish customs. "Anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his." (Hebrews 4:10) Paul again draws a practical conclusion: Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. (v. 11)

Like the Israelites in the wilderness who had not attained to her permanent "land rest" but were being tested and humbled Deuteronomy 8:2-3 before her final destination, the promised "rest." The Church was being warned "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the (rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert), where your (fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did). Today here is used in a (present tense) grammatical refers to (present time) they had not yet attained their permanent “rest” but were still sojourns on the way to attain their permanent spiritual "land." Paul makes this point also when he says the rest was still available.

There is another parallel to Israel in the wilderness. The Church during her sojourn was also being tested by God James 1:3-4 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Who was doing the testing? God of course. What is being tested? Their faith in Christ as their disbelieving, disobedient ancestors, tested God in the wilderness.

Many of the Jews refused what Christ was offering and put their faith in the Mosaic covenant by returning back under that system of the law. In Galatians 5:4, the context is Paul’s warning against mixing law and the Gospel to attain justification. He says to those who let themselves be circumcised (Galatians 5:2) that they are “trying to be justified by law” and have therefore “been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.”

Paul warns against setting aside the grace that comes from Christ. Those who do have nullified, or run away from, the grace that comes through His blood and attempted instead to justify themselves by the works of the Law. The purpose of Paul’s letter to the Galatians was to warn against the Judaizers because they attempted to lure born-again Christians back to justification through the Law, which is impossible (Galatians 2:16). He reminds them of the freedom they have in Christ: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1).

In the letter to the Colossians Paul noted that many of the institutions and commands revealed under the Law of Moses were, “things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:17). The same thrust is found in Hebrews 10:1 “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things”. In reference to the tabernacle in the Old Testament, Paul writer notes that the Levitical priests served, “a copy and shadow of the heavenly things” (Hebrews 8:5).

There is yet another parallel to Israel in the wilderness. Jesus was to be the subject of God’s promises to Abraham about the promise land. Abraham understood that he would not personally get literal land.

When we consider the fact that all of the land of Canaan was promised to Abraham, a land that was far greater in extent, than he would actually need, and yet he received none of it in his lifetime, the promise must have some other meaning than a literal view allows. In fact, Abraham's not receiving the land that he was promised is seen as proving the promise of his resurrection from the grave. Acts 7:5 And God gave him no inheritance in it, not even enough to set his foot on. But even when Abraham had no child, He promised to give it to him for a possession, and to his descendants after him.

And he gave him none inheritance in it is true that Abraham had a field, and the cave of Mach-pelah, Genesis 23:9; but that was of no use to Abraham. When Sarah his wife died, he was obliged to buy a piece of ground for a burying place to bury her in. It could not be said to be given him as a gift by the Lord, for he bought it with his money:

The 11th chapter of Hebrews lists many of the heroes of faith, concludes with the statement that all the OT saints died, not having received the promises. Hebrews 11:39-40 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

The promise referred to here, that Abraham did not receive, was the land promise, and something far better than the literal land that was promised to Abraham’s disbelieving, descendants refused to enter. The land was merely a type, or a shadow, of the true "rest" promised by Jesus. And many were refusing to enter that promise land as well.

The New Testament, wilderness in which the church finds herself is not a literal desert. But a time period of trial, and testing also. And her destination is not the literalterritory of Canaan. But a “better country,” which indicates that the promised land the saints hope to enter is something other than the literal territory of Palestine. (Heb. 11:16) God being longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance gave Israel a 40 year testing and trial period. Then came the end with the destruction of Jerusalem.

As we have pointed out in the past, the Church or ἐκκλησία / ekklesia is made up of two syllables. The Greek prefix ἐκ means “out of, or away from” and the root verb κλησίαwhich means “to call or invite.” So the word ekklesia means “to call or invite out of” or “away from.” Away from what? I think would be the logical question … As an example, the letter to the Romans was written to both Jews and Gentiles. Most church letters like the letter to the church in Rome were written to predominantly Gentile churches. Makes sense since Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles. Some of them were coming out of the Old Covenant and some of them were coming out of the Adamic Covenant. Just as Israel was called out of Egypt into an exodus juorney, so were the all that made up of anyone who was responding to the gospel call.

As we have already noted and taught, Jesus Himself is Israel, and the first thing Jesus does before starting His ministry is to go into the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights to be tempted by Satan. But unlike Israel who failed their testing, Jesus the true Israel passes the test! (Matt.4:1-11; Mk.1:12; Lk.4:1-13) Similarly, the body of Christ (The Church) was to be tested and come through a trial period in that first century. That first century exodus would be marked by wonders and miricales just like the time of the exodus out of Egypt. Just like the time of Jesus’ ministry! It was even alluded to approximately 700 years before in Micah 7:15.

Ex. 34:10 (NKJV) “And He said: “Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD. For it is an awesome (θαυμαστά) thing that I will do with you.”

Micah 7:15 (NKJV) “As in the days when you came out of the land of Egypt,
I will show them wonders.” (θαυμαστά)

Notice what God said of the exodus journey of Israel out of Egypt – that He would show them wonders! Where we read in Ex.34:10 where God said that it would be a wondrous thing or awesome thing that He will do with them, the same can be said of the first century church!

Certainly no bible student would doubt the “WONDERS” and “MIRACLES” that were taking place during that 40 year period between the Ascention and the Parousia?!

The word θαυμαστά is only used 6 times in our New Testament. I want us to note two of them found in Matt.21:42-43 & Mk.12:11 They both are Jesus’ final response in His parable of the wicked Vinedressers. They are direct quotes from the Messianic Ps. 188:22-23 (In the LXX it is Ps. 117:22-23) where the same word is used: θαυμαστὴ.

Matt. 21:41-43 (NKJV) 41 “They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.” 42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’s doing, And it is marvelous (θαυμαστά) in our eyes’? 43 “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.”

Mk. 12:10-11 (NKJV)10 Have you not even read this Scripture:‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone.11 This was the LORD’s doing, And it is marvelous (θαυμαστά) in our eyes’?”

What was being done in the work of God, the Messiah, and the body of Christ during that period was awesome and marvelous (θαυμαστά) in the sight of all. Just as it was true and happened in the shadow exodus, was true in the final first century exodus! The charismata was a wondrous display of the power of God in that journey! All throughout this wilderness journey where the Law of Liberty (James 2:12) was growing the church up into the full measure of Christ, there were spies that went out who gave a bad reported! These people crept into the church un-noticed who denied God. (Jude 4) They were spots in their love feasts (The agape meal) clouds without water, twice dead, etc … (Jude 12-19) They tried to force circumcision on the church (Acts 15:1) They were called out (ἐκκλησία) so that they would not share in the wrath of the fall of these antagonizers!

(Rev.18:4)Yet the other side of the story is that they also had others calling them back! Spiritually calling them back to Egypt! (Egypt in a spiritual sense!) Members of their own family did not see the new promised land as a better land! There were to many giants to overcome like in the land of Canaan! (Speaking spiritually of course!) Sadly, many did not make it and failed to enter the promised land by turning back to the old covenant! (Heb.6:4-8; 10:26-39) The writer of Hebrews certainly knew that there were those who would not pass the test and enter the rest!

Hebrews 4:1-3 (NKJV) Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. 3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’”although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.” This exodus included great signs and wonders as Peter proclaimed was prophesied on the day of Pentecost!

Acts 2:17-19 (NKJV) 17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.

God performed even scary wonders! So much so, that we have recorded for us that many within and without the church were afraid of some of the things they saw! Look at the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts chapter 5. After we read about them being struck down dead, we read that “great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things. (Acts 5:11) In the very next verse we read that through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done. Then in verse 13 we read that these signs and wonders made many dare not to join them (would not convert) but esteemed them highly! Then there were those who did believe but turned their backs on God even after seeing and experiencing this wilderness journey. Peter says that they like the proverb states are dogs turning back to their own vomit.(2 Peter 2:20-22) But of those who would become victorious in their exodus he wrote:

1 Peter 1:9-11 (NKJV) 9 “Receiving the end of your faith — the salvation of your souls.10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.”

Here Peter plainly spells out the purpose of the suffering of Christ! For the “glories that would follow.” This self same suffering would be experienced by the “the body of Christ” as they went through their Exodus and reach the true promised land!

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