Leviticus 16: Jesus’ Second Coming – the Day of Atonement

Leviticus 16 is a special chapter which is not the most mysterious, but rather should be the most well known in every Jew and Christian’s heart.  The sacrifices themselves witness to this truth, this “Day of Atonement”, and yet, this chapter comes straight after the death of Aaron’s two sons, Nadab and Abihu as the first verse indicates.

Why is chapter 16 not placed right after chapter 10, so chapter 10 flows naturally onto chapter 16?  I think it has very much to do with the significant placement of the Day of atonement in the book of Leviticus to show a particular progression, from uncleanness to holiness.  The first 16 chapters has been spent explaining the meaning of the sacrifices and the procedure for each type of person/group; followed by the ordination and the preparation of the priests, then Nadab and Abihu’s death, which seems to be sandwiched insignificantly between the deaths of the sacrifices and the animals.  Then, chapters 11-15 speaks of the type of flesh which is edible and which is not, in the form of the three categories of ‘holy’, ‘clean/common’ and ‘unclean’.  Chapter 16 comes as the only example which represents everything that came before it and ties everything that comes after it.  It is like a centrifugal force of Leviticus: the preceding and consequent chapters circle around this day of atonement.  To focus on Nadab and Abihu’s death now is most relevant, because the Day of Atonement is a day of OUR holiness, a day of OUR sanctification as well as a day of the sanctification, a renewal, of the entire universe – however, not because of our extra offerings (especially not that of Nadab or Abihu as history showed!) but because of Jesus’ eternal offering.

Thus, chapter 17 until 27 fittingly begins to speak of not only cleanness, but holiness for the congregation of Israel.  We’ve seen what cleanness and uncleanness is, and a glimpse of holiness between chapters 8 to 10.  But now, we see the nation becoming sanctified and the commandments for that, between chapters 17-27, AFTER the Day of Atonement in chapter 16:

Chapter 1-15: Teachings on how to become clean from being unclean, and only the priest is sanctified

Chapter 16:  Teachings on how nothing we do can actually make ourselves sanctified.  The Day of Atonement preaches an atonement once and for all.

Chapter 17-27:  Teachings on how to become sanctified from being clean.

1.  Jesus’ ascension (Leviticus 16)

(a) The Most Holy Place

The High priest, Aaron, dare not enter the Holy Place inside the veil (referring to the Holy of Holies, because the Angel is referring to the mercy seat on the ark of covenant, which is in the Most Holy Place), so that he may not die (v.1-2).  This is quite important, given the importance of Aaron having just seen the death of his two sons for giving an alien/hostile/strange offering.  Thus, whatever offering should take place in this chapter is the one offering that can take the mere mortal into the Holy of Holies, as opposed to being destroyed.

As stated, we already understand the meaning of the Most Holy Place as the small cubic room inside the Tabernacle, and the Holy Place as the room with the table of shewbread, golden lampstand, and the altar of incense.  The ark effectively acts as the throne room, with the mercy ‘seat’ whereupon the Father sits; then the Table and the Lampstand respectively represent Son and Spirit.  Altar of incense is our prayers (Revelation 8:4) – and so this altar is in the middle of the three pieces of furniture, to show how the Trinity takes our prayers very seriously.

There is a veil between the ark, and the two other pieces of furniture representing the persons & and altar of incense which is very close to the veil.  This veil, sown with cherubim represent the time when the angel with a flaming sword that turned every direction prevented Adam and Eve from entering the Garden from the east entrance.  Therefore, whenever the High Priest enters the Most Holy Place (or Holy of Holies), it is symbolic of a re-entrance to where God had resided (since the garden was also called the “garden of God”, implying that the garden AND heaven were united in a way we cannot perceive except spiritually and theologically today).  Jesus’ work on the cross and his entrance to the third heaven is exactly what the High Priest’s entrance into and work in the Holy of Holies preaches, and we will be working through that now.

(b) The Holy Garments

Aaron must then take a bull from the herd for a sin-offering, and a ram for a burnt-offering, whilst he puts on holy garments (holy linen coat, with linen undergarment on his body, with linen sash and linen turban).  He shall wash himself with water before putting on these holy garments (v.3-4).

Something should be said about linen:

In Deuteronomy 22:11, it states that “You shall not wear cloth of wool and linen mixed together”.  Why?  What is the great significance of this material?  Why the purity of this material?

Then, in Jeremiah 13:1, the LORD said to Jeremiah to buy linen loincloth and put it around the waist without dipping it in water.

Once more, in Ezekiel 9:3-11, 10:2 – calling to the “man” clothed in linen with a writing case at his waist who places a mark on people who should not be struck dead, akin to the Passover.  Ezekiel 16:1-14 – that Jerusalem is wrapped in fine linen, a proverbial method of showing God’s covenant faithfulness and sanctification of Israel. The connection between linen and wool is again made in Ezekiel 44:17 – that when they enter the gates of the inner court, they shall wear linen garments… have nothing of wool on them, while they minister at the gates of the inner court.  The faithful Levites who kept charge of the LORD’s sanctuary when the Israelites went astray wore such clothing to signify purity, who happen to be wearing the same clothing as the High Priest Aaron on the Day of atonement (c.f. Ezekiel 44:17-18).  The garments were literally holy – v.19 suggests that if they wore the garments outside the holy chambers, the holiness would have been trasmitted to the people! And how fitting it is in Ezekiel 44:23, that the faithful priests shall teach the LORD’s people the different between holy and common, unclean and clean.

Daniel 12: a man clothed in linen who is Christ (c.f. Daniel 12:8 – the Hebrew used for ‘my lord’ is Adoni – this is the sovereign lord, which CAN refer both to a divine and a human lord; it would however, be quite odd to call an ‘angel’ lord as the angel is a servant and by no means sovereign over anything).

Finally, John interprets the meaning of the linen: Revelation 19:8 – ‘”it was granted her to clothe herself with the fine linen, bright and pure” — for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints”.  But who is the perfecter and founder of the faith of the saints, so the saints can even do such righteous deeds?  In Christ alone (Hebrews 12).

(c) The offerings and the “Scapegoat”: the important procedure

He shall take two goats, one of which is to be determined by lot to be a sacrifice; the other to be a scapegoat, v. 5-10.

He shall offer a bull for himself and for his family v.6 and v.16 – this is preceding any other sacrifice, and this is an atonement for his household for cleansing (as a sin offering for themselves) before he can approach the tabernacle and complete his priestly duties.

Following this, v.7-10 explains the nature of the two goats: Aaron will cast lots over the two goats, one for the LORD and the other for “Azazel”.  The goat for the LORD is what the lot falls on; this is a sin offering for the congregation of Israel.  Contrarily, the other goat on which the lot fell for “Azazel” shall be presented alive for the LORD to make atonement.  Afterwards, this goat will be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel.

And now, he shall do this in order:

(i)  Kill the bull for himself and his family; (v.11)

(ii)  provide sweet incense (representing the prayers of the saints – Revelation 8:4) (v.12-13)

(iii)  v.14 – he shall take the blood of the bull and sprinkle it in front of the mercy seat on the east side, and in front of the mercy seat with his finger seven times.

(iv)  Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering for the congregation of Israel and bring the blood inside the veil and do the same as with the blood for the bull (v.15).

(v) The four procedures above is explained as atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the people of Israel, their sins and transgressions (v.16)

(vi)  This step is extremely important:  NO ONE may be in the tent of meeting from the time he enters to make atonement in the Most Holy Place until he comes out.  I will be covering this in the next section, under “Awaiting His return”.

(vi)  Then he shall go out to the altar before the LORD to make atonement for the altar, and put the bull and the goat’s blood on the horns of the altar sprinkled with his finger seven times.  The altar is thus cleansed and consecrated from the people of Israel’s uncleanness.

(vii)  AFTER all this symbolic procedure, THEN Aaron prays over the scapegoat, the goat for Azazel, and lays his hands on the head of the goat whilst confessing the iniquities of the children of Israel.  After this,the goat shall be permitted to escape to the wilderness (v.20-22).  This is ended with v.22 which states that: “the goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness“.

(viii)  Then v.23-28 is a reverse procedure of taking off the linen holy garments, leaving it in the Most Holy Place, and cleansing himself with water in a holy place and put on his common garments and offer burnt offering for himself and the congregation.  All the offerings are systematically burnt up outside the camp, with skin, flesh and dung burnt up with fire.

(ix)  This is a statute forever, in the seventh month, 10th day.  This is a day of no work, either the native or the stranger who sojourns with the Israelites (v.29).

(x)  It is a Sabbath of solemn rest (v.31) – again, it is a statute forever.

Christological reading of the offerings & Scapegoat

We already understood from Exodus and established that the mercy seat, which represents the throne of the Father, is in the Holy of Holies, which represents third heaven; and this is contrasted to the Holy Place which represents the spiritual church with the furniture of the table of shewbread (Christ), with the golden lampstand (the Spirit) and the altar of incense (the prayers of the saints in the middle of the Trinity).

The importance of cleansing not only the people of Israel as an annual cleansing, but also the cleansing of the tabernacle again marks something of new creation: like the mildew which grew on buildings and clothings, the LORD wishes everything to be renewed.  This is especially true of the tabernacle which is in the midst and not in the outskirts of the people of God!  For the LORD to be present before them, the work of the blood of cleansing as sin offering must be done for the tabernacle to also be cleansed.  This is the same blood which cleanses man – thus, the message of the same blood cleanses and renews not only men, but also physical creation. It is important that the blood is sprinkled on the east side, for we have discussed the implications of the east side – being the only exit and entrance of the Edenic Paradise represented once more in Ezekiel 43:2-4, the only entrance where the Glory of the LORD entered the New Creation.  The blood sprinkled on the east is representative of the new opportunity to enter the renewed kingdom of God.

We shouldn’t forget also that the 10 Words of God on Mt. Sinai are placed within the ark, as well as the budding of Aaron’s staff (but that will be later).  It is important to see that God’s holiness manifested in the law is tied up with the blood of the goat.  To be surprised that the Messiah did not come as a literal king, but as a person who beared the offence of society and would shed blood on the world’s behalf is to forget the profound imagery provided by the Angel and the High Priest.

Therefore, the renewal of the tabernacle in entirety, with the blood on the east side of the mercy seat, and the cleansing of the altar of sacrifice, shows the RENEWAL of the tabernacle AND the altar of sacrifice: the cleansing of the two holy symbolisms of both Jesus Christ and the New Creation of the New city of Jerusalem, where heaven and earth join.  Zion, where the LORD will commune with the completely sanctified spiritual Israelites.

Let’s not forget that during this period in the Holy of Holies, the cloud on the ark is actually an indication of the presence of Christ – the Angel of the LORD (Colossians 1:15).  Anytime the congregation of Israel meets with “God” is a meeting with the Son, whose role is to present the works and the thoughts of the Father.  He is inextricably tied to the Father’s works (John 6:38), making Christ’s identity mysterious.  What are his own works?  What are his OWN intentions?  Indeed, his OWN intentions IS to obey the Father completely – and it is shown here, by his presence, instead of his Father’s on the ark.

The offerings, unsurprisingly point to Christ – but the bull offering for the priest simply shows that the priest himself is sinful.  Yet, Christ need only offer himself and need not die for his own sins; rather, it is quite important that he dies for the sin of the others, whilst the human priest must acknowledge his own incapability of removing others sins without dealing with his own first.  In the same way, how can a Christian preach the gospel if he isn’t himself made righteous?  And only in Christ are we righteous.  The ‘ascension’ of the high priest, wearing linen representing the ‘righteous deeds of the saints’, is the same ascension of Christ in Acts 1-2.  You may ask why the ‘holy garments’ here is so simple compared to the ordination in Leviticus 8-10; it is because there is a renewal of all things on the Day of Atonement (as if the priestly ordinations prior to the Day of Atonement were merely ‘mock-offerings’, and a warm-up, a teaching tool, to this one day.  Indeed – the Old Testament law came only for a temporary period to teach them about the gospel, and many believed the gospel through this teaching tool.  Yet, Christ had come to fulfill what they had already perceived by the power of the Spirit, and so the offerings all year round effectively leads people to look forward to the ‘great cleaning’ of the Day of Atonement which only happens annually.  For us, Christ still remains in the Most Holy Place to this day.

In this sense, the goat, the scape goat, is sent out with the sins of Israel and our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).  It is important to note that the two goats were taken from the community (v.5) because they represented the community; in the same way, Christ was taken as man, as partaker of our community, to be sacrificed for us.  Thus, the goat that died for us is the goat which represented Calvary; but the goat which is sent off into the wilderness is the epitome of “evil” and the “way of the devil”, which is why it is effectively ‘banished’ to outside the camp.  The wilderness has always been seen as a place of ‘desolation’ and representative of no communion with God.  Hence, the significance of Hagar, Mt. Sinai, and the covenant of the Mosaic law being made at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 20; Galatians 4) implies the existence of the law merely to magnify the transgressions.. yet the law is completely undergirded by the gospel (Genesis 12 preceding Exodus 20) which is the meaning of the statute forever which ends this chapter of Leviticus (Leviticus 16:33-34).  I would go as far as to say therefore, that the goat of sacrifice is the Second Adam, Christ; but the scapegoat, is the first Adam, in whom we sinned as an entire human race.  It is only right to make this connection, because of the two creatures sacrificed being the same type of goat, taken from the same community; and both Adam and Christ bore the same human flesh, albeit the latter was sinless, but the former bore the sins of the community and was banished to the wilderness to the east of the Garden in Genesis 3.

It is quite important also to look at the significance of the term Azazel, which seems to be omitted in the KJV.  The Hebrew is עזאזל (the English being almost a literal translation from Hebrew: “aza’ zel“, and the LXX rendition is αποπομπαιω (apopompaiow) and αποπομπαιου στησει in v.10 which are both hard to translate.  There is no indication that the LXX sees “Azazel” as a figure, a person, like Satan or a fallen angel – rather, it is implied in the LXX that “Azazel” is like a high cliff, or even just a magnification of the word ‘wilderness’.  In the Hebrew, there is no indication of the distinction between ‘scapegoat’ and Azazel – it is as if both as tied together inextricably. Adam Clarke has this to say about the term:

“azazel, from עז  az, a goat, and אזל  azal, to dismiss; the dismissed or sent away goat, to distinguish it from the goat that was to be offered in sacrifice. Most ancient nations had vicarious sacrifices, to which they transferred by certain rites and ceremonies the guilt of the community at large, in the same manner in which the scapegoat was used by the Jews.”

Whatever merit there is to compare Jewish rites with other religions, it is clear that the other ‘religions’ and cultural practices are merely mock-ups of the true sacrifice of the great exchange of imputed sin and righteousness which is clearly shown in the Day of Atonement.  This begs the question: did the Jews know it clearly?  I hope so, otherwise they are no better than their Egyptian counterparts who have similar, but unChristian cultures in the time of Moses.

Perhaps the spiritual understanding of the scapegoat is offered in Zechariah 3:1-10 –

Zec 3:1-10  Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.  (2)  And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?”  (3)  Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments.  (4)  And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.”  (5)  And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by.  (6)  And the angel of the LORD solemnly assured Joshua,  (7)  “Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here.  (8)  Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch.  (9)  For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day.  (10)  In that day, declares the LORD of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.”

The significance here is that Satan is present, and is rebuked symbolically by Jerusalem, our nation.  The choice of Jerusalem is of course the choice made in Christ; for Jerusalem is the elect only because Christ is the elect one in whom Jerusalem as a new nation resides.  Joshua, as High Priest in the book of Zechariah, bears the same Hebrew name as Jesus – and he therefore works as a twofold prophetic witness to Christ’s work on the cross and through to ascension.  The rebuking of Satan is a prophetic picture of the rebuking of the goat, whilst the blood of the first goat is offered to cleanse the uncleanness of both man and creation.  It wouldn’t therefore be far-fetched to say that the goat in some sense is offered to go back to Satan, the first liar, deceiver and murderer, just as the filthy garments are left behind immediately after the LORD’s rebuking of Satan.  This is true symbolism of ridding ourselves of our filthy rags which smell of Satan, and wearing the new clothes from God which is aromatic of Christ.

Finally, the significance of the Sabbath ending the Day of Atonements (v.31-34) is indicative of looking forward to the 8th day of Christ’s circumcision on the cross.  The 8th day of New Creation.  This significance of ‘day’ cannot be underplayed – neither should we overlook the significance of this Day of Atonement as part of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar, the month of Tishrei and the 10th day of Tishrei.  In Jewish history, “Tishrei” is the month where Adam and Eve were created, and they consider the 1st day of Tishrei to be day six of creation.

Following this, on the 10th day of Tishrei in Moses’ time is the day when the Second Tablets, the second set of Ten Words were given to Moses.  This is extremely significant: if the 10th day of Tishrei is when the second set of the Ten Words, which were different from the first (the first set pertained strictly to the land; the second set looked beyond that!), then the Day of Atonement isn’t just any other day.  It is both a Sabbath, looking forward to the 8th day; and this 8th day is shown in the giving of the second set of 10 words, looking forward to the fulfillment of the promise of Genesis 12 instead of Exodus 20.

2.  Awaiting His return

So, we understand the work of the priests as completely re-enacting the patterns of heaven on earth.  Hebrews 9 was written with a detailed explanation of this truth, which would not have escaped Moses’ and Aaron’s knowledge either.  It is worth quoting the chapter from v. 11-28 with some emphasis:

Heb 9:6  These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties,
Heb 9:7  but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people.
Heb 9:8  By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing
Heb 9:9  (which is symbolic for the present age).
According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper,

The meaning here is quite important: the first section is still standing – and that is the present age.  We are STILL in the age where the veil is unbroken; and the veil is merely broken spiritually, but we are still removed from the Holy of Holies where Christ is now, until his second coming.

Heb 9:10  but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.
Heb 9:11  But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation)
Heb 9:12  he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
Heb 9:13  For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh,
Heb 9:14  how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Again, the emphasis is on the tent of meeting being a copy of the greater representation NOT of this creation.  Something which cannot be made with human hand.

Heb 9:15  Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.
Heb 9:16  For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established.
Heb 9:17  For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.
Heb 9:18  Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood.
Heb 9:19  For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people,
Heb 9:20  saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.
Heb 9:21  And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship.
Heb 9:22  Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
Heb 9:23  Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

Remember: the blood of the covenant shown in the Old Testament, in the form of the blood of goats and bulls and rams is merely symbolic of the blood necessary to purify the symbolic furniture and tent of the Godly tent of meeting not of this creation.

Yet, it is important to ask a few questions: how then, was Moses saved by the Spirit and by Christ, if Christ had not already died?  If the Spirit was not already given?  I find it quite troubling when people answer that the Old Testament saints were saved by another way, but Hebrews 9 states it quite clearly.  “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you”.  The law only came temporarily, from Moses onwards; the law clearly did not save them.  Not only did the law not save them, but Moses did not need to trust in the sacrifices as a peripheral trust in Christ.  No – Moses trusted in Christ directly.  Without that, he would not have understood the sacrifices.  In the same way, we would not have come to understand the spiritual truths of the Mosaic law if the covenant to Abraham was not made prior to the law, which is merely for a temporary period.

If the tabernacle, which came only temporarily, represented an eternal truth which cannot be described fully, then also the blood of the covenant represented an eternal truth of Christ Jesus, whether he had already fulfilled his work on the cross and had given the Spirit already or not.  How did Oholiab, the architect of the tabernacle have the Spirit if Christ did not die, resurrect and ascend to give the Spirit?  How can Moses, in Deuteronomy, ask the Israelites to have their hearts circumcised except by the Spirit?  Such are the important mysteries of God’s being in becoming, and the mystery of Revelation 13:8.

Heb 9:24  For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
Heb 9:25  Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own,
Heb 9:26  for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Heb 9:27  And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
Heb 9:28  so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Finally, Christ need NOT offer himself repeatedly.  This is where the Catholic Eucharist entirely fails, because of the doctrine of transubstantiation which teaches that Christ is continually offered!  The point of the day of atonement is that it is done symbolically annually, which is taken to mean once and for all.  Christ’s work need not depend on our re-enactions, but Christ’s work was done before the foundations of the world!  v.27 – as it is appointed for man to die once, so Christ will appear a second time NOT to die again, nor to deal with sin, but to save those who are waiting.

Transubstantiation?

Not only this, but let’s meditate on the importance of Christ in the Holy of Holies now.  He is not WITH US now.  His meaning in Matthew 28, that he is with us to the end of the ages, is in terms of access by the power of the Spirit.  Christ, very much, still resides in third heaven.  To assume that the Eucharist, the Sacraments, physically and manifestly brings Christ down to us is nigh-heresy (c.f. J.C. Ryle’s “Five English Reformers” who were martyred when they spoke against this Papist doctrine).  Rather, we are taken back to Christ in its symbolism.

In the significance of sacraments, we must remember it in three parts: the sign, what it signifies, and the connection of the two.  In what way, therefore, is the consecrated bread and wine the body and blood of Christ?  The Catholic view of bread and wine is physically changed into the body and the blood.  Much thanks to Paul Blackham’s study notes from his series on the Biblical Frameworks on the Sacraments for these three broad-stroke views within the Reformed view of communion:

Zwingli

He is most extreme in the sense that there is no bodily presence of Christ in the elements of the Eucharist.  The bread and wine were literally mere symbols of the body and blood of Christ.  When it states that “this is my body”, it is really”this represents my body”.  The meal is a remembrance that the LORD was here – so Matthew 28 means His Spirit is with us.

Calvin

Calvin wanted to distinguish from Zwingli, though he basically believed also that there is no physical presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  But he also stated that the Eucharist was more than a ‘mere commemoration’, for Calvin believes that Jesus is located in one place, at the right hand of the Father in third heaven.  He, therefore, cannot be bodily present in the Eucharist.  Yet, also, because of his divinity, he can be present in all places at once, filling the entire universe.  In this way, Christ is not present with us in any real sense, but his influence by the Spirit is with us.  I personally take to this view, because it balances between Jesus’ divinity and humanity, as well as relate the role of Christ to the Spirit as the parakletos, the Helper whilst Jesus is not ‘here’ (John 14:16).

Luther

Now Luther thinks this is all ridiculous and his proof-text is Ephesians 4:10 – “He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all heavens, in order to fill the whole universe”.  How can Jesus fill the whole universe if He is located simply in one place, at the Father’s right hand?  Calvin and Zwingli are essentially saying that Jesus’ human nature is in one place, while his divine nature is everywhere.  But Luther could not separate Jesus’ humanity with his divinity, and said instead he’s “rather drink blood with the Papists than wine with these fanatics”… and paraphrasing him, if Christ is not clothed in our humanity, then he would be ‘nothing to do with us’.  Thus, Christ was omnipresent in BOTH divinity and humanity (1 Corinthians 15:44).

Luther’s position is therefore a bit more nuanced in answering to Matthew 28:20 “surely I am with you always”.  This is not like Rome’s position because for Luther, the bread and wine remain the same and they do not become the body and blood of Christ.  We take the blood and body of Christ with the bread and wine, and thus take the LORD’s Supper seriously (1 Corinthians 11:27-30).

While there are further things to be said about Calvin’s and Luther’s position, as opposed to Zwingli’s overly-spiritual tangent on the Communion, I think Calvin’s position holds more water here.  Whatever the merit is on both sides, we can see that the Papist position does injustice to the once and for all concept of Christ’s work for us; and I believe all three reformers would agree that Christ’s filling of the universe and taking the blood to the throne room is the cause for this discussion to break away from the Papist view of the Eucharist, and remember that Christ has not yet manifestly returned to us yet.

We are waiting for the High Priest to return

And so, we are still in the stage of Leviticus 16:17 – we are still waiting for his return.  Are you?  Some people complain that he has spent too long a time in the Holy of Holies – that he should return now.  Indeed, having that desire is not sinful, since we ARE looking forward to Christ’s second advent!  Yet, to also ‘complain’ and not wait patiently is to misunderstood his work for us.  2 Peter 3 is poignant on this point:

2Pe 3:1-18  This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder,  (2)  that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles,  (3)  knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.  (4)  They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”  (5)  For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God,  (6)  and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.  (7)  But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

The significance here is that the “word of God” (v.5) is the source of creation – and the subsequent destruction of that creation and a renewal of the world is a direct prophecy of our times today.  We are, as Peter explains, in the ‘in-between’ time of the Word of God creating the world, and the oncoming renewal of creation by fire.  The scoffers in Noah’s time asked where the punishment is?  Where is the Christ?  And the scoffers in our times ask the same question.  As inevitable as the flood was, and as much of a surprise it was in Noah’s time, the fire, the Resurrection Day will come as a surprise to the scoffers today.

(8)  But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  (9)  The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.  (10)  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.  (11)  Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,  (12)  waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!

The LORD is still working to this day for the salvation of many.  V9 is great: “that all should reach repentance“.  This, coupled with Romans 16:7, displays that we were not ‘pre-elected’.  Rather, the Elect One, is Christ – and by partaking in Christ, in his work on the cross, then we also are taken up with Christ.  We are the elect only because he is the elect one; we are righteous because he is the definitive righteous one (Psalm 1).  So, it is important to remember that we are waiting for Christ’s return, but should not ‘rush’ him – he is not slow to fulfill his promise, that all should reach repentance.  His bringing of his blood to the Holy of Holies and awaiting his own return is his expression that as many people as possible should reach repentance.  Do you have that sort of love for your neighbour, or do you care only for your own salvation?  If the latter, what kind of Jesus are you believing in?  Not the Jesus of the Bible for sure.

The ending words of 2 Peter are especially relevant for this post on the Day of Atonement.  Meditate of these words well, and look to Christ even more so:

(13)  But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.  (14)  Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.  (15)  And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,  (16)  as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.  (17)  You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.  (18)  But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

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Leviticus 16: Jesus’ Second Coming – the Day of Atonement

Genesis 45-47: The remnant and the future of Israel

A word of thanks for the written encouragement and comments on the blog!  I look forward to hearing more from whoever you may be and above all expecting to see some comments relating directly to the posts and whether something is indeed spoken from the Spirit of Christ, or whether what I’ve written is not entirely scriptural.  Thanks for those who prayed for the Philippines trip – please continue to pray for the children every so often, as I feel that many of the kids whom we looked after have yet to really know Christ and bear the cross, whilst some have already begun bearing the fruit of the Spirit.  Meanwhile, let’s finish off Genesis!

1.  The surviving remnant through Jesus Christ alone (Genesis 45)

2.  The reunion of Jacob the doubter and Joseph the Christ – the remnant in a foreign land (Genesis 46)

3.  Goshen (Genesis 46:31-47:11)

4. Israel’s burial (Genesis 47:12-31)

1.  The surviving remnant through Jesus Christ alone (Genesis 45)

Here we begin what is a sequence of responses to Joseph’s apparent ‘resurrection’, his reclaiming the position and glory with his father prior to being sold as a slave. He re-iterates his own identity – “I am Joseph!” (v. 3). This type of proclamation is necessary for the brothers who were unfaithful to him, who hated him, and who had his robe dipped in goat’s blood and effectively killed him. The colourful robe which showed the splendour of his relationship with his father was soiled with the blood of a goat normally used for sacrifice; and in the same way we soil the relationship of splendour between the Father and the Son with our sin which was placed on Christ, and which only His blood can cleanse.

Which is only then unsurprising that “his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence”. Indeed, they are so dismayed because they are convicted with the guilt of a sinner; they are convicted that they were the ones who crucified Joseph. Yet Joseph pre-empts them and rids them of their guilt: “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.” If he stopped there, then he would indeed add weight to their dismay and burden; but he does not, and so he continues (v.5, 7) “…And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life…. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.”

In what way could Joseph preserve the family? Only if he is exalted and placed in a position of responsibility; a position of a ruler of the land – “the lord of all [Pharoah’s] house and ruler over all the land of Egypt”. It is this authority and sovereignty that can preserve the faithful Christian remnant in Canaan. Without which, if Joseph was a mere man who was “brought back to life” and was not exalted nor ascended to a position of glory which reflects that of the colourful robe between him and his father, then there is nothing for Joseph to give. Such is the manner in Jesus’ proclamation to Mary Magdalene – “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father, but go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God”” (John 20:17).

And where does Joseph’s authority come from? Where does his sovereign power in the land of Egypt find its source? From the God who sent him. V. 8-9 explains all: “So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharoah, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 9 Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, “Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not tarry””. Indeed, such is the good news – that even God can work through our sins for His glory. If it was not for the rejection of Israel’s other sons, then Joseph would not have been sent to the Gentile nation – and in the same way, the rejection of Christ by the Jews effectively sent the gospel to the Gentiles, symbolized by the Egyptians here. But has Joseph rejected his Israelite brothers, being an Israelite himself, just as Christ was? Did Christ reject his Jewish brothers, though he preached a message that benefited both Jews and Gentiles alike? As Paul writes in Romans 11 – “By no means!”

v.7 of Romans 11 continues to explain: “What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened” – who is the Elect One except for Christ himself, elected and sent to do the work of the Father? Elected and sent to be risen to glory and to be the captain and King, to bring with him his Jewish and Gentiles brothers to shelter away from the global famine of desperation and death? And it is in the elect that the Israelites did not receive a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see, nor ears that would not hear… though it is unfortunate that many of the other Israelites failed to be in the Elect One. In the same way, God had used Joseph’s brothers stumbling in previous chapters for His glory. Romans 11:11-12 continues – “Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!”.

It is in this way that God glorifies Himself through the trespasses which sold Joseph, the type of Christ, into the world, and that the gospel is given to the Gentile Egyptians first and yet the fullness of the nation Israel is even further magnified! How so? V.7 has already exposed this: “To preserve for (Israel) a remnant on earth, and to keep for your many survivors! The detail as to how many will be revealed in the next few chapters.

And so from v. 16-20 we receive the Pharoah’s positive reaction to Joseph’s brothers entering a Gentile land. His response is not that of division – but he welcomes them. What a far cry from Moses’ temporary father in Egypt! Rather, the Gentiles and Jews had lived side by side, and furthermore had been blessed through the Gentiles. This further enforces the point in Romans 11 – “if their (the Jews’) trespass means riches for the world (Egypt in this context), and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles (food which is stored and sold from Egypt), how much more will their full inclusion mean!”. Yes, and the full inclusion has been typified and has begun in this story of Joseph.

Evangelism

So, v. 21-24 is a picture of the evangelistic commission – “Do not quarrel on the way” (v.24) and “have no concern for your goods, for the best of the land of Egypt is yours” (v. 20). Indeed, as Christians we should not quarrel along the way when we wish to spread the Great Gospel to the ends of the earth, to our own brothers and sisters, to our own mothers and fathers. We should unite and tell of the great news of where the bread is found in a time of famine, but how rare that is! How easy it is for the brothers to stop and think that Joseph is a liar, a lunatic or is indeed who he proclaims to be. How easy it is for them to tarry, to wait around and eventually have Jacob/Israel die on them whilst they take their time and do not take evangelism seriously? Joseph gives the typified mandate – “Do not quarrel on the way”. So we should also learn to not quarrel, but learn to discern and discuss the truth without losing the sense of urgency caused by the power of the famine, yet also the sense of sovereignty and protection from Joseph’s words for the brothers need not find their security in the goods given to them. Rather, these goods are temporary provisions – the real meat, the real deal, the real goal is the land. We should therefore set our sights on the higher throne (Rev 7:9-17), rather than worry about our own possessions in the meanwhile.

When the gospel of Joseph’s effective resurrection was given to Jacob, Jacob’s “heart became numb, for he did not believe them”. Such is the response of many Christians in Jesus’ incarnate days – many did not believe. Many were astounded. As Jesus responded: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken of! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26). Indeed. O foolish Jacob! You who kept your son Joseph’s dream in mind, the prophecy of his leadership over his 11 brothers… was it not necessary that Joseph should suffer these things and enter into his prophesied glory? But this doubting Thomas had his fears and doubts removed when he saw the glory and gifts given to the brothers. His brothers were indeed “witnesses of these things”. Just as Christ said to his disciples: “And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:44-49). So Joseph had given them wagons, according to the command of Pharoah, and gave them provisions for the journey – change of clothes, money, donkeys, good things of Egypt, grain, bread, and provision… these are just a few things which God has blessed his brothers with, as a testimony to God’s grace and righteousness. Jacob, the type of the doubter, ceases his doubt when he sees his sons clothed by the gifts of the Pharoah – and it is by these visible outwards signs of the good news of Joseph’s return that he is convinced and that his spirit revived. Jacob is absolutely thrilled – “I will go and see him before I die” (v.28). Though he is old, he is willing. Such is the type of necessity that every aged man and woman should express, if they too are carrying the cross of Christ and looking forward to his great return.

2.  The reunion of Jacob the doubter and Joseph the Christ – the remnant in a foreign land (Genesis 46)

This chapter is actually quite interesting. Unlike the normal genealogy, we have an establishment of the number of people who entered Egypt. 33 + 16 + 14 + 7 = 70 people in total (v. 25), 66 not including Jacob’s sons’ wives. This is definitely very different from the Exodus 12:37 – six hundred thousand people (including, of course, the Egyptians who converted to Christianity) compared to 70 Jews. Within a space of 430 years, and assuming that a new generation is spawned every 30 or 40 years, we are expecting about 10 to 20 generations from Joseph’s death to the great Exodus. This would mean that 30,000 to 60,000 on average were the numbers added to the church of Christ each generation, without taking into account the exceptionally huge numbers of converts probably during the time of the famine and during the time of the plagues in Exodus. This, indeed, is a fulfillment of God’s prophecy – many are indeed added to the house of Israel who will return to Canaan eventually.

I have prepared a lineal table here showing those who entered Egypt in this period (to be uploaded later!).  Note the little detail about Er and Onan in v. 11 – such is indeed odd, given that the type of Scriptural utterances concerning people’s burials in Israel are often those of righteous men and women. Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah are all such examples. But then there are those who were probably buried elsewhere – Lot, and Joseph who were buried outside of Canaan. I think this is the type of detail which displays the symbolic nature of Canaan. Canaan is indeed a place which points towards the true Promised Land, but in itself, it is not the promised land. That is why Er and Onan’s death there makes no difference; their belonging may be found in Canaan, but their hearts are found in Babylon. Contrarily, Lot and Joseph are men in Christ, buried outside of Canaan. Even the focus of Joseph’s marriage to the daughter of Potiphera displays an inclusion of these Jewish-Egyptian children, Manasseh and Ephraim, into the covenant people. Thus, this chapter works to focus on the spiritual covenant people found to be the wanderers of Egypt and Canaan, but it is not their physical heritage (e.g. Er and Onan) which will enable them to receive their promised inheritance.

3.  Goshen (Genesis 46:31-47:11)

“…for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians” (Gen 46:34). Now, why does Joseph want to maintain the shepherd culture of the Jews even in foreign land? This is an interesting portrayal of the light not mixing with the dark. Indeed, we are in the world, but not of it – and here, Joseph wishes to maintain not simply Israel’s cultural, but their very spiritual identity. Would Israel aim to be accepted into Egypt at the cost of losing their identity in the Great Shepherd King? Or would Israel aim to live in Egypt, in the land of Goshen, whilst compromising their Christian values?  Daniel surely did not forsake his ways… and it seems that the Christians entering Egypt are not aiming to do so either.  

Pharoah’s response is likely that of a Christian – “Let them settle in the land of Goshen, and if you know any able men among them, put them in charge of my livestock”. This land will be the same land that the Israelites will be living in – Exodus 8:22 and 9:26 show God’s protection over the land of Goshen from the plagues because that is where the Israelites dwelled.  This is not only some land… but it is the best land. The Egyptians have no excuse by the time of Exodus to enslave the Israelites.  They could have peered into their own historical annals to find out why the Israelites had been part of Egypt, and why they lived in Goshen, the best land even among a Gentile nation.

For it is the very same reason the remnant of Israel receives the same blessings wherever they go – for the church is found not in the location, but in the people.  The church of Christ, the synagogue, the assembly, the congregation is what God is protecting.  Their congregation at Goshen, at Canaan, are examples and foresights of God’s people inheriting the true land to which they look forward to.  The nature of the church in Goshen is very different to the nature of the church in Sodom and Gomorrah.  The former inherits the blessing of the land, because that is where God wants them to go by the command of the Pharoah who is effectively an obedient agent of our LORD in these chapters.  The latter does not inherit the blessing of the land, is hated by both Christians and non-Christians for being lukewarm, failed to evangelise to neighbours and yet mingled and lived with the Sodomites like he was one of them.  Lot may be saved, but he is not a picture of a man walking by the Spirit persistently; Israel and others do not forget the Promised Land which Canaan witnesses to.  People should flock to God, to the Promised land.  People should flock to Canaan.  God’s people may go out to other lands, may be blessed in other lands, but eventually they should go back to Canaan.  Such is the same story for us – we find our solace in flocking to Christ, our Sabbath, in new Jerusalem sitting at the right hand of the Father.  And Christ sent us out to the people, to the lands, to mission fields in law firms, banks, offices, rural areas, paddy fields whatever the location may be… and God blesses us there.  He will give us the best, in spite of difficulties which will face us (Genesis 15:13)… which is why we continually look not on our Goshens in life, we do not look to our possessions for security (Genesis 45:20), because even those things will fail us.  The juxtaposition of the first half of chapter 47, speaking of the glory of Goshen, placed next to the second half of chapter 47 which speaks of how the Israelites were protected in the land of Goshen – that during this period both the priests in Egypt and the Israelites still flourished.  v.27 of chapter 47 reveals that Israel thus settled there, and still gained possessions in it, were fruitful and multiplied.  How can they be fruitful and multiply by the tens of thousands during this period?  This clearly shouts out the hand of God over this faithful but entirely weak nomadic nation.  

4. Israel’s burial (Genesis 47:12-31)

By the end of chapter 47, Joseph had made “servants of them (all the Egyptians) from one end of Egypt to the other.” (v.21)  Only the land of the priests he did not buy, for they had a fixed allowance.  There is interestingly a refrain in the latter part of Genesis 47 – “the land of the priests alone did not become Pharoah’s” (v.22, v.26). Thus, only the priests and Israel found favour during this horrible 7-year period.

But why does Israel maintain his position to leave Egypt and return to Canaan, despite being there for a full 17 years?  Joseph swore to Israel that he would bury him in Canaan, but why?

Hebrews 11:21 sheds some light on the matter: “By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshipped as he leaned on the top of his staff”.  Israel’s death is a faithful one where he knows where he goes, to the place where he would be gathered with his people in the true Eden.  He is going to where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah were buried, and he ensures that his descendants will not forget their inheritance by asking to be buried in Canaan, the mock-promised land.  His worries in chapters 42-45 about a lonely death is no longer present; instead, he gets to relay his message to Joseph, and to his 12 sons with their sons and daughters.  What a magnificent turn of events! We’ve already spoken of the significance of the staff in previous entries, paraphrasing Justin Martyr that it is a foretelling of the cross on which Jesus died.  It is a symbol of guidance for lost sheep, yet it can also effectively act as the rod of punishment; or it can be a measuring rod shaped like a staff (Rev 11:1) – and none of this contradicts the power of the cross, which is also a guidance and security for us sheep; a picture of punishment for those who are threatened by its power (e.g. Satan) by nailing sin to the wood of the tree, or a measuring rod outlining the very re-created city in which we live.  This indeed is a very powerful image – and no wonder such a small detail is included in the Spirit-inspired Scriptures.  Who cares if he leans on a staff?  But if this ‘staff’ represents the very power of the cross on which our Christ is crucified, then indeed Jacob leans on the cross of Christ as his security that he is buried in Canaan, and raised up to New Jerusalem along with the other saints of old.

Genesis 45-47: The remnant and the future of Israel

Genesis 27-29: The one who cheats vs. the one who promises

1.  Isaac blesses Jacob (Genesis 27)

2.  Esau and an Ishmaelite (Genesis 28:1-9)

3.  Jacob’s dream: the stairway to heaven (Genesis 28:10-22)

4.  Jacob’s marriage with Leah and Rachel (Genesis 29)

1.  Isaac blesses Jacob (Genesis 27)

Here is a picture of an old Isaac with dim eyes.  God’s blessing on Jacob had been pronounced in Genesis 25:23; but it appears that this promise has been ignored by Isaac and Esau.  Isaac would rather rely on his own works to please Jacob.  He would cheat his way back into the birthright which he had despised by resorting to the one thing he knows – that is, to hunt game for Isaac.  Where is God in this picture?  No-where – though Jacob be a Schemer, at least he values the birthright.  Here, we see two people joining together to disobey God’s plan which had been announced two chapters ago.

Which is why Rebekah is especially quick to act when she hears Isaac and Esau speaking to one another.  What is Rebekah’s solution?  Take the place of Esau, by pretending to be Esau!

But there is something very apparent.  Jacob is a smooth man!  And Esau is hairy!  Such an important physical difference, let alone difference in personality should be enough to distant his father from his son.  Jacob is fearful of this, and wishes to stay away: “Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing”.

Indeed, such is the same fear when we present ourselves to our heavenly Father when he expects something but we present something entirely unacceptable.  Instead, Jacob is advised to wear the goat skin to be in the place of Esau.  And who is to receive the curse?  Rebekah.  Who appeased the father’s wrath?  Rebekah, essentially.  Yet, who does Isaac look favourably on?  Jacob, in the place of Esau.  Not only goat skin, but also Esau’s best garments.

Then, let’s look at the blessing:

“See,(B) the smell of my son
is as the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed!
28May God give you of(C) the dew of heaven
and of the fatness of the earth
and(D) plenty of grain and wine.
29Let peoples serve you,
and nations(E) bow down to you.
(F) Be lord over your brothers,
and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
(G) Cursed be everyone who curses you,
and blessed be everyone who blesses you!”

But let’s look at the blessing in detail.  Can this be a blessing strictly for Jacob the person?  No.  “Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you.” – within his lifetime, at most, only one nation bowed down to Jacob and his immediate descendants, that being the Egyptians when Joseph had aided the Pharoah.  But that is far from saying nation”s”… Secondly, Jacob has no other brother beside Jacob.  But the refrain in v. 29 is “Be lord over your brother”s”… and may your mother’s son”s” bow down to you”.

If anything, there is something interesting at play here – it is an entirely prophetic blessing, peering into the future of the nation Israel, the name of which means “God fights”.  If anything, this blessing seems to work… only in the context of Jesus Christ.  So what does Isaac mean in v. 37, when he says he made Jacob lord over Esau, and “all his brothers I have given to him for servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him”?

Let me work on the typologies first lest I be misunderstood:

1.  Isaac = the Father

2.  Jacob = a son (note… not the son)

3.  Rebekah = Mediator, though she proclaims that the curse be on her, she was never actually cursed.

4.  Esau = a potential son… though not from the chosen race, he was given an option to serve.

5.  Goat skin = Christ

For point 4, Isaac told Esau (v. 40) that “By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; but when you grow resltess you shall break his yoke from your neck”. Thus, he is given an option to serve Jacob… but he refused.  If he had listened, then like Jacob, Esau could have become part of the covenant people; like Japheth the brother of Shem (representing the Gentiles), taking cover under Shem the covenant people.

So here, the Father loves Jacob, one of his sons clothed in animal skin and blesses him and his kingdom in Christ.  Esau came with the wrong dress (Matthew 22), and though he smelt like Esau, and provided game like Esau… Isaac still said: “Who are you?” (v. 32).  And in the same way, even though we cry Lord Lord, He will still tell us go to away… replying “I never knew you” (Matthew 7).

The animal skin points to Christ himself… and yet Rebekah plays the role of the Mediator.  The curse never actually falls on her – and I think this is significant.  This most likely points to the aspect of the mediatorial role offered by people like Job… and by people like Moses, Nehemiah and Daniel with their respective intercessory prayers (Exodus 9, Nehemiah 9, Daniel 9).  Does this make Moses, Nehemiah and Daniel a representation of Christ?  Merely a type… but the true curse doesn’t fall on them.  They merely imitate the true Mediator, the true Redeemer, Jesus Christ.  Rebekah intercedes for Jacob… but the one truly interceding is the goat skin which witnesses to Christ.

What think you?

2.  Esau and an Ishmaelite (Genesis 28:1-9)

So Isaac called Jacob and blessed him finally, accepting God’s chosen one.  He finally gives him the same advice that Abraham gave him – to note marry a Canaanite women.  Rather, he tells Jacob to go back to the house where Rebekah was found – to take a wife from one of the daughters of Laban, his uncle (Rebekah’s brother).  Thus, Jacob goes to Paddan-aram. We’ve already established the significance of physically marrying someone from the same race – that it represents spiritual wholeness, like a Christian should marry a Christian out of obedience to display the picture of Christ marrying a Christian church, rather than Christ marrying a non-Christian.

But then Esau overhears the instructions given to Isaac, and attempts to imitate Isaac.  So Esau, after his marriage to the two Hittites, decides to marry another wife!  He completely misunderstands the instruction!  He just wants to appear like Jacob now.  Such is the problem of many “Christians” today.  They sing with their hands clapping, they lift their eyes to the ceiling as they sing, they jump up and down, or they bow down low… all of these are just external actions.  But their heart is not cured.  Their actions are misrepresented, while they compromise the other aspects of their life.  Esau still missed the point… and still refuses to serve Jacob.  Rather, he still wants to replace Jacob, given his actions in attempting still to please his father.

3.  Jacob’s dream:  The stairway to heaven (Genesis 28:10-22)

Now we come to what Jesus was speaking of in John 1:51.  Here’s the verse 48-51 to refresh your memory:

48Nathanael said to him, “How(A) do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49Nathanael answered him,(B) “Rabbi,(C) you are the Son of God! You are the(D) King of Israel!” 50Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you,[a] you will see(E) heaven opened, and(F) the angels of God ascending and descending on(G) the Son of Man.” (John 1:48-51)

And here in v.12-13

12And he(A) dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder[a] set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold,(B) the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! 13And behold,(C) the LORD stood above it[b] and said,(D) “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac.(E) The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring.

Who is the LORD?  Jesus Christ himself.  Jesus in the book of John testifies to the Christophany of himself in Genesis 28:13.  But he doesn’t spend a long time explaining it.  He expects Nathanael to understand it.  So here, we see Jacob putting his head on the rock of oath, of Beersheba which Isaac had established with Abimelech.  And on this rock of oath does Jacob, just like Nathaneal, see “heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” – Christ himself.

Then, we see Jacob wake up in delirium, setting up a pillar and pouring oil on top of it, calling the place Bethel (house of God), though the city was named Luz.  Luz, being a Canaanite name, renamed as Bethel.  This re-confirms that “God is with him and will keep him in this way” (v.20).  Does Jacob really think that Bethel is the house of God?  No – he just made the point that God is with him.  Yet, this is a reminder, an establishment which he raised as a place of worship, an altar placed on the rock of oath.  This rock which shall be set up as a pillar.  A place where the worship takes the form of giving a full tenth back to the Angel of the LORD, reminiscent of Genesis 14:20 when Abraham gave a full tenth back to Melchizedek, establishing the connection between the Angel and Melchizedek.

However, we must distinguish something important.  Jacob is still Jacob – and has not been renamed Israel yet.  He is still the one who cheats – and here, he is offering God a conditional obedience in v.20-22.  He is not quite ready to be rid of his ways.  He is still trying to control the situation, and still, to many an extent, trying to control/manipulate his own obedience to God.

4.  Jacob’s marriage with Leah and Rachel (Genesis 29)

Jacob kissing Rachel.  Laban kissing Jacob.  I think we can guess that this kissing is quite innocent.  Probably more along the lines of 1 Thessalonians 5:26.  Laban’s proclamation in v. 14 – “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!” is a repeat of Adam’s statement to Eve – it is a statement of oneness, a statement that we are of one flesh within the same church, the body of Christ. Such is the joy when we meet Christians whom we barely know, if at all – the hospitality of knowing that someone is striving in the race of faith as you are, whose founder of faith is the Spirit himself.

Something theologically profound in Chapter 29v.20 – “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her”.  Amazing.  7 years is not exactly a short time – but, just as the Trinity is awaiting the day that we marry into Christ; just as creation is awaiting the revealing of the sons of God (Romans 8:19).  But because Christ loves us, and strives for his Bride, the 7 years, let alone 7000 years are just like a few days. 2 Peter 3:8-13:

8But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and(N) a thousand years as one day. 9(O) The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise(P) as some count slowness, but(Q) is patient toward you,[a](R) not wishing that any should perish, but(S) that all should reach repentance. 10But(T) the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then(U) the heavens will pass away with a roar, and(V) the heavenly bodies[b] will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.[c]

11Since all these things are thus to be dissolved,(W) what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12(X) waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and(Y) the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13But according to his promise we are waiting for(Z) new heavens and a new earth(AA) in which righteousness dwells.

But Jacob has now met someone equally cunning – his uncle!  Firstly he gets Leah as the bride, then he has to work an extra seven years for Rachel, the true bride he had sought for.  However, even after Jacob’s struggle, the birth of children is still out of his hands.  The LORD continued with his unconditional promise by fulfilling the blessing which Isaac gave to Jacob, but through Leah, the neglected wife.  Through Leah is Jacob given 4 of the 12 tribes of the future nation of Israel – Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah.  Even this is out of his manipulative hands, and provides a leaping contrast between God’s faithfulness and unmoving promise; as opposed to Jacob and Laban’s trickeries and deceptions in order to struggle for what they both desire, even if it may not be pleasing to the LORD.

Genesis 27-29: The one who cheats vs. the one who promises