The Old Testament is rife with examples of foreign nations speaking of Israel as light to the nations. Does any nation have the privilege of Israel being the receivers of the Torah? Does any nation have a God who is defined by salvation, the Hebrew action and noun by which His Son is named in His incarnation (Yeshua; c.f. Daniel 3:29)? And here this truth is highlighted amongst the Philistines, who look back on the Exodus and Passover with fear. “Why should you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharoah hardened their hearts? After he had dealt severely with them, did they not send the people away, and they departed?” (v.6).
Yet this is half the gospel – the gospel is the punishment of the Father towards the Son, and the love of the Father towards the Son (Isaiah 53:5; John 17). What they saw was the death of the firstborn, and they only saw Yahweh as a mere God of Israel (v.5). Their purpose was to provide golden images of creatures to save themselves (Exodus 20:23), just as the Israelites had created the golden image of the calf as the gods (Exodus 32:1) of their salvation. They did not see the God of Rahab, she who preached the God of heavens and the earth; the God who saved, chose and loved, Israel and gave them Canaan (Joshua 2) the land of Promise, the nation which was given the law to display their transgressions after they were saved from Egypt (Galatians 3). Their guilt offering is not a covenant enacted and purified by blood (v.3, v.8; c.f. Hebrews 9:20-22), but a guilt offering provided of golden idols. What blasphemy it is to place images of pestilence next to the Ark of the Covenant which is also laden with gold! This is why the Philistines, even having the Ark of the Covenant within their midst for seven months, is the subject of wrath – just as the beauties of His creation in the heavens and earth are poetry proclaiming Christ in the eyes of Israel (Psalm 19), but is exclaiming His wrath to all those standing outside of Christ (Romans 1:18-32). Just as we are destined to walk into the Holy of Holies in Christ, yet the Philistines will forever stand their distance and refuse to join to Israel even after witnessing the joy of the Israelites when the throne of God is in their midst (v.16). Instead of joining under the tent of the House of the Sun (Beth-shemesh; Malachi 4:2), they return to the House of eradication (Ekron). Though they know it is not a coincidence (v.9), yet they fail to trust in the object of the true blood-guilt offering of the milk cow on which there has never come a yoke.
And so the Israelites carefully retrieved the ark by the hand of the Levites, the priests who are ordained and anointed to be privileged with this duty; and by the Stone of the House of the Sun in the field of Joshua, the chief typological Saviour between Moses and Samuel, these burnt offerings were truly given to the LORD in rejoicing (v.13) rather than in trembling fear. These Philistines returned to Ekron, only to await their true eradication by the hands of the King of Israel, for even in the time of Joshua the five lords of the five cities (Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath, Ekron) were already the subject of wrath awaiting to be devoted to destruction (Joshua 13:3). This true destruction is symbolized in the return of the Ark after seven months, intimating the seventy years after the Babylonian captivity whereupon the LORD will send the staggering cup for these nations to drink where the Philistines, amongst others, are to drink the cup which Christ has drunk (John 18:11):
Jer 25:12-27 Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the LORD, making the land an everlasting waste. (13) I will bring upon that land all the words that I have uttered against it, everything written in this book, which Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations. (14) For many nations and great kings shall make slaves even of them, and I will recompense them according to their deeds and the work of their hands.” (15) Thus the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. (16) They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them.” (17) So I took the cup from the LORD’s hand, and made all the nations to whom the LORD sent me drink it: (18) Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, its kings and officials, to make them a desolation and a waste, a hissing and a curse, as at this day; (19) Pharaoh king of Egypt, his servants, his officials, all his people, (20) and all the mixed tribes among them; all the kings of the land of Uz and all the kings of the land of the Philistines (Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod); (21) Edom, Moab, and the sons of Ammon; (22) all the kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the coastland across the sea; (23) Dedan, Tema, Buz, and all who cut the corners of their hair; (24) all the kings of Arabia and all the kings of the mixed tribes who dwell in the desert; (25) all the kings of Zimri, all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of Media; (26) all the kings of the north, far and near, one after another, and all the kingdoms of the world that are on the face of the earth. And after them the king of Babylon shall drink. (27) “Then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Drink, be drunk and vomit, fall and rise no more, because of the sword that I am sending among you.’
Therefore, it is this same cup in which we are crucified in Him; it is this same cup in which the world is condemned through His mediation of creation (Colossians 1). Yet our sacramental communion provides also the bread of life upon Whom we feed, and until then, the wrath of the Father will continue to impartially display His wrath upon all those standing outside of Christ (v.19). Indeed, “who is able to stand before the LORD, this holy God? And to whom shall he go up away from us?” which is an echo of Job’s question (Job 33:23). The answer has always been Christ Jesus, the commander of the LORD’s army; but it is seen for now through the actions of David, the typological mediator who worships the LORD at the right hand of the Father (Psalm 110) – he is the only one, not Saul, nor Samuel, to take the Ark back from Kiriath-jearim to the city of David in Jerusalem, the city of Peace.