BOOK 2: PSALM 59 OF 72 – Wronged but Righteous

We live in a world where the good Samaritans have been uprooted by the sniggering Pharisees.  How often does one hear that they’ve been wronged; that they are innocent, and their persecutors did not receive their just deserts; that they have worked hard, accumulated tears, sweat, and blood, but receive an imbalance of appreciation or reward.

Whilst 1 Samuel 19-20 shows us the narrative of Saul’s persecution of David, Psalm 59 helps us peer into David’s heart.  For there, we find the turmoil of the king-in-the-making, of the man after God’s own heart.  What we expect is a man who exudes continual confidence; whose gravitas precedes before him; who destroyed Goliath with his wit and not his brawn.  Instead, we find a man incredibly insecure; a man who pines for justice as he has been unjustly dealt with; a man who is not confident to take matters into his own hand, but rather to leave it in His.

Saul has left himself open to a harmful spirit from the Lord.  If not for Jonathan’s reminders, he would have pursued his passions to destroy David.  David describes him, and his men, as dogs howling and prowling about the city, bellowing with their mouths, lying in wait for David’s life, to stir up strife against him.  The enemies whom David faced are born of the same deceiver whom Jesus destroyed; and the enemies we face today are constantly deceived by the spirits of this world, than by the Holy Spirit Who breathes life through us.

That is why David can proclaim that the Lord is his Strength; that God is his fortress; that He will let David look in triumph on his enemies.  How can a howling, growling dog, a prowling lion, a hungry beast who wanders about for food, even scar the high towers of God’s temple?  We triumph because He is much larger than we perceive Him to be; and yet our sights are often on the dogs and lions than the unshakeable and unbreakable Rock we stand on.

David prays that his enemies are consumed by their own wrath; and indeed, that is what God allows, for those who do not stand under the cross; they are, as John said, already condemned: John 3:16-18.

 

Do we not need to restore our perspectives to this, daily?  Are not our eyes and our sight so easily manipulated by the circumstances that surround us?  This psalm is a firm reminder that, even a faithful shepherd like David is easily discouraged, describing to Jonathan that he is but one step away from death: 1 Samuel 20:3.  Yet, turning around, David realises that he need not fear death at all, because Jesus has conquered death.  David can now find strength – even strength in the face of death – that he can sing in the day of his distress.

These are not easy words for David to preach.  He was not a man who merely philosophised the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, and that he should somehow force himself to appreciate that God is his refuge.  No – he is a man who, like Jacob, wrestled with Jesus to be blessed.  David, too, is struggling here with the LORD; and by the end of this psalm, he is blessed and remembers that this Strength and towering fortress is built on the foundation of God’s steadfast love.

That is why Jesus’ work on the cross is so important; not just a generic concept of the emotion and passion that we call ‘love’ today.  Jesus’ work on the cross is a combination of His painful sacrifice, in the face of howling, growling, hungry dogs and lions; and His overcoming of these enemies is what allowed men like David; and men like us, to even have a basis to proclaim victory in the face of death; victory in the face of being wronged.

It is in the cross that we find comfort from the Lord who experienced the same discomfort; it is in the cross that we find true justice, from the Lord who had been unjustly treated; it is in the cross that we find true value, from the Lord who gives us our value.  When we set our sights on the cross, and not on the prowling lions, that we begin to realise that the balance of this world is corrupt.  That the scales are uneven.  But the cross evens the scales; the cross restores the corrupt balance.

 

 

BOOK 2: PSALM 59 OF 72 – Wronged but Righteous

2 Chronicles 34-36: Gospel of the Kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world

Chapter 34

Josiah, the last glorious king before Judah’s lengthy captivity in the hands of the Babylonians, sought the LORD when he was sixteen (v.3) and immediately purged the city and the temple in which was the Name of the LORD (2 Chronicles 6).  The cleansing involved the chopping down of altars of Baals (v.4), burning the bones of the priests on their altars as a retribution of the wrath they incurred upon themselves (v.5) and bearing the Asherim and images into powder, cutting down all the incense altars throughout all the land of Israel (v.7).  At 24 years old (v.8), upon cleaning the land, the Law of the LORD was found (v.8-18), commencing a reformation of Israel once again – just as Christ cleansed our hearts so that the law could be written on them (Jeremiah 31:33) and allow the spiritual Israelites to be reminded that the removal of idolatry comes hand in hand with worshipping the true God and find their identity as His collective children.  Josiah’s reaction (v.21) is exactly that of a person who understands the implications of not truly following Christ and merely “playing church”, as a worshipper of the LORD who does not have His law.  Yet, note the narrator’s decision to state clearly that Josiah had been walking with the LORD since 16; and for 8 years, Josiah had not the law of the LORD to guide Him, yet His mandates were already written on Josiah’s heart by the indwelling Holy Spirit – a reminder that the era before Moses, too, walked with Jesus without the written law.

Note, then, prophetess Huldah’s prophecy on Israel and Judah – that Josiah shall sleep with his fathers (v.28) before witnessing the inevitable tragedy and destruction to fall on Israel.  In the wake of this, Josiah immediately worships the LORD by making a covenant with Him, clearly understanding the purpose of the Law is relational and not simply that of a master bidding a slave to merely work.

Chapter 35

Josiah’s relationship with the LORD upon Huldah’s prophecy is most importantly marked by his keeping of the Passover through the properly elected divisions and positions of the Levites (v.1-6).  Such worship and sacrifice in the face of Israel’s impending disaster (v.7-9)!  Note clearly that no Passover of this grandeur and detail to the iota has been kept since the days of Samuel the prophet, indicating that Josiah’s keeping of the Passover is the ending bookend to the book of Samuel which opens the eras of the kings of Israel.  The repeating refrain in these verses are “according to the king’s command” and “as it is written in the Book of Moses” / “according to the rule“, which prove that the Law is closely adhered to, by the faithful Christian king’s command at a tender age of 26 years.

Yet, Josiah’s death is sudden and is indeed brought about the the Egyptian king Neco, who himself understands to be carrying out the LORD’s will (v.21-22).  It is a strange turn of events, for Neco to state that it would be against His will if Josiah opposes Neco; yet, Huldah had already prophesied that Josiah’s death was the LORD’s grace towards him, in preventing him from seeing Israel’s eventual downfall.  Surely, it is not contrary to God’s will that Josiah oppose Neco and is brought to the grave in return?  Is it not because of Josiah’s faithfulness to even the smallest iota of the Law that Israel has this temporary peace, and thus the king’s removal is tantamount to the LORD’s eventual disciplining of His elected nation?  Observe Matthew Henry’s commentary on Josiah’s death:

“From principles of religion: “God is with me; nay, He commanded me to make haste, and therefore, if thou retard my motions, thou meddlest with God.” It cannot be that the king of Egypt only pretended this (as Sennacherib did in a like case, 2 Kings xviii. 25), hoping thereby to make Josiah desist, because he knew he had a veneration for the word of God; for it is said here ( 22) that the words of Necho were from the mouth of God. We must therefore suppose that either by a dream, or by a strong impulse upon his spirit which he had reason to think was from God, or by Jeremiah or some other prophet, he had ordered him to make war upon the king of Assyria. (3.) From principles of policy: “That he destroy thee not; it is at thy peril if thou engage against one that has not only a better army and a better cause, but God on his side.”
…It was not in wrath to Josiah, whose heart was upright with the Lord his God, but in wrath to a hypocritical nation, who were unworthy of so good a king, that he was so far infatuated as not to hearken to these fair reasonings and desist from his enterprise. He would not turn his face from him, but went in person and fought the Egyptian army in the valley of Megiddo, 22. If perhaps he could not believe that the king of Egypt had a command from God to do what he did, yet, upon his pleading such a command, he ought to have consulted the oracles of God before he went out against him. His not doing that was his great fault, and of fatal consequence. In this matter he walked not in the ways of David his father; for, had it been his case, he would have enquired of the Lord, Shall I go up? Wilt thou deliver them into my hands? How can we think to prosper in our ways if we do not acknowledge God in them?”

Indeed, Josiah died in the Valley of Megiddo (symbolically called the place of crowns).  In further distinction to Matthew Henry’s views, Dev Menon’s commentary on the book of Revelations (chapter 16:15-16) reveals that Josiah’s death at Megiddo is prophetic of a greater death:

” The victory is assured – the armies of the world assemble at the Mount of Megiddo, the very place where Josiah (God supports) was pierced (2 Chronicles 35, Zechariah 12, John 19:37). That is the place of their destruction. The place of the cross.”

Josiah’s death is therefore compared in Zechariah 12 to the death of Christ; and it is in the death of Christ that the disciples were scattered, albeit for 3 days and 3 nights.  It is this short, dark period that the remainder of the Old Testament points towards – the fall and scattering of Israel until Christ’s resurrection, when similarly the Church is restored and shines gloriously.  Here, Josiah’s death prompts the inevitable downfall of Israel, as he is pierced in God’s plan by a Gentile, just as the first Passover was held in Egypt – the same Passover which only king Josiah has kept since the day of Samuel’s leadership.

Chapter 36

In this short chapter we see an usurping of the throne of Josiah’s appointed son (v.2-3), followed by the folly of Eliakim (raised up by God) / Jehoiakim (brother of Josiah’s son Jehoahaz, renamed as Jehoiakim – whom Jehovah sets up, as a mockery that the king of Egypt is Jehovah), and his son Jehoiachin (v.8-9, whom Jehovah has appointed), and Jehoiachin’s brother Zedekiah (justice of the LORD) – the narrator intentionally grouping the three kings together as having hard hearts against the LORD (v.13), leading to Israel’s unfaithfulness (v.14) and failure to keep and protect the house of the LORD (v.7, 14).  Yet, despite His unwavering steadfast love (v.15-16), they kept mocking the messengers of God.

It is in Israel’s own rejection of God that the house of the LORD is destroyed, just as the body of Christ had to be destroyed before being re-built (John 2).  So this temporary destruction of the house is but a prophecy of Israel’s own rejection of Christ, leading to the destruction of the true temple of God – Jesus’ body – just so we could be baptized in Christ’s death and raised in His resurrection (Romans 6:3), just as the Israelites are now scattered and baptised in Christ’s death, and whether they resurrect with His glory or not depends on whether they cling onto Christ or their empty religion for the generations to come.

This resurrection of Israel, akin to Christ’s resurrection, is described at the end of 2 Chronicles which is a sweeter note than that of 2 Kings.  Where in 2 Kings 25 we see a description of grace falling on Jehoiachin, both books of Chronicles’ intention is on a larger scale beyond that of microscopic mercy; rather, Chronicles detail the macroscope of the importance of the priesthood, and the victories of the kings when the priesthood and the Levites are restored to their proper duty – with the temple and Jerusalem being once again the focus of Israel’s identity (c.f. 2 Chronicles 26), given their dual importance as the place of Christ’s work on the cross and a multimedia presentation of the gospel respectively.  Jeremiah’s positive prophecy concerning Israel is therefore not surprising, and had been fulfilled (v.21-22), for Israel’s captivity is but a foreshadowing of Christ’s death on the cross leading to the scattering of the disciples.  That time of darkness was merely temporary.  Similarly, Babylon’s captivity would end under Persia eventual leadership, and Cyrus’ decision to release the Israelites and rebuild the destroyed house in Judah.  Here, for the first time, the Gentiles are not merely contributing to the house of God (i.e. Sheba / other kings paying tributes to Israel in the past) – but Cyrus is proactively commissioning Israelites to rebuild the temple, a foreshadowing of the global evangelism involving both Jews and Gentiles in building up the dwelling place of God on earth.  That is the hope we are left with at the end of 2 Chronicles, that not only Israel, but also the Gentiles, are workers of the resurrected global House of the LORD – but not until after being exiled and banished in the wake of the crucifixion of Josiah, a type of Christ.

2 Chronicles 34-36: Gospel of the Kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world

1 Kings 11: For the sake of David – Solomon crucified

1Now(A) King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, 2from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the people of Israel,(B) “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. 3He had 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. 4For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and(C) his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God,(D) as was the heart of David his father. 5For Solomon went after(E) Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after(F) Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and did not wholly follow the LORD, as David his father had done. 7Then Solomon built a high place for(G) Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for(H) Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. 8And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods.

 

Now almost immediately after 1 Kings 10 where the Queen of Sheba admired the Wisdom upon Solomon, this Excellent Wife of Proverbs 31 whom Solomon clung upon, we are immediately introduced to Solomon’s ‘many foreign women’ – immediately raising alarm regarding Solomon’s wavering faith materialized in the form of sexual disloyalty.  This message is especially potent given that these Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites (v.1) were ‘from the nations concerning which the LORD has said… “You shall not enter into marriage with them… for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” (v.2), immediately followed by the disappointing conclusion – “Solomon clung to these in love” (my emphasis).  It is almost as if Proverbs 9:13 and Revelation 14:8 came to life with these very words regarding Solomon’s 700 wives, princesses and 300 concubines, unsurprisingly turning away his heart.  A further layer of irony lies in the fact that Solomon built a high place for a foreign god “on the mountain east of Jerusalem” – the Mount of Olives (v.7):

 

“”The Mount of Olives” occurs in the Old Testament in (Zechariah 14:4) only. In (2 Samuel 15:30) it is called “Olivet;” in other places simply “the mount,” (Nehemiah 8:15) “the mount facing Jerusalem” (1 Kings 11:7) or “the mountain which is on the east aide of the city.” (Ezekiel 11:23) In the New Testament the usual form is “the Mount of Olives.” It is called also “Olivet.” (Acts 1:12) This mountain is the well-known eminence on the east of Jerusalem, intimately connected with some of the gravest events of the history of the Old Testament and the New Testament, the scene of the flight of David and the triumphal progress of the Son of David, of the idolatry-of Solomon, and the agony and betrayal of Christ.” – Smith’s dictionary

 

It is interesting how David is continuously is referred to as the measuring rod of having a heart wholly true to the LORD, despite his shortcomings in his adultery with Bathsheba, deceit with Joab, neglect of Tamar, murder of Uriah – to name a few.  Yet, this is because David is not seen merely as the David, son of Jesse; but rather simultaneously as the Messianic David (Mark 11:10), the true son of David (Matthew 12:23; Revelation 22:16), son of the Father in Heaven.  Glen Scrivener notes the importance of the Christian Old Testament from his paper “Martin Luther’s interpretation of Genesis chapter 3”:

 

Luther came to Genesis not primarily seeking for grammatical and historical understanding, but seeking for Christ.  As he claimed above, ‘the Scriptures must be understood in favour of Christ.’  For Luther, distinguishing the Church from Old Testament Israel has never been a question of adding a new, retrospectively awarded meaning to Moses.   The method modelled by Jesus and His Apostles has been to declare the inherent Messianic proclamation of all Biblical revelation.  Luther is completely in line with this as he repeatedly champions Genesis 3:15, not simply here, but throughout his work.  Yet this confidence in the protevangelium has sounded ‘incautious’ and ‘unreal’ to more modern ears.”

 

In similar vein, Nathan Pitchford muses the following in his article “The Reformers’ Hermeneutic: Grammatical, Historical, and Christ-centered”:

 

What exactly do I mean when I say that many evangelicals demonstrate “a basically un-Christian reading of much of the Old Testament”? Simply put, I mean they employ a hermeneutic that does not have as its goal to trace every verse to its ultimate reference point: the cross of Christ. All of creation, history, and reality was designed for the purpose of the unveiling and glorification of the triune God, by means of the work of redemption accomplished by the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. The bible is simply the book that tells us how to see Christ and his cross at the center of everything. It tells us who God is by showing us the person and work of Christ, who alone reveals the invisible God. If we do not intentionally ask ourselves, “How may I see Christ more clearly by this passage,” in our reading of every verse of scripture, then we are not operating under the guidance of Luther’s grammatical-historical hermeneutic. If we would follow in the steps of the reformers, we must realize that a literal reading of scriptures does not mean a naturalistic reading. A naturalistic reading says that the full extent of meaning in the account of Moses’ striking the rock is apprehended in understanding the historical event. The literal reading, in the Christ-centered sense of the Reformation, recognizes that this historical account is meaningless to us until we understand how the God of history was using it to reveal Christ to his people. The naturalistic reading of the Song of Solomon is content with the observation that it speaks of the marital-bliss of Solomon and his wife; the literal reading of the reformers recognizes that it has ultimately to do with the marital bliss between Christ and his bride, the Church. And so we could continue, citing example after example from the Old Testament.”

 

Without this literal reading of David’s story, we will forget why the LORD is so intent on David’s son building for Him the eternal kingdom – the Christ of 2 Samuel 7 is not Solomon.  2 Samuel 7:14 very much stresses that Solomon as mere man will fall and that Israel will fall into darkness just as pre-creation was chaotic waters; but the God-man Jesus of Isaiah 7:14 born of the virgin and also a son of David is the heir to the Father’s kingdom.  Yet – 2 Samuel 7:14 is not merely a pronouncement of judgment on Solomon – but it is also a pronouncement of the Father’s wrath on the Son on the cross, and what we see following here in the three risen satans is but a shadow of what occurs on the mount of Moriah where the Christ was taunted by the enemy for bearing our sins upon himself (2 Corinthians 5:21).

 

9And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because(I) his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel,(J) who had appeared to him twice 10and(K) had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the LORD commanded. 11Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you,(L) I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. 12Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13However,(M) I will not tear away all the kingdom, but(N) I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem(O) that I have chosen.”

 

And it is thus unsurprising that the LORD was angry with Solomon, in contrast with the Father being ‘well pleased’ with the true son of David (Luke 3:22), Jesus Christ.  Despite the Son of God’s appearance to Solomon as the visible LORD (Colossians 1:15-16) twice (1 Kings 3:5, 9:2), just as the Father had explicitly spoke His Word of Love for the Eternal Word twice in the synoptic gospels (Matthew 3:17, 17:5).  The failure of Solomon is the implied failure of Christ, should that happen – and thus the kingdom of God is to be displaced out of the hand of Christ should He have failed and chosen not to be the sacrificial lamb on the cross (c.f. Genesis 22:8).  Yet – v.12 is the crucial verse that differentiates Solomon as human and typological king of Jesus – for the Father had already elected Christ through the tribe of David, for the sake of the city of peace.  Christ has always been the elected offspring of David, eternal Son of the Father, to do the Father’s work of recapitulation (Revelation 13:8).  As Adam Clarke stresses:

The line of the Messiah must be preserved. The prevailing lion must come out of the tribe of Judah: not only the tribe must be preserved, but the regal line and the regal right. All this must be done for the true David‘s sake: and this was undoubtedly what God had in view by thus miraculously preserving the tribe of Judah and the royal line, in the midst of so general a defection.

As David was a type of the Messiah, so was Jerusalem a type of the true Church: therefore the OLD Jerusalem must be preserved in the hands of the tribe of Judah, till the true David should establish the NEW Jerusalem in the same land, and in the same city. And what a series of providences did it require to do all these things!

14And the LORD raised up an adversary against Solomon, Hadad the Edomite. He was of the royal house in Edom. 15For(P) when David was in Edom, and Joab the commander of the army went up to bury the slain, he struck down every male in Edom 16(for Joab and all Israel remained there six months, until he had cut off every male in Edom). 17But Hadad fled to Egypt, together with certain Edomites of his father’s servants, Hadad still being a little child. 18They set out from Midian and came to(Q) Paran and took men with them from Paran and came to Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who gave him a house and assigned him an allowance of food and gave him land. 19And Hadad found great favor in the sight of Pharaoh, so that he gave him in marriage the sister of his own wife, the sister of Tahpenes the queen. 20And the sister of Tahpenes bore him Genubath his son, whom Tahpenes weaned in Pharaoh’s house. And Genubath was in Pharaoh’s house among the sons of Pharaoh. 21But when Hadad heard in Egypt(R) that David slept with his fathers and that Joab the commander of the army was dead, Hadad said to Pharaoh, “Let me depart, that I may go to my own country.” 22But Pharaoh said to him, “What have you lacked with me that you are now seeking to go to your own country?” And he said to him, “Only let me depart.”

It is here that we find a more in depth theology of the ‘devil’ in relation to God.  V.14 in the Hebrew is more revealing, for it states that the LORD Yahweh raised up satan (the Hebrew for adversary here) against Solomon, Hadad (“mighty”) the Edomite (not so coincidentally the same name as the son of Ishmael, the unelected son of Abraham, c.f. Genesis 22:2).  Many may view the book of Job as allegorical (Job 1:6-12) but it is neglected that the LORD raises up satans as shadows of His raising up of the Satan as displayed in this chapter.  A total of three satans – Hadad, Rezon (“prince”) the son of Eliada, and Jeroboam (“whose people are many”) the son of Nebat (an Ephraimite of Zeredah) are raised up in this chapter alone, each are reputed in their own respect (though not standing in the one LORD Jesus Christ).  Hadad’s background is given a full overview in v.14-22 as he hails from the royal house in Edom (from the line of Esau) and witnessed the cleansing of the house of Edom during the uncorrupted early co-operative leadership of David and Joab (2 Samuel 8) when Edom had not been walking with the LORD for generations already (since Exodus 15:15; Numbers 20).  Instead, this alliance of Egypt and Edom is an abomination in the sight of the LORD, but what greater insult is this that an adversary of such an abominable alliance is raised to be a thorn in Solomon’s side!  And similarly, Rezon – like Hadad – sought to repay David what was done to Zobah and Edom during 2 Samuel 8:

23God also raised up as an adversary to him, Rezon the son of Eliada, who had fled from his master(S) Hadadezer king of Zobah. 24And he gathered men about him and became leader of a marauding band,(T) after the killing by David. And they went to Damascus and lived there and made him king in Damascus. 25He was an adversary of Israel all the days of Solomon, doing harm as Hadad did. And he loathed Israel and reigned over Syria.

As a restoration of the unholy alliance of Syria and Zobah in 2 Samuel 8, here we have Rezon fleeing from his master Hadadezer to re-bond this alliance by becoming a king in Damascus.  What David had undone is now restored with a stronger bond as a rebellion against the Son of God (Psalm 2).  And Jeroboam, a servant of Solomon, rebelled against the son of David for the purpose of Ahijah’s (friend of Jehovah one of the three major chroniclers of Solomon’s era – 2 Chronicles 9:29), prophecy:

26(U) Jeroboam the son of Nebat,(V) an Ephraimite of Zeredah, a servant of Solomon, whose mother’s name was Zeruah, a widow, also(W) lifted up his hand against the king. 27And this was the reason why he lifted up his hand against the king.(X) Solomon built the Millo, and closed up the breach of the city of David his father. 28The man Jeroboam was very able, and when Solomon saw that the young man was industrious he gave him charge over all the forced labor of the house of Joseph. 29And at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, the prophet(Y) Ahijah the Shilonite found him on the road. Now Ahijah had dressed himself in a new garment, and the two of them were alone in the open country. 30Then Ahijah laid hold of the new garment that was on him,(Z) and tore it into twelve pieces. 31And he said to Jeroboam, “Take for yourself ten pieces, for thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Behold,(AA) I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon and will give you ten tribes 32(but(AB) he shall have one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem,(AC) the city that I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel), 33because they have[a] forsaken me(AD) and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the Ammonites, and they have not walked in my ways, doing what is right in my sight and keeping my statutes and my rules, as David his father did. 34Nevertheless, I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand, but I will make him ruler all the days of his life, for the sake of David my servant whom I chose, who kept my commandments and my statutes. 35(AE) But I will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand and will give it to you, ten tribes. 36Yet to his son(AF) I will give one tribe, that David my servant may always have(AG) a lamp before me in Jerusalem,(AH) the city where I have chosen to put my name. 37And I will take you, and you shall reign over all that your soul desires, and you shall be king over Israel. 38And if you will listen to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did,(AI) I will be with you and(AJ) will build you a sure house, as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you. 39And I will afflict the offspring of David because of this, but not forever.'” 40Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam. But Jeroboam arose and fled into Egypt, to(AK) Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon.

It is most ironic that this man from Shiloh, a place of rest in Ephraim, pronounces the history changing split between the kingdom of Israel (the ten tribes) and the kingdom of Judah (the one tribe) – yet it is also in this distinction we find the ruling line through Judah, the one son of David, redeeming all twelve tribes under his cruciform work.

So v.26-40 is a prophecy of the remainder of the Old Testament, that David’s name shall remain in Judah and that the rest of Israel (in the 10 tribes) shall be temporarily led by Jeroboam but only to be scattered – and thus the one lamp before the LORD in Jerusalem is found in the city where HE has chosen to put His name (v.36).  V.38 provides a condition for Jeroboam to fulfill – that if he were to walk in the LORD’s ways, doing what is right in His eyes by keeping His statutes and commandments, He would have been with him and would have built Jeroboam a sure house (v.38-39).  Yet, even if such a sure house were to be built for Jeroboam, as He had built for David, but it is sure that the promised offspring and Messiah would still be elected to be born through the tribe of Judah in the line of David.  It is interesting how the LORD has already set His sight and plans on Jerusalem for that is where both Yahweh and the root of Jesse (Isaiah 11:10; Romans 15:12) join to be the lamp (Revelation 21:23) of the world (Matthew 5:14).  This alliance with Egypt, with Shishak, is a reversal of the great exodus as delineated in 2 Chronicles 12 when Shishak takes away the treasures of both the house of the LORD and the king’s house.  2 Chronicles 12:9 simply states – “he took away everything”.  Israel’s climactic geopolitical reign is coming to an end, as the LORD is preparing for the true Spiritual awakening to come in the wake of Jesus, leading a kingdom not limited by the confines of Canaan, but a kingdom of the invisible church in new creation.

41(AL) Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did, and his wisdom, are they not written in the Book of the Acts of Solomon? 42And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years. 43And Solomon(AM) slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David his father. And(AN) Rehoboam his son reigned in his place.

Thus, 1 Kings 11 ends soberly on the death of Solomon.  Did the narrator record a glorious and triumphant funeral for this king who introduced a golden age (beginning with the temple of God)?  Did Solomon repent of his ways, which led to worship of “…Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the Ammonites” (v.33) and directly causing the downfall of Israel?  Neither are recorded in 1 Kings, nor is it the interest of the narrator.  Instead, Solomon’s death is marked not by his achievements, but by the lingering promise of the LORD reaffirming that there will forever be a lamp in Jerusalem for the sake of the root of Jesse – for it is the root of Jesse who shall redeem Israel from Egypt, from Syria, from the surrounding Satan.  We see Solomon’s repentance throughout the book of Ecclesiastes, reaching the climactic praise in Ecclesiastes 12 – yet here, we are brought to visit the vision of the sinful son of David, our Christ who was crucified by Satan represented by these three satans akin to the three temptations in the wilderness, yet fulfilling the prophecy of the Father that though this be a rod upon the son of David – this striking is still done out of divine steadfast love which will not depart this son of David (2 Samuel 7:14-15).  So we end on a note of the literal David, and the literal son of David – both proclaiming the Messiah who has come and has won:

“He assures him [Hadad] that he shall be king over ten of the twelve tribes of Israel, v. 31. The meanness of his extraction and employment shall be no hindrance to his advancement, when the God of Israel says (by whom kings reign), I will give ten tribes unto thee… He tells him the reason; not for his good character or deserts, but for the chastising of Solomon’s apostasy: “Because he, and his family, and many of his people with him, have forsaken me, and worshipped other gods,v. 33. It was because they had done ill, not because he was likely to do much better. Thus Israel must know that it is not for their righteousness that they are made masters of Canaan, but for the wickedness of the Canaanites, Deut. ix. 4. Jeroboam did not deserve so good a post, but Israel deserved so bad a prince. In telling him that the reason why he rent the kingdom from the house of Solomon was because they had forsaken God, he warns him to take heed of sinning away his preferment in like manner… He limits his expectations to the ten tribes only, and to them in reversion after the death of Solomon, lest he should aim at the whole and give immediate disturbance to Solomon’s government. He is here told… That two tribes (called here one tribe, because little Benjamin was in a manner lost in the thousands of Judah) should remain sure to the house of David, and he must never make any attempt upon them: He shall have one tribe (v. 32), and again (v. 36), That David may have a lamp, that is, a shining name and memory (Ps. cxxxii. 17), and his family, as a royal family, may not be extinct. He must not think that David was rejected, as Saul was. No, God would not take his loving-kindness from him, as he did from Saul. The house of David must be supported and kept in reputation, for all this, because out of it the Messiah must arise. Destroy it not, for that blessing is in it… That Solomon must keep possession during his life, v. 34, 35. Jeroboam therefore must not offer to dethrone him, but wait with patience till his day shall come to fall. Solomon shall be prince, all the days of his life, not for his own sake (he had forfeited his crown to the justice of God), but for David my servant’s sake, because he kept my commandments.” – Matthew Henry

 

1 Kings 11: For the sake of David – Solomon crucified

2 Samuel 24: Costly grace

2 Samuel 24:  Costly grace

As if the end of chapter 23 does not already indicate and maximize the sin of David as the shadow-king of Israel by referring to Uriah as among one of David’s thirty mighty men (murdered by David’s lustful adultery and scheming), once again David’s weakness is the subject of chapter 24.

2Sa 24:1-25  Again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go, number Israel and Judah.”  (2)  So the king said to Joab, the commander of the army, who was with him, “Go through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and number the people, that I may know the number of the people.”  (3)  But Joab said to the king, “May the LORD your God add to the people a hundred times as many as they are, while the eyes of my lord the king still see it, but why does my lord the king delight in this thing?”  (4)  But the king’s word prevailed against Joab and the commanders of the army. So Joab and the commanders of the army went out from the presence of the king to number the people of Israel.  (5)  They crossed the Jordan and began from Aroer, and from the city that is in the middle of the valley, toward Gad and on to Jazer.  (6)  Then they came to Gilead, and to Kadesh in the land of the Hittites; and they came to Dan, and from Dan they went around to Sidon,  (7)  and came to the fortress of Tyre and to all the cities of the Hivites and Canaanites; and they went out to the Negeb of Judah at Beersheba.  (8)  So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.  (9)  And Joab gave the sum of the numbering of the people to the king: in Israel there were 800,000 valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were 500,000.

v.4 – “presence of the King”; began from Aroer to Gad to Jazer to Gilead to Kadesh (land of Hittites) to Dan to Sidon to Tyre to Hivites / Canaanites to Negeb of Judah at Beersheba.  Why, again, is the “anger of the LORD kindled against Israel” (v.1) (chapter 21:15-20)?  There is no explanation in the narrative, but it is apparent that Israel has succumbed to disobeying the LORD.  Let us turn to 1 Chronicles which explains how this has happened:

1Ch 21:1-7  Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel… (5)  And Joab gave the sum of the numbering of the people to David. In all Israel there were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword, and in Judah 470,000 who drew the sword.  (6)  But he did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering, for the king’s command was abhorrent to Joab.  (7)  But God was displeased with this thing, and he struck Israel.

Note how Satan is the one who stood against Israel; but it is the LORD’s anger which was kindled against the visible church.  Neither narrative explains exactly what had caused Satan to be permitted to stand against Israel (c.f. Job 1-2) but one thing is clear.  This chapter is a fitting end to the two books of Samuel: while Samuel began with the unexpected election of this young priest over the House of Eli, we move quickly to the unexpected election of the young shepherd David over the House of Saul, and now we move once again to the House of Araunah the Jebusite (v.16) over the House of David.  In each instance, we see how God has narrowed down the elected offspring through whom the Christ would come; from the form of priesthood and kingship firstly rejected and then typologically portrayed by its replaced shadow, as a witness to the true fulfillment of the priesthood and kingship by the Angelic Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5-7).

Under this overarching and underlining agenda of the 2 books, it is important that Satan stood against Israel, and that God permitted Satan to do so.  Though it is not explicitly explained as to why Satan stood against Israel, what is displayed is the act of sin which David commits by numbering the visible church as incited by Satan.  In this act of listening to the enemy, David has identified himself as a type of Christ and not the promised King Himself.  It is therefore important to see man’s struggle with Satan since the books of Genesis to 2 Samuel, for no man has struggled successfully against Satan and crushed him definitively.  Even David and his mighty men only defeated Satan’s children, be it the great Egyptian, the remnant of the Rephaim, the Goliath, amongst other fear-inducing enemies – but The Enemy could only be bound (Matthew 12:29) by The One Chosen to crush him truly at his head (Genesis 3:15).  The victories of David are but shadows of Christ’s victory against the Satan; but they are at most shadows.  David is not the Christ Himself, for David must also rely on Christ as His Second LORD and Mediator (Psalm 2; 110 ; c.f. his Christ-centered in chapter 22).

Even Joab, the man who was not mentioned among the David’s mighty men, this schemer and murderer found David’s decree abhorrent (v.6).  For how can David puff up his pride in counting the visible church when the LORD has left a true holy remnant in Christ?  Such is the reason why Levi and Benjamin are not counted amongst the census – according to the Hebrew of these two tribes’ names, the Levites who are joined to the priesthood are not to be joined to this unholy census, just as the Benjaminites, the children of the right hand should not be equally included.  Yet, it is the Benjaminites and the Levites who are among those who receive the most ominous prophecies of Jacob in Genesis 49.  Where do they actually stand?  Are they really the joy of Christ’s childbirth, or are they truly riddled with warfare and ravenous wolves?  It is perhaps likely that focus on the lack of inclusion of these two tribes is to highlight the seeming confusion of the silver lining between the unseen and seen Church – very much the subject of this chapter.

It is then clear in v.10 that David’s heart struck him (or, more viciously, killed him – nakah נכה) after he had numbered the people – that the Holy Spirit grieved (Isaiah 63:10 / Ephesians 4:30), and quite right that he accepted how he had sinned greatly and pursued the LORD to take away David’s iniquity.  David did not, nor through a priest, sacrifice an innocent animal according to the Levitical laws for his sin.  He knew very well that these animals could not take away people’s sins (Psalm 51; Hebrews 9:23) – only the LORD could take away the iniquity (Mark 2:7).

(10)  But David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.”  (11)  And when David arose in the morning, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying,  (12)  “Go and say to David, ‘Thus says the LORD, Three things I offer you. Choose one of them, that I may do it to you.'”  (13)  So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, “Shall three years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ pestilence in your land? Now consider, and decide what answer I shall return to him who sent me.”  (14)  Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man.”

So in verses 10-14 we see the LORD presenting three choices to David – all of whom will be done to David by the LORD Himself: three years of famine, three months of persecution, or three days of pestilence (v.13).  Though in the first two options we see the LORD withholding his provision (be that provision of natural resources in the famine; or his protection from external or internal strife), it is only in the third option that the LORD is directly and positively inflicting pestilence on Israel.  David would rather “ fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but… not fall into the hand of man”.

How interesting it is that David still sees the LORD’s mercy in the midst of these three options which will afflict the nation as a result of David’s failed mediation as the righteous king of Israel.  David saw ahead that the LORD’s mercy in the three days; but he did not see any comparative benefits from the other two choices which will result in a combination of the LORD’s and men’s wrath.  Only in the third choice will we see sin personalized as between the church and the LORD (Psalm 51:4), the breaking of the covenant affecting first and foremost that God-man relationship.

(15)  So the LORD sent a pestilence on Israel from the morning until the appointed time. And there died of the people from Dan to Beersheba 70,000 men.  (16)  And when the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD relented from the calamity and said to the angel who was working destruction among the people, “It is enough; now stay your hand.” And the angel of the LORD was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.  (17)  Then David spoke to the LORD when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, “Behold, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand be against me and against my father’s house.”  (18)  And Gad came that day to David and said to him, “Go up, raise an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.”

What is interesting is that the LORD’s pestilence has spread from “Dan to Beersheba”, the same geographic spread of people from David’s census in v.2; and it is akin to the pestilence elsewhere in Scripture, be it in the days of Noah by the global flood (Genesis 7); in the days of Abraham by the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24); in the days of Moses by the ten plagues (Exodus 8-12); and this is but another way of sifting the spiritual Israelite from the visible Israelite, the symbolic sweep over the same people who had been counted part of David’s church in the earlier verses of this chapter.

Yet, we must not forget the imagery of what is shown here – and this is the very crux of the consolidated message and thrust of the two books of Samuel.  The Angel of the LORD by the threshing floor (quote) of Jerusalem – this place is symbolic not only because it is the Hebrew for the “city of peace”, but that commentators have recognized this place as Moriah, the place where the Christ would be crucified and where Abraham had foresaw that the LORD would provide a lamb for the burnt offering (Genesis 22; 2 Chronicles 3:1):

“This place is supposed to be Mount Moriah: on which, according to the rabbins, Cain and Abel offered their sacrifices; where Abraham attempted to sacrifice Isaac, and where the temple of Solomon was afterwards built.” – Adam Clarke

(19)  So David went up at Gad’s word, as the LORD commanded.  (20)  And when Araunah looked down, he saw the king and his servants coming on toward him. And Araunah went out and paid homage to the king with his face to the ground.  (21)  And Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you, in order to build an altar to the LORD, that the plague may be averted from the people.”  (22)  Then Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up what seems good to him. Here are the oxen for the burnt offering and the threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood.  (23)  All this, O king, Araunah gives to the king.” And Araunah said to the king, “May the LORD your God accept you.”  (24)  But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.  (25)  And David built there an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD responded to the plea for the land, and the plague was averted from Israel.

And thus the chapter ends not on David’s victory; not on Israel’s faithfulness; but rather quite an opposite note.  The plague, caused by David, and inflicted upon Israel (upon whom the perfect rounded number of 70,000 were taken away from the visible church), could only be propitiated by the burnt offerings and peace offerings given on Moriah on the third day of the pestilence.  What a grand gospel picture that has been underlying 1 and 2 Samuel’s message!  It isn’t men who inflicted our Christ on the cross; it isn’t Satan who induces the wrath and punishment on David for he is but a tool of the Father in tempting David to sin; it is, in actuality, the Father in heaven who inflicts this wrath on the Son!

It is on this second altar, far away from the legitimized altar of the tabernacle but instead is placed on the exact location of Christ’s crucifixion, that we see the light of the world – the Son of God – break into the dim pestilence and wrath of the Father which would have otherwise continued to wipe out the visible church.  Yet, the Father had planned for the Angel to have mercy upon arriving at Jebus (the ancient Jerusalem) for this is where election is displayed for the world to see – the alpha and omega of election in Jesus Christ to be risen on the third day on the cross at Moriah.

The brazen altar which Moses made was at Gibeon (1Ch_21:29), and there all the sacrifices of Israel were offered; but David was so terrified at the sight of the sword of the angel that he could not go thither, 1Ch_21:30. The business required haste, when the plague was begun. Aaron must go quickly, nay, he must run, to make atonement, Num_16:46, Num_16:47. And the case here was no less urgent; so that David had not time to go to Gibeon: nor durst he leave the angel with his sword drawn over Jerusalem, lest the fatal stroke should be given before he came back. And therefore God, in tenderness to him, bade him build an altar in that place, dispensing with his own law concerning one altar because of the present distress, and accepting the sacrifices offered on this new altar, which was not set up in opposition to that, but in concurrence with it. The symbols of unity were not so much insisted on as unity itself. Nay, when the present distress was over (as it should seem), David, as long as he lived, sacrificed there, though the altar at Gibeon was still kept up; for God had owned the sacrifices that were here offered and had testified his acceptance of them, 1Ch_21:28. On those administrations in which we have experienced the tokens of God’s presence, and have found that he is with us of a truth, it is good to continue our attendance. “Here God had graciously met me, and therefore I will still expect to meet with him.” – Matthew Henry

And standing by this cross is not easy.  It is not cheap.  It is in fact very expensive – Luke 14:27.

Cheap grace is not the king of forgiveness of sin which frees us from the toils of sin.  Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves.

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession.  Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has.  It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods.  It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ.  It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.  It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner.  Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.  Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.  Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer in “Cost of Discipleship”

2 Samuel 24: Costly grace

Joshua 9-10: The suffering of the true King

Joshua 9

1As soon as all the kings who were beyond the Jordan(CV) in the hill country and in the lowland all along the coast(CW) of the Great Sea toward Lebanon,(CX) the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, heard of this, 2they gathered together as one to fight against Joshua and Israel.

The events of verses 1-2 find a direct parallel in Psalm 2 – the joining together of evil as a wicked council against Christ (Psalm 2:2). These nations gather to bully this corporate hermit nation, listed in the first verse – all the kings in the hill country and in the lowland all along the coast of the “Great Sea”, no doubt a Hebrew wordplay on insolent and haughty things.

However, all of them but one gathered against Yeshua – the Gibeonites who are part of the Hivites, hailing from one of the sons of Canaan.

Before we move on to meditate on the Gibeonites, we should consider the weight of what is mentioned in the opening two verses. Israel is, indeed, by no means a small nation. However, for what reason do these nations gather together to fight? Israel’s purpose is not to simply destroy and conquer – but to supplant mercy, as indicated in Deuteronomy 20:10.

Not only this, but these nations should have already heard the gospel – they have enough information from this priestly nation to have faith in the Star, the Messiah to reign from the line of Judah. We are revealed just as much from the words of the nation Gibeon:

3But when the inhabitants of(CY) Gibeon heard what Joshua had done(CZ) to Jericho and(DA) to Ai, 4they on their part acted with cunning and went and made ready provisions and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, 5with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes. And all their provisions were dry and crumbly. 6And they went to Joshua in(DB) the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us.” 7But the men of Israel said to(DC) the Hivites, “Perhaps you live among us; then(DD) how can we make a covenant with you?” 8They said to Joshua,(DE) “We are your servants.” And Joshua said to them, “Who are you? And where do you come from?” 9They said to him,(DF) “From a very distant country your servants have come, because of the name of the LORD your God.(DG) For we have heard a report of him, and all that he did in Egypt, 10(DH) and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon the king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, who lived in(DI) Ashtaroth. 11So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country said to us, ‘Take provisions in your hand for the journey and go to meet them and say to them, “We are your servants. Come now, make a covenant with us.”‘ 12Here is our bread. It was still warm when we took it from our houses as our food for the journey on the day we set out to come to you, but now, behold, it is dry and crumbly. 13These wineskins were new when we filled them, and behold, they have burst. And these garments and sandals of ours are worn out from the very long journey.” 14So the men took some of their provisions, but(DJ) did not ask counsel from the LORD. 15And Joshua(DK) made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them.


From v.3-15 we read about the deception concerning the Gibeonites; yet, in the midst of their deception, they speak much truth in v.9-10 indicating the clarity in which they understand the gospel of Yahweh’s faithfulness to Israel as chosen nation. However, the focus of the chapter should not be on the Gibeonite deception; it should be on the very fact that Gibeon even planned to deceive! In Joshua 10 we find out that Gibeon is a nation more magnificent and powerful than Ai; yet Ai stood her ground despite the righteousness of Israel, Yahweh. Why did Gibeon decide to deceive and betray the nations of Canaan? What is furthermore interesting is that they somehow believed that Joshua’s vow is as good as gold; and they attempted to straddle both the proverbial boats of Israel and God’s enemy as they deceive Joshua and yet decided not to directly fight Israel – both for the reason stated in v.9-10 – because of the greatness of their God.

The Hebrew in v.6 in particular can be translated as “cut the covenant sacrifice with us” (כרתו לנו ברית). Adam Clarke believes that these words from Gibeon indicate that the heathen culture has adopted the terminology of ‘cutting the covenant’ and incorporated into their own pagan worship; however, I beg to differ. There is nothing to imply that the Gibeonites practiced this covenant-cutting in their pagan worship; contrarily, Gibeon is asking Israel to do the honours of cutting a covenant with them, on the further basis of what the true God has done in the land of Israel in v.9-10. There is no reason for Gibeon to impose their own religious traditions on Israel, because Gibeon is submitting herself to Israel’s successful witness and tradition set down by Yahweh. One can only imagine how much they understand in the mystery of the actual cutting of the covenant, but that would be digressing too far from the text.


Thus, neither a full submission to Jesus, nor an enjoining to the council of wickedness; and from the following verses we will come to understand the role of Gibeon’s half-lie on an eschatological plane:


16At the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, they heard that they were their neighbors(DL) and that they lived among them. 17And the people of Israel set out and reached their cities on the third day.(DM) Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim. 18But the people of Israel did not attack them, because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel. Then all the congregation murmured against the leaders. 19But all the leaders said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel, and now we may not touch them. 20This we will do to them: let them live, lest(DN) wrath be upon us,(DO) because of the oath that we swore to them.” 21And the leaders said to them, “Let them live.” So they became(DP) cutters of wood and drawers of water for all the congregation, just as the leaders(DQ) had said of them.


The revelation of the lie comes three days after the making of the covenant when the Gibeonites were revealed as liars. This theme of the third day again amplifies the idea of the works of the evil one being revealed once the work on the cross is accomplished on the 8th day of the week, 1st day after the Sabbath, 3rd day after he was crucified, until Christ’s ascension which has yet to happen (1 Corinthians 3:13). V.17 furthermore emphasises on this third day (akin to the detail Moses gave to Abraham’s visit of Moriah on the third day in Genesis 22) the realisation of this deception.


From v.19-20 we learn that these nations are not attacked because of the faithfulness of the oath made, a commandment which Joshua seeks to obey (details concerning the law of different types of vows in Numbers 30). The oath between Israel and the Gibeonites in fact teaches us about the spirit behind the letter of this oath: how Christ established the oath between the church and the Trinity in his mediatory role. Unlike Israel who has no knowledge of Gibeon’s alternate agenda, Christ consciously knows that he is making an oath with his Father to become the head of all creation and the church who submits to Him (Romans 5:8).


Also, unlike the oath made between Gibeon and Joshua, Christ’s oath to submit to the Father’s will and the Father’s pre-election of Christ before creation describes the perfect promise of the redemption of His creation. The covenant made between Gibeon and Joshua is akin to the covenant made between a prostitute and Christ, but this covenant and oath pales in comparison to the promise between Christ and the Father. Nonetheless, the allegory of Gibeon and Yeshua is no different from the allegory of Hosea and his prostitute-wife – the irony being that Gibeon deliberately dressed herself in rags when in reality, her spiritual state before Yeshua is that of rags. Nonetheless, she is willing to be coated by the robe of righteousness which Yeshua, the representative head of Israel, is to provide Gibeon as opposed to the destruction of the council of nations who stand against the LORD. To paraphrase John Calvin’s opinion of this tragic obligation between Gibeon and Israel, it was a foolish oath which the Israelites made – an oath which could have been prevented if they only travelled within three days distance to the neighbouring nations to find out about this deceptive nation and her scheme.


Despite the consequential cursing of Gibeon in v.23, this covenant is not entirely bitter – but actually bittersweet. The Gibeonites shall be servants, but they are cutters of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God. Like the Levites, they are given a privileged position to enter, to touch, to be in the presence of the tabernacle (Psalm 65:4; 84:10). The Gibeonites, with their understanding of Israel’s relationship with the LORD, truly feared Him that they would rather deceive and join them rather than fight and realise an inevitable death. If only they were honest in coming to Yeshua’s feet, then they would partake in greater rewards and greater glory; however Gibeon is an example of a feeble church who does not come to God with clean hands (Psalm 24). The reality of the allegory is that we, the church, are wearing rags of a prostitute but are now clothed with His righteous robes – whereas Gibeon is merely mock-playing this representation. Despite Gibeon’s deceiving role, the underlying motivation is pure – they do not want to be devoted to destruction, because in their hearts they truly believe that Yahweh is the true LORD. Even their under-handed approach to peace is neutralised by that oath between Yeshua and Gibeon.


The question does not apply simply to Gibeon but to every Christian as well. How many of us approach our LORD with clean hands? We may be disciplined and punished for our initially impure approaches and motivations, but the fact that we want to enter into Christ’s oath with his Father in the salvation of the world means that even our impure motives are washed away by the Son’s blood.


This is because our Christ thankfully has the clean hands necessary to propitiate our sins from His and His Father’s judgment. Yeshua’s understanding of that enables him to re-enact God’s love for the church in his love for Gibeon. V.22-27 entails how the bloodthirsty Israelites would rather disobey God’s commandment to keep one’s oath, indirectly blaspheming the oath within the Trinity before creation, than love Gibeon and place her in a place of exalted privilege in the house of the LORD. This is why even Gibeon can walk before and serve the altar of the LORD (V.27) in His house (v.23) as well as the rest of the congregation, a duty that we should all partake in (Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 4:10 – servant of the altar, 1 Corinthians 9:13). Matthew Henry remarked:


“…this curse is turned into a blessing; they must be servants, but it shall be for the house of my God. The princes would have them slaves unto all the congregation (Jos_9:21), at least they chose to express themselves so, for the pacifying of the people that were discontented; but Joshua mitigates the sentence, both in honour to God and in favour to the Gibeonites: it would be too hard upon them to make them every man’s drudge; if they must be hewers of wood and drawers of water, than which there cannot be a greater disparagement, especially to those who are citizens of a royal city, and all mighty men (Jos_10:2), yet they shall be so to the house of my God, than which there cannot be a greater preferment: David himself could have wished to be a door-keeper there. Even servile work becomes honourable when it is done for the house of our God and the offices thereof.”


The humility of this service can hardly be a curse in light of the other curses made on other nations (list of curses in Deuteronomy 27). Adam Clarke notes this carefully, concerning the fundamental mercy underlining the attitude Israel should have to the Gentiles:


That their conduct in this respect was highly pleasing to God is evident from this, that Joshua is nowhere reprehended for making this covenant, and sparing the Gibeonites; and that Saul, who four hundred years after this thought himself and the Israelites loosed from this obligation, and in consequence oppressed and destroyed the Gibeonites, was punished for the breach of this treaty, being considered as the violator of a most solemn oath and covenant engagement. See 2Sa_21:2-9, and Eze_17:18, Eze_17:19. All these circumstances laid together, prove that the command to destroy the Canaanites was not so absolute as is generally supposed: and should be understood as rather referring to the destruction of the political existence of the Canaanitish nations, than to the destruction of their lives. See the notes on Deu_20:10, Deu_20:17.”


22Joshua summoned them, and he said to them, “Why did you deceive us, saying,(DR) ‘We are very far from you,’ when(DS) you dwell among us? 23Now therefore you are cursed, and some of you shall never be anything but servants,(DT) cutters of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.” 24They answered Joshua, “Because it was told to your servants for a certainty that the LORD your God had(DU) commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you—so(DV) we feared greatly for our lives because of you and did this thing. 25And now, behold, we are in your hand. Whatever seems good and right in your sight to do to us, do it.” 26So he did this to them and delivered them out of the hand of the people of Israel, and they did not kill them. 27But Joshua made them that day(DW) cutters of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the LORD, to this day,(DX) in the place that he should choose.


If only we can truly understand the deepest mystery of this episode – that even the “meanest office in God’s service will entitle us to a dwelling in the house of the LORD all the days of our life” (Matthew Henry). This bitter-sweet covenant has purified the deceptive rags of Gibeon on whom the LORD had mercy, for they survived in the holy courts as opposed to complete destruction which befalls the other nations in following chapters. Gibeon grasped the gospel; Gibeon cherished the gospel; Gibeon approached the gospel warily, but unashamedly; and Gibeon is made the lowest in the LORD’s bosom but far higher than anything she could have achieved in all of her lifetime. Israel’s centrifugal, outward-looking, witness has begun to bear its fruit – from Rahab, to an entire nation. However, like those who take the fruit from the true vine, there will always be those whose head is Satan, and who will continue to take fruit from the vine of Sodom and Gomorrah as listed in the coming chapters.


Joshua 10

1As soon as Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, heard how Joshua had captured Ai and had devoted it to destruction,[l](DY) doing to Ai and its king(DZ) as he had done to Jericho and its king, and(EA) how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, 2(EB) he[m] feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were warriors. 3So Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem sent to Hoham king of Hebron, to Piram king of Jarmuth, to Japhia king of Lachish, and to Debir king of Eglon, saying, 4“Come up to me and help me, and let us strike Gibeon. For(EC) it has made peace with Joshua and with the people of Israel.” 5Then the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon,(ED) gathered their forces and went up with all their armies and encamped against Gibeon and made war against it.

The mystery of the gospel is hidden in the name Adoni-zedek (v.1) – why would this king be called “my Lord is righteous”? Because this is the king of Jerusalem, the centre of attention where Christ will be crucified; Jerusalem, which means teaching of peace, intimating the rulership of Melchizedek, the King of Salem, the king of “righteousness” and “peace”). However, this Adoni-zedek is but a false portrayal of the true King of righteousness, Jesus.

It is interesting that the ESV has a footnote which notes the alternate translation which I personally prefer – the devotion of these nations as an offering (c.f. v.28, 35, 37, 39, 40). For Joshua to mention once more that Gibeon is a great city, greater than Ai and all its warriors is to imply how much greater Yahweh is; as if Gibeon was a cowardly nation, we need only imagine one of the mightiest nations dressing themselves in rags and humble themselves before the true LORD. Yet, these nations like Ai, whose might is weaker than that of Gibeon, arrogantly attempts to destroy Israel when they not only have heard of Israel’s witness as the temporarily chosen nation of priests, but also that Gibeon has entered into an everlasting covenant with them. This only adds to Ai’s guilt and ignorance for turning away from Jesus Christ.

The beauty of this chapter is that there is much parallel here found in Genesis 14 – where Abram saved Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, from the warring nations (four kings against five, Genesis 14:9). The enemies there may bear different names with different meanings, but there is not disputing their spiritual allegiance: and what is found in this story of Genesis is a correlation between Abram and Israel; Lot and Gideon; the warring nations and the mentioned warring nations here.

It is no mistake that Abram in Genesis 13:18 is recorded as having settled by the oaks of Mamre, at Hebron, where he built an altar to the LORD. This battleground is exactly where Joshua is saving Gibeon, a parallel of Abram saving Lot:

6And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua(EE) at the camp in Gilgal, saying, “Do not relax your hand from your servants. Come up to us quickly and save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the hill country are gathered against us.” 7So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and(EF) all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. 8And the LORD said to Joshua,(EG) “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands.(EH) Not a man of them shall stand before you.” 9So Joshua came upon them suddenly, having marched up all night from Gilgal. 10(EI) And the LORD threw them into a panic before Israel, who[n] struck them with a great blow at Gibeon and chased them by the way of(EJ) the ascent of Beth-horon and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah. 11And as they fled before Israel, while they were(EK) going down the ascent of Beth-horon,(EL) the LORD threw down large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died because of the hailstones than the sons of Israel killed with the sword.


We see here even more fulfillment of what is spoken of in the final chapters of Deuteronomy. The LORD expressly, in v.8, says that He is with Yeshua – and as such, any nation standing against Israel will fail, manifested in the hailstones which were more fatal than the Israelites’ swordplay. This symbolically occurs Beth-horon, the house of hollowness, and how empty indeed is the pursuit of Gibeon’s enemies when Abram had equally only taken a small amount of men, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan to save Lot. Such is the unlikelihood of the victory of God’s children, but His will accomplished nonetheless! The ironic imagery of the five kings running away from Israel akin to the picture of Abram’s victory over the massive scale of the feudal war of the nine kings settled by one Christian and his allies.


12At that time Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,

(EM) “Sun, stand still at Gibeon,
and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
13And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.

Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. 14(EN) There has been no day like it before or since, when the LORD heeded the voice of a man, for(EO) the LORD fought for Israel.

15So(EP) Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.

16These five kings fled and hid themselves in the cave at(EQ) Makkedah. 17And it was told to Joshua, “The five kings have been found, hidden in the cave at Makkedah.” 18And Joshua said, “Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave and set men by it to guard them, 19but do not stay there yourselves. Pursue your enemies;(ER) attack their rear guard. Do not let them enter their cities, for the LORD your God has given them into your hand.” 20When Joshua and the sons of Israel had finished striking them with a great blow(ES) until they were wiped out, and when the remnant that remained of them had entered into the fortified cities, 21then all the people returned safe to Joshua in the camp at Makkedah.(ET) Not a man moved his tongue against any of the people of Israel.


And thus the poetic stanza in v.12-13 sees the sun is being still at Gibeon, a symbolism of the victory for Gibeon; the moon in the valley of Aijalon, the field of deers, an encouraging Hebrew implication where one can refer to 2 Samuel 22:34 (“my feet like a deer and set me on secure heights…”). Where the sun stands victorious over Gibeon, where the moon stopped over the deer-fields, is where Christ and the church is victorious over her enemies, this supernatural standstill of the sun and moon’s pathways once more repeated at the cross, and once more to happen on the Resurrection Day. This is no metaphorical miracle (v.13-14), and this theme of Genesis 14 is repeated here and will once more be repeated in Revelation 6:15 when the stone over the cave represents the shelter of these pagans turning into their own prison.

The subsequent return of Joshua to Gilgal in v.15 is to remind the Israelites of the symbolic representation of the land; the place of the rolling away of their reproach.


22Then Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave and bring those five kings out to me from the cave.” 23And they did so, and brought those five kings out to him from the cave, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon. 24And when they brought those kings out to Joshua, Joshua summoned all the men of Israel and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, “Come near; put your feet on the necks of these kings.” Then they came near and put their feet on their necks. 25And Joshua said to them,(EU) “Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous.(EV) For thus the LORD will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.” 26And afterward Joshua struck them and put them to death, and he hanged them on five trees. And(EW) they hung on the trees until evening. 27But at the time of the going down of the sun, Joshua commanded, and(EX) they took them down from the trees and threw them into the cave where they had hidden themselves, and they set large stones against the mouth of the cave, which remain to this very day.


From v.22-27 we see the cave as symbolic of the best of the land of Canaan rushing to their own deaths unwittingly; the same story told of all non-Christians in this world, running to their impending doom. All 5 kings were eventually killed with feet on their neck, an allusion to Jesus’ feet on kings’ neck as His enemies are made His footstool (Psalm 110:1).

Not only this, but we see the cursed judgment of the cross enacted in v.26-27. There is nothing glorious about the death of these kings; there is nothing mighty about their war. They were pitifully, ashamedly, and quickly destroyed. There is no glory in their death; there is no-one to mourn for them. Yet, this is the very death which Christ experienced, these accounts amplifying our understanding of what Christ had done for us on the tree and the depth of Him exclaiming “Eli Eli, lema sabachthani”. There can be no other people in this world, save these once-glorious kings, who can also proclaim these words – but they have no eternal glorious future of them; they have no Spirit dwelling in them to redeem them from the gates of Hades. As if the Spirit need not spend more time on these inglorious heathens, v.28 is a brief momentary tribute to one more of these kings. Indeed, the written word testifies to Christ, not to leave these kings any space in the Bible for glory. What had happened to the king of Jericho has, in domino effect, displayed the power of the Spirit in redeeming the Promised Land for the church just as the outpouring of the Spirit had done so in the international evangelism of the apostles from the book of Acts onwards.


28As for(EY) Makkedah, Joshua captured it on that day and struck it, and its king, with the edge of the sword. He devoted to destruction every person in it; he left none remaining. And he did to the king of Makkedah(EZ) just as he had done to the king of Jericho.  29Then Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Makkedah to(FA) Libnah and fought against Libnah. 30And the LORD gave it also and its king into the hand of Israel. And he struck it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it; he left none remaining in it. And he did to its king(FB) as he had done to the king of Jericho.


There is thus a common refrain after conquering each nation… “30And the LORD gave it also and its king into the hand of Israel. And he struck it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it; he left none remaining in it. And he did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho (C.f. v.32, 35, 37, 39, 40)”, this refrain charted below:

Verses

Conquered Nations

v.29-30

Makkedah to Libnah

v.31-32

Libnah to Lachish

v.33-35

Lachish (aided by Horam king of Gezer) to Eglon

v.36-37

Eglon to Hebron

v.38-39

Hebron to Debir

Thus, we end this chapter on v.40-42, from Debir to Negeb – to the whole land, hill country, lowland, slopes and to the kings: a general statement of Joshua’s conquerings. From Kadesh-barnea (desert of fugitive/wilderness of wandering) as far as Gaza (strong), all the country of Goshen (drawing near) as far as Gibeon: the meaning of the names detailing the procession of Israel from the wilderness to strength; drawing nearer and nearer to the sun which stood still over Gibeon – a huge comparison between the blessings of Deuteronomy against the failures of Numbers, now that we see Israel through Yeshua capturing these powerful nations in one go, reflecting the power of the LORD in the time of Abram, because the LORD fought for Israel. And at the end of all this, Joshua returns to Gilgal (c.f. Joshua 5:10; 10:15; 10:43), never forgetting that it is Yahweh who rolled away, who cleansed, who imputed Christ’s righteousness onto reproach-worthy Israel.

Joshua 9-10: The suffering of the true King

Exodus 10-12: The Ten Plagues (pt.2) and the Passover Lamb of God

1.  The Ten Plagues (pt. 2) (Exodus 10-11, 12:29-32)

2.  The Passover Lamb (Exodus 12:1-28, 43-51)

1.  The Ten Plagues (pt. 2) (Exodus 10-11, 12:29-32)

Plagues

Scripture

Christological Interpretation

8. Locusts

10:1-20

The ESV translation says the ‘wind’ brought the locusts, but this is an overly limited translation, not giving the semantic range which the Hebrew word ‘ruah’ offers. Instead, it is the Spirit who brings the locusts (the ‘east wind’ is characteristic of the judgment/disciplinary side of the Holy Spirit – Genesis 41:6, 23; Psalm 48:7; Isaiah 27:8; Ezekiel 17:10, 19:12, 27:26, Hosea 13:15, Jonah 4:8). Note in v. 13 that Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt again. As a result of this, all the plants and fruits of trees which the hail did not destroy was further destroyed by this plague – “not a green thing remained, neither tree nor plant of the field, through all the land of Egypt”.

For the first time Pharoah responds positively, albeit for a short moment. V.17 –“Now therefore, forgive my sin, please, only this once, and plead with the LORD your God only to remove this death from me.” Indeed, the Pharoah in v. 11 had only allowed the men of Israel to go, but this is unacceptable (look at God’s response in v.12). Clearly, God wanted all to leave, not just men. The LORD however still hardened Pharoah’s heart in v.19 – and Pharoah still didn’t let the people of Israel go.

9. Darkness

10:21-29

This darkness is very unusual, a one that can be felt. Egypt has, by now, become fruitless, treeless, dark, barren, ruined. This is the result of rejecting him, the 10-step approach in God’s judgment on the apostate. We are now approach the 10th judgment, the death of the firstborn in Egypt, with the darkness covering the land for 3 days. When the firstborn of God the Father died on the cross, darkness covered the land for 3 hours (Matthew 27:45), and darkness throughout Scripture has been a sign of God’s judgment (day 1 of creation; 1 Samuel 2:9; Proverbs 4:19).

For this action, he stretches out his hand to the heaven.

10. Death of the firstborn

11:1-10; 12:29-32

After 9 plagues, Moses is now hot with anger (v.8). There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again (v. 6) – such is the magnitude of the 10th plague.

Unlike the previous 9 plagues where Moses is asked to stretch his hand/staff or throw soot from a furnace into the air, he is instead told to take cover. This plague is very different and seems to be a culmination of the damage and what the previous 9 plagues had been testifying to.

The Angel of the LORD strikes at midnight, in the darkest of night. But even this does not bring about total destruction – only the firstborn are killed on behalf of the nation. This gives Exodus 4:22 the sort of weight that we did not perceive on first reading; the Angel knew that the 10th plague symbolized the death of the firstborn of God, Israel. But who is the true firstborn of God the Father, besides Jesus Christ himself, which Israel (not “Jacob”) is only a type of? Israel, the Church, is God’s firstborn by adoption, but the Angel is God’s firstborn (Psalm 89:27) who the church is molded after.

This prophetic message of the death of God’s son is prophesied in Genesis 3:15, in the global flood, in the rainbow, in the circumcision, and especially detailed in Genesis 22.

Some interesting things about these 10 plagues may be found in the 7 plagues in Revelation 16:

Plagues

Scriptures

1. Harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast.

16:2

2. Bowl poured into the sea, and became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing died that was in the sea.

16:3

3. Bowl into rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. The explanation of this is that the non-Christians have shed the blood of saints and prophets (v.8).

16:4-7

4. Poured his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire, scorched with fierce heat.

16:8-9

5. Bowl poured onto the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness.

16:10-11

6. Bowl poured over great river Euphrates, and its water dried up, and out of the dragon, beast and false prophet came three unclean spirits like frogs, which are demonic spirits, performing signs, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.

16:12-16

7. “It is done” – flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, great earthquake… great city split into three parts, cities of nations fell… great hailstones, about one hundred pounds (a talent in weight) fell from heaven on people.

16:17-21

The following plagues were repeated in Revelation: Water into Blood (1), Frogs (2), Boils (3), Hail (4), Darkness (5).  Here is what Glen has to say in his sermon on Revelation 15-16:

In Exodus, Pharaoh and his household is hardened against the LORD through these plagues.Though actually we learn elsewhere that many Egyptians do end up joining the Israelites. In the same way in Revelation 16 the unbelievers who face these plagues are hardened in unbelief as a whole, though from elsewhere in Scripture we know that many unbelievers do turn to Christ in these circumstances. The emphasis in both these places though is on the madness of unbelief and the hardness of the human heart.

So it’s very Exodus like but Revelation 16 is telling us that this will be a cosmic Exodus.Judgement falls on v2 – the land, v3 – the sea, v4 – fresh water, v8 – the sun, v10 – the throne of the beast, v12 – the Euphrates, v17 – the air. Here is a worldwide judgement and it culminates with an almighty earthquake in v18.

And it is a fearful judgement. Verse 2: “ugly and painful sores broke out on the people.” Verse 8, people are scorched with fire. Verse 9: they are seared by intense heat. Verse 10: “Men gnawed their tongues in agony.”

Can you imagine the pain that would make you gnaw your own tongue? Can you imagine (v21) 100 pound hailstones falling on you?

Now does this mean there will be literal hailstones – well no, not necessarily. Verse 13 describes frogs gathering together the armies of the nations. This is pictorial language but we mustn’t miss the intensity of it. Whatever these images are describing is no less intense than the scorching of the sun or the pounding of these hailstones.

These are preliminary judgements on the unbeliever – not hell, not the final judgement but preliminary judgements straight from the throne of heaven

What can be said about the plagues in general is this – the plagues in Egypt is a microcosm of the plagues to come, preliminary judgment on unbelievers – not hell, not the final judgment but preliminary judgments from the throne of heaven.  All the 10 plagues are repeated in some shape or form, although not in the same sequence, in the book of Revelation (not just chapters 15-16, but also the other chapters e.g. chapter 9:1-12 for the locusts).

The only judgments without the staff, hand or direction of Moses is the Flies, Death of Livestock, and Death of the Firstborn.  Unsurprisingly, these are the only plagues unrepeated in Revelation – suggesting their limited shelf-life in the prophetic role of either the judgment on the cross, or the judgment on all people in the future.  What think you?

2.  The Passover Lamb (Exodus 12:1-28, 43-51)

Jesus himself was crucified at the very Feast of Passover. Without chapters 11-12 and Exodus, the meaning of Jesus’ death on the cross is debilitated since the New Testament does not offer any new explanation.  As it is spoken in Luke 22, the bread and wine were there, but the Lamb was not provided for the Passover except for Christ himself.

I remember reading a review on the Prince of Egypt film a few years back (with the famed Mariah Carey/Whitney Houston duo “When You Believe”), a hugely negative comment on how one can even believe in a God who kills the firstborn of Egypt despite the atrocity on the Hebrew slaves.  The thing is, God is indeed extremely pained that he had to go to such lengths; I’ve already shown that it is the Pharoah who hardens his own heart until the latter plagues when the LORD hardens him as the epitome of evil in this history of salvation.  Above all, although it is the Angel who wrecks the judgment on Egypt, it is he himself who will be the very object of sacrifice on the cross.  These atrocities are only a type of the true salvation on the cross, a type of mediation and propitiatory work that was a result of our choice to side with darkness than the Light of lights.  So, when we read these seemingly negative chapters of Exodus, we must remember that our righteous God is pained, but he goes to these lengths to show us a picture of true redemption, because of our utter fallenness.

The LORD instructs each Israelite household to kill a lamb and place its blood on the door-frame of the house.  Exodus 12:12-13 explains the Festival of Passover because the LORD would effectively ‘pass over‘ any house marked with the blood of the lamb, and “not one of [the Israelites] shall go out the door of his house until morning” (v.22), the morning being a symbolism of the inevitable and awesome coming of the LORD on the great judgment Day.

Note what is so awesome about this passover meal and testimony is that it is NOT for strangers – but the same law “applies to the native-born and to the alien living among you” (Exodus 12:48-49).  This is a message of evangelism, it is a witness that even those who sojourn with the Israelites shall partake in this sign, just as they should partake in the sign of Genesis 17.  And those who do sojourn with the Israelites will no longer be strangers of God, for this is a holy priesthood, the firstborn Church – and only one law (Exodus 12:49) suits both Israelites and Gentiles, the same law which reveals the personality and covenant of God with men.

To quote Spurgeon on this:

I. First, then, THE BLOOD ITSELF. In the case of the Israelites it was the blood of the Paschal Lamb. In our case, beloved, it is the blood of the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.
    1. The blood of which I have solemnly to speak this morning, is, first of all, the blood of a divinely appointed victim. Jesus Christ did not come into this world unappointed. He was sent here by his Father. This indeed is one of the underlying ground-works of the Christian’s hope. We can rely upon Jesus Christ’s acceptance by his Father, because his Father ordained him to be our Saviour from before the foundation of the world. Sinner! when I preach to thee the blood of Christ this morning, I am preaching something that is well pleasing to God; for God himself did choose Christ to be the Redeemer; he himself set him apart from before the foundation of the world, and he himself, even Jehovah the Father, did lay upon him the iniquity of us all. The sacrifice of Christ is not brought to you without warrant; it is not a something which Christ did surreptitiously and in secret; it was written in the great decree from all eternity, that he was the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world. As he himself said, “Lo I come; in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will O God.” It is God’s will that the blood of Jesus should be shed. Jesus is God’s chosen Saviour for men; and here, when addressing the ungodly, here, I say, is one potent argument with them. Sinner! You may trust in Christ, that he is able to save you from the wrath of God, for God himself has appointed him to save.
    2. Christ Jesus, too, like the lamb, was not only a divinely appointed victim, but he was spotless. Had there been one sin in Christ, he had not been capable of being our Saviour; but he was without spot or blemish—without original sin, without any practical transgression. In him was no sin, though he was “tempted in all points like as we are.” Here, again, is the reason why the blood is able to save, because it is the blood of an innocent victim, a victim the only reason for whose death lay in us, and not in himself. When the poor innocent lamb was put to death, by the head of the household of Egypt, I can imagine that thoughts like these ran through his mind. “Ah” he would say, as he struck the knife into the lamb, “This poor creature dies, not for any guilt that it has ever had, but to show me that I am guilty, and that I deserved to die like this.” Turn, then, your eye to the cross, and see Jesus bleeding there and dying for you. Remember,

“For sins not his own, he died to atone;”
Sin had no foothold in him, never troubled him. The prince of this world came and looked, but he said, “I have nothing in Christ; there is no room for me to plant my foot—no piece of corrupt ground, which I may call my own.” O sinner, the blood of Jesus is able to save thee, because he was perfectly innocent himself, and “he died the just for the unjust, to bring us to God.”

What is therefore most important, is that we understand what the Lamb points towards when we take our communion.  We are still the watchmen of Israel (Exodus 12:40-42), and it is still a night of watching kept to the LORD when the LORD will come back like a thief in the night (Matthew 24:43).  Until then, we will keep this witness of the Sacrament of the Communion, of this Eucharist “throughout [our] generations” (Exodus 12:42).

Some interesting views by Justin Martyr on this:


“The mystery, then, of the lamb which God enjoined to be sacrificed as the passover, was a type of Christ; with whose blood, in proportion to their faith in Him, they anoint their houses, i.e., themselves, who believe on Him. For that the creation which God created–to wit, Adam–was a house for the spirit which proceeded from God, you all can understand. And that this injunction was temporary, I prove thus. God does not permit the lamb of the passover to be sacrificed in any other place than where His name was named; knowing that the days will come, after the suffering of Christ, when even the place in Jerusalem shall be given over to your enemies, and all the offerings, in short, shall cease; and that lamb which was commanded to be wholly roasted was a symbol of the suffering of the cross which Christ would undergo. For the lamb, which is roasted, is roasted and dressed up in the form of the cross. For one spit is transfixed right through from the lower parts up to the head, and one across the back, to which are attached the legs of the lamb…


…And the blood of the passover, sprinkled on each man’s door-posts and lintel, delivered those who were saved in Egypt, when the first-born of the Egyptians were destroyed. For the passover was Christ, who was afterwards sacrificed, as also Isaiah said, ‘He was led as a sheep to the slaughter.’ And it is written, that on the day of the passover you seized Him, and that also during the passover you crucified Him. And as the blood of the passover saved those who were in Egypt, so also the blood of Christ will deliver from death those who have believed. Would God, then, have been deceived if this sign had not been above the doors? I do not say that; but I affirm that He announced beforehand the future salvation for the human race through the blood of Christ.”

While I have my reservations about how the lamb is laid out, I wouldn’t go as far as to say it is apocryphal whether the lamb is laid out in the shape of the cross or not.  Indeed, even such details should proclaim some truth about Jesus and reveal a practice of the Passover meal during the global church father period.

Given Martyr’s minute detail of how the lamb is laid out, let’s go through the commands in Chapter 12.

(a)  Tell all the congregation (Gk: συναγωγην, Hebrew:‘edah, synagogue/church) of Israel

(b)  This is now the first month of the year for you. 10th day of this month, a lamb for each household, each shall taking according to how much he can eat (v.1-4)

(c)  Lamb without blemish, a male a year old

(d)  You may take it from the sheep or from the goats

(e)  Keep it until the 14th day of the month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight (between the two evenings)

(f)  Eat the flesh roasted on the fire, with unleavened bread and bitter herbs

(g)  Do not eat any of it raw, boiled in water, roasting its head/legs/inner parts.  None should remain until the morning (v.9-10) – and burn any that is left in the morning.

(h)  Eat with belt fastened, sandals on your feet, staff in your hand, eating in haste.

(i)  Blood on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses (v.7)

(j)  The day shall be a memorial day, as a feast throughout all generations, as a statute forever – 7 days of eating the unleavened bread (v.14-15)

(k)  On the first day the leaven shall be removed, and if anyone eats of the leaven in those 7 days he/she shall be cut off from Israel.  This takes place from the 14th to the 21st of the first month.

Let’s summarise the 11 sub-points above.  The message of the Passover is to the (a) church of Christ, symbolised by the congregation/synagogue/assembly which is synonymous to the new Testamental usage of the term ekklesia, meaning the global church.  On the 10th day of the first month of the year should we retrieve a lamb for each household ((a) and (b)) to symbolise the death of the firstborn as the 10th plague on Egypt.  What is very interesting is that the month of Nisan/Aviv, the original name of the 1st month of this Hebrew calendar, during this period is the time when the barley ripens; and such is the hope and new life given by the Passover Lamb.

Note, each household has to take the initiative; even though you are in the physical Israel, if you do not partake in the physical communion you will be considered as merely part of the physical, and not the spiritual and saved Israel; and everyone is expected to eat and partake in the Eucharist.  (c) – this Lamb is sinless, a year old (1 Peter 1:18-19), in the prime of the lamb’s life (Job 29-30) when he is killed at twilight.  This lamb is taken from the sheep or from the goats, difficult to distinguish on the outside just as Christ should incarnate and become one of us sheep (d).

From the 10th day to the 14th day the Lamb is kept.  Why?  Why for four days?  Because our Lamb of God entered five days before the Passover, and inspected for four days (John 11-19) before being slain on the Passover (e).  On that 14th day, he was slain on the cross, nailed to the tree, and punished by God – the offering given up to God as the Passover Lamb was roasted on fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.  There is nothing tasty nor joyful about the death of this lamb; it is a bitter and solemn crucifixion (f).

The entire lamb should be consumed with the judgment of fire and water (roasted and boiled) (g) until the day of his return on the Judgment Day, which the morning symbolises.  It is interesting how the detail of boiled in water is included; Jesus, after he was resurrected, at broiled fish (Luke 24:42).  Why?  While the fish was heated until it is good to eat, just as the raw meat is boiled in water just until it is good to eat; and so we are disciplined and refined until we are good to eat by Christ (Hosea 7:8 – a cake fully turned, not half-baked!), so that when Christ consumes us after his resurrected self, we should take part in his body, just as we partake in His body when we eat of his boiled flesh.

Much of it should be eaten hastily (h) after the Passover, such as we are after the death and resurrection and ascension of Christ.  We are not yet comfortable in our life in this world; we are in the world, but not of it — there is no reason for us to settle comfortably when the judgment day is still coming.  The staff in hand carries the symbolism of both shepherding and judgment; just as we take the role of the steward of Christ, discipling, rebuking and building up the sheep (2 Timothy 3:16). (i)  The blood being painted on the lintel and the doorposts is akin to the blood painted in the shape of a cross; why wasn’t the blood painted on the door?  Why wasn’t the blood spread on the doorstep?  But the blood is painted in the shape of a cross, protecting the heart which is the door through which Jesus enters by the blood of the cross (Revelation 3:20).  (j) and (k) – And thus, any apostate should eat leavened bread during these seven days symbolises their comfort in this world, although new leaven is made after the 7th Day, the day of the Sabbath.

Conclusion

In the same way, we are looking forward to the death, resurrection and ascension of the Lamb, followed by the period of unleavened bread.  But we must wait; we must wait until the 7th day, the day of the Sabbath, before we can fully be comforted and fully partake in the newly re-created world.  Yes, we may be saved after eating the flesh of the Paschal lamb, but we are only saved spiritually; our fleshly body is awaiting true redemption.  Thus, the Old Testament saints were in the period of the unleavened bread, and the working of the leaven into the bread after the Pentecost is a full symbolism that the New Testament period is a time of the End of Days when the giving of the Spirit to Jews and Gentiles alike is a symbol of the full-redemption to come!

Exodus 10-12: The Ten Plagues (pt.2) and the Passover Lamb of God

Exodus 4-6: First to the Jews, then to the Gentiles

1.  The Signs of the Covenant (Exodus 4)

2.  Increased Suffering – 1st round to the Jews  (Exodus 5)

3.  Preparing for Battle – 2nd round to the Egyptians  (Exodus 6)

1.  The Signs of the Covenant (Exodus 4)

Moses is now given powerful signs which the LORD gives to give him strength to evangelise/preach to the Pharoah.  Three of which relate to the preaching to the Pharoah:

(a)  Staff which becomes a serpent  (v.3)

(b)  Dead to living flesh (v.6)

(c)  Water of the Nile into blood  (v.9)

One of which relates to circumcision:

(d)  Zipporah taking a flint and cutting off her son’s foreskin and touches Moses’ feet with it (v.25-26)

These signs will become even more apparent as we delve further into Exodus, but let’s see why the signs must happen from (a) to (c) in that particular order, and why these three particular signs (in the same way we will explain in later entries the reason for the 10 plagues and why those ten in particular).

Firstly, the staff which becomes a serpent – just like the bronze serpent which the Israelites looked upon to cure them of their bites.  This staff later swallows up the snakes which the Pharoah’s magicians conjure, and it is deadly; but remember, even God is sovereign over this snake.  And is the bronze snake there for the Israelites to observe and to adore (Numbers 21)?  Did Moses suddenly succumb to the temptations of relying on this serpent-idol?  No of course not.  The very fact that this snake is essentially a staff, that even finds it being in this staff, shows God’s sovereignty over the snake.  The bronze snake, also, is not a reminder that we look to the Snake for comfort; rather, we look to the bronze snake and remember that it is an idol, prophesied in Genesis 3 that this snake will have its head destroyed.  No doubt, the sovereignty over the snake is the true message of Christ’s salvation over Lucifer, the fallen morning star.  This is what Martyr has to say about the brazen snake:


“For tell me, was it not God who commanded by Moses that no image or likeness of anything which was in heaven above or which was on the earth should be made, and yet who caused the brazen serpent to be made by Moses in the wilderness, and set it up for a sign by which those bitten by serpents were saved? Yet is He free from unrighteousness. For by this, as I previously remarked, He proclaimed the mystery, by which He declared that He would break the power of the serpent which occasioned the transgression of Adam, and [would bring] to them that believe on Him [who was foreshadowed] by this sign, i.e., Him who was to be crucified, salvation from the fangs of the serpent, which are wicked deeds, idolatries, and other unrighteous acts. Unless the matter be so understood, give me a reason why Moses set up the brazen serpent for a sign, and bade those that were bitten gaze at it, and the wounded were healed; and this, too, when he had himself commanded that no likeness of anything whatsoever should be made.”

“But you, expounding these things in a low [and earthly] manner, impute much weakness to God, if you thus listen to them merely, and do not investigate the force of the words spoken. Since even Moses would in this way be considered a transgressor: for he enjoined that no likeness of anything in heaven, or on earth, or in the sea, be made; and then he himself made a brazen serpent and set it on a standard, and bade those who were bitten look at it: and they were saved when they looked at it. Will the serpent, then, which (I have already said) God had in the beginning cursed and cut off by the great sword, as Isaiah says, be understood as having preserved at that time the people?

For the second sign, the sign of dead to living flesh, this is prophecying directly to the new flesh which we will inherit as an inwardly new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and an outwardly new body (Ezekiel 37:1-14).  Leprosy is an outward sign of the sickness of the heart, and this rotting of the flesh prophecies to the eternal rotting of not only our flesh but our soul in the pit; and God’s ability to renew the flesh is the re-creation we look forward to on the Resurrection Day.

Finally, the water to blood – this also undoubtedly preaches the necessity of the blood of Christ to wash our sins, the preaching of the water turned into wine; can normal water wash us?  Can normal water save us?  Or is the blood of Christ the true blood can can wash us, that Christ’s blood will fill the Nile and that the word of God will fill the brims of the earth (Psalm 72:19)!

Now, to the sign of circumcision.  Why was Zipporah so afraid of Moses’ failure to circumcise his own son?

To begin with, this is a character-building experience for Moses to not over-spiritualise the gospel and fail to complete the sacraments.  He himself was most likely circumcised before being put in the ark, being born in the tribe of Levites.  If Moses was going to be the man to tell the Israelites about the Law, then he must take the law entirely seriously.  The Angel (v.24 – “the LORD met him and sought to put him to death”) was very angry with Moses because of this failure to circumcise his son.  Did Moses forget Genesis 17?

At least Zipporah did not.  Apostle Paul understood the truth of taking the sacraments seriously (1 Corinthians 11:29-32), so why shouldn’t Moses?  Zipporah, his Gentile wife, had at least a Christian understanding of the sacraments.  She immediately circumcised his son, and touched the LORD’s feet with her son’s foreskin.  When this sign of blood is given to the Angel, Christ, He does not kill Moses.  Zipporah then worships Christ as her “Bridegroom of Blood”.  The ESV among other reliable translations seem to translate this with some misconceptions, because the Hebrew does not say “Moses’ feet” in v.25 – it simply says “his” feet.  If you follow the context, v.25-26 – “Zipporah took a flint and cut of her son’s foreskin and touched his feet with it and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26 So he let him alone.”  The grammatical syntax doesn’t really make sense if you say that Zipporah cut the son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it, because v. 26 refers the “he” to Christ, not Moses.  The point of Zipporah touching Christ’s feet is to enable Christ to let Moses alone – that is why v.25 goes on to v.26.  Any other translation (even offered by ESV/NIV etc) will fail to make sense of these two verses.

Zipporah’s theology is rich here – she actually understands the Second person to be the bridegroom of blood, in effect putting herself before Christ as the bride of blood.  She understands the Second Person’s role in the Trinity, and understands her role in relation to the Second Person’s blood covenant.  She is no daughter of a priest of foreign religion; she is the daughter of a Christian priest, and wife to a Christian husband who is struggling with his understanding of the sacraments.

2.  Increased Suffering – 1st round to the Jews  (Exodus 5)

After understanding the signs of the covenant, what will Moses and Aaron do with them?  By the end of chapter 4, we see that Moses and Aaron had performed the signs in the sight of the people (v. 30) – and the people believed! (v. 31); and when they heard that the LORD had visited the people, they bowed their heads and worshipped.  So Moses and Aaron visited the Jews first, before visiting the Gentiles.  They had visited the elders first.

Then, they visit The Elder of the Gentiles – the Pharoah.  Of course, unlike the Pharoah in Joseph’s time, this one doesn’t know God (v.2 – “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go?  I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go”).  The Pharoah not only forgot the LORD’s favour with the Pharoah (Genesis 47:20-27); Perhaps he is jealous of their possession of Goshen (Genesis 47:5-6).  And look at the response of the Israelites; look at the response of the people in Chapter 5v.21 – “The LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharoah and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us”.  What an utter lack of trust and faith; what a quick turn from their initial belief of the signs at the end of chapter 4, and a drastic change within a short period.

This will be a foretelling of the description of the Israelites at large – they will keep thirsting for manna, for food and water, for physical fulfillment, for kings, for sensual pleasures, for their own definition of good and evil, for their own definition of justice… but there will only be a few, a remnant, who will remember Christ and his signs of the covenant, the sacraments which point to his work on the cross.  And the picture of chapter 4 and 5 is an immediate prototype of the picture shown in Christ’s work in the gospels – he and his disciples had approached the Jews first, and many were healed, and many saw signs – but many renounced their initial belief, and Christ had died on the cross with more enemies than friends – “may the LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of the Pharoah”.  Indeed, the Jews then said the same thing, under the rule of Herod and Pilate.  Where were Christ’s supporters when they saw the signs?

3.  Preparing for Battle – 2nd round to the Egyptians  (Exodus 6)

Which is why the gospel must go out to the Gentiles so the Jews will be jealous of them (Romans 11:11) – so that the Jews can be released from the bondage of a foreign nation, when the foreign nation comes to terms with Christ! Thus chapter 6 begins:  “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharoah; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his hand” – and this preaching to the Gentile nation will be coupled with God’s faithfulness to Moses’ forefathers, which he summarised in v. 3-8.  Moses re-iterated God’s faithfulness again to the Israelites, but because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery, they did not listen.  Surely, they should not have looked to themselves for confidence in the LORD; they should look to the LORD for confidence in the LORD!

In any case, the gospel has gone to the Jews and now must go to the Gentiles which is why we naturally move to v.10-11.

At this point, there is a v. short interlude where the genealogy of Moses and Aaron are explained.  This interlude is fitting; because thus begins the next segment of the story in Exodus, where Moses and Aaron go head to head with the Pharoah; and how fitting it is that the LORD chooses the physical and spiritual Israelites to fight the pagan king of Egypt?  Just a small thing to note in v.3 – “but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them”.  This betrays the theology of the translators, very much due to the modern sway of progressive revelation.  But the Hebrew doesn’t say that – the Hebrew actually says “but by my name the Lord did I not make myself known to them?”  This explains why I have previously been saying in my commentary in Genesis that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that the LORD had already revealed his name (Jehovah) to them, even as early as the first few chapters of Genesis when they were already calling upon the name of the LORD.  The NIV footnote of Exodus 6:3 shows the more accurate Hebrew translation which is quite essential to staying true to accurate theology.

Here is my rendition of the genealogy table.  Moses and Aaron are now prepared to say the very words of God himself – which we leave for the next entry – but the partnership between the two will soon fade out, as Moses begins to understand God better and better throughout the span of Exodus.

Exodus 4-6: First to the Jews, then to the Gentiles