2 Kings 1-2: Christ and His disciple

II Kings 1:

1 After the death of Ahab, Moab rebelled against Israel.

 

2 Now Ahaziah fell through the lattice in his upper chamber in Samaria, and lay sick; so he sent messengers, telling them, “Go, inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this sickness.”

3 But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron?

4 Now therefore thus says the LORD, You shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.’” So Elijah went.

 

The opening of 2 Kings is a stauch reminder of the king’s duties in ensuring the peace with neighbouring countries.  Under the reign of David and Solomon, Israel was reaching a golden era of peace.  However, under Ahab’s rule, his house was cursed like that of Jeroboam and Baasha.  Upon his death, the incestuous sister country Moab (c.f. Genesis 19) decides to rebel against Israel (v.1) – undoubtedly reminding us that the king has been unfaithful to the LORD, and the very fact of Moab’s rebellion is a pretext for Ahaziah’s curse in this chapter.

 

Ahaziah is much like his father’s image – but where Ahab acknowledged the LORD and was humbled by Him (1 Kings 21:27-29), Ahaziah not only ignored the LORD but instead opts to inquire of “Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron”.  This is the same as Beelzebub in Matthew 10:25, the “lord of the flies” – flies having a negative connotation akin to the curse in Exodus 8.  Ahaziah, rather than inquiring of the God in Israel, decides to inquire the god of the Philistines (v.3).  This pronouncement of the curse by the Angel of the LORD, Jesus, is early on in v.4 – a curse on the head and king of Israel by the prophet and man of God.  Like Ahab and Jezebel, so Ahaziah is the typical Adam, the cursed head.  Instead of enabling Israel to fulfill its calling as a priesthood to all nations (Exodus 19:6), it is now undistinguished to its neighbours.  He is not the true king of Israel – but is rather the self-proclaimed king of Samaria, far away from Moriah, the place of Christ’s redemptive work (c.f. Genesis 22).

 

Instead, the deliberate comparison is that this king of Israel is contrasted to the king of Judah, Jehoshaphat, who had insisted on inquiring of the LORD at the end of 1 Kings.  Here, instead, Ahaziah is insistent on inquiring of Baal-zebub: the irony that is Ahaziah living out the character of Moab.  Though in the ‘family’, born not out of holiness but out of sin.  Ahaziah is but a ‘legal’ Israelite, but bears not the Spirit of God in living as the true Israelite.  The lamp of Jerusalem, emphasizing on the lamp to David and his sons which remains with Judah.

 

5 The messengers returned to the king, and he said to them, “Why have you returned?”

6 And they said to him, “There came a man to meet us, and said to us, ‘Go back to the king who sent you, and say to him, Thus says the LORD, Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore you shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.’”

7 He said to them, “What kind of man was he who came to meet you and told you these things?”

8 They answered him, “He wore a garment of hair, with a belt of leather about his waist.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.”

 

Here, Elijah the Baptist (c.f. Matthew 3:4) again is clearing the road for the true king.  Ahaziah, like Ahab, inquired of other gods.  Elijah’s role as prophet is to bring in the true king Jesus Christ (1 Samuel 2:10, 12:12) just as the judges and Samuel preceded the need for a Saul or David.  Here, there is a direct conflict between the ‘messengers of Baal-zebub’ (including the king Ahaziah, and his messengers and captains and their men) and the messenger of the LORD Elijah.

 

9 Then the king sent to him a captain of fifty men with his fifty. He went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, “O man of God, the king says, ‘Come down.’”

10 But Elijah answered the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.

11 Again the king sent to him another captain of fifty men with his fifty. And he answered and said to him, “O man of God, this is the king’s order, ‘Come down quickly!’”

12 But Elijah answered them, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.

 

Note here the imagery – Elijah sits at the top of a hill, a biblical indication of heaven (Psalm 24:3, 44:3).  So we see Christ speaking through his messenger Elijah (as a type of Christ), to 2 sets of captains and their fifty men at the bottom of the hill.  This is a reminder of the time in the wilderness when the men were afraid to approach Mount Sinai and had to commission Moses to go.  There is nothing special about Moses – all the men, though ‘quarantined’ from breaking in to meet the Father, however were also invited into receiving the Father personally, rather than Moses himself (Exodus 20:18-21).

 

However, these captains and men did not seek to revere the LORD of Elijah.  In contrast, they asked Elijah to come down from the hill – mockingly using the title “man of God” whilst disbelieving the “God” of this man.  What they receive, instead of the warm embrace of the Father, is the wrath otherwise poured onto the Holy Son on their behalf.  This is but a foretelling of the events in Revelation – the ridicule of Christ leading to fiery destruction from the heavens (2 Peter 3:7-12).

 

Note the number fifty – the number of final deliverance (c.f. Jubilee – Leviticus 25) which concords with the imagery of Revelation and of Elijah on the top of the hill.  The first two sets (the two captains, and their respective fifty men – 102 men killed by the fire, two-thirds of the men sent by Ahaziah).  This is but a shadow of judgment in Christ’s ‘descension’, in the parousia – two thirds destroyed but one third spared, the ‘thirds’ being an important pattern of division in Scripture (Ezekiel 5:2-12; Revelation 8-9) – the man of God goes down the hill to be with the third captain.  This is because the man recognizes truly this ‘man of God’ is neither mere man nor an object of mockery.

 

 

13 Again the king sent the captain of a third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up and came and fell on his knees before Elijah and entreated him, “O man of God, please let my life, and the life of these fifty servants of yours, be precious in your sight.

14 Behold, fire came down from heaven and consumed the two former captains of fifty men with their fifties, but now let my life be precious in your sight.”

15 Then the angel of the LORD said to Elijah, “Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.” So he arose and went down with him to the king

16 and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron—is it because there is no God in Israel to inquire of his word?—therefore you shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.’”

 

What is often omitted from 2 Kings 1 (v.15), let alone a portrayal of Elijah’s biography, is Elijah’s fear.  This creates a collective image of a prophet who has a tendency to fear man (1 Kings 19:3, 19:18).  Yet, Elijah’s weakness is supplanted by the LORD’s strength (2 Corinthians 12:9), a truly cruciform lifestyle (2 Corinthians 13:4) as he beheld the Angel of the LORD Who was with him at the top of the hill.

 

The captain and the third fifty were therefore spared – but the king died in fulfillment of Elijah’s word.  This scenario is again reflected in the New Testament (Matthew 8:5-13), the faithful centurion contrasted against the faithless master of the centurion (Matthew 23:11). In fact, the message had been clear since v.6-8.  The king could have gone out himself and pleaded with Elijah; instead, 102 men were murdered, and the only one spared in this chapter is the captain and his fifty humbled before Elijah, recognizing the LORD’s work in His prototypical judgment on the Day of Resurrection.  Though the king had the murderous intent (v.15 – do not be afraid of him), Elijah was the one who had the ‘last word’.

 

Although Ahaziah had no son, Jehoram his brother (and also son of Ahab and Jezebel) replaced him (v.17).  It is ironic that both kings’ name means “whom Jehovah has exalted”.  Neither the Jehoram of Judah (2 Chronicles 21-22) nor the Jehoram of Israel were fitting of this name.  This is therefore the way 2 Kings 1 opens – not by displaying the righteousness of men, but rather than the righteousness of the Angel of the LORD who brought judgment on all those against His anointed prophet.

 

17 So he died according to the word of the LORD that Elijah had spoken. Jehoram became king in his place in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, because Ahaziah had no son.

18 Now the rest of the acts of Ahaziah that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

 

II Kings 2:

1 Now when the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.

2 And Elijah said to Elisha, “Please stay here, for the LORD has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.

3 And the sons of the prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the LORD will take away your master from over you?” And he said, “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.”

 

By way of how 2 Kings 1 ended, the narrator of 2 Kings 2 brings us back to the beginning – taking Elijah and Elisha through landmarks explored before the Israelites even entered Canaan.  From Gilgal to Bethel, Elijah and Elisha are brought to remember the reproach of Israel removed (Joshua 5:9), insodoing bringing the Israelites back to the house of God (Genesis 28, 35).  Like Enoch, the seventh in generation from Adam, Elijah is to be caught up into the Lord’s presence (Genesis 5:24); however, the method by whirlwind is unprecedented in the recording of the Word.  What is important is that the sons of the prophets’ knowledge of Elijah’s removal (and so reminded Elisha) is a foretelling of the Son of God ascending the ladder to third heaven (Genesis 28:12); the Son of God no longer ‘with’ His disciples, so also Elijah no longer with Elisha – the type of Christ and the type of the Church.  The giving of the Spirit resting on Elijah to Elisha, so also the giving of the Spirit resting on Christ (Isaiah 11:2), given to all flesh (Joel 2:28).

 

4 Elijah said to him, “Elisha, please stay here, for the LORD has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho.

5 The sons of the prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the LORD will take away your master from over you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.”

 

So while the sons of the prophets remind Elisha of the anointed prophet’s ascension, we are brought to recollect that Jericho should not even exist – should not even be rebuilt (Joshua 6:26).  Yet, here it stands, as a result of Israel’s rebellion.  Not once, but thrice (after going to Gilgal and Bethel) are we to remember that the LORD has been faithful, but we have not.

 

6 Then Elijah said to him, “Please stay here, for the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on.

7 Fifty men of the sons of the prophets also went and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan.

8 Then Elijah took his cloak and rolled it up and struck the water, and the water was parted to the one side and to the other, till the two of them could go over on dry ground.

 

From Bethel to Jericho to Jordan (Joshua 3-5), it looks like the Lord is walking Elijah in reverse through the history of Israel.  Rather, this is a walk through the restoration of the ancient borderless gospel.  The way out of Canaan through the Jordan, starting from the House of God.  In doing so, Elijah the Baptist is preparing the way of Christ (Isaiah 54:2), expanding the House of God beyond the Jordan!  Elijah is thus a walking example of Hebrew 13:13, walking through judgment (instead of entering judgment by the first entrance into Israel as under Joshua 3-5, it is symbolic of a removal of judgment in leaving Israel).  So in Elijah’s ascension, we see Christ’s ascension in His incarnate body, taking Israel with Him to the right hand of the Father’s throne.

 

9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.”

10 And he said, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so.”

11 And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

12 And Elisha saw it and he cried, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

 

This is a grand picture, a reality of inheriting double portion of the Spirit on Elijah is that Elisha may receive divine sight of the chariots of Israel and it’s horsemen (2 Kings 6:17; also reminiscent of the picture of judgment in Isaiah 66).

 

13 And he took up the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan.

14 Then he took the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and struck the water, saying, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.

 

When Elisha returns to Israel, he is the same Spirit-filled Elisha from before Elijah ascended into third heaven.  Rather, the distinction serves as a foretelling of the distinction before and after Christ’s ascension (c.f. Acts 2) – the distinction that Christ has been glorified (John 7:39) and the Spirit has now been imparted in a grander measure to all flesh.  Thus Elisha’s taking up of the cloak of Elijah is a picture of His garments of righteousness, his cloak of zeal, covering us (Isaiah 59:17, 61:10) – but also intimately a call back to 1 Kings 19:19-21 when Elijah chose Elisha as his disciple.  This cloak is not of any inherent supernatural quality – rather, it is a picture of the righteousness given to Elijah, the same righteousness and power of the Spirit passing through to Elisha his disciple.

 

V.14 is a direct prophecy of Christ’s same words on the cross – lema lema sabachthani – “Why has the LORD forsaken me?” – “Where is the LORD?”  The parting of the waters is a reminder of the parting of the waters in the exodus of Israel and in day two of creation, both pointing towards the stretching of the Son’s life on the cross.  His appeal is therefore not to Elijah as if he was some deity-saint through whom we reach Mary, through whom we reach Jesus, through whom we reach the Father; rather, Elisha appeals directly to the LORD who had clearly caused Elijah’s ascension:

 

“He applied to Elijah’s God: Where is the Lord God of Elijah? He does not ask, “Where is Elijah?” as poring upon the loss of him, as if he could not be easy now that he was gone,–or as doubting of his happy state, as if, like the sons of the prophets here, he knew not what had become of him,–or as curiously enquiring concerning him, and the particular of that state he was removed to (no, that is a hidden life, it does not yet appear what we shall be),–nor as expecting help from him; no, Elijah is happy, but is neither omniscient nor omnipotent; but he asks, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? Now that Elijah was taken to heaven God had abundantly proved himself the God of Elijah; if he had not prepared for him that city, and done better for him there than ever he did for him in this world, he would have been ashamed to be called his God, Heb. xi. 16; Matt. xxvii. 31, 32. Now that Elijah was taken to heaven Elisha enquired, [1.] After God. When our creature-comforts are removed, we have a God to go to, that lives for ever. [2.] After The God of Elijah, the God that Elijah served, and honoured, and pleaded for, and adhered to when all Israel had deserted him. This honour is done to those who cleave to God in times of general apostasy, that God will be, in a peculiar manner, their God. “The God that owned, and protected, and provided for Elijah, and many ways honoured him, especially now at last, where is he? Lord, am not I promised Elijah’s spirit? Make good that promise.” The words which next follow in the original, Aph-his–even he, which we join to the following clause, when he also had smitten the waters, some make an answer to this question, Where is Elijah’s God? Etiam ille adhuc superest–“He is in being still, and nigh at hand. We have lost Elijah, but we have not lost Elijah’s God. He has not forsaken the earth; it is even he that is still with me.” Note, First, It is the duty and interest of the saints on earth to enquire after God, and apply to him as the Lord God of the saints that have gone before to heaven, the God of our fathers. Secondly, It is very comfortable to those who enquire of him; it is even he that is in his holy temple (Ps. xi. 4) and nigh to all who call upon him, Ps. cxlv. 18. Thirdly, Those that walk in the spirit and steps of their godly faithful predecessors shall certainly experience the same grace that they experienced; Elijah’s God will be Elisha’s too. The Lord God of the holy prophets is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; and what will it avail us to have the mantles of those that are gone, their places, their books, if we have not their spirit, their God?” – Matthew Henry

 

15 Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho saw him opposite them, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” And they came to meet him and bowed to the ground before him.

16 And they said to him, “Behold now, there are with your servants fifty strong men. Please let them go and seek your master. It may be that the Spirit of the LORD has caught him up and cast him upon some mountain or into some valley.” And he said, “You shall not send.”

17 But when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, “Send.” They sent therefore fifty men. And for three days they sought him but did not find him.

18 And they came back to him while he was staying at Jericho, and he said to them, “Did I not say to you, ‘Do not go’?”

 

Elisha, knowing full well that the whirlwind is the same Spirit of the LORD (as is understood by the sons of the prophets in v.16), is ashamed that the sons of the prophets fail to see the significance of Elijah’s departure (v.16-17).  What is the purpose in locating the ascended typological Son of God when even the sons of the prophets utter that the Spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha (v.15; c.f. Acts 1:11)?  Of course they would not find Elijah in the mountains, however plausible the Spirit’s work may be in teleportation (Acts 8:39-40).  This is because Elisha knew the event to foretell Christ’s ascension, and so also that Christ will return by way of the Spirit from the heavens.  Elisha’s shame is therefore tied fundamentally into the prophets’ failure to perceive the prophecy of the entire event, a mirror showing that these fifty men sent by sons of prophets has no clearer vision of the ascended Christ than the groups of fifty men sent by the false king.

 

19 Now the men of the city said to Elisha, “Behold, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees, but the water is bad, and the land is unfruitful.”

20 He said, “Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him.

21 Then he went to the spring of water and threw salt in it and said, “Thus says the LORD, I have healed this water; from now on neither death nor miscarriage shall come from it.”

22 So the water has been healed to this day, according to the word that Elisha spoke.

 

One of the first acts which Elisha performs is, too prophetic – the healing of the bad water to bring in fresh water, the living waters of salvation.  This salt is implicative of the salt covenant with God laid down in Leviticus 2:13 and Numbers 18:19, yet salt inherently is associated with judgment and death (Genesis 19:26; James 3:12) and purification (Exodus 30:35) though it be a seasoning leading to new life (Ezekiel 47:8-12).  What Elisha preaches is therefore the gospel of the new bowl of fresh water, the new wine in new wineskins, the fulfillment of the law in Christ’s completion of his work on the cross.  No longer shall Israel be under the judgment of legal salt covenant, under the judgment of salty rain-water, but look forward to the fulfillment of the legal salt covenant in the Son who received the judgment of rain leading us to a new creation age of fresh water lakes with life-bearing fruit (Revelation 22:2).

 

23 He went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!”

24 And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the LORD. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys.

25 From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria.

 

Here is a repeat of a similar event (1 Samuel 25), like Nabal against David.  Without knowing who he is, these small boys curse Elisha as the bald one – a negative connotation (Ezekiel 27:31; Isaiah 3:24; Lamentations 7:29).  So Elisha curses these children in return, in the name of the LORD, pronouncing the judgment the forty-two boys deserve (c.f. Genesis 12:3; John 20:23; compared with 2 Kings 10:14) in the House of God (Bethel).  From Bethel, he goes to Mount Carmel – the place of the destruction of Baal’s prophets, the name of the mount symbolically meaning circumcised lamb, a fruitful place; then he returns to Samaria, the watch-mountain and worship place of Baal  (1 Kings 16:32), reminding us that the watcher (Daniel 4) is protecting and guiding the Church in a world of idolatry, awaiting the day that all may behold the Christ, the God of Elijah and Elisha.

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2 Kings 1-2: Christ and His disciple

Book of Ruth

The book of Judges ended on a low note, and the book of Ruth does not open optimistically either.  Yet, what we find throughout the book is a tale of redemption in Jesus Christ; although this is the first book where it seems that God is silent, it is in fact entirely underpinned by the gospel story of redemption from famine.  It is fittingly quiet on the LORD’s direct communion with Ruth, Naomi and Boaz, yet it is drenched with symbolism, places, names and types which explains to the reader God’s dedication of the recapitulation of the body of Christ through the ordained salvation method of through His Anointed Son.

It is a book which many mistake to have been included purely to chronicle the events of the following books which speak of the kingship of Saul and David; yet if we were to simply look at Ruth as a story of a ‘humble and meek’ woman who was used by God to display the glory of Christ coming through humility, coming through a despised Moabite, then the message will be sorely saturated and much of what the Spirit wishes to communicate to the Spirit-filled reader will be lost.  Both Antiochene and Alexandrian interpretations of this book are still subject to Christ’s words in John 5:39, that all Scripture testifies to him in several layers beyond that of mere prophecy or chronology.

Ruth 1:  Israel in Slavery

Ruth thus begins with a famine during the time of the judges, and this pattern of fullness-famine-fullness is explored several times throughout the previous books:  the leadership of Joseph and the blessings given to Israel in Egypt, leading to the widespread enslavement of the Israelites, culminating in the great Exodus to Canaan; the giving of Abraham’s wife to a king in both Genesis 12 and 20, a type of captivity over Abraham’s wife, the bride and the church, only for the wife to be returned to her lord, her husband, with greater blessings than what they have begun with; and the grander scheme of Eden, where Adam and Eve were but spiritual infants in the garden of Eden:

“Thus the enkrateia tradition could hold the state of Adam before the formation of Eve, or the supposed virginal condition of the protoplasts, to be the ideal after which to aspire, even seeing its perfection as entirely derivative of a pre-sexuality or a-sexuality.  Here is the danger in misinterpreting Irenaeus as a restorationst, for Irenaeus saw the innocence of Eden as a state of immaturity, the growth from which would necessarily include marriage, the basis of the blessing of increase [referencing Against All Heresies Book III and Genesis 1:27-8]” – Michael Reeves in his unpublished doctorate thesis “The Glory of God – The Christological Anthropology of Irenaeus of Lyons and Karl Barth”

This theology of maturation, not to be confused with a type of Darwinist theology, takes us to realise that Naomi has to experience her death, her own baptism in Christ, so that she can also experience the resurrection – restoration to Eden – and ascension, going beyond Eden, so that we mature beyond the template of Eden which is only a shadow and type of New Creation.  So this should teach us of the handing over of power to Satan in the fall but only for him to be crushed by Christ who takes the maturing church, including Adam and Eve, to the greater New Jerusalem.

Famine to Glory

This is reflected in the geographical movement of Elimelech and his family, including his wife Naomi, his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, and their respective Moabite wives (Elimelech’s daughters-in-law) Orpah and Ruth.  V.1-5 begins with Elimelech leaving Bethlehem with his Israelite family because of a famine, and his sons finding Moabite wives in Moab, a direct correlation to the period of the latter chapters of Genesis where Jacob and his eleven sons found themselves in foreign land – Egypt, because of a great famine.  Yet, upon receiving news that the LORD had “visited his people and given them food” they return to Judah where there is the house of bread, Bethlehem.

Note how the centrality of Old Testament evangelism is honed in on Israel as light to the nations; Israel is his people, by default implying at this time that Moab is not.  Thus, the movement of Elimelech’s family from Bethlehem to Moab and back to Judah is meant to be a parallel to Abraham’s movement from Canaan to Egypt and back to Canaan (Genesis 12-13).  So also Naomi’s name is changed similarly, from Sweetness to Bitterness, from having two sons and a husband taken from her (v.5) to the Almighty dealing bitterly with her (v.20), though three chapters later she will receive even greater blessings than when she had as Naomi, a glory greater than Eden.  “I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty.  Why call me Naomi, when the LORD has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?” (v.21)  These are the words of a half gospel; of Christ who died and did not resurrect, of Israel in slavery and there being no exodus – but Christ is indeed alive, and Israel is indeed saved.

The Offspring in Bethlehem

Throughout this entire episode, we should not assume that Elimelech is a sinner; contrarily, we receive only a neutral narrative which explains that he, alongside his two Israelite sons, had died in foreign land.  It is in this context that we can see the similarities between Elimelech, Jacob and Israel in the wilderness.  All three parties have died prior to entering Canaan; all three knew that the Israelites were the chosen people, that restoration would come firstly to Israel and bless the nations surrounding her.  And yet, what is so important about the story of Elimelech, who is named “my God is king”, is that he is like those Israelites of the previous generations who called Yahweh his king.  Any one of the Israelites could be the direct forefather of Jesus Christ, the one offspring in Galatians 3:16-19, and yet it would seem that Elimelech’s line is finished in v.5.  Naomi is thus only left with her daughters-in-law, Orpah and Naomi.

What is important to realise is that Elimelech’s line is of course restored through Boaz and Ruth’s marriage; this effectively gives the inheritance back into the line of Mahlon, Elimelech’s son, the sick one – whose name is revived only through Israel, God’s chosen people especially in Bethlehem.

If read independently, this is also an allusion to Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, for The Offspring was born not in Moab, not in Egypt, not in the wilderness, but in the House of Bread for He is our Bread of life (John 6:48).  However, if read in context of the book of Ruth being sandwiched between Judges and 1 Samuel, we can see how the message becomes more poignant; the continual refrain of rest and slavery in Judges with the book ending on slavery means that the immediate rest should come not in Saul, nor David, nor Solomon, but in the offspring of Elimelech who died outside of Israel like Jacob, whose name perpetuated not in Moab but in Israel, though he was buried in Moab (c.f. Genesis 49:29-30; 50:5).

Therefore, where we see Orpah leave upon Naomi’s pleading in v.11-14, we can also see how Elimelech’s line is essentially stopped there.  Scripture does not mention again what happens to Orpah or Elimelech’s line through Orpah, but it appears that she heeded Naomi’s advice to find a new husband in Moab (v.8).  Orpah went to find a husband, witnessing the LORD allegedly abandoning Naomi, and even if she were to find a husband, no longer would her line of descendants proclaim like Elimelech that “God is King”.  This is the importance of seeing the difference Orpah’s progeny and Ruth’s; the former submitted to silence as if it is not important anymore, but Ruth’s being the highlight for the progeny extended through Israel and not in Moab.

Orpah shall find her husband by the blessing of her gods (v.15) who haven’t abandoned her like Yahweh has allegedly done with Naomi; Orpah shall be connected to the other husbands, to the other Baalim.  Yet, Ruth will go where Naomi will go, lodge where Naomi will lodge, Naomi’s people being Ruth’s people – the first picture of the Gentiles taking shelter under the Israelite wings, of Japheth joining the tent of Shem (v.15-18, Genesis 9:27).  This therefore appropriately occurs during the barley harvest (v.22), a time akin to the Pentecost the festival of harvest when the Spirit was given to the Gentiles, the church of Israel becoming once again a world-wide church which the church prior to Moses typified, and here prophesied as through the joining of Ruth to Naomi, of Ruth to Boaz, of Elimelech’s line restored and glorified with the addition of this Gentile – of Israel’s glory shared with the Gentiles together.

Ruth 2:  Incarnation

Boaz the Redeemer

The story does not beat around the bush, and immediately takes us from the desolation and wilderness of chapter 1 to fulfilling the true meaning of this barley harvest in chapter 2.  This is found in Boaz, incidentally a name used for one of Solomon’s brazen pillars in the temple porch (2 Chronicles 3:15).   He is indeed a pillar of faith, a cornerstone of Christian history, a type of Christ-the-Redeemer and the Israelite husband to his soon-to-be wife, a Gentile, Ruth.

Yet, whilst the focus of the chapter is on Boaz, we first see the eagerness of the Gentile, of the despised Moabite which may still be fresh in the minds of the Israelites since the conflict of Ehud and Eglon in Judges 3-4.  V.2-3 of chapter 2 in particular points us to the same principle of the Gentile who approached Christ (Matthew 15:27) as we see Ruth gleaning the Israelite field, the field which belongs to Boaz the type of Christ.  In this field bought by Christ (Matthew 13:44-46), the field being the world, the great pearl is the church and Ruth is this great pearl in Boaz’ eyes which he would have to sacrifice his own estate for (c.f. chapter 4v.6).

Immediately, we are taken to Boaz’ proclamation – “the LORD be with you” (Yahweh imachem, LORD with you) – and indeed, Boaz is with Ruth, as Christ is with the Gentile and Israelite church in this field, the world.  This man from Bethlehem is proclaiming and typifying the truth of Immanuel, God with us, and the narrative of v.8-18 taking us deep inside the mind of Christ as if He is directly speaking through Boaz.  This is a breath-taking speech, a type of wedding proposal:

8Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. 9Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.” 10Then(G) she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should(H) take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” 11But Boaz answered her,(I) “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. 12(J) The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” 13Then she said,(K) “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.”

14And at mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.” So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until(L) she was satisfied, and she had some left over. 15When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. 16And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.”

17So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah[b] of barley. 18And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over(M) after being satisfied.

Christ is our LORD who takes notice of the foreigner (v.10; Acts 26:23; Romans 3:29, 11:11-25); who knows by the Spirit of the troubles of Ruth (v.11; c.f. Luke 10 parable of the Samaritan); who provides refuge under the banner of the “God of Israel” and not the Baalim of Moab as Orpah has run after; who eats with his bride (Exodus 24; Matthew 26:26) and has communion with her by the bread and the wine (v.14) – continually reminding His angels and His Church (v.15; c.f. Deuteronomy 4:26; 1 Samuel 12:5; Job 16:19; Hebrews 12:1) and Israelites to welcome her into the House of God.

Ruth in the Race of Faith

V.20 is thus a turning point for Naomi, a type of exodus for her as she begins to understand that she no longer has to call herself Mara as the LORD has not forsaken the living or the dead.  It is interesting how in the same verse, Naomi does not mention the closest redeemer who Boaz knew about (according to the kinsman-redeemer mandate of Leviticus ??), but her consistent focus on Boaz tells us that his actions typify Christ more than that of the closest redeemer who does not even glorify Christ through his duty of redeemer.  Yet, v.21-23 remains the current commandment concerning Ruth’s status in this field as she is protected from being assaulted by staying until the end of the harvest by the encouragement and upholding of her Israelite sisters; just as Hebrews 3 (?) taught us that we are to keep running in this race of faith by the Spirit and Christ the perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), protected from the attack of Satan (1 Corinthians 10:13) as we stand inside the field of Boaz as Christ’s precious pearl (Matthew 13:46).

Ruth 3:  From Death to Ascension

Many people tend to look at the third chapter of Ruth and frown upon Ruth taking initiative for her action like that of a prostitute.  However, this is to read too much of an assumption into Ruth’s actions, for we need to remember that Boaz is the one who offered protection to Ruth; he is the first who extended compassion to this despised Moabite, like Christ who loved us before we loved him (Romans 5:10).

Upon this, Ruth is but hoping to prepare herself as a viable bride for Boaz to marry, and the entire preparation process is akin to the process of the Shulamite bride of the Song of Songs (Song of Songs 4) both analogies pointing to the washing and anointing of the church presented holy and blameless before her bridegroom on the great Wedding Day.

Christ and the Church

This is especially interesting given that Ruth is led by her mother-in-law (v.1-6), a Christian and an Israelite, giving godly advice to Ruth.  This is by no means a whoring of Ruth; contrarily, it is a deep theology of man and wife, of Christ and the Church.  It is in the sleeping of Adam that the church, Eve, was born – which is but a typifying of Christ who had to sleep in the earth and rise again for the global Church to be truly born:

“…Adam was put to sleep. We remember that it is said of believers that
they fall asleep, rather than that they die. Why? Because whenever
death is mentioned sin is there in the background. In Genesis 3 sin
entered into the world and death through sin, but Adam’s sleep
preceded that. So the type of the Lord Jesus here is not like other
types in the Old Testament. In relation to sin and atonement there is
a lamb or a bullock slain ; but here Adam was not slain, but only put
to sleep to awake again. Thus he prefigures a death that is not on
account of sin, but that has in view increase in resurrection. Then
too we must note that Eve was not created as a separate entity by a
separate creation, parallel to that of Adam. Adam slept, and Eve was
created out of Adam. That is God’s method with the Church. God’s
‘second Man’ has awakened from His’sleep’and His Church is created in
Him and of Him, to draw her life from Him and to display that
resurrection life.

God has a Son who is known to be the only begotten, and God is seeking
that the only begotten Son should have brethren. From the position of
only begotten He will become the first begotten, and instead of the
Son alone God will have many sons. One grain of wheat has died and
many grains will spring up. The first grain was once the only grain ;
now it is changed to be the first grain of many. The Lord Jesus laid
down His life, and that life emerged in many lives. These are the
Biblical figures we have used hitherto in our study to express this
truth. Now, in the figure just considered, the singular takes the
place of the plural. The outcome of the Cross is a single person: a
Bride for the Son. Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for
it…
” – Watchman Nee, “The Normal Christian Life” Chapter 11

Ruth thus approached Boaz deep in the night and uncovering and laying by his feet as a sign of submission to Boaz her potential Head (Genesis 49:10; Exodus 3:5 – the taking off of the sandals as a sign of submission; Exodus 4:25; Joshua 3:13; Psalm 8:6, 58:10; Hebrews 2:8), with Ruth in particular seeing Boaz as akin to how Moses saw Christ (Exodus 19:4; Psalm 36:7) by her language – “I am Ruth, your servant.  Spread your wings [corners of a garment in the ESV footnote] over your servant, for you are a redeemer.”  This call for salvation is typical of the church yearning for God (c.f. Job 19:25; Psalm 57:1, 61:4).  The ESV footnote which looks at wings as alternatively the “corners of a garment” only calls me back to Isaiah 61 where Christ clothes us with the garment of righteousness, and Ruth understands that the decision of salvation and redemption comes through Boaz alone and not by her own efforts.  V.10 is as if Christ himself is blessing Ruth and condemning Orpah, that Ruth would go for a godly man rather than a husband of other gods; that Ruth would cling onto Christ as the end of chapter 2 intimated through her perseverance in the harvest, rather than be distracted by the lust of her eyes.

V.13 thus is a beckoning for the Church to remain, and that in the morning Christ would redeem us.  We are thus still in the night, wandering in the wilderness already saved from Moab, from Egypt, from slavery – and moving towards Canaan, towards Bethlehem of Judah, towards New Creation .  Yet, it is still spiritual night, and though Christ arrived as light had entered darkness (John 1), Christ’s return is the great Resurrection Day as Boaz proclaims that the Redeemer will redeem Ruth in the morning.  Yet, it is not the treacherous false kinsman-redeemer (chapter 4v.6) which Satan masquerades as, but Christ who is the only one entitled to be one with the Church as Adam and Eve and Boaz and Ruth.

However, these things are yet to be given, and just as God gave us the Holy Spirit as a deposit of this truth to come, so also Boaz grants Ruth this deposit through the symbolism of barley during this period of harvest (v.15) typical of the Pentecost.  The mother-in-law may ask Ruth to learn how the matter turns out, but we know that with the barley harvest in our heart, with the Spirit testifying to Christ and He the Father, the morning will come with the arrival of the true Kinsman-Redeemer.  Christ and His Father are working to this day (v.18, John 5:17), and will not have the long Sabbath Rest until the matter is settled once and for all (2 Peter 3:9).

Ruth 4:  His return on the Wedding Day

So twelve men gather before the gate of the city, and one of them the closest kinsman-redeemer; yet, instead of redeeming his kinsman, he looked only to the property of Naomi.  He would rather have her parcel of land (v.3) without responsibility, literally a free gift.  With this kinsman-redeemer, he has no intention of perpetuating the name of Elimelech and like Satan who is equally condemned to the pit, he has no power in perpetuating the name of Elimelech let alone the desire to help anyone perpetuate their name.  Yet, it is under Boaz the type of Christ that we all have new names which will perpetuate in New Creation (c.f. Revelation 2:17), rather than under the false pretence of this unnamed kinsman-redeemer who has failed to understand the spirit of the Levitical (?) law.

Cloud of Witnesses

This is where we see the self-sacrificial and costly nature of salvation – that Christ would endanger his own inheritance and his estate by conjoining Himself to the Church, so that Christ and Church would have such a union so that we are essentially standing with Him in the communion of the Holy Trinity:

Being born of the Spirit describes a work of the Spirit in the Christian, which Goodwin sees as analogous to the conception of the human nature of Christ.  This new birth is not the ‘begetting’ of a nature that is the very same as the nature of the Spirit Himself, that is, it is not a communication of the Godhead to us making us “God of God”.  Just as the two natures of Christ are not confused or mixed, so the Spirit does not become the new nature.  Neither is this new nature a spark of the divine life put within, because we are only creatures and can only ever be creatures”. – Paul Blackham in his unpublished doctoral thesis “The Pneumatology of Thomas Goodwin”

It is Christ who took on our flesh, and was emptied so that we are made full (Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21); that He would be Mara so that we can be restored beyond Naomi.

The physical emblem of this is stored in the explanation behind “the custom in former times” (v.7) which concerns redeeming and exchanging, much like the great exchange of our sins with His righteousness in Luther’s terms:

“In this is displayed the delightful sight, not only of communion, but of a prosperous warfare, of victory, salvation, and redemption. For, since Christ is God and man, and is such a Person as neither has sinned, nor dies, nor is condemned, nay, cannot sin, die, or be condemned, and since His righteousness, life, and salvation are invincible, eternal, and almighty,–when I say, such a Person, by the wedding-ring of faith, takes a share in the sins, death, and hell of His wife, nay, makes them His own, and deals with them no otherwise than as if they were His, and as if He Himself had sinned; and when He suffers, dies, and descends to hell, that He may overcome all things, and since sin, death, and hell cannot swallow Him up, they must needs be swallowed up by Him in stupendous conflict. For His righteousness rises above the sins of all men; His life is more powerful than all death; His salvation is more unconquerable than all hell.

Thus the believing soul, by the pledge of its faith in Christ, becomes free from all sin, fearless of death, safe from hell, and endowed with the eternal righteousness, life, and salvation of its Husband Christ. Thus He presents to Himself a glorious bride, without spot or wrinkle, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word; that is, by faith in the word of life, righteousness, and salvation. Thus He betrothes her unto Himself “in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies” (Hosea ii. 19, 20).

Who then can value highly enough these royal nuptials? Who can comprehend the riches of the glory of this grace? Christ, that rich and pious Husband, takes as a wife a needy and impious harlot, redeeming her from all her evils and supplying her with all His good things. It is impossible now that her sins should destroy her, since they have been laid upon Christ and swallowed up in Him, and since she has in her Husband Christ a righteousness which she may claim as her own, and which she can set up with confidence against all her sins, against death and hell, saying, “If I have sinned, my Christ, in whom I believe, has not sinned; all mine is His, and all His is mine,” as it is written, “My beloved is mine, and I am His” (Cant. ii. 16). This is what Paul says: “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ,” victory over sin and death, as he says, “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law” (1 Cor. xv. 56, 57).” – Martin Luther’s “The Freedom of the Christian”

Thus the sandal of the redeemer is given to Boaz (v.9-11), so that all may be placed under the footstool of Christ (Luke 20:43):

9Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to(H) Chilion and to Mahlon. 10Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife,(I) to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.”

Such is the nature of Christ’s proclamation of His marriage to us; He announces it to the clouds of witnesses, be they angels, the Spirit, the creatures, the groaning earth or even those being held in the pit (1 Peter 3:19) – these are the witnesses awaiting the revelation of the glory of the sons of God (Deuteronomy 4:26; 1 Samuel 12:5; Job 16:19; Romans 8:19-23; Hebrews 12:1) that the line of Spiritual Israel has perpetuated into New Jerusalem, that the name of the dead – be that Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Gideon or even you – will be preserved eternally in the New Kingdom, so that none of our inheritance is cut off as long as we are grafted into Christ and allow us to stand righteous at the gate of the new heaven and earth (Revelation 22:14).

Thus, just as Justin Martyr saw Leah and Rachel as respectively the Old Church of Israel and the New Global Church with Japheth in the tents of Shem (Genesis 9:27), so also the elders saw Ruth as akin to Rachel and Leah in the typifying of the building up the house of Israel (v.11-12) into an international Church, for it is indeed through Ruth’s story that we see a restoration of God’s people not to the idyllic template of Eden, but to the real glory of Christ Who is greater than Eden, and transcends the barriers of the nations.

The spiritual insight of the House of Perez (v.12) in fact draws several parallels between Genesis 38 and the story of Ruth (taken from http://the48files.blogspot.com/2008/04/judah-and-tamar-retold.html and my commentary on Genesis 38):

Gen 38

Ruth

Judah went down from his brothers and turned aside to a certain Adullamite

Elimelech moved away from his people to Moab

Judah and his son marry a Canaanite

Mahlon and Chilion marry Moabites

Judah’s two sons die

Elimelech and his two sons die

Judah and Onan act unfaithfully as kinsman-redeemer

Boaz acts faithfully as kinsman-redeemer, the un-named redeemer of Ruth 4 does not act faithfully

Tamar faithfully seeks to continue the line

Ruth faithfully seeks to continue the line

Tamar offers herself as a prostitute to Judah

Ruth seeks to seduce Boaz in a way which could almost be considered entrapment

Judah dishonourable and seduced by Tamar

Boaz is honourable in his conduct to Ruth

Tamar is included in the people of Israel and is an ancestor of Boaz, David and Jesus

Ruth is included in the people of Israel and is an ancestor of David and Jesus

Like Tamar, Ruth is an outsider who was brought within the House of Israel – and in fact they are huge contributors to the line of David down to Christ, fulfilling the prophecy of Japheth and Shem – a picture of the Gentiles and Israelites joining together against the spiritual Canaanites which include many of the physical church of Israel.

Restorer of Life in the House of Perez

So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife, and Boaz did this upon his return in the morning, that on the first meeting he gave her the deposit of the barley, and that on his second return he is waiting to be married to her – so our Christ who gave us the Spirit in His incarnation would return to enable us the full intimacy of marital union.

Such is the new glory given to Naomi, that Obed the grandfather of David is greater to her than “seven sons” – exceeding the period of joy that she had with her family in Edenic times and she is restored beyond Mara, beyond Naomi.  Like a model of Genesis 3, the Seed is to come, the Seed who is the redeemer whose name shall be renowned in Israel!  The focus of this blessing and prophecy is thus on Obed – “He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to HIM” [my emphasis, v.15].  The immediate comment that David is borne of Obed shows us that Christ, in the line of David, is actually the true meaning of this restorer and nourisher of life, the redeemer whose name shall be renowned in true Israel.

Naomi is one of the few remnants left of Israel in the wilderness, just like Joshua and Caleb, and their names are upheld through their progeny as those two leaders nursed Israel into the great chosen nation.  Indeed, a son is born to Naomi, not Mara – and this is such a direct contrast to the bitterness by the end of the book of Judges, that it is so fitting for us to see the familial love entirely restored from Obed to Ruth, from Ruth to Naomi (v.15), from Ruth to Boaz, from Boaz to Ruth – this flow of love stemming from the fountain of the Trinity passing on to all who had experienced such pain of being once outcast and now restored to greater wonders.  Ruth the Moabite is no longer distinguishable as a daughter-in-law, as she is considered truly the family of the Israelites (Ruth 2:2, 2:8, 2:22; 3:1, 3:10, 3:11, 3:16, 3:18), the inheritance of Israel given to her just as Christ has used Israel to give it to all of us today.  The narrative’s focus is that she is indeed the daughter-in-law, but Ruth is according to Naomi’s choice of words truly her daughter, and Orpah truly standing outside of this Church of Christ.

The Book of Ruth therefore ends by taking us back to the house of Perez, reminding us of the glory given to Tamar of the offspring coming by her line down through Ruth (Galatians 3:16-19).  Here we see this important house recorded:  Perez who breached the family of Israel as being of mixed heritage, initially enclosed in Hezron but leading to exaltation through Ram, being one of the prince’s people through Amminadab, with Nahshon the enchanter being the brother-in-law of Aaron by his sister Elisheba (Exodus 6:23), and Salmon who – like Judah and Boaz – married women of non-Israelite blood (Rahab, c.f. Matthew 1:5), leading to the swiftness of Boaz to the salvation of Ruth resulting in the service of Obed, finally ascending to the wealth of Jesse the Bethlehemite (1 Samuel 16:1, 18; 17:58) which were cared for by David, the well-beloved Son of Man as one of the greatest types of Christ.

From this genealogy at the end of the book, we are given the context of the prophecy concerning the restorer of life in chapter 4:12, 4:15 – culminating in King David.  Obed was merely the passage to this restorer, as was Perez; and as the next book tells of the story of the true king David toppling the faithless king Saul, it is in the narrative of 1 and 2 Samuel that we find one of the longest drawn out typologies of Christ in the Old Testament, He who became our close Kinsman in order to complete the work of the Redeemer.

Book of Ruth

Leviticus 23-24:9: The Progression of, not towards, Christ – in the Jewish Feasts

We’ve considered many new things since the Day of atonement in Leviticus 16, all of which can be under the banner of cleanness to holiness of both the layperson and the priest to enjoy the only true privileges of being part of the church of Israel.  The progression is indeed intentional: and the progression of Christ through the layout of the gospel story so far in the first three books of Moses, rather than the progression towards Christ (as if Christ was not preached nor revealed until the New Testament) is again embodied by the famous Jewish festivities.

Many non-Christian cultures celebrate special days and events – and today, the Gregorian calendar (the calendar we use in the majority of the world today) is filled with all types of random days commemorating significant moments in history; from Jimi Hendrix’ birthday, which is coincidental to mine (November 27th), to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles to remember the end of the First World War on the 11th of November, 1918, to the catastrophic September 11th.

Each day is thus filled with its respective significance and the western calendar used today is therefore a mark of western anthropology; just as the Chinese lunar calendar’s timing of the Mid-Autumn festival is a time of celebrating the Chinese myth of the love story between a damsel on the rock orbiting the earth.  The calendar itself speaks of culture and ideology.  The Chinese calendar marks the myths, superstitions and religions of the Eastern Orient; the Gregorian now speaks of post-modernism, relativism and a global cultural melting pot.

What of the Jewish calendar which the LORD established?  Here, we find one of the most engaging and interesting aspects of Christianity, and how much the Calendar, the dates, and the feasts reveal the progression OF Christ.

Progressive Revelation of, not towards Christ in the Feasts

Just a cautionary note and perhaps a little bit of side-tracking: the title of this post is “The Progression of, not towards, Christ”.  The reason I say this is because of the relatively modern establishment of the concept of ‘progressive revelation’, which speaks of Christ as if the saints only, over time, knew that the God they trusted in was actually the Son of God.  The implications behind this, is that Adam had no idea he believed in the Son of God, and believed (as far as he is concerned) in a mono-theistic God; then David, in Psalm 110, had spiritual foresights and glimpses into the Trinitarian behaviour, but they are merely glimpses; Isaiah, only when he is filled with the Spirit, was literally possessed by the Spirit when he wrote his book – the clarity of the Trinity was not apparent to Him even as he was writing the verses about the future non-acceptance of Christ in Jerusalem (thus the common phrase: “they wrote better than they knew”); and only until the time of the gospel writers, no one had the clearest and most revealed concept of Jesus Christ as Son of God and mediator in the Trinity.

With much respect to those who struggle or hold strongly to this view, the progression towards Christ seriously frustrates me on many levels.  Primarily, the arrogance of our assumption that Adam had no faith in Christ.  Let me explain: Adam had faith in the Seed (Genesis 3:15), called his woman Eve (the mother of all living despite being cursed with death in the same chapter!), who in turn called their son Cain the LORD-man (mistakenly and prematurely, which simultaneously reveals their mentality of their faith).  If anything, his faith isn’t in the generic God – his faith is in the Seed considered as LORD-man, manifested through the burnt offerings which he taught his sons Cain and Abel as well (although the former forsook it).  I am not opposed to progression per se, because I am not saying that Adam knew where exactly Christ is born, what exactly Christ’s name is.

What I am proposing however is the progression of Christ, which is an important distinction.  The progression towards Christ, is a progression towards allowing Christ the role he plays – that being the Redeemer and Mediator between us and the Father (and himself, for the matter, for both are our Judges).  This makes the assumption that in the Old Testament, none knew consciously they needed a mediator – their concepts were vague at best, but not explicit.  This simply has no scriptural warrant (Job 19:25).  What progression of Christ means the different manifestations of God’s sacraments towards man; the different expressions of God towards man (be they Noah’s ark; rainbow; circumcision; Passover; manna; Tabernacle; Mosaic Law), they continue to express the same Mediator, the same Truth, the same Redeemer – Christ.  Thus, there is a progression of Christ towards his incarnation, and these expressions, shadows and signs have always pointed towards the fulfillment of the incarnation.

This means that Jesus is clearly known, through these teaching tools.  The people did not only trust in the signs and shadows – they trusted in what the signs and shadows pointed towards, being Christ!  The New Testament is therefore not a book of ‘revelation’ – it is a book of fulfillment of the work of the Anointed One.  It is what the Old Testament had always pointed towards.  These feasts are simply a good way to express what the sacrifices could not – a school teacher if you will, like the rest of the Mosaic law.

What makes the feast stand out is for this reason:  it is tempting to look at the animal sacrifices and literally think they save them.  It is even tempting to think you are saved by your physical circumcision, and your diligence in obeying the law, despite the constant reminder from Moses not to be tempted to think so (c.f. Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:6).

But where is such a temptation when you’re looking at the Jewish Calendar?  What can YOU possibly do about these calendar dates?  They are absolutely external to us; these days were established from the LORD alone; and ALL of them pointed towards Christ and his work on the cross.  Like the sacrament of the rainbow, let this calendar speak of the extra nos (outside of ourselves) of Christ’s work.  However, this did not stop people from being self-righteous from the observing of the days and months and seasons and years (Galatians 4:10) – and Paul is exactly making the same point I am making about the spiritual significance of these significant periods.

This is a great opportunity dive into the Jewish calendar which I’ve touched briefly upon in Exodus chapters 23 and 34.

1.  Introduction to the Jewish Calendar

2.  The feasts (Leviticus 23)

3.  Oil and bread (Leviticus 24:1-9)

4.  Progression of Christ and the Three Pilgrimage Festivals

1.  Introduction to the Jewish Calendar

Taken from here:

Hebrew English Number Length Gregorian Equivalent
Nissan (in Hebrew) Nissan 1 30 days March-April
Iyar (in Hebrew) Iyar 2 29 days April-May
Sivan (in Hebrew) Sivan 3 30 days May-June
Tammuz (in Hebrew) Tammuz 4 29 days June-July
Av (in Hebrew) Av 5 30 days July-August
Elul (in Hebrew) Elul 6 29 days August-September
Tishri (in Hebrew) Tishri 7 30 days September-October
Cheshvan (in Hebrew) Cheshvan 8 29 or 30 days October-November
Kislev (in Hebrew) Kislev 9 30 or 29 days November-December
Tevet (in Hebrew) Tevet 10 29 days December-January
Shevat (in Hebrew) Shevat 11 30 days January-February
Adar (in Hebrew) Adar I (leap years only) 12 30 days February-March
Adar II (in Hebrew) Adar (called Adar II in leap years) 12 (13 in leap years) 29 days February-March

Now, we must not look at the Jewish calendar is if it is identical to the Gregorian one which we use.  Although there are parallels to be made in identifying the corresponding Gregorian month to the Jewish month, there are additional months added in leap years (or literally, pregnant years).  The beginning of the month is normally established from observing the first teal of the moon, after the darkened moon – and therefore, each month is approximately 20-30 days, hence the discrepancy in some of the months.  However, the period between Nisan and Tishri are stable and unchanging: which means that the feasts and festivals and days of remembrance remain the same throughout those months.

Secondly, the ‘first’ month may be Nisan on the ecclesiastical year, but the actual first month of the Jewish year starts on the ‘seventh’ month – Tishri/Tishrei.  This is akin to the ‘school year’ of the Gregorian month, which begins often in September; for the Jews, Tishri is the ‘first month’ of the year – it is often referred to as a month of many significant days, from Rosh Hashanah on the 1st and 2nd of Tishrei (marking the beginning of the Jewish civil Year, as opposed to Nisan being the beginning of the Jewish ecclesiastical year), to Yom Kippur on the 10th (Day of Atonement), to the Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) beginning on the 15th.

The 1 Tishri is very significant.  It marks the same day where Adam and Eve were created; the sending of the dove after its return with the olive branch on Noah’s ark; the binding of Isaac in Genesis 22.  With such a small taster of the significance of the day, each day bears its own significance in preaching the truth of Jesus.

With this background knowledge, we can turn to the feasts.

2.  The feasts (Leviticus 23)

The progression of the festivals/feasts is as follows:

Feast/Festival

Hebrew Name

Dates

Christological sign

Passover

פֶּסַח, Pesach

14th of Nisan

Blood and death of Christ

Unleavened Bread

מצּה, Matstsah

15th– 21st of Nisan

The need for redemption, and that we are in the world but not of it

Firstfruits/Weeks

שבועות, Shavuot

6th of Sivan

Resurrection of Christ

Pentecost

Πεντηκοστή (the word ‘Pentecost’ is actually from the Greek, not Hebrew), and seen as a continuation of the harvest – Shavuot

50 days after 6th of Sivan

Giving of the Holy Spirit

Trumpets

זִכְרוֹן תְּרוּעָה, zichron teruah; ראש השנה Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Yr)

1st of Tishri

The return of Christ and the victory revealed

Day of Atonement

וֹם כִּפּוּר, Yom Kippur

10th of Tishri

Renewal of the entire creation

Tabernacles/Booths

סוכות, Sukkot

15th – 21st of Tishri

Waiting for this new creation

Sabbath (23:3)

“Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.”

Before the festivals and the feasts, we begin with the remembrance of the first creation of 6 days (Exodus 20:11), ending with the seventh day of Sabbath, reminding Israel of the initial rest which the LORD took, before undertaking the work of new creation from the 8th day (John 5:17) onwards.  A new week, a new start. Deuteronomy 5:15 explains that this model of 6 days, then the seventh, is a model of our salvation as symbolised through the Exodus of Israel from Egypt.

The Sabbath is therefore a symbol of looking forward to the peace, the resting, of New Creation.  Do you take your Sabbath seriously?  Do you over-spiritualise it, and work every day without remembering that the LORD is in complete control and that our work is temporary on earth, for what-ever work we undertake is of two natures: the curse of Genesis 3 (the toil); or the Godly work of bringing people to the House of the Redeemed?  The former is temporary, and the latter is merely something we partake – for it is His work entirely, and not ours.  If even He rests on the Sabbath, what right do we have to work on the Sabbath?

Passover (23:4-5)

Lev 23:4-5  “These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, the holy convocations, which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them.  (5)  In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight, is the LORD’s Passover.

So the first month of the ecclesiastical year begins with the Passover – but remember that the Jewish year begins with Tishri, not with Nisan – month number 7 is the ‘first month’ of a new year, not month number 1. This is the day that Christ went to the cross and died, and significantly so.  I have already considered the importance of the Passover in my exposition of Exodus 12.

Feast of Unleavened Bread (23:6-8 )

Lev 23:6-8  And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.  (7)  On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work.  (8 )  But you shall present a food offering to the LORD for seven days. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work.”

I’ve already looked at the importance of the feast of the unleavened bread, where one’s waiting of leaven is the symbolism of one’s attachment to the world (during the Exodus of Israel – Exodus 12:39).  This is a period of the onlooking hope of full-redemption by arriving at the spiritual Canaan (1 Corinthians 5:8 ).

Firstfruits (23:9-14)

Lev 23:9-14  And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  (10)  “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest,  (11)  and he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, so that you may be accepted. On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.  (12)  And on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb a year old without blemish as a burnt offering to the LORD.  (13)  And the grain offering with it shall be two tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, a food offering to the LORD with a pleasing aroma, and the drink offering with it shall be of wine, a fourth of a hin.  (14)  And you shall eat neither bread nor grain parched or fresh until this same day, until you have brought the offering of your God: it is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

This is a time of harvest; and the very first of the harvest is offered to the LORD as they waited for the full harvest to be gathered later on.  This is a reminder of birth of the new life through the seed; the day of the seed, the third day (and also Day 3 of creation – Genesis 1:11-13), on which Jesus rose again is a perfect example of new life (John 12:23-24).  Jesus is the Seed which gives life to the firstfruits (2 Thess 2:13).

Feast of Pentecost (23:15-22)

Lev 23:15-22  “You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering.  (16)  You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the LORD.  (17)  You shall bring from your dwelling places two loaves of bread to be waved, made of two tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour, and they shall be baked with leaven, as firstfruits to the LORD.  (18 )  And you shall present with the bread seven lambs a year old without blemish, and one bull from the herd and two rams. They shall be a burnt offering to the LORD, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the LORD.  (19)  And you shall offer one male goat for a sin offering, and two male lambs a year old as a sacrifice of peace offerings.  (20)  And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the LORD for the priest.  (21)  And you shall make proclamation on the same day. You shall hold a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a statute forever in all your dwelling places throughout your generations.  (22)  “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.”

Out of the ecclesiastical year, this is the first feast which is so fulsome –

(a) a grain offering (v.16)

(b) two loaves of bread to be waved, baked with leaven as firstfruit (v.17)

(c) seven lambs a year old without blemish, and one bullock and two rams (as burnt offering v.18 )

(d) male goat for sin offering, two male lambs a year old as sacrifice as peace offering (v.19)

So this feast is one representative of the arrival at the Promised Land – for now, there is time to use yeast!

The Firstfruits marked the beginning of the harvest, as Pentecost marks the end of it; the firstfruits looked at salvation of those from the beginning of the world until Christ’s second advent – and every Christian in this period is seen as ‘firstfruits’.  However, the Pentecost looks at the fulness of this redemption – the revealing of all the sons of God in new creation (Romans 8:19).

However, how are we made the firstfruits?  By the power of the Spirit – which, unsurprisingly, is the day on  which the Spirit was given to Gentile and Jew alike in Acts 2.  Now, and not later, do we have the intimacy and fellowship with God in Christ.  We may not ‘feel’ it, or ‘experience’ it daily, but we taste the firstfruits of it.  The true intimacy we will experience with our new bodies in New Creation, but now we already know God because he knew us first (John 17:3); we already love God because he loved us first (1 John 4:19).

Out of all the feasts, this is the only one that required fellowship/peace offering.  Let’s work through the progression: first burnt offering, then sin offering, then peace offering – it is tracing the work of salvation.  Christ’s propitiatory work on the cross as burnt offering, his blood as our sin offering, and then the Spirit given as peace and fellowship offering.  Only by the power of the Spirit do we now that true communion with God, and this fellowship consists in the form of eating with God (hence the feast of Pentecost).  That is why we are a son of God, through the Sonship of Christ.

This does not end the analogy, for the latter parts of Acts 2 displays a sharing of the property of the believers.  “Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need”.  This is a parallel to v.21 – 22.  Do not do any work, as a mark of rest; and you shall not reap to the edge of the land as a form of provision to the poor and the sojourner.

Day of Trumpets (23:23-25)

Lev 23:23-25  And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  (24)  “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation.  (25)  You shall not do any ordinary work, and you shall present a food offering to the LORD.”

This marks the coming of Christ, as the trumpet blast has signified so often throughout both OT and NT.  The ram’s horn was sounded in Exodus 19; then again in Joshua 6:13, v. 16, v. 20; Isaiah 18:3, 27:13; Ezekiel 33:5; 1 Thess 4:16; Revelation 11:15.

Note in the references above that the trumpet is a two-fold sign: a sign of rejoicing for those in Christ, but a sign of dread and punishment for those without Christ – rightly so; are we going to be under God’s wrath, or hiding in the cleft of the Rock?

Day of Atonement (23:26-32)

Lev 23:26-32  And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  (27)  “Now on the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be for you a time of holy convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves and present a food offering to the LORD.  (28 )  And you shall not do any work on that very day, for it is a Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the LORD your God.  (29)  For whoever is not afflicted on that very day shall be cut off from his people.  (30)  And whoever does any work on that very day, that person I will destroy from among his people.  (31)  You shall not do any work. It is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwelling places.  (32)  It shall be to you a Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict yourselves. On the ninth day of the month beginning at evening, from evening to evening shall you keep your Sabbath.”

Some observations about this day –

(a)  No work (v.28 )

(b)  Who does not deny himself will be cut off (v.29)

(c)  Who works on that day will be destroyed (v.30-32) as a Sabbath.

It is quite clear that the Day of Atonement is a day of rest, combined with the significance of the Day of Atonement as a symbol of the death, resurrection and primarily the ascension of Christ, as well as the second advent of Christ (the High Priest’s return from the Holy of Holies).  This is a hope of new creation, with no regular work – it is a celebration of Sabbath rest for the whole of creation – this theme is repeated consistently between v.26-32.

Feast of Tabernacles (23:33-44)

Lev 23:33-44  And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  (34)  “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the Feast of Booths to the LORD.  (35)  On the first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work.  (36)  For seven days you shall present food offerings to the LORD. On the eighth day you shall hold a holy convocation and present a food offering to the LORD. It is a solemn assembly; you shall not do any ordinary work.  (37)  “These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim as times of holy convocation, for presenting to the LORD food offerings, burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each on its proper day,  (38 )  besides the LORD’s Sabbaths and besides your gifts and besides all your vow offerings and besides all your freewill offerings, which you give to the LORD.  (39)  “On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD seven days. On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest.  (40)  And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.  (41)  You shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It is a statute forever throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month.  (42)  You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths,  (43)  that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”  (44)  Thus Moses declared to the people of Israel the appointed feasts of the LORD.

v.37-38 acts as summary verses for chapter 23, and now we move on to the Feast of Tabernacles.

On the eighth day they hold a holy convocation and present a food offering to the LORD – it is a solemn assembly without ordinary work.

In many ways, this feast of tabernacles focuses on the lifestyle of the church on earth as we await the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, which prophesies the truth of the life of the True High Priest. Starting on the 1st day with solemn rest, and 8th day with solemn rest (therefore beginning both weeks with rest).  Additionally, one should take the fruit of splendid trees, with branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook and rejoice before the LORD for seven days (v.40).  Then, they will dwell in the tents (v.42) for those seven days – and all native Israelites shall dwell in booths to remind the surrounding nations that the sign of the booth is significant.

Firstly, the importance of the solemn rest is again a concurrent theme throughout the festivals and feasts: but then the offering is one of fruit, branches, boughs, willows.  They are all related to the trees. Numbers 33:6/1 Kings 6:32/John 12:13/Revelation 7:9 indicate that palm trees are associated with life and victory; leafy trees is also a sign towards new life (Ezekiel 20:28 ).

What of the significance of living in tents/booths for seven days?  Hebrews 11:8-10 explains it away:

Heb 11:8-10  By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.  (9)  By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.  (10)  For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

3.  Oil and Bread (Leviticus 24:1-9)

Lev 24:1-9  The LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  (2)  “Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil from beaten olives for the lamp, that a light may be kept burning regularly.  (3)  Outside the veil of the testimony, in the tent of meeting, Aaron shall arrange it from evening to morning before the LORD regularly. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations.  (4)  He shall arrange the lamps on the lampstand of pure gold before the LORD regularly.  (5)  “You shall take fine flour and bake twelve loaves from it; two tenths of an ephah shall be in each loaf.  (6)  And you shall set them in two piles, six in a pile, on the table of pure gold before the LORD.  (7)  And you shall put pure frankincense on each pile, that it may go with the bread as a memorial portion as a food offering to the LORD.  (8 )  Every Sabbath day Aaron shall arrange it before the LORD regularly; it is from the people of Israel as a covenant forever.  (9)  And it shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place, since it is for him a most holy portion out of the LORD’s food offerings, a perpetual due.”

The oil of the lamp is that of the Spirit, who burns regularly.  The twelve loaves of bread, representing the 12 tribes and the 12 apostles.  The frankinsence and gold (Isaiah 60:6), an indication of the coming King!  If this is a food offering to the LORD, then the gifts given to Christ in Matthew 2:11 is an indication of an offering to Christ as LORD, as God.  This, following on from the Feast of Tabernacles, is a forward looking prophecy of the coming of Christ in his office as High Priest, and the sustenance of the Holy Spirit as our deposit throughout the end of the ages.

4.  The Progression of Christ and the Three Pilgrimage Festivals

I wrote in my post on Exodus 22-24 that out of these festivals, there are three where the all males are required to attend, namely the progression of Passover/Pesach, to Pentecost/Shavuot, to Sukkot/Tabernacles/Booths. I also mentioned in that post that the Passover represented the Son.  The Pentecost the Spirit.  The Sukkot, the Father – for it is a reminder that we may have both the Son and the Spirit, but the Father remains unseen except through the Son.  We are still in necessity of a Mediator Christ, and of his power the Spirit.  The Sukkot, therefore, reminds us that we are not yet in new creation, and are looking forward to it.

Let’s look at all these festivals in their progression – the ecclesiastical year therefore begins with the Passover, the death of Christ.  Our trust in the Passover leads us to be on our spiritual Exodus from this world to the new creation (Hebrews 13:13) signified by the Unleavened Bread, looking towards the fulfillment of Christ’s resurrection displayed through the Firstfruits.  The Pentecost, the giving of the Spirit, is the progression of Christ’s death on the cross on Passover, then resurrection on the 8th day of the week (New Creation), third day since he was dead (day of the creation of seeds), and became the firstfruit of creation as we are in him, by the power of the Spirit which he gave 50 days after Firstfruits.

All Christians of all ages therefore looks forward to the sounding of the trumpet, announcing the destruction of the reprobate and the salvation of the faithful, where the Day of Atonement, akin to the Day of Resurrection, will see the full renewal of our bodies and entire creation.

This is where the sign and blueprint of God’s plan throughout the OT to the NT is displayed – and this is the progression of Christ, not towards Christ.  For if we are speaking of towards Christ, then these ‘signs’ and calendars make no sense.  They are but extremely vague shadows, and cannot be given the Christological significance Christ tells us they deserve (John 5:39).

Which is why, AFTER the establishment of these signs, God however brings us back to our current state and establishes the feast of tabernacles after telling us of these important annual dates.  He reminds us essentially to wait for the fulfillment of these signs.  Wait for the progression of Christ from these signs to the future fulfillment.  This, therefore, should be a source of hope for the Christians in the Old Testament.

But remember the Jewish civil calendar as opposed to the ecclesiastical calendar.  The year essentially began in Tishri – and Tishri is the month starting with Trumpets and Yom Kippur.  Thus, the Jewish year begins on a joyous note of VICTORY!  Just as the new week starting on the 8th day is the day that Christ rose, so the new year represented new creation!  And the end of the Jewish year also ends joyously with the Pentecost, looking forward to the day when we eat bread with leaven in New Jerusalem, established by the trumpet blast.  The Tabernacles, Passover and Unleavened Bread are almost insignificantly sandwiched between – but it is Christ who has always been the alpha and the omega (Revelation 1:8 ) – even displayed through the Jewish Year!

Leviticus 23-24:9: The Progression of, not towards, Christ – in the Jewish Feasts

Exodus 31-33: The 10 words destroyed (pt. 1)

1.  The Filling of the Holy Spirit (Exodus 31:1-11)

2.  Sabbath (Exodus 31:12-18 )

3.  The Golden Calf (Exodus 32)

4.  Leaving Sinai – marks of the Holy Trinity (Exodus 33)

1.  The Filling of the Holy Spirit (Exodus 31:1-11)

Now, we see two specific mentioned; one of whom is specifically filled with the Spirit of God.  Bezalel (“in the shadow (protection) of God”) from the line of Judah was given the ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, working in gold, silver and bronze.

Oholiab (“the father’s tent”) contrarily, from the line of Dan, is appointed as Bezalel’s helper.

Then in v.6:  “…And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you…”

Why were Bezalel, from the line of Judah, and the Danite Oholiab specifically mentioned?  I’d like to hear your say on them: perhaps something to do with the scepter not departing from Judah, and justice coming from the tribe of Dan?  He who is in the protection of God, in the line of Judah vs. he who is in the father’s tent (i.e. the Father, 1st person of the Trinity) in the line of Dan?

I’d like to focus on another aspect: which is the mentioning of the Spirit filling someone specifically for the first time in Scripture (v.3).  What is the meaning of this?  Many people have decidedly interpreted John 8 that the Spirit is only given in part to the Old Testament saints, but there is no evidence of the Spirit dwelling within Bezalel, let alone (as v.6 says) all the able men who were also given the ability.  Can we be filled with the Spirit of God, without the indwelling of the Spirit?  Must we differentiate technical categories of illumination, regeneration, indwelling salvation, sanctification/filling of the Spirit?  Perhaps these distinctions are akin to the three-fold distinction of the Levitical law: completely trivial.

But this is not the first time the Spirit of God is in someone – look at Genesis 41:37-38 – The Spirit of God is in Joseph.  Numbers 27:18 – the Spirit of God is in Joshua.  Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, but this happens many times throughout the Old Testament, prior to the giving of the Holy Spirit at the Pentecost.  But how do you reconcile that with John 7:37-39?  The Spirit is not yet given, as Jesus was not yet glorified!  Did Jesus contradict himself?

The problem is that people actually have a misinterpretation of John 7:33-39 – many think it refers to a different way of salvation; as if Christians are sealed with the Holy Spirit in the New Testament (post-Pentecostal age), and OT saints were saved differently.  But we have always had one mediator, Christ (1 Timothy 2:5); and only one mystery.

The Mystery of God

Some people think the “Mystery” refers to the Holy Spirit, but not really.  Dev has written a good post on the ‘mystery’, but here is my quick summary of his “quick” summary:  Ephesians 3:2-6 and Colossians 1:25-27, just two small examples, show that Paul’s explanation of the mystery as the inclusion of all nations within the blessings of Israel.  The revelation therefore isn’t the sudden arrival of the Holy Spirit (since he is so active in the OT), but the extension of His work to all nations.  The mystery is the global inter-racial church of both Jews and Gentiles.  That is the symbolism of Jonah 3-4; only after the sign of Jonah, the 3 days in death, resurrection and ascension, can Jonah then preach directly to a Gentile nation.  The response is national-scale salvation for Nineveh: but this story is prophetic of the necessity of Christ’s glorification for the Spirit to be given to the Gentiles as well.

So if we come back to John 7:33-39:  the Jews were actually concerned that Jesus is about to go and teach the Gentiles, but Jesus’ response affirms that the gospel is not just for the physical Israelite nation.  Anyone and everyone who comes to Him will receive the Holy Spirit; but AFTER he has been glorified (i.e. which is a direct reference to the cross John 12:23,34; 17:5), then the dividing curtain between the Jews and the Gentiles is destroyed.  Only then can the Spirit be given to anyone and everyone who believes on Him.  Only after the sign of Jonah, after the sign of the cross, can Nineveh be saved.  Jonah was a prophet unheard of in his time; no other prophet went out to evangelise to other nations.  Jesus was a prophet, priest and king unheard of in his time – yet he affirmed that this is the sign and meaning of Jonah’s minsitry.

The division between the indwelling and the filling of the Spirit is not yet laid at rest, because we haven’t considered comparing the difference between the ways the Spirit worked in the Old and in the New Testament; but the passages of 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 Corinthians 2; Jonah 3-4; John 7:33-39 point not to the Spirit given to the Jews only in the New Testament.  The Jews were already partakers of the gifts of the Old Testament, and the mystery of the New Testament fulfilled is the inclusion of the Gentiles in a different way from the OT (e.g. Rahab had to be assimilated into the Israelite community; but we don’t assimilate ourselves into the Israelite community today).  If the mystery is simply that of the inclusion of Gentiles, then that means the Gentiles are given the same gifts of salvation through the Spirit in the same way the OT saints have been enjoying all along.  This means that effectively, just as we are sealed and have the Spirit indwelling in us – so also the OT saints are possibly sealed by the Spirit, and He is indwelling in them.  We will come back to the Holy Spirit in the next post on chapters 34 onwards.

2.  Sabbath (Exodus 31:12-18 )

16Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. 17(U) It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that(V) in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and(W) on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.'”

God has repeated the significance of the Sabbath a number of 11 times between after the salvation of the Jews until now.  Clearly, this is quite important – and v. 17 etches it into their heads – it is a sign forever between me and the people of “the-God-who-fights”.  And how does God justify that model of the Sabbath?  Again, it is found in the model of creation, which is sufficient in preaching the gospel in itself.  Not observing the Sabbath will result in death; and this crime is therefore seen as heinous as that of intentional murder, and striking one’s parents.  There is a link between these heavy-sins – and it has nothing to do with the Catholic response to ‘grave’ or ‘mortal’ sins by HOW we repents.  Rather, these heavy-sins have something to do with a characteristic of God; and the Sabbath, like the respecting of one’s parents, are facets of the highest representation of God’s personality.  As I’ve stated, Sabbath represents our time in new Jerusalem where our time of rest (Genesis 2:15) in Paradise is restored and renewed.  If we forget the meaning of Sabbath, then we forget our purpose on earth; we thrive in the curse of God to toil on this earth, but God is deliberately pulling us away from that idolatrous mindset.

3.  The Golden Calf (Exodus 32)

The irony of this chapter is how quick the Israelites forgot about the LORD; especially the elders and those who ate with the LORD on the mountain of God – how is this possible?  And why does this terrible and infamous incident occur between the instructions of the tabernacle and the building of the tabernacle?

And in this period of testing, of 40 days and 40 night – the people wavered.  They had problems in waiting for Moses to come down, in the same way we have problems with waiting for Christ to return.  v.1 is very interesting: “Up, make us gods who shall go before us.” Why gods?  I think this has very much to do with the fact that they are faced with Two LORDS, the Angel and the Unseen Father; and one Spirit, thus numerically three Persons in the Triune God.

v.2-6 display a use of the gold which should have been used to build the Tabernacle with.  Instead, the gold is taken to create for themselves gods.  God makes clear that there is one golden calf (v.8 ), but the people are saying “these are your gods”. Clearly, there is a misunderstanding of some sort – but this is also a depiction of their understanding of Triune Oneness.  There may be one calf, but there are gods.  There may be one God, but THREE Persons.  However far this analogy can go, their golden calf is a perversion of the Three-in-Oneness of our God.

v.11-14 is very important: Moses asks God to remember the covenant between Him and their forefathers Abraham, Isaac, Israel, His servants.  Moses does not say: “Look at what we have done!  Look at our faithfulness!  Look at the signs which we kept!” – rather, he says “Remember what you promised us”.  Salvation is from the LORD, and only the LORD need remember what he has promised the Israelites.

Then comes v.19 – Moses threw the two tablets with the 10 words on them and broke them at the foot of the mountain.  Is he insane?  Does he not value the 10 words written by the finger of God?  Of course not – the significance of the breaking of the two tablets at the foot of the mountain is significant in the context of Moses’ righteous anger against the idolatrous Israelites.  Why did he break the tablets?  We’ll come to answer that in the next post when Moses receives two new tablets. The saddest thing of this ordeal, along with their idolatrous relationship with the idol outside of God, is that their evangelistic attempt to be a holy priesthood and a witness for all nations is crippled by this event, Exodus 32:25:

25And when Moses saw that the people had broken loose (for Aaron had let them break loose,(AH) to the derision of their enemies)

The enemies derided them; how much better would it have been if they remained loyal and faithful?  Indeed, salvation is of the LORD, but our interference and disobedience will lessen the credibility of the gospel given their lack of faith displayed by worshiping a golden calf.

Just three other things to quickly note in this chapter before coming back to that point of receiving 4 tablets in total in the next post:

(a)  Aaron’s nature to blame inherits that of Adam:  v.22-24 – “You know the people, that they are set on evil.  23  For they said to me, ‘Make us gods who shall go before us…24… So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf‘.  Firstly, the ridiculous logic of Aaron’s argument – did he not realise that Moses is spending time with the LORD?  Wasn’t Aaron meant to be Moses’ aide?  Instead, he sided with many and perverted justice (Exodus 23:2).  Secondly, how can a calf just come out of a fire refining gold, unless the calf was carefully sculpted?  Adam also said the same thing to God:  ‘it was the woman whom “YOU” gave me that led me to sin’.  How easy it is to place our blame on others.

(b)  Why did they create a golden calf of all creatures?  Ezekiel 1:10 – we see that the spiritual creatures have four faces: a lion, eagle, man and a bull.  Ezekiel 10:14 – again, the four faces appear but there is an alteration in the terminology: a lion, eagle, man and a cherub.  Ezekiel is referring to the same creature, but cherub and bull is interchangeable here.  It is likely that the face of a cherub is akin to the face of a bull, and this may help us understand why some world religions/cultures worship the calf because some divine creatures resemble bulls (i.e. Hindus who regard the cow as a sacred animal), or treat the calf as a sacred animal.  If Satan, as explained in Ezekiel 28 is a guardian cherub, then it is possible that the worship of the calf is a form of Satan-worship, explaining the LORD and Moses’ righteous anger.

(c)  v.26 speaks of the sons of Levi gathering around to kill three thousand men of the people (v.28 ).  Why this, and how is this related to their consequent ordination (v.29)?  Firstly, we should understand that this is the 50th day after Israel reached Sinai.  After reaching Sinai, they waited three days at the prompting of Christ, the Angel, to wait for the Father to descend to the top of the mountain of God.  Then Moses waited another 7 days before he spent another 40 days and 40 nights with the LORD (Exodus 19 and 24).  That totals to 50 days.

The sign of the third day and Jesus and the Father meeting on the third day is a prototypical display of Jesus’ victory over sin at the cross.  At the Pentecost, in Acts 2, 50 days after Jesus’ victory over sin at the cross, the LORD shook the earth and sent fire and the mighty Spirit to both Jews and Gentiles.  This is why in Acts 2:41, “3000 were added to their number that day”.  This is in direct contrast to the 50th day event here: the Levites ‘celebrated’ their Pentecost with the slaughter of 3000 as a sign of judgment; but the Christian disciples celebrated their Pentecost post-ascension with the addition of 3000 to the church of Christ, as a sign of salvation.  If you would (also notice, it is 50 days after which they left Egypt that Moses meets with the two Lords on Mount Sinai; and another 50 days before the 3000 were taken away by the Levites).  Any connection between the two sets of 50 days?

4.  Leaving Sinai: marks of the Holy Trinity (Exodus 33)

Remember throughout this chapter and previous chapters the fundament of Deuteronomy 4:12 – “no form” was seen, although this is the voice of the Yahweh-Person.  The GOD in the thick darkness is never seen – but then later, in v.7-11, Moses meets the LORD face to face as a man speaks to his friend in a tent pitched at the bottom of the mountain.  This is the seen Lord!  (v.9-11). Most importantly, note how Joshua/Yeshua, the son of Nun, remains in the tent when Moses turns to the Israelite church.

But Moses wants more than seeing the seen Lord face-to-face – he wants to also see the Unseen LORD, the Unseen Father!  But the Unseen LORD explains some very specific things: v.14 states that the LORD is happy for his presence (i.e. Christ, as explained in earlier posts) to go with them, but (v.19-23):

19…he said,(CX) “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And(CY) I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for(CZ) man shall not see me and live.” 21And the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22and while my glory passes by I will put you in a(DA) cleft of the rock, and I will(DB) cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall(DC) not be seen.”

So v.20 solidifies that this is the Unseen Father speaking to Moses; and the Unseen Father wishes to reveal his backside to Moses, but only if Moses hides inside a cleft of a rock.  So also, when we hide inside the cleft of the Rock of Ages (Psalm 18:12) will we even bear the real existence of being before the Father, but that rock which Moses hid in is just a shadow of the true Rock which will completely cover us with His righteousness:

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure. – hymn “Rock of Ages” by Augustus Montague Toplady on Moses hiding in the cleft of the rock

So Moses is not rejected by the end of this chapter; rather, he is already encouraged that the Father’s ‘presence’, in whom is the proclamation of the name “the LORD” (v.19), is already a sufficient goodness to reflect the Father’s glory.  But, as it still stands, v.20 shows that we cannot live if we meet with him face to face.  Which is why we must rely on the Angel whose name is “the LORD”; we must rely on God’s presence who will go with Moses; we must rely on the rock of ages cleft for us – and only through this mediator (1 Timothy 2:5) can we even come to meet the Father who resides in the Holy of Holies.

Conclusion

There are again marks of prophecy not only in these three chapters, but in the mysteriousness of why this incident of the golden calf occured in between the instructions and the making of the tablets; why the first set of tablets were destroyed and the meaning of the changes in the second tablets (as we will later see in the next post); why there are signs and allusions to the Pentecost (i.e. 50 days after leaving Egypt; 50 days after arriving at Sinai; 3 days waiting period vs. 7 days waiting period; 40 days and 40 nights of testing for those waiting at the bottom of the mountain) – and in general how this, like Abraham’s early actions by travelling in and around Canaan is a blueprint of the future.  I will try to wrap these points up in the next post.

Exodus 31-33: The 10 words destroyed (pt. 1)

Exodus 28-30: Tabernacle and Instructions (pt.2)

We’ve described most of the Tabernacle furniture and structure; we are now left with the priestly clothing, the ordination, and the remaining furniture.

1.  A list of the priestly clothing (Exodus 28:1-5)

2.  The ephod (Exodus 28:6-14)

3.  The breastpiece (Exodus 28:15-30)

4.  The robe (Exodus 28:31-35)

5.  The turban, and other clothing (Exodus 28:36-43)

6.  The priestly ordination (Exodus 29:1-46)

7.  Altar of incense (Exodus 30:1-10)

8.  The Census Tax (Exodus 30:11-16)

9.  The bronze basin (Exodus 30:17-21)

10.  Anointing Oil and Incense (Exodus 30:22-38 )

11.  The History of Mankind and the Hope of the Remnant (Summary of all the Tabernacle Instructions)

1.  A list of the priestly clothing (Exodus 28:1-5)

4These are the garments that they shall make: a(E) breastpiece, an(F) ephod,(G) a robe,(H) a coat of checker work, a turban, and a sash. They shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons to serve me as priests. 5They shall receive(I) gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen.

Holy garments for the priests so they can do their work in the Holy Place and Most Holy Place – this is most interesting.  It is of the LORD’s personality to clothe us, and shield us from harm (think animal skin in Genesis 3; think colourful coat between Israel the father of Joseph and the typology of the Father and the beloved Son; think robes of righteousness Isaiah 61).  This clothing as directed by God should undoubtedly shout out two things: God’s righteousness in the form of clothing us (i.e. it is external to us; the righteousness is NOT found within, a la Buddhist teachings); and secondly, that it is God who clothes us, not that we clothe ourselves with this external righteousness.

If that is the case, if the clothing is that of righteousness, then the clothing should speak something of OUR High Priest, Jesus Christ, our external righteousness which we now wear as Christians.

2.  The ephod (Exodus 28:6-14)

The ephod is a beautifully crafted kind of apron made from gold thread woven into blue, purple and scarlet fine linen.  It has an onyx stone on each shoulder, each stone with the names of each six tribes of Israel written on it (Exodus 28:12) for remembrance.  What this means is that the priest isn’t just representing himself, but also representing the people of God on his shoulders.  The weight of the entire 12 tribes of Israel is therefore on the shoulders of this priest, and sacrifices which he offers are offered on behalf of the entire Israel, the entire church of Christ.  Isaiah 53:6 speaks of the heavy weight of all of mankind’s sin which Jesus had to bear on our behalf; the stones are attached to the ephod with gold chains, ensuring that they won’t fall off.  That is the seriousness of our Christ – he ensures that he has nailed our sins to the cross, and nailed our names to him!

3.  The breastpiece (Exodus 28:15-30)

On top of the ephod-apron is a breastpiece of gold, linen and 14 precious stones (including the 12 which represent each tribe of Israel, and 2 which represent the Urim and the Thummim (Exodus 28:21).  The names of the tribes of Israel are not only on the shoulders of the priest, but also on the heart of the priest!  With the ephod and the breastpiece, the identity of the priest is completely bound up with the people he represents, hence explaining the Bible’s emphasis on Christ and His people as one.  Christ is the head of the church, his body! (Ephesians 5).

Paul Blackham has provided a table of what is possibly a link between the 12 Tribes and the Stones used:

Row

Tribe

Stone

1

Reuben

Simeon

Levi

Ruby

Topaz

Beryl

2

Judah

Issachar

Zebulun

Turquoise

Sapphire

Emerald

3

Dan

Naphtali

Gad

Jacinth

Agate

Amethyst

4

Asher

Joseph

Benjamin

Chrysolite

Onyx

Jasper

However, this is different from William Brown’s interpretation.  Rather than looking at what the 12 tribes represented (in general, by the stones used), he looked at what was actually on the breastplate:

NAME of 12 Stones of Israel

3. Carbuncle (or Emerald) for Zebulun

2. Topaz for Issachar

1. Sardius (or Ruby) for Judah

1st row

6. Diamond for Gad

5. Sapphire for Simeon

4. Emerald (or Carbuncle) for Reuben

2nd row

9. Amethyst for Benjamin

8. Agate for Manasseh

7. Ligure (or Jacinth) for Ephraim

3rd row

12. Jasper for Naphtali

11. Onyx for Asher

10. Beryl (of Chalcedony) for Dan

4th row

He noted that the names on the breastplate were those of the 12 tribes arranged not according to age, but according to the order of the tribes (Exodus 39:14).  Levi and Joseph are not included; but only Manasseh and Ephraim are included.

More detail on the stones to come!

4.  The robe (Exodus 28:31-35)

Under the ephod is the blue robe.  The hem is the special feature, with brightly painted pomegranates (blue, purple and scarlet – like the colour on the curtain!) – but between the pomegranates was a golden bell. v.35 reveals that the sound of the bells will be heard when Aaron enters the Holy Place before the LORD and when he comes out, so that he will not die.  The sound of the bells as he walked meant there was nothing secretive about the work of the priest.  Levicitus 10 displays that careless wandering into the presence of the LORD warranted their deaths, even if you are a priest.  The sound of the priest walking in is an audible warning that the priests were coming before the LORD in the Holy Place; the worshippers outside would wait in anticipation for the SOUND of the Priest returning from the Holy Place.

5.  The turban, and other clothing (Exodus 28:36-43)

The priest’s turban had a plate of pure gold attached to the front, saying “Holy to the LORD”.  So not only is the priest dedicated to his job, with the weight of Israel’s sin on his shoulders, but the names of the tribes on his heart, coming in open before the LORD.  This plate of pure gold on the head displays even further the utter dedication of Christ to his job – the golden sign was declaring that the promised Messiah-Priest would be absolutely holy, without sin.

Exodus 28:38 explains that the symbolic holiness of the priest is what enables him to bear the people’s sins, which explains why Jesus cannot have sins of his own: he would have to pay for His own sins and incapable of bearing others’.  This emphasises the significance of the turban, the ephod, the robe and the breastplate which all point towards both the symbolic righteousness of the High Priest, as well as the burden which He must carry to the Most Holy Place (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The remaining clothing, Woven Tunic and Sash were about dignity and honour (v.40):

39“You shall weave the coat in checker work of fine linen, and you shall make a turban of fine linen, and you shall make a sash embroidered with needlework.

40(X) “For Aaron’s sons you shall make coats and sashes and caps. You shall make them(Y) for glory and beauty. 41And you shall put them on Aaron your brother, and on his sons with him, and shall(Z) anoint them and ordain them and(AA) consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests.

Thus, we conclude that the Levitical Priest is just a symbol of holiness, glory, beauty, dignity, honour (additional descriptions from the NIV translation).  No man has these qualities, and even the chosen High Priest must don the clothing which represents these qualities; but one God-man, Jesus Christ, has all of these qualities without the necessity of clothing anyone else’s righteousness.  He is our righteousness (Job 35:8; Psalm 5:8 ).

6.  The priestly ordination (Exodus 29:1-46)

So while chapter 28 is sufficient in presenting a figure capable of entering into communion with the Holy Trinity on behalf of others, this figure is not yet ready for service!  The priest must and cannot invite himself into the presence of God; he must be ordained.

The rites of ordination is laid out in chapter 29, with two significant features of purification with blood; and the anointing with oil – undoubtedly, two extremely prophetic and Messianic symbols.

Firstly, the blood flows everywhere in the ordination rite, from the horns of the altar to the base of the altar; sacrifice is the underlying meaning of the tabernacle.  This is a picture of the priest, having to continually offer sacrifices for himself, to keep himself in a state to gain forgiveness for others.  Only after that could he bring the forgiven people into the presence of God.  Au contraire, Jesus need not continually make such sacrifices for himself, for he had no sins of His own that needed to be forgiven!

Secondly, oil also gets everywhere, even onto the priestly clothing.  v.7 shows Aaron anointed with oil (Psalm 133:2), the symbol of the Holy Spirit (as I have established the oil’s symbolic meaning in previous posts).  This is a direct prophecy of the Messiah’s life and work, filled with the Spirit without measure (John 3:34), the Messiah who is fittingly called the Christ, the Anointed One (in Hebrew).  Thus, only a priest anointed with oil could serve in the Tabernacle; so also, only Christ anointed by the Holy Dove, could be equipped to work for his bride, the church, and his Father in heaven as symbolised by the Tabernacle and its temporary dividing curtain.

More detail on the priestly ordination to come!

7.  Altar of incense (Exodus 30:1-10)

This is the final piece of furniture described within the tabernacle.  Why is this the last piece of furniture explained?  Why couldn’t it have been explained earlier?  The order has been thus far: the Trinity furniture (Ark, Table, Lampstand); the Tabernacle Structure explaining the division between heaven and the church, the division in their harmony; the Bronze Altar, explaining the underlying significance of sacrifices and offerings to remit sins; the Court of the Tabernacle, to explain the inclusion of the church in the secular world (the whole of creation); yet the Oil for the Lamp is lit.

Who can maintain the sacrifices and the offerings though?  The priests themselves; their clothing firstly speaking of Christ; and their actions secondly during their ordination, speaking of the ordination of Christ.

What could the significance of the altar of incense mean?  Firstly, notice the location of the altar of incense: it was to be placed just near the dividing curtain in the outer room, the Holy Place.  This altar represents the prayers of the church (Revelation 5:8; Malachi 1:11).

8.  The Census Tax (Exodus 30:11-16)

The census tax is a good example of the atonement money going towards the work of the tabernacle, and what a small cost to be paid for such a tough job on the High Priest:

11The LORD said to Moses, 12(DB) “When you take the census of the people of Israel, then each shall give(DC) a ransom for his life to the LORD when you number them, that there be no plague among them when you number them. 13Each one who is numbered in the census shall give this: half a shekel[i] according to the(DD) shekel of the sanctuary (the(DE) shekel is twenty gerahs),[j](DF) half a shekel as an offering to the LORD. 14Everyone who is numbered in the census, from twenty years old and upward, shall give the LORD’s offering. 15The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than(DG) the half shekel, when you give the LORD’s offering to make atonement for your lives. 16You shall take the atonement money from the people of Israel and shall(DH) give it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may bring the people of Israel to(DI) remembrance before the LORD, so as to make atonement for your lives.”

This money is ransom money (v.12), it is for the atonement of their lives (v.15), and each shall pay if they are 20 years and upward.  No bias, no partiality.

9.  The bronze basin (Exodus 30:17-21)

Finally, the bronze basin, which is a sign of new birth, regeneration; after the sacrifice of burnt offering would there be a need of the washing of renewal as the tent was approached by the priest.

Titus 3:5-7:

5he saved us,(H) not because of works done by us in righteousness, but(I) according to his own mercy, by(J) the washing of regeneration and(K) renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6whom he(L) poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that(M) being justified by his grace we might become(N) heirs(O) according to the hope of eternal life.

10.  Anointing Oil and Incense (Exodus 30:22-38 )

25And you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the(DP) perfumer; it shall be a(DQ) holy anointing oil. 26(DR) With it you shall anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony, 27and the table and all its utensils, and the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense, 28and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils and the(DS) basin and its stand. 29You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy.(DT) Whatever touches them will become holy. 30(DU) You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. 31And you shall say to the people of Israel, ‘This shall be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations. 32It shall not be poured on the body of an ordinary person, and you shall make no other like it in composition.(DV) It is holy, and it shall be holy to you. 33(DW) Whoever compounds any like it or whoever puts any of it on an outsider shall be cut off from his people.'”

The message spoken of here is immensely deep, provided we stick to the spiritual representations of the previous instructions.  The anointing oil is sacred, and holy (v.25).  Whatever touches them (the tent of meeting, aka the tabernacle; the ark of testimony; table and its utensils; lampstand and its utensils; the altar of incense; altar of burnt offering with utensils; basin and its stand) will become holy (v.29).  The Trinity, the Prayers, the Sacrifices, the Spiritual regeneration – are all made holy by the sacred anointing oil.

And only Aaron and his sons may be consecrated, serving as priests, anointed by this sacred anointing oil.  No ordinary person shall have it poured on him or her.  The significance spoken of is referring to Jesus’ work on the cross.  Only through his work, and his ascension can he fill the universe and give gifts to all them (Ephesians 4:10; Psalm 68:18).  This is extremely important: why didn’t God start the instructions with the anointing oil?  Why leave it till the very end?  Or, the question is… is this the very end?  God had already seen into the future: the saving work on the cross, the giving of the Spirit to all flesh during the Pentecost festival, Jesus’ death on the wood, His righteousness imputed onto us as ours.  At Christ’s ascension, he filled all things; gifts among even the rebellious, that the LORD may dwell on earth.

Thus, this anointing oil is a picture of the Pentecost – the giving of the Spirit to the entire world.  Prior to this, the Spirit is indeed represented by the Golden Lampstand; but when the work of the cross is complete, the Spirit is now given to both Jews and Gentiles, and the oil is spread across everything.  We partake in the complete renewal of all things because of the High Priest, Aaron, a type of Christ, in whom we stand.  He is the only one consecrated by the holy oil; and we are consecrated by the holy oil for we are in Him.

11.  The History of Mankind and the Hope of the Remnant (Summary of all the Tabernacle Instructions)

Let’s follow the line of Christian logic thus far:

The Trinity has existed prior to the creation of the world; however, heaven and the church had harmony in the past.  This is merely a foretaste of things to come in New Jerusalem, which not only a mere garden, but an entire city of God.  When Adam and Eve sinned, they were given animal skin – an offering to God as represented by the Brazen Altar, a symbol of sacrifice necessary for remission of sins after the division between heaven and earth is made.  Now Adam and Eve are thrown to the East of the Garden, into the world of the court of the Tabernacle – the rest of God’s creation.  Yet, throughout this period, the oil for the lamp, the Holy Spirit, is lit in the hearts of the professing Christians of the earliest age of mankind, preparing for the coming Messiah (Genesis 3:15).  This Great Messiah is also the true High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, of the greatest righteousness, who can carry the burden of the world’s sins on his shoulders through a righteousness of his own.

Despite his status as pre-incarnate Christ is that of glorified and transfigured righteousness, he must then be ordained to commit to the works and plans of God in his incarnation; and only through the High Priest’s saving work can the altar of incense, the representation of our prayers, work through him.  Only after the High Priest’s ordination can our prayers be relayed to the Father through the mediation of the Son, who enters the throne room in Third Heaven on our behalf. If Jesus was not ordained, and he did not go to the cross, then our prayers will not go to the Father, for the Father will not hear us.  But the very reason that the Old Testament saints spoke through Christ, the one Mediator, to the Father LORD displays the inevitable victory of Christ on the cross; it shows the inevitable anointing of the High Priest, and his work which will enable the saints of all ages to have their incense at the centre stage of the Trinity’s thoughts.

In the duration of our prayers to the LORD, we are simultaneously saved by the symbolic census tax: what we give up is such a small price compared to what we receive; and so we repent of our sins symbolised by the giving of the tax, the money which belongs to the LORD anyway; and after we are justified and salvaged from the bondage of sin, we are cleansed simultaneously by the Holy Spirit, shown through the bronze basin.  We then finally reach the anointing oil and incense which makes all things holy, including us.  We are made holy by God alone; we are made holy by Christ alone (Isaiah 61).

Yet, this leaves something to thought.  God had already established the entire plan, and Moses saw into the history of mankind and the future of mankind just for spending time with the LORD in the thickness of the mountain.  This may, after all, shed light onto the most mysterious verse of Revelation 13:8 (here are v. 6-8):

It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling,[a] that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7Also it was allowed(A) to make war on the saints and to conquer them.[b] And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8and all(B) who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in(C) the book of life of(D) the Lamb(E) who was slain.

Indeed, if the Lamb of God was slain before the world, it explains how some could partake in the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament; it explains how the prayers were heard in the Old Testament; it explains how the Old Testament saints were saved.  Because the work on the cross was already prophesied in the story of the Tabernacle, but actually already done before the foundation of the world!  Christ’s incarnation is but a replay, a manifestation in the physical world of what has already occured in the spiritual world!  Christ’s incarnation is a fulfillment, a theatre, of things already accomplished.  The victory was secured in Genesis 3:15 because it is already done.  We know the OT saints had the Spirit in them; how else could they be saved?  We know the OT saints had their prayers heard, but was it through Aaron’s work, or was it through Christ alone?  We know that the OT saints were saved (look at Jesus conversing with Moses and Elijah), but how could they be if the work on the cross is not accomplished?  Indeed, the work of the cross is prophecied in the OT, because it is already accomplished before the creation of the world.  The world, after all, is a theatre of God’s glory in which we partake.

Exodus 28-30: Tabernacle and Instructions (pt.2)

Exodus 22-24: The law and the gospel

1.  Restitution – the Penal Substitution on the cross (Exodus 21:33-Exodus 22:16) – commandments 6 (murder) and 8 (stealing)

2.  Social Justice – God’s responsibility (Exodus 22:16-31) (a mixture of commandments 7 (adultery), commandment 2 (no other god and loving those who love him), commandment 8 (stealing), commandment 1 (I am the God who saved you out of Egypt)…

3.  No False Report (Exodus 23:1-9) – commandment 9 (do not bear false witness)

4.  Eating with God (Exodus 24)

1.  Restitution – the Penal Judgment on the cross (Exodus 21:33-Exodus 22:16) – commandments 6 (murder) and 8 (stealing)

The last bits of Exodus 21:33-36 thus goes on to explain God’s character, and his methods of shattering the idols in our minds by going into the most intricate detail of His law.

This includes the detail of opening a pit (in Hebrew “bowr” which means cistern, but commonly used term for prison/dungeon); there is restitution for that as well.  We understand that God himself had made a dungeon, his own ‘pit’ where he holds the fallen angels.  He himself is responsible for this duty; similarly, if a man opens a pit (v.33) – he needs to be responsible for what goes in or comes out.  God is, on a macro-level, in charge of the eternal pit.

v.35-36 maintains man’s rule over animals – “if it is known that the ox has been accustomed to gore in the past” – and it is of course up to the man to regulate the animal’s character; and as the animal, as the beast’s master, anything done by the beast shall be repaid by the master, not the beast himself.  This is perhaps something quite different from how men restores things for themselves and for their beasts, whereas beasts clearly have no power to repay anything.

Exodus 22 begins on an interesting note: if a man steals an ox/sheep, and kills it or sells it, he shall repay five oxen for an ox.  Amazing!  He is to give back more.  Just as Jesus taught the disciples to forgive seventy times seven more, so also the man is taught about grace through restitution.  v.3-4 continues this theme of graceful restitution – from selling oneself if the bloodguilt is on the murderer of the thief in broad daylight; to providing double for a stolen possession (v.4); to making restitution from the best in his own field and vineyard (v.5)… full restitution (v.6) if not more is required in many circumstances.

2.  Social Justice – God’s responsibility (Exodus 22:16-31) (a mixture of commandments 7 (adultery), commandment 2 (no other god and loving those who love him), commandment 8 (stealing), commandment 1 (I am the God who saved you out of Egypt)…

Now, the commandments get increasingly mixed up.  v.16 refers to a man seducing a non-betrothed virgin/a girl of marryable age, and that he is to give a bride-price for her; or pay money equal to the bride-price for virgins even if her father refuses to let her marry him.  This is the better way to do it; not through circumcision as was the tragedy of Simeon and Levi in Genesis!  The bride-price is important as it symbolises the man’s responsibility to the woman.  For seducing the virgin, it comes with a cost!  God does not allow pre-marital relations because it shouts out pre-mature intimacy; in the same way that we have the firstfruit of that intimacy with God by the seal of the Spirit (Eph 1), so also there should be a deposit money equal for the bride-price for such unwarranted intimacy with the Church if the man should treat her as if she is his church.

v.18 is strict liability as well – you shall not permit a sorceress to live.  Is this a contradiction to the law against murder (commandment 6)?  It would, if God did not define the confines of murder; but because he did, the 10 commandments are not statements to be loosely interpreted as to allow paradoxes to arise.  This is to directly contrast two points: firstly, that the LORD’s works and miracles are not that of sorcery (let alone of Moses’ sorcery!); and secondly, that the sorcerers and sorceresses of Egypt deserve death for meddling with dark arts which is an outlet for Satan to bewilder people and distract them from the gospel.  God doesn’t want miracles to be adored; he wants miracles to point to Him. Thus, the 10 commandments must be exegetically explained by God himself!  We will come back on this in just a sec.

v.19 – again, this act of ‘adultery’ shows how a man shall not lie with a non-woman; similarly, a woman shall not lie with a non-man.  There is nothing to portray Christ and the Church in either imagery, except to show that Christ is bonding with beast; and Church bonding with beast – this is a clear heresy of subverting the hierarchical chain of God to Man to Beast, to Beast to Man to God.

v.20 -26 – this is sculpted by the 1st commandment, because the people of Israel themselves have been mistreated in Egypt; but this is no excuse for them to exact similar revenge on other people – for [the Israelites] were sojourners themselves (v. 21) in Egypt!  Why should the Israelites then do the same disgusting thing to the sojourners in their land?  God detests such hypocrisy.

v.28 – this is charged with the flair of Romans 15 – respecting authority.

v.29-30 – like Abraham’s tithing of his 10% to Melchizedek, Jesus Christ, so also we are called to sacrifice not the lowest but the best 10%.  What does it mean though “the firstborn of your sons you shall give to me”?  What does it mean “seven days it shall be with its mother; on the eighth day you shall give it to me”?  The meaning is as I’ve mentioned concerning the cross; on the 8th day Christ rose again, after the Sabbath!  Justin Martyr on the eighth day:

The command of circumcision, again, bidding [them] always circumcise the children on the eighth day, was a type of the true circumcision, by which we are circumcised from deceit and iniquity through Him who rose from the dead on the first day after the Sabbath, [namely through] our Lord Jesus Christ. For the first day after the Sabbath, remaining the first of all the days, is called, however, the eighth, according to the number of all the days of the cycle, and [yet] remains the first.

This displays that the giving of the firstborn, as well as the sign of the circumcision, both serve to provide this imagery of God the Father’s firstborn son being cut and raised again on the 8th day, the first day after the Sabbath; and same for oxen and sheep, for they too are saved (Jonah 3 – the beasts repented as well!).  Such is the significance of the 8th day.

3.  No False Report (Exodus 23:1-9) – commandment 9 (do not bear false witness)

v.1-3 is almost a reflection of Psalm 24: “Give me clean hands” when this Christological Psalm speaks of Jesus asking for clean hands from His Father in heaven. v.1-9 in general has a heavier judicial undertone, explaining the absolute solemnity of speaking the truth rather than perverting the judicial system (v.6).  It is quite clear that our God is just, and he is the one who defines this justice.

4.  Sabbath laws and festivals (Exodus 23:10-19)

Again, this is a repeat of what has already been spoken of earlier – the number seven connotes Sabbath, according to the order of the creation of the heavens and the earth (v.10-12).  V.13 re-iterates commandment 2, and then he speaks of three appointed times of the year according to the Jewish ecclesiastical calender:

(i)  Feast of Unleavened Bread: also known as the ‘Passover‘ (Pesach) in the first month (15th to 21st day), the month Nisan/Abib (v.15); the Paschal Lamb killed on the 14th, and the Paschal feast from 15th to 21st

(ii)  Feast of Harvest: 6th day of Siwan/Sivan, the third month of the ecclesiastical calender (this is also known as Shavuot/the Pentecost/Firstfruits of Wheat Harvest)

(iii)  Feast of Ingathering:  known as Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles (firstfruits of wine and oil) occuring from 15th to 21st of the month Tishri, the seventh ecclesiastical month

These are the three memorable days where all the males appear before God.  Unsurprisingly, these three festivals mark important dates in Scripture: the year opens with the reminder of Jesus’ death on the cross; followed by the Pentecost in the middle of the year, reminding us of the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit given to all men (Acts 2) which also occured on the Shavuot.  This being in the sixth month, on the sixth day, is the mark of man equipped and blessed by the Holy Spirit to spread the gospel, and also to be sanctified (as day six represents that of the creation of man and woman, just as the Spirit is given to all men and women.  For six days shall man labour; and so for six days shall we labour with the Holy Spirit for God’s Holy Work of salvation.  This is closely followed by the seventh month, symbolising a time of reaping of rewards, the firstfruits of wine and oil, and unlike the Feast of Weeks, this is similar to the Passover, a seven-day celebration.

Interestingly, following the Feast of Ingathering there is approximately 5 months before the next Passover… and this contributes to the seasonal cycle of Scripture – through death, comes life, and returns to death again, comes life again.  This is no Buddhist samsaric realm (as cherishable as the Buddhist anthropological view is) – rather, this is an observation of our life on earth.  Just as we are made from dust, we are given the firstfruits of new life by the Spirit; then we return to dust.  But we will rise again, breaking away from all seasons in new creation, and will eternally live in the Feast of Tabernacles where there is eternal wine and oil of gladness, where there is the eternal Tabernacling of the Lamb with us in New Jerusalem.

Perhaps there is something more I’d like to note:  Three times the male appears.  Why?

The first festival relates to CHRIST

The second festival relates to the SPIRIT

The third festival… relates to the FATHER – whom we will no longer conceive as invisible, but visible when we are given new bodies.

5.  Conquest of Canaan by the Name in the Angel (Exodus 23:20-Exodus 24)

v.20-21 speaks of the divine archangel which Philo considered to be God the Father’s chief messenger, and no doubt, Jesus is the Father’s chief and foremost messenger.  The Angel of the LORD, who has the name of GOD himself, has the power of pardoning one’s transgressions.  The Father tells Moses to relay to the Israelites that this Angel must not be disobeyed (v.22).

v.23-24 relates to the essence of all theology – v.24: “you shall not bow down to their gods nor serve them, nor do as they do, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces”.  Indeed, Christ, the angel, is the one who brings the victory – God the Father is the one who blots them out (v.23), but WE are the ones who decide to destroy the idols according to the victory won.  Is faith inactive?  Of course not!  Let’s not rely on inactive faith, but readily active response to the victory won!  Glen has written another great post on faith here.

And that fight of faith, by the victory of the cross and the power of the Spirit has explained by the festivals, shall result in the symbolic treasures of Canaan.  The land will be enlarged, the people will no longer be barren… but v.33 ends on a sombre note: “They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”  So that is the truth – STRAIGHT after Moses speaks to the Father, Israel is already serving their self-made calf.  Will the Israelites ever inherit such blessings?  Surely God knows they won’t if they relied on themselves: look at what happened with the quail and manna and water, and their inability to not whine.  The irony of Exodus 24v.3: “And all the people answered with one voice and said, ‘All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do.'”  The immediate hypocrisy.

Clearly, the only way one can even do any of those things completely is in Jesus Christ alone.  What is the meaning of the law?  It is to explain that Christ alone can do these things.  What is the meaning of the law?  It is to explain God’s character, and the character of the Seed God-man.  What is the meaning of the law?  To display how utterly fallen we are, and our utter incapability of fulfilling it by ourselves, except in Christ alone.  Yet, if we understand the law, and keep the covenant undefiled by the power of the Spirit, then we will truly inherit the spiritual truths behind the blessings of v. 23-32.

Conclusion of the Law and the Gospel (for now)

This is of course a preliminary conclusion, given the next three books of the Bible elaborates on the Mosaic law.  Just a few things to point out:

(a)  The 10 commandments are essentially undergirded by the first two; without the first two, the other 8 do not make much sense

(b)  This is the reason why it is difficult to separate one law from another, to purely classify one as a law concerning ‘adultery’ and another concerning ‘theft’.  The analysis above shows that God intentionally mixes the commandments together to show that they are all undergirded by the first two truths, and cannot be pedantically analysed in themselves.

(c)  The detail given in these few chapters show God’s theological method – he decidedly smashes the pre-Christian thinking in our head, our pre-conceptions of ‘justice’, of ‘honouring one’s parents’, of social justice… and each of them speak the truth about God’s justice over evil by sending Christ to the cross

(d)  Noticeably, this justice system is one of mediation:  Exodus 21:22, and 22:8 are the more obvious examples.  There is no indication that one is to strive for restitution by themselves, and there is in some sense a mediator between two parties.  Restitution is still followed, and the punishment normally matches the crime, but where an intended crime is committed, the punishment is even greater (Exodus 22:1).  God therefore doesn’t look on the physical act, but on the heart of the person.  This system of mediation however teaches us that we do not strive for justice alone; but we need a third person for objectivity: which also means that as Christians, until the Judge comes to provide justice, we fully understand that restitution is owed to Christ when we offend him.  And any non-Christian offending us, who are in Christ, is effectively offending Christ himself.

(e)  Remember, this law so far is related to the land of Canaan.  This is what Dev has to say about the Old Covenant established on Mt. Sinai:

Now in Hebrew a covenant is something that must be sealed in blood, it can only be ‘cut’ or ‘cut-off’. Thus the ‘new’ (or ever-new, renewed) covenant, renewed time and time again with Abraham, Noah, Adam, etc, is always commemorated with a sacrifice, but the sealing blood of that covenant lies in the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world (Luke 22:20, Rev 13:8). The ‘old’ (or passing away) covenant, distinct from the new covenant, is then sealed on top of the Mount Sinai that is in Arabia, in the desert, outside the Promised Land (Deut 33, Gal 4), with the blood of goats and bulls (Ex 24, Heb 10). Deut 5:2-4 “The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. 3 Not with our fathers did the LORD make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today. 4 The LORD spoke with you face to face at the mountain, out of the midst of the fire”. On top of Mount Sinai, the Jews seal a wedding vow, a covenant with the law – Exodus 24:3 “Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do.”

We’ll leave it at that, until we come to the new covenant… which is not mentioned of course only in the New Testament.  The new covenant will come around as soon as Moses shatters the tablets of the law and the commandment, and the new tablets have slight alterations which really aren’t so slight.

4.  Eating with Jesus (Exodus 24)

v.4 – “He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel”

After which he offered burnt offerings/peace offerings – half of the blood in basins, half of blood on the altar – and everyone heard the law and said they will obey (v.7).  The blood in the basin is then thrown onto the people:

“Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

Such is the blood of Christ that has been thrown on us to redeem us and to cleanse us of our sins.  The Israelites are not ignorant of this imagery, as already shown by the blood on the lentils and the doorposts in Egypt.

What happens in the next few verses is awesome: v.9 –

9Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and(DF) seventy of the elders of Israel(DG) went up, 10and they(DH) saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of(DI) sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. 11And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and(DJ) ate and drank.

What an amazing and humbling picture this is.  The seventy elders, Nadab, Abihu (the oldest and second oldest son of Aaron), Aaron and Moses went up to the mountain of God and effectively SAW God.  Remember John 1:18 – no one has revealed the Unseen God except for the seen God Christ himself.  They saw the sapphire stone, the throne in heaven!  (Ezekiel 1:26, 10:1).  They ate and drank before JESUS!  This is truly prophetic of what we will be doing with God in New Jerusalem, that we will be eating and drinking with Him at the wedding feast (Matthew 22).  And what a fitting time it is to establish this wedding feast, when the wedding vow was entered between God and the Israelites (when Moses read the Covenant out to the Israelites, whereupon they responded in Exodus 24:3) – and after the wedding vow of course comes the wedding feast on the holy hill.

Finally, the LORD tells Moses to seek him after six days of the cloud covering the mountain (v.15), and going in on the seventh day (v.16); Moses lasted there for forty days and forty nights neither eating bread nor drinking water (Genesis 7:12; Numbers 13:15; Deuteronomy 9:9; Jonah 3:4; Mark 1:13).  This pattern of forty-days and forty-nights is not only seen as a time of testing, but it is seen as also a time of anticipation – and either victory or destruction results from these forty days and forty nights.  Indeed – will Israel be judged for their obedience in Christ?  Or will Israel turn away and worship other gods?  Will Jesus ascend to the higher throne, the holy hill?  Or will he buckle to Satan’s temptation by just the bow of His knee?

Joshua

Perhaps an important though small detail to note.  Moses chose Joshua as his assistant (Exodus 24:13).  Joshua who later conquers Canaan.  Joshua who won against the Amalekites.  Joshua who later meets the Angel of the LORD.  Joshua, whose name was given by Moses (previously it was Hoshea) at the Conquest of Canaan.  Joshua, whose Hebrew name is Yeshua.

Exodus 22-24: The law and the gospel