2 Kings 7-8: Revelation of the Sons of God

1 But Elisha said, “Hear the word of the LORD: thus says the LORD, Tomorrow about this time a seah of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria.”

2 Then the captain on whose hand the king leaned said to the man of God, “If the LORD himself should make windows in heaven, could this thing be?” But he said, “You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it.”

3 Now there were four men who were lepers at the entrance to the gate. And they said to one another, “Why are we sitting here until we die?

4 If we say, ‘Let us enter the city,’ the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. So now come, let us go over to the camp of the Syrians. If they spare our lives we shall live, and if they kill us we shall but die.”

5 So they arose at twilight to go to the camp of the Syrians. But when they came to the edge of the camp of the Syrians, behold, there was no one there.

6 For the Lord had made the army of the Syrians hear the sound of chariots and of horses, the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, “Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt to come against us.”

7 So they fled away in the twilight and abandoned their tents, their horses, and their donkeys, leaving the camp as it was, and fled for their lives.

8 And when these lepers came to the edge of the camp, they went into a tent and ate and drank, and they carried off silver and gold and clothing and went and hid them. Then they came back and entered another tent and carried off things from it and went and hid them.

The hope in the twilight is a theme consistent throughout Scripture.  Here, the beneficiaries of such hope are not the king of Israel, nor the teachers or the sons of prophets.  Rather, they are the four lepers, who have made the decision which most men have failed to do – to not sit here until we die.

It is an insightful proposition and very revealing of our common sin, the sin of idleness in waiting for death. Instead of succumbing to a slow death, the lepers go to the camp of the Syrians upon twilight – where instead of death, they find life (Exodus 12:6, 16:12; representative of the Passover).

9 Then they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the king’s household.”

10 So they came and called to the gatekeepers of the city and told them, “We came to the camp of the Syrians, and behold, there was no one to be seen or heard there, nothing but the horses tied and the donkeys tied and the tents as they were.”

11 Then the gatekeepers called out, and it was told within the king’s household.

12 And the king rose in the night and said to his servants, “I will tell you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we are hungry. Therefore they have gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the open country, thinking, ‘When they come out of the city, we shall take them alive and get into the city.’”

13 And one of his servants said, “Let some men take five of the remaining horses, seeing that those who are left here will fare like the whole multitude of Israel who have already perished. Let us send and see.”

14 So they took two horsemen, and the king sent them after the army of the Syrians, saying, “Go and see.”

15 So they went after them as far as the Jordan, and behold, all the way was littered with garments and equipment that the Syrians had thrown away in their haste. And the messengers returned and told the king.

Is this not the picture of Christ’s resurrection?  Such a plain gospel, yet so rarely received in child-like innocence.  Instead of understanding that Christ has died and is resurrected for our sins, we are like the king who is doubtful of divine good news (v.12).  Note however that instead of the king hopefully desiring the birth of the Saviour, such good news is given by the lepers to the servants; by the servants to the king; by the servants to the king again for purpose of persuasion (v.12-15; Luke 24:10).  The wealth of the Syrians is thus given first to the lepers, then to the servants, then to the king; not to the king first (Romans 11).

16 Then the people went out and plundered the camp of the Syrians. So a seah of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the LORD.

17 Now the king had appointed the captain on whose hand he leaned to have charge of the gate. And the people trampled him in the gate, so that he died, as the man of God had said when the king came down to him.

18 For when the man of God had said to the king, “Two seahs of barley shall be sold for a shekel, and a seah of fine flour for a shekel, about this time tomorrow in the gate of Samaria,”

19 the captain had answered the man of God, “If the LORD himself should make windows in heaven, could such a thing be?” And he had said, “You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it.”

20 And so it happened to him, for the people trampled him in the gate and he died.

So, the prophecy is fulfilled according to the Word in Elisha’s mouth – yet this is commenced first and foremost by the four lepers who asked themselves the important question of the purpose behind sitting and waiting for one’s death.  In their humble obedience to the LORD, they have obtained plentiful inheritance (Psalm 37:11; Matthew 5:5).  Indeed, the LORD has made windows in heaven, and the windows have not merely brought in plunder and food – but has brought in our LORD Jesus Christ who resurrected against the expectations of the kings of this world, but much to the adoration of the marginalized, to the lepers, to the women – to those who do not doubt the LORD’s might (James 1:6).  Such is the exaltation of man in the glory of Christ’s rejected exaltation.

II Kings 8:

1 Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Arise, and depart with your household, and sojourn wherever you can, for the LORD has called for a famine, and it will come upon the land for seven years.”

2 So the woman arose and did according to the word of the man of God. She went with her household and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years.

3 And at the end of the seven years, when the woman returned from the land of the Philistines, she went to appeal to the king for her house and her land.

4 Now the king was talking with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, “Tell me all the great things that Elisha has done.”

5 And while he was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, behold, the woman whose son he had restored to life appealed to the king for her house and her land. And Gehazi said, “My lord, O king, here is the woman, and here is her son whom Elisha restored to life.”

6 And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed an official for her, saying, “Restore all that was hers, together with all the produce of the fields from the day that she left the land until now.”

The exaltation at the end of chapter 7 continues here, the restoration of the humble, the exaltation of the meek, the rising of Mordecai after the death and resurrection of Christ (Esther 8) – the revelation of the true reality of the robes of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10-11).   In the opening verses of 2 Kings 8 we immediately see a type of the life of a Christian after the resurrection of Christ, until we move to verse 6 – the revelation of the son of God (Romans 8:19).

7 Now Elisha came to Damascus. Ben-hadad the king of Syria was sick. And when it was told him, “The man of God has come here,”

8 the king said to Hazael, “Take a present with you and go to meet the man of God, and inquire of the LORD through him, saying, ‘Shall I recover from this sickness?’”

9 So Hazael went to meet him, and took a present with him, all kinds of goods of Damascus, forty camel loads. When he came and stood before him, he said, “Your son Ben-hadad king of Syria has sent me to you, saying, ‘Shall I recover from this sickness?’”

10 And Elisha said to him, “Go, say to him, ‘You shall certainly recover,’ but the LORD has shown me that he shall certainly die.”

11 And he fixed his gaze and stared at him, until he was embarrassed. And the man of God wept.

12 And Hazael said, “Why does my lord weep?” He answered, “Because I know the evil that you will do to the people of Israel. You will set on fire their fortresses, and you will kill their young men with the sword and dash in pieces their little ones and rip open their pregnant women.”

13 And Hazael said, “What is your servant, who is but a dog, that he should do this great thing?” Elisha answered, “The LORD has shown me that you are to be king over Syria.”

14 Then he departed from Elisha and came to his master, who said to him, “What did Elisha say to you?” And he answered, “He told me that you would certainly recover.”

15 But the next day he took the bed cloth and dipped it in water and spread it over his face, till he died. And Hazael became king in his place.

The heart of Hazael is plain for God to see – His name, whom God sees, is exactly what Elisha has done with this future usurper of the throne of Syria.  Note the divine perception which Elisha is blessed with (v.11-12) – as if Hazael’s false innocence could not be pierced by the Spirit-filled insight (Mark 2:8, 5:30).  “You will set on fire their fortresses, and you will kill their young men with the sword and dash in pieces their little ones and rip open their pregnant women”.  In the face of such prophecy, Hazael leaves unfazed and without remorse.  This is the Satan who contends against the LORD, despite instant rebuke.  The juxtaposition of v.14 and v.15 immediately informs us that Hazael is a man to pray protection from.

16 In the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab, king of Israel, when Jehoshaphat was king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, began to reign.

17 He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem.

18 And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.

19 Yet the LORD was not willing to destroy Judah, for the sake of David his servant, since he promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever.

Elisha is but one man, a glimmer of promise – but the chapter never strays to allow us to focus on Elisha’s strength, but on the promise of the lamp to him and his sons.  Elisha belongs not to Judah, nor to Israel – but to those who follow Jesus – he favours those who follow the lamp of God (Revelation 21:23).

20 In his days Edom revolted from the rule of Judah and set up a king of their own.

21 Then Joram passed over to Zair with all his chariots and rose by night, and he and his chariot commanders struck the Edomites who had surrounded him, but his army fled home.

22 So Edom revolted from the rule of Judah to this day. Then Libnah revolted at the same time.

23 Now the rest of the acts of Joram, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?

24 So Joram slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David, and Ahaziah his son reigned in his place.

What a contrast from the days of David (2 Samuel 8:14).  In the failures of the king Joram, in his failure to walk with Christ (Proverbs 21:31), Edom revolted from the rule of Judah and set up a king of their own (v.20).  Quite contrary to the true meaning of his name – whom Jehovah has exalted.   However, it is rather the events which transpired through Joram, the king of Israel (rather than the king of Judah) which brought true exaltation to the marginalized in Israel by way of the anointed king Jehu in the following chapters:

25 In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab, king of Israel, Ahaziah the son of Jehoram, king of Judah, began to reign.

26 Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Athaliah; she was a granddaughter of Omri king of Israel.

27 He also walked in the way of the house of Ahab and did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as the house of Ahab had done, for he was son-in-law to the house of Ahab.

The blood of murderers runs thick in the line of Omri (1 Kings 16:25) – for the first time, both kings walked in the way of the house of Ahab and did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.  In the immediacy of the likelihood of the destruction of Israel as neither king walked with Jesus, the injury of king Joram would lead to the imminent downfall of those who walk in the way of the house of Ahab.  The counsel of the wicked join together to be healed of their physical pain, but the counsel of the holy will join together to destroy and bring healing to those suffering from the same birthpains of creation (Romans 8:22).

28 He went with Joram the son of Ahab to make war against Hazael king of Syria at Ramoth-gilead, and the Syrians wounded Joram.

29 And King Joram returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds that the Syrians had given him at Ramah, when he fought against Hazael king of Syria. And Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to see Joram the son of Ahab in Jezreel, because he was sick.

2 Kings 7-8: Revelation of the Sons of God

2 Kings 3-4: Overflowing Love

II Kings 3:

1 In the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Ahab became king over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned twelve years.

2 He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, though not like his father and mother, for he put away the pillar of Baal that his father had made.

3 Nevertheless, he clung to the sin of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin; he did not depart from it.

4 Now Mesha king of Moab was a sheep breeder, and he had to deliver to the king of Israel 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams.

5 But when Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel.

6 So King Jehoram marched out of Samaria at that time and mustered all Israel.

7 And he went and sent word to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, “The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you go with me to battle against Moab?” And he said, “I will go. I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.”

8 Then he said, “By which way shall we march?” Jehoram answered, “By the way of the wilderness of Edom.”

9 So the king of Israel went with the king of Judah and the king of Edom. And when they had made a circuitous march of seven days, there was no water for the army or for the animals that followed them.

10 Then the king of Israel said, “Alas! The LORD has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab.”

11 And Jehoshaphat said, “Is there no prophet of the LORD here, through whom we may inquire of the LORD?” Then one of the king of Israel’s servants answered, “Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who poured water on the hands of Elijah.”

12 And Jehoshaphat said, “The word of the LORD is with him.” So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him.

 

From the opening of 2 Kings 3 we are immediately brought again to the contrast between Jehoshaphat and Jehoram, the House of David against the House of Ahab.  Jehoram sought alliance with the king of Edom, yet it is the king of Israel that Elisha gives face to (v.14).  Jehoshaphat’s reliance is pure and innocent – “The word of the LORD is with him”.  Indeed, it is not with the human kings, nor in might, nor in strategy; it is in the prophet who can establish and destroy kings.  Jehoram’s word could only lead Israel to death, to the wilderness; but Elisha’s word could lead Israel to new life watered by the blood-stream of Jesus.

 

13 And Elisha said to the king of Israel, “What have I to do with you? Go to the prophets of your father and to the prophets of your mother.” But the king of Israel said to him, “No; it is the LORD who has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab.”

14 And Elisha said, “As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I have regard for Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would neither look at you nor see you.

15 But now bring me a musician.” And when the musician played, the hand of the LORD came upon him.

16 And he said, “Thus says the LORD, ‘I will make this dry streambed full of pools.’

17 For thus says the LORD, ‘You shall not see wind or rain, but that streambed shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, you, your livestock, and your animals.’

18 This is a light thing in the sight of the LORD. He will also give the Moabites into your hand,

19 and you shall attack every fortified city and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree and stop up all springs of water and ruin every good piece of land with stones.”

20 The next morning, about the time of offering the sacrifice, behold, water came from the direction of Edom, till the country was filled with water.

 

Just as David played the lyre to fend off the evil spirit in Saul (1 Samuel 16:23), so also Elisha asked a musician to come and dispel the devilish company by Spirit-led music.  Here, we see the living waters fill the dry streambed (v.16), the music of the LORD tied to the harmony of pure creation of living water arising neither from wind, nor rain, but from the ground – an image of the Edenic pools of waters (Genesis 2:6, 2:10).  Just as water came from the direction of Edom (meaning red), we are reminded that the blood stream is but once again a covering over Israel.  Just as Jacob had hidden himself in the covering which represented Esau’s firstborn stature (Genesis 25:25; 27), so also Israel (and the other houses) lay hidden in the blood-red streams of Christ the firstborn.  Although Ahab sought the support of king Edom, it is Jehoshaphat who sought the support of Christ, the God of Elijah and Elisha.

 

21 When all the Moabites heard that the kings had come up to fight against them, all who were able to put on armor, from the youngest to the oldest, were called out and were drawn up at the border.

22 And when they rose early in the morning and the sun shone on the water, the Moabites saw the water opposite them as red as blood.

23 And they said, “This is blood; the kings have surely fought together and struck one another down. Now then, Moab, to the spoil!”

24 But when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose and struck the Moabites, till they fled before them. And they went forward, striking the Moabites as they went.

25 And they overthrew the cities, and on every good piece of land every man threw a stone until it was covered. They stopped every spring of water and felled all the good trees, till only its stones were left in Kir-hareseth, and the slingers surrounded and attacked it.

26 When the king of Moab saw that the battle was going against him, he took with him 700 swordsmen to break through, opposite the king of Edom, but they could not.

27 Then he took his oldest son who was to reign in his place and offered him for a burnt offering on the wall. And there came great wrath against Israel. And they withdrew from him and returned to their own land.

 

Yet their ambition to destroy Moab goes beyond what the LORD has given them (v.18-19), until only the stones were left in the City of the Sun – Kir-hareseth.  Note Adam Clarke’s observation of v.27, in spite of the apparent victory by the blood of Christ:

 

The rabbins account for this horrible sacrifice in the following way:-

When the king of Moab found himself so harassed, and the royal city on the   point of being taken, he called a council of his servants, and asked them how it was these Israelites could perform such prodigies, and that such miracles were wrought for them? His servants answered, that it was owing to their progenitor Abraham, who, having an only son, was commanded by Jehovah to offer him in sacrifice. Abraham instantly obeyed, and offered his only son for a burnt-offering; and the Israelites being his descendants, through his merits the holy blessed God wrought such miracles in their behalf. The king of Moab answered, I also have an only son, and I will go and offer him to my God. Then he offered him for a burnt-offering upon the wall.

Upon the wall] al hachamah. Rab. Sol. Jarchi says that the letter vau is wanting in this word, as it should be written chomah, to signify a wall; but chammah signifies the sun, and this was the god of the king of Moab: “And he offered his first-born son for a burnt-offering unto the sun.” This is not very solid.

There was great indignation] The Lord was displeased with them for driving things to such an extremity: or the surrounding nations held them in abomination on the account; and they were so terrified themselves at this most horrid sacrifice, that they immediately raised the siege and departed. In cases of great extremity it was customary in various heathen nations to offer human sacrifices, or to devote to the infernal gods the most precious or excellent thing or person they possessed. This was frequent among the Phoenicians, Romans, and Greeks; and it was the natural fruit of a religious system which had for the objects of its worship cruel and merciless divinities. How different the Christian system! “Wilt thou that we shall bring down fire from heaven and destroy them? Ye know not what manner of spirits ye are of; the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”

 

Indeed, such is true.  Christ did not seek to have burnt offerings made to Him (Numbers 3:4), for He is the burnt offering.  Why did Jehoshaphat and Ahab, as kings of Israel, fail to preach the Word of the coming Son?  Rather, in allowing this to happen, the false gospel is preached for all to see – the sacrifice of the king of Moab’s firstborn reminding us of the death of all the firstborn in the Egyptian exodus (Exodus 11:5).

 

 

II Kings 4:

1 Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.”

2 And Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?” And she said, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.”

3 Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few.

4 Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.”

5 So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her.

6 When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing.

7 She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.”

 

 

There is no doubt that the focus of 2 Kings 3 has always been on Jesus, witnessed by Elisha.  As such, the break from warfare is more natural when we immediately see that Elisha has moved from the battle plains of Edom to the wife of one of the sons of the prophets.  In chapter 4, we see Elisha’s Spirit-led work resembling that of Christ, as a continuation of chapter 3.  The double portion of Elijah’s Spirit is now on Elisha, a grand time of harvest – and the first of such miraculous signs is in the blood-red stream of Edom which pronounced judgment on Moab, but salvation for Israel.  Yet, the overflowing love of God continues (John 17:24-26) from the blood of Christ onto the overflowing vessels of oil (1 Kings 17; Matthew 25:29).

 

8 One day Elisha went on to Shunem, where a wealthy woman lived, who urged him to eat some food. So whenever he passed that way, he would turn in there to eat food.

9 And she said to her husband, “Behold now, I know that this is a holy man of God who is continually passing our way.

10 Let us make a small room on the roof with walls and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, so that whenever he comes to us, he can go in there.”

11 One day he came there, and he turned into the chamber and rested there.

12 And he said to Gehazi his servant, “Call this Shunammite.” When he had called her, she stood before him.

13 And he said to him, “Say now to her, ‘See, you have taken all this trouble for us; what is to be done for you? Would you have a word spoken on your behalf to the king or to the commander of the army?’” She answered, “I dwell among my own people.”

14 And he said, “What then is to be done for her?” Gehazi answered, “Well, she has no son, and her husband is old.”

15 He said, “Call her.” And when he had called her, she stood in the doorway.

16 And he said, “At this season, about this time next year, you shall embrace a son.” And she said, “No, my lord, O man of God; do not lie to your servant.”

17 But the woman conceived, and she bore a son about that time the following spring, as Elisha had said to her.

18 When the child had grown, he went out one day to his father among the reapers.

19 And he said to his father, “Oh, my head, my head!” The father said to his servant, “Carry him to his mother.”

20 And when he had lifted him and brought him to his mother, the child sat on her lap till noon, and then he died.

21 And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God and shut the door behind him and went out.

22 Then she called to her husband and said, “Send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, that I may quickly go to the man of God and come back again.”

23 And he said, “Why will you go to him today? It is neither new moon nor Sabbath.” She said, “All is well.”

24 Then she saddled the donkey, and she said to her servant, “Urge the animal on; do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you.”

25 So she set out and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel.

When the man of God saw her coming, he said to Gehazi his servant, “Look, there is the Shunammite.

26 Run at once to meet her and say to her, ‘Is all well with you? Is all well with your husband? Is all well with the child?’” And she answered, “All is well.”

27 And when she came to the mountain to the man of God, she caught hold of his feet. And Gehazi came to push her away. But the man of God said, “Leave her alone, for she is in bitter distress, and the LORD has hidden it from me and has not told me.”

28 Then she said, “Did I ask my lord for a son? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me?’”

29 He said to Gehazi, “Tie up your garment and take my staff in your hand and go. If you meet anyone, do not greet him, and if anyone greets you, do not reply. And lay my staff on the face of the child.”

30 Then the mother of the child said, “As the LORD lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So he arose and followed her.

31 Gehazi went on ahead and laid the staff on the face of the child, but there was no sound or sign of life. Therefore he returned to meet him and told him, “The child has not awakened.”

32 When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed.

33 So he went in and shut the door behind the two of them and prayed to the LORD.

34 Then he went up and lay on the child, putting his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands. And as he stretched himself upon him, the flesh of the child became warm.

35 Then he got up again and walked once back and forth in the house, and went up and stretched himself upon him. The child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.

36 Then he summoned Gehazi and said, “Call this Shunammite.” So he called her. And when she came to him, he said, “Pick up your son.”

37 She came and fell at his feet, bowing to the ground. Then she picked up her son and went out.

 

The distinction here is that the LORD is the same to the wealthy and poor alike.  So also his overflowing love pours out through his crucified and living Son onto the Shunammite women, who conceived miraculously (c.f. Genesis 18:13), who gives life out of death in abundance (v.16, v.35).  And this is the picture of our resurrection, that our Christ shall restore us face-to-face, and here – mouth to mouth, eye to eye, hand on hand.  What intimacy in bringing a child (who the mother conceived, though living with the fear that he will be taken away v.28) to life.  Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD (Psalm 127:3), for the Father’s heritage is His begotten Son.  In the miraculous birth, sudden death and resurrection of the Shunammite’s son, we see a glimpse of the LORD’s economy in saving this sinful world – that the virgin birth through Mary is but an overflow of His love for us, that the Son should be conceived as a God-man only to die the death of a sinner, but brought back to life into the intimate embrace of the Father’s bosom – eye-to-eye, mouth-to-mouth, hand-to-hand (1 Corinthians 13:12).

 

38 And Elisha came again to Gilgal when there was a famine in the land. And as the sons of the prophets were sitting before him, he said to his servant, “Set on the large pot, and boil stew for the sons of the prophets.”

39 One of them went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine and gathered from it his lap full of wild gourds, and came and cut them up into the pot of stew, not knowing what they were.

40 And they poured out some for the men to eat. But while they were eating of the stew, they cried out, “O man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it.

41 He said, “Then bring flour.” And he threw it into the pot and said, “Pour some out for the men, that they may eat.” And there was no harm in the pot.

 

Here, we see again the healing of the food just as Elisha healed the water to be drinkable; instead of going by way of the salt covenant, Elisha goes by way of the grain offering.  The death in the pot is removed by the flour so ingrained in grain offering (c.f. Numbers 7, 28, 29).  Yet, the wild vine is but a representative of these faithless sons of prophets (c.f. Jeremiah 2:21), who shall one day be replaced by other Spirit-filled men and women like Elisha and Elijah who behold their Christ (Romans 11) despite their upbringing as apparent wild vines.  Instead, these wild vines shall enjoin the true vine of God by the grain offering, fully restored.  “And there was no harm in the pot” (v.41).  We see the blood of Christ in the end of chapter 3, followed by the oil of love in the beginning of chapter 4, leading to the resurrection of the only son of the Shunammite woman.  What is left in this grand gesture of gospel media, from Christ’s crucifixion to the overflowing giving of the Spirit found in the resurrection of the son?  What is left is fellowship and feasting with the LORD (c.f. Mark 8:19, Revelation 19:9):

 

42 A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. And Elisha said, “Give to the men, that they may eat.”

43 But his servant said, “How can I set this before a hundred men?” So he repeated, “Give them to the men, that they may eat, for thus says the LORD, ‘They shall eat and have some left.’”

44 So he set it before them. And they ate and had some left, according to the word of the LORD.

2 Kings 3-4: Overflowing Love

2 Samuel 4: The Two Bosheth’s

It is clear from v.1 that Israel’s dismay was not simply because Abner had died; but because Abner died as the mediator between Judah and themselves. Ish-bosheth, a man of shame, is therefore left to his own devices and his own counsel. Though Abner had positively decided to fellowship with the light by putting himself before the anointed David (2 Corinthians 6:14), Ish-bosheth has sadly remained without hope, only to have the ruthless Benjaminites (Beerothites) surround him (Genesis 49:27), the Beerothites who had fled to the double-winepress Gittaim as the double-winepress Baanah and Rechab attempt to destroy the final line of Saul via the death Ish-bosheth.

It is therefore important that we see the parallel not simply between the righteousness of Abner as a temporary type of Christ, but also the comparison between Ish-bosheth and Mephibosheth, bearing names of contrasting meaning. Where Ish-bosheth is the appointed king clothed in royal garb, he is in fact a man of shame who is undeserving of the title; contrary to Mephibosheth, the grandson of Saul and the son of righteous Jonathan who is lamed but will be brought to the meal table before David (2 Samuel 9:10). Where Ish-bosheth’s courage failed, Mephibosheth’s courage was brought to life. Such is the man titled the exterminator of idol and shame compared with the man of shame. In what form does this exterminator take? The form of a lame man from his youth. And that is why Mephibosheth is mentioned in what is a seemingly random placement between the repeated descriptions of Baanah and Rechab (v.2 and v.5); in the midst of the ravenous wolves of Benjamin is this ray of hope in the physical house of Israel, in the natural branches of the olive tree (Romans 11).

It is therefore immediately clear that Mephibosheth’s humility is described in such a way as to shame Baanah and Rechab who in their own mind are exterminating Ish-bosheth as if he was an idol. Yet, these two men are deceivers (v.6), like the Benjaminite ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing, the true enemy of the church from within her own ranks (Matthew 7:15). And so Baanah and Rechab are the false exterminators – they fail to see that Israel is not to be replaced by any more shedding of blood, nor it is pleasing to God that Saul should fall for David to rise. Is Saul’s blood not enough? Is Asahel’s blood not excessive? Is Abner’s blood not innocent? Is Joab’s violence not rebuked? And so we see a chain of events which spiral out of control preceding David’s enthronement; and yet, this is not of David’s will nor is it of God’s will. It is reflective of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus – his excessive, selfish betrayal which is typified by these chains of madness. Yet, God works through this madness to bring about Christ’s exaltation, restoring even the house of Israel though crippled and lamed by its internal conflict and warfare to display that it is only by Christ’s grace that Israel is to return to the table which it once took part of at the height of its glory at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 24).

And so such blasphemous words from the ravenous wolves in sheepskin: “The LORD Has avenged my lord the king this day on Saul and on his offspring” – what ridicule that such a Messianic race of people should dare kill the offspring of the first anointed king Saul when they are indeed anticipating the One beyond David and beyond Saul who will redeem them! These are the secret responses from Satan that from the day of his punishment (Genesis 3) he would want to murder the offspring of the king!

Therefore the removal of the hands and feet of the Beerothites is a symbol of the powerlessness of Satan hanged up beside the pool at the seat of association before the LORD; their heads are not cut off for all to see and identify such heresy as powerless before the living God effectuated through David. By parallel, the head of Ish-bosheth is buried with Abner, representative that both men of Israel however once shameful are considered righteous men by David’s account and pronouncement; that they should share the same tomb at Hebron. Ish-bosheth, a man of shame to have his head buried in the same tomb as the man whose death was heavily mourned and fasted for (c.f. chapter 3) – such is the exaltation which David is capable of bringing on the house of Saul, from the shackles of sin (Mark 5) to the glory of gifted righteousness from the anointed king! David has consistently exercised this power of redemption throughout his ministry in restoring shameful Israel to glory from 1 Samuel 17 to 2 Samuel 4, and it is upon his enthronement as the King of Israel that the headless man of shame is now led by the new head David son of Jesse, and that another brand of worthless men – Abner and Ish-bosheth – are to be honoured and to go with Him into the true Promised Land.

2 Samuel 4: The Two Bosheth’s

1 Samuel 28: Brought up by the Mediator

In the strange exchange between Achish and David, we are given an insight into Christ’s work in relation to the enemy, Satan.  David had already met Achish once before (1 Samuel 21), feigning as a madman, David himself aware of how famous he is in Gath.  Not once, but twice, David has managed to appear as a fool before Achish, the last verses of chapter 27 exposing Achish’s gullible thought:  “He has made himself an utter stench to his people Israel; therefore he shall always be my servant”.  Yet, although David may currently appear to have been removed from his people Israel, and from his LORD God of Israel, his heart is still that of the Anointed Elect One who cut off the head and mediator of Gath.

The irony of chapter 28 is therefore that of the Anointed One currently being on the side of the Philistines feigning as their servant; contrary to Saul who, though being on the side of Israel, actually commits to sinning.  David of Gath fighting for Israel, and Saul of Israel whose heart is akin to the men of Gath.  The irony is further amplified given that the whole chapter (alongside chapter 29) represents the death and resurrection of the Christ – that He appeared to have been bound in death to Satan in His own death on the cross, though soon to return to Israel as the true king upon being released from his ‘apparent’ service to Achish.  It is this period of the apparent “death” of David that Saul should go to call up another dead man, Samuel – but that is not the focus.  The focus is that Saul should go to another medium, another mediator, besides that of Jesus Christ.  Instead of going to the rejected mediator David, he went to another rejected mediator – rejected from Israel not because it is pleasing in the LORD’s eyes like David’s temporary rejection, but because it is a sin as explicitly recorded in Deuteronomy 18:11 not to seek the wisdom of such mediums.

What stupidity it is for Saul to seek wisdom from Samuel through a false medium!  His inquiry of the LORD through dreams, Urim and the prophets is compared to David’s inquiry of the LORD through the ephod – the garb of the priest (chapter 30:7).  How different it is that David should inquire as a priest of God, as opposed to Saul who failed to go through the priestly mediator?  Saul who had only turned to these elements, and even to Samuel who had already died, for the sake of fleshly victory over the Philistines – the Saul of War (1 Samuel 14:52)?  How different this is to David who “strengthened himself in the LORD his God” (chapter 30:6) that Saul, instead of strengthening himself in the LORD before inquiring (just as David had done in chapter 30), was afraid of men and trembled because of men (Luke 12).

Though it is unimportant whether it is truly Samuel who appeared before him as an apparition, the same message is preached throughout the book so far – that Saul is to serve David the true king.  V.16 is express enough – the LORD has rejected Saul, for the LORD has become Saul’s enemy; the LORD has torn the kingdom from Saul’s hand and given it to David (v.17), David who has been destroying the Amalekites (chapter 27:8) as a resident of Ziklag whilst Saul’s mercy against his enemy is seen as a compromise which no Israelite king should make.

Yet, there is still some necessity to focus on the interesting nature of the medium of En-dor and what exactly it is she saw.  Unlike 1 Kings 22:20 where we see a spirit acting as an evil agent before the LORD to cause the fall of Ahab, instead we should look at the language used by the woman – “Whom shall I bring up for you? (‘alah עלה– to ascend, to rise up)” as if the woman has power to bring up anyone from the dead, from the earth (c.f. Psalm 71:20) when it is our LORD Christ who was brought up and risen from the earth, not by the woman but by the Father and the Sprit.  What is most interesting is that this woman saw “gods” (the ESV renders it as ‘a god’ though the Hebrew uses the word Elohim, the plural singular used to describe God in Genesis 1) rising out of the earth and yet He is an old man coming up, wrapped in a robe.  The question which arises is, whether Saul has been sanctified and glorified like the Christ?  There is no indication that this is Satan masquerading as an angel of light for Satan does not speak the word of truth about the tearing of the kingdom from Saul’s grips.  It would seem as if Samuel, now sitting in the midst of the communion of the Triune God, rises like the creator God himself from the earth (though it was Christ who first rose from the dead); and his proclamation concerning Saul and his sons’ death is supposedly a joyous proclamation, though the army of Israel is given into the hand of the Philistines.  Saul, and all people, would have known that this mighty priest by whose name the book is labelled after is sitting in the midst of Yahweh as opposed to ‘fellowshipping’ with the enemy Satan.  For Samuel to proclaim that Saul and his sons will be with Samuel, furthermore that Samuel is shrouded with the glory of God himself, should be enticing to Saul.

Therefore, the true heart of Saul is revealed in his mourning – not for his people, but for his own earthly kingdom which was ripped from his hands and placed firmly under the headship of David, the typological Christ.  Instead of meditating upon the kingdom of righteousness and the true kingdom of heaven (Matthew 6:33), he sought to establish earthly victory and earthly power.  And this is the true exchange of the chapter – that David shall return to Israel as part of Israel’s restoration, whilst Saul and his sons shall die by the hands of the Philistines, though they have the option of fellowshipping with Samuel in the kingdom of heaven.  Should not Saul mourn for his people as opposed to his earthly predicament?  Why should he ‘obey’ the heretical medium (v.22) when he should be worshipping the true mediator who shrouded Samuel with glory and is the True Man who will bring all of us up out of the earth?  Why should he be forced to eat, when he should be fasting and praying to the LORD for forgiveness, the LORD who can remove transgressions (Psalm 103:12)?

1 Samuel 28: Brought up by the Mediator

Leviticus 8-10: Jesus, our only High Priest

We have covered the significance of the sacrifices, and just in how many multitude of ways they provide a 3-D rendition of the spiritual truth of Christ Jesus, in front of the tabernacle, which is also a physical manifestation of the truth of the heaven in relation to earth and the church of the Sent One.

From chapters 1-7, we have seen just how crucial the details are behind the sacrifices.  We have seen the intricacies, the types of animals, the ways the animals are cut, the way the blood is either drained or thrown onto the altar sides or horns… and the person at the center of all these sacrifices at large are the priests.  Thus, these next three chapters I will turn to understand the importance of the priests which we have touched upon in the previous 7 chapters.  One interesting thing to note is this: the sacrifice is a type of Christ, and the heart-circumcised Jews knew that in the OT.  The high priest is also a type of Christ.  Try meditating on the picture of a high priest sacrificing an animal – and both priest and animal are types of Christ and imagine the implications of Christ’s work on the cross.  I will be working through that in the latter part of this post.

1.  The Sanctification of Jesus Christ with the anointing of the Spirit (Leviticus 8 )

2.  The acceptance of Aaron’s offering (Leviticus 9)

3.  The Death of Aaron’s two sons – Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10)

1.  The Sanctification of Jesus Christ with the anointing of the Spirit (Leviticus 8 )

The first few verses sums up the chapters ahead:

1(A) The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2“Take Aaron and his sons with him, and(B) the garments and(C) the anointing oil and the bull of the sin offering and the two rams and the basket of unleavened bread. 3And assemble all the congregation at the entrance of the tent of meeting.” 4And Moses did as the LORD commanded him, and the congregation was assembled at the entrance of the tent of meeting.

Thus begins the detail about Aaron and his sons.  We knew from Exodus 4 that Aaron is going to be Moses’ assistant, chiefly his mouthpiece because of Moses’ ‘uncircumcised lips’ (i.e. speech problem); but slowly, Joshua exchanged the role with Aaron as his chief disciple and assistant, whereas Aaron became Moses’ helper, his peer – from bearing Moses’ arm during the fight against the Amalekites through Yeshua/Joshua’s victory.  Throughout Exodus, Moses’ work is inextricably tied with Aaron’s work – as if they were nigh inseparable.  Moses’ presence and faith in Christ is the picture which dominated the book of Exodus, until Exodus 28 points towards Aaron and his sons as the priests of the to-be-built tabernacle.  Now, the time has come, and Aaron is the prophesied high priest.  Yet, without Moses, Aaron’s work would not have occurred.  Moses therefore plays the role of the Christ in the Old Testament: the Christ who physically saves as the Angel, and as the LORD who brought them out of Egypt.  But in the New Testament, our Christ fulfills the meaning of that physical salvation by completing the true spiritual salvation by the blood.  So what if the Israelites are saved from the Egyptians?  They will still fall into idolatry.  It is the salvation by the blood of Christ which he brings into the room of the Holy of Holies which clinches that peace between us and the Father.  Moses – the type of OT Christ, the Rock, the Saviour, the type of the one who brought the Israelites out of Egypt, the land of no Jesus; Aaron – the type of NT Christ, the Lamb, the High Priest, the type of the one who emphasises that the physical exodus is only true if we are circumcised via the spiritual exodus to new Jerusalem (Galatians 4).  Make no mistake: the OT and NT are tied together; we are born under the Old Covenant so we can turn to the New.  And under both instances, we turn from law of Christ to the gospel of Christ – Christ is at the centre of both typologies of Moses and Aaron.

So, when we look at Aaron, we actually understand Christ better as he presented himself in the NT.  So often I hear that NT Christ sheds light on OT sacrifices; but that is not true.  If anything, without the OT, NT means nothing; however, with the OT, we can more of less shape the gospel save understand the fullness of the time in which Christ will come.  But the Israelites at this point already have a good grasp of the fundamental offerings, the mediator-nature of their Yahweh, and most definitely a visible concept of the Holy Trinity.  The NT is just a time of fulfillment (NOT ‘special’ revelation, for the entire OT is already special revelation of Christ); the OT is one of prophecy awaiting Christ who has already been specially revealed as Angel (Genesis 16, Exodus 3), as Lamb (Genesis 22), as animal sacrifice (Genesis 3), and now as High Priest.

So how can Aaron and co. be sanctified (i.e. set apart) for the LORD’s work?  How can they be holy?  This is different from being clean, as I hinted in the previous post.

The process of sanctification, of being set apart as Holy for the LORD, follows some procedure.  Adam Clarke sums it up nicely (and I put in the bracketed numbers to help you navigate):

(1)  Moses is commanded to consecrate Aaron and his sons, Lev 8:1-3.

(2)  Moses convenes the congregation; washes, clothes, and anoints Aaron, Lev 8:4-12.

(3)  He also clothes Aaron’s sons, Lev 8:13.

(4)  Offers a bullock for them as a sin-offering, Lev 8:14-17.

(5)  And a ram for a burnt-offering, Lev 8:18-21.

(6)  And another ram for a consecration-offering, Lev 8:22-24. The fat, with cakes of unleavened bread, and the right shoulder of the ram, he offers as a wave-offering, and afterwards burns, Lev 8:25-28. The breast, which was the part of Moses, he also waves, Lev 8:29.

(7)  And sprinkles oil and blood upon Aaron and his sons, Lev 8:30.

(8 )  The flesh of the consecration ram is to be boiled and eaten at the door of the tabernacle, Lev 8:31, Lev 8:32.

(9)  Moses commands Aaron and his sons to abide seven days at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, which they do accordingly, Lev 8:33-36.

Let’s quickly decipher them.  Moses, in this picture, is like the OT Christ baptizing the NT Christ – the reason I say that is because the New Testament picture provides that of John the Baptist baptising Jesus (Matthew 3:15), when Jesus began his public work as the Anointed One (“Christ” is the greek for the Hebrew term “Messiah/Mashiyach”, meaning “Anointed One” or the “Consecrated One” -משׁיח c.f. Psalm 132:10).  This explains why, in verses 4-12, Moses convenes a congregation (Hebrew: edah, meaning assembly, the Hebrew equivalent for ekklesia, church, in the NT) of Israel before the consecration of the High Priest.  The direct parallel is also shown in Matthew 3, when the church of Israel witnesses Jesus Christ being consecrated for his ministry as THE Anointed One, the High Priest fulfilling all righteousness.  More on this when we speak of the anointing with the oil as the third step of the ritual.

The establishment of the ministry of the Anointed One

The reason I make the typology of Moses as John the Baptist and as role played by Christ in the OT is twofold.  Firstly, John the Baptist is the very last prophet of the Old Testament prior to the first advent of Christ – and every prophet is merely a typology of THE chief prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15), THE chief messenger – Christ.  As Moses is playing the role of prophet, his role right here parallels the image of John the Prophet and Baptizer of Jesus.  Jesus as the Anointed One is now being portrayed by Aaron, the now consecrated High Priest, in front of the assembly/ekklesia/church of Israel.  Secondly, is the way I play with the name “Moses”, which means “drawn out of the water”.  How much more fitting is it therefore for Moses to baptise Aaron with the water for washing, drawing from the water of the Spirit (as represented by the oil later) after being kept alive by being drawn out out of the waters of punishment?

This is followed closely by the clothing of the priests AFTER the washing as the second step.  The clothing of the priests I’ve largely covered in the commentary in Exodus.  Primarily, the significance is to tie the burden and the hearts of the Israelites to this one High Priest – the stones on his shoulders and on his breastplace continually remind him that he is standing as the mediator between the Father and the church.  He is stepping temporarily into the shoes of Jesus.

The third step is the important ritual of anointing with oil.  v.10 reveals that Moses consecrated the tabernacle first, before consecrating Aaron and his sons.  1 Samuel 16:13 –

Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.

This shows just how important the Spirit is to any ministry.  Without oil, representing the Spirit, the work of the High Priests are in vain (1 Corinthians 2; 1 Corinthians 12).  Thus, the truth of the Spirit resting on Jesus, the Messiah, the Anointed One, is strengthened clearly in the picturing of oil everywhere (Isaiah 42:1-4, 61:1-3; Luke 4:14-21).  The oil comes again later in v.30.

The offerings in the preparation of Aaron & his sons

In v. 14-17, Aaron and his sons put their hands on the head of the bull as sin offering.  The bull, which “absorbs” the sin of Aaron and his sons is then destroyed away from the camp, so as not to threaten the purity of the camp or the Tent.  This “Great Exchange” of imputing our sins to Christ and his sins to us is spoken of in Romans 3 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 –

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Just is the essence of true Christian justification: we aren’t just made into a blank slate with the Father solemnly approving our entrance into heaven.  No no, much more!  We are actually pleasing in the Father’s eyes so long as Christ is our captain, and we are in Him, the true Noah’s ark!  The Father now looks on us like how he looks on his eternal Son!

Now that the altar is purified, the preparation of the priests is completed, to which we turn to the burnt offering for the atonement of their sins.  The first sin-offering cleansed them; and now, the burnt offering puts them in a position of pleasure before the LORD (refer back to 2 Corinthians 5:21) through the necessary substitute death of the animal sacrifice.  This anger of the LORD being soothed, the fellowship offering from v.22-29 takes the next stage.  First and foremost, all the offerings mentioned in these verses are forms of fellowship/peace offering (so they do not break-away from the 5-types of offerings in chapters 1-7, as if they are a sixth or seventh type of offering).

The reason why fellowship offering is so important is because it represents table fellowship with the LORD, so that we can eat with the Father and not only with the Incarnate Son (c.f. Last Supper).  Without the prior sin and burnt offering, this fellowship offering could not occur: this once against focuses on the truth of the importance of Jesus’ work on the cross before we can come before God as pleasing aroma of Christ and enjoy fellowship with Him.  Often, I have heard a simple phrase of “God is love” or “God is grace” – as biblical as the former is (1 John 4:16), the phrase is often taken out of 1 John’s context.  God is love through the propitiating blood of Jesus Christ.  God is love because of the propitiating blood of Jesus Christ.  Too often “Christ” and “blood” and “sacrifice” and “propitiation” is taken out of the picture, and we see a God who isn’t ‘judgmental’, but simply a God who is nice and loving – and this has caused the reason of so many heresies like contemporary pop-Marcionism: the OT God is full of wrath, the NT God is full of love.  Both the LORDS spoken of in OT and NT are Jesus Christ (yes, even the Old Testament usage of “LORD”, for who has known the Father without firstly knowing the visible Son of God (Luke 10:22)), and the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all angry at sin, yet the work of the cross fully deals with our punishment on the tree, and that is no blind grace – it is a true and legally justified salvation by grace.

One interesting difference is however found in the ordination/consecration (in the KJV) offering (v. 22-24).  The blood is applied on the priest’s lobe of the right ear, thumb of the right hand, and big toe of the right foot.  The right hand side is often seen as more important throughout Scripture (Genesis 48:14; Exodus 15:6; Deuteronomy 33:22; 1 Kings 2:19; Job 40:14; Psalm 16:8, 18:35; Ephesians 1:20), whether as a blessing on the next generation or as a powerful and protective force.  Jesus himself sits at the right hand of God, and many times people take refuge in the right hand of God, which depicts the power, protection and refuge of Jesus Christ.  Thus, the blood on the right hand side displays a full-allegiance not only to “God”, but to the right hand of God, Jesus Christ.  This right-hand side smearing of blood is practised later in Leviticus 14 on a leper, who through doing so is restored to full fellowship with God.  The priest is thus similarly cleansed and accepted into table fellowship with the Trinity.

The conclusion of the ordination ritual

The ordination ritual thus comes to an end with oil in v.30, covering the priests and their clothing once again.  The oil thus begins and ends as bookends for the offerings and depicts a clear message of what the Anointed One will do for spiritual Israel.  When priests are therefore engaged in their work, we will definitely think – “this, also, is what the Anointed One will do!”  This is far more profound than the shy provision of oil for prophets and kings: the priest is completely covered in the Spirit!  Psalm 133:2 –

“It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!”

This section of Psalms presents some deep theology: the precious oil on the head of Aaron runs down his beard to the collar of his robes and later covering his clothing.  So also: the Spirit on the head of Christ, runs down to his body, the church, and through the work of the Consecrated and Anointed Priest – the work of the Great Exchange of imputing our sin to him and his righteousness to us so we can have table fellowship with the LORD – is then the church manifested by the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit to come to new life.

When these rituals are completed, Aaron and his sons are given the offerings to eat at the entrance of the tabernacle, and so these prototype mediators stand between the LORD and His assembly, eating the LORD’s meat whilst in the priestly clothing representing the church.  This is very similar to the eating and drinking before the LORD in Exodus 24, the table fellowship with the seen Jesus.  Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu are now re-experiencing that wondrous moment in the thickness of the clouds of Mt. Sinai, on the border of the cloud of darkness and pillars of fire – the boundary between heaven and earth, between east of the garden of Eden and the Garden itself.

The final five verses of Leviticus 8 finishes the ritual of the priests:

31And Moses said to Aaron and his sons, “Boil the flesh at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and there eat it and the bread that is in the basket of ordination offerings, as I commanded, saying, ‘Aaron and his sons shall eat it.’ 32And what remains of the flesh and the bread you shall burn up with fire. 33And you shall not go outside the entrance of the tent of meeting for seven days, until the days of your ordination are completed, for it(U) will take seven days to ordain you. 34As has been done today, the LORD has commanded to be done to make atonement for you. 35At the entrance of the tent of meeting you shall remain day and night for seven days, performing what the LORD has(V) charged, so that you do not die, for so I have been commanded.” 36And Aaron and his sons did all the things that the LORD commanded by Moses.

Thus, if the priests fail to eat of the remainder of the flesh, the pronouncement of judgment on the sinful flesh, it shall be burnt with fire – a picture of the true punishment via the lake of fire (Revelation 21).  This is mildly preached when Jesus ate the fish (Habbakuk 1:14 and Genesis 1 – the fish and sea creatures have no life in them, c.f. my post on Genesis Day 2 and 5), as a pronouncement of judgment on the mindless fish – the unsaved men.

And unsurprisingly, the seven days focus takes us back to the creation of the world in 6 days, and sabbath on the 7th.  This picture of creation of heaven and earth completed in 7 days is a foretelling of the re-creation of the world also told in the symbolic 7 days through the priestly work of Christ.  From the 8th day, the work of re-creation has already begun, just as Christ was resurrected on the 8th day (c.f. Genesis 17 circumcision, and Christ rising again on the 8th day AFTER the Sabbath on the 7th day, a picture of the new work of re-creation of heavens and earth, taking into account the symbolic second set of 7 days).  Hence, we move onto the 8th day in Leviticus 9.

A final note on the ordination is the question of whether modern-day ordination has similar significance.  Yes and No – Yes, in the sense that (as I will later cover in Leviticus 10), the ordination of these high priests is akin to the ordination of ministers and pastors.  They are given a highly responsible role of stewarding the sheep in the Shepherd’s stead, though of course, aligning to the Shepherd’s teachings.  The pastoral epistles such as Timothy and Titus were not written for any laymen, just as the 70 elders of Israel were chosen with specific character qualities.  However, the ordination of Leviticus 8 is not the same as the ordination of ministers at the same time – because the ministers are not made “holy” because of the ordination.  Rather, the holiness is one which all Christians inherit by the power of the Spirit.  We are to be a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:6), not a kingdom of laymen and minority of priests!  The message spoken of here is a message of us taking on the nature of Christ through his propitiating and cleansing work of his own blood and the waters and oil of the Spirit.  In that sense, today’s ordination of ministers does not make them any more “holy” than the time that they were, when they first came to Christ prior to their ordination.  Therefore, a minister’s state of ‘holiness’ is no more than the state of ‘holiness’ that we are given by the power of the Spirit in whatever ministry we are anointed to perform.

2.  The acceptance of Aaron’s offering (Leviticus 9)

The significance of the 8th day shouldn’t be downplayed.  You should feast your eyes on Bullinger’s Numbers in Scripture’s chapter on the number 8, and here is just a small excerpt which is by no means enough to show the parallel of 8th day and new creation:

EIGHT BY ITSELF:  It is 7 plus 1. Hence it is the number specially associated with Resurrection and Regeneration, and the beginning of a new era or order.

When the whole earth was covered with the flood, it was Noah “the eighth person” (2 Peter 2:5) who stepped out on to a new earth to commence a new order of things. “Eight souls” (1 Peter 3:20) passed through it with him to the new or regenerated world.

Hence, too, circumcision was to be performed on the eighth day (Gen 17:12), because it was the foreshadowing of the true circumcision of the heart, that which was to be “made without hands,” even “the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” (Col 2:11). This is connected with the new creation.

The first-born was to be given to Jehovah on the eighth day (Exo 22:29,30). But RESURRECTION is the great truth which is signified. Christ rose from the dead on “the first day of the week,” that was of necessity the eighth day.

So what happens on the 8th day is of serious importance to the understanding of God’s work of re-creation.  Adam Clarke’s commentary comes in useful again, with my edited numbering and extra notes in italics:

(1)  Aaron is commanded to offer, on the eighth day, a sin-offering (bull calf) and a burnt-offering (ram), Lev 9:1, Lev 9:2.

(2)  The people are commanded also to offer a sin-offering (male goat), a burnt-offering (calf and a ram, a year old without blemish), peace-offerings (ox and a ram), and a meat-offering (I think A.Clarke meant grain offering – mixed with oil) , Lev 9:3, Lev 9:4. They do as they were commanded; and Moses promises that God shall appear among them, Lev 9:5, Lev 9:6.

(3)  Aaron is commanded to make an atonement for the people, Lev 9:7. He and his sons prepare and offer the different sacrifices, Lev 9:8-21. Aaron and Moses bless the congregation, Lev 9:22, Lev 9:23.

(4)  And the fire of the Lord consumes the sacrifice, Lev 9:24.

The centrality of the verses above drives on two verses:  “so that the (Glory of the) LORD may appear to you”.  Part (1) relates strictly to Aaron and sons (with sin and burnt offerings), but part (2) involves the work of Aaron and sons for the congregation of Israel, which doesn’t just involve sin and burnt offerings, but also fellowship and grain offerings as fellowship and dedication to the LORD respectively.  Everything that priest has done is to involve themselves and to involve the congregation so that their own sins and the congregations’ sins are tied to these sacrifices, imputed onto them, and so that the LORD may appear to them.  This may sound odd, given that they were ALREADY witnessing the glory of God as a pillar of cloud and fire in the tabernacle!  No – what is meant here is the significance of these sacrifices in ORDER to meet with God.  They cannot just expect to dwell with Jesus, given their sinful nature (including the priests, who are after all only acting as the True Priest who is entirely sinless).

Lev 9:22  Then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he came down from offering the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings. 23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and when they came out they blessed the people, and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. 24 And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.

This chapter ends on a high note – the work of re-creation, on the 8th day, is powerfully shown through the sacrifices made – and the “glory of the LORD appeared to all the people” as the High Priest lifted his hands to bless the people (an image of Melchizedek, who is Jesus, the Sent One who blessed Abraham the model of faith – Romans 4).  This “glory of the LORD” of course is no mere glory, for who has seen God except the visible person Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15)?  Sometimes I hear people today saying things like “I saw God’s glory”, which they usually mean as “I felt the intimacy of God today”.  However, in Scripture, to see God’s glory is to actually see Him – not just to feel the intimacy, but to see Him with the eyes of our hearts, when a particular mystery in the fullness of Christ is revealed by the Spirit.  Can you see the glory of God through the music of a worship song?  Sure.  Can you see the glory of God through a pastor praying for you?  Indeed. Only if both take us back to Jesus Christ, and not because we feel like we are being loved.  It is important to distinguish the feelings from the fact of God’s revelation to us, for often the feelings of a compromising Christian precede that of fact: and this leads to all types of spiritual troubles in store for them.  Let the true glory of God, Jesus Christ, reveal more of the truth of his work on the cross for us, so we worship Him with more reverence.

The picture of fire coming out from before the LORD and consuming these offerings is one of acceptance of the people, while simultaneously pronouncing judgment on the now sinful animal sacrifices.  This rejoicing is bittersweet – they live, because of the death of another; yet, our rejoicing in Christ is not bittersweet – he will not only die on the cross, but will live and ascend to bring us up again to the new heavens and earth as fully righteous and not just a blank slate.

3.  The Death of Aaron’s two sons – Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10)

Although the last chapter ended optimistically, it is no mistake that Moses chose to juxtapose the glory of Aaron’s work, prophesying Jesus’ completed work on the cross starting from the 8th day (after Sabbath), with the decadence of the examples of Nadab and Abihu.

Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them.  (Lev 10:1)

Because of this “unauthorised” fire, v.2 goes on to say that Nadab and Abihu were immediately consumed by the LORD’s fire.  What a horrific image: one moment, the church of Israel is rejoicing, because Aaron and his sons went through the steps with a mixture of solemnity (of imputing their sins onto the sacrifice), and joy (of the imputation of righteousness onto them); and another moment, Nadab and Abihu fail to remember these important steps to God’s love and are consumed!

Let’s decipher ‘unauthorised’ fire first.  In the KJV, this is “strange” fire.  The LXX translates this as “αλλοτριον” (from the lexical root allotrios), meaning strange, alien or hostile.  This is different from the “heteros”, also meaning strange but more akin to “different”, used in Jude 7 referring to different flesh.  While I understand the cultural and semantic distinctions between LXX greek and NT greek, the context helps us understand that this strange fire is very different from ‘strange flesh’ which refers in the latter part to angelic flesh.  This strange fire, however, is unauthorised as the ESV translators put it: it is alien, and it is most importantly hostile.

If we just read the narrative, the message is quite simple: both the sons of Aaron took his censer and put fire in it and literally gave a hostile offering before the LORD.  Of course, they did not think it was hostile – but the LORD did, hence His reaction in v.2.  Paul Blackham notes that some people have read v.8-9 of chapter 10 and came to the conclusion that Nadab and Abihu are drunk, though I agree with him that actually, this seems not so feasible since chapter 10 follows immediately after chapter 9.  There is no indication of a time gap, especially v.12-16, explaining how the food offerings haven’t yet been consumed.  Since v.3 follows on from v.2, the judgment on Aaron’s sons, it would perhaps give the best explanation of why Nadab and Abihu were punished:

“This is what the LORD has said, ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.'” And Aaron held his peace.

Moses’ explanation is straightforward: without committing to the right steps to salvation, committing ourselves to God’s glory through Jesus Christ, our prayers and desires are unheard.  This is extremely important: for we remain under wrath outside of Jesus Christ (John 3:16-18 ) – and so Nadab and Abihu show just how they were under judgment, if they provide unauthorised offerings.

But surely Nadab and Abihu were just adding to the offerings?  No – it isn’t that simple.  The significance of the entire sacrificial system, the priestly ordination, is that it is the LORD’s commandment.  He has ordained salvation to be wrought in an extremely specific and detailed way, and any subversion or alteration of it is to preach one thing: that we know it better than the LORD.  That we can take or add from the word of God (Revelation 22:18 ).  Some can even go as far as to say that what Nadab and Abihu were doing is a great example of works-salvation:  it is as if Aaron’s sons felt that the sacrificial offering through Jesus Christ is not enough, and they have to add their own to justify themselves.  Either way, the LORD is furious that we would want to alter, or add onto the salvation of Jesus.  HE is our rock, HE is our righteousness – not our unauthorised and hostile offerings which has no bearing on our justification before Him.

v.3-6 is a sad image of Nadab and Abihu’s relatives carrying the two brothers’ corpses out, while Aaron their father holds his peace.  Nadab, whose name means “generous”, and Abihu, whose name means “he is my father” (possibly referring to God), is carried out by their relatives Mishael (“who is what God is”) and Elzaphan (“my God has protected”), sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel (“my strength is God”).  I find it, however, quite touching how they still refer to Nadab and Abihu as brethren (in the KJV, and “brother” in the ESV), and carry them with their coats still covering them – though it is indeed a solemn reminder that the physicali clothing is not what makes them holy; the physical robes of “righteousness” still needs to be true spiritually.  Moses tells Aaron and his sons not to bewail the death of Nadab and Abihu; instead, the house of Israel will now mourn for Nadab and Abihu.

Why can’t Aaron and his sons mourn for his eldest and 2nd eldest son?  Because they are still anointed with the Spirit:

And do not go outside the entrance of the tent of meeting, lest you die, for the anointing oil of the LORD is upon you.” And they did according to the word of Moses.(v.7)

This corresponds to what Jesus taught in Luke 14:25-26 – if you do not hate your parents, your wife, your brothers and sisters, your sons and daughters compared with God, then you cannot approach Jesus.  This is the intense devotion to the living God, and the mark of the Spirit on Aaron and his sons is a mark not merely of cleanness, but holiness.  God isn’t asking us to hate our human family; rather, he is teaching us to respect his authority even above the authority of our family.  If Aaron mourned, then he is akin to those who Christ are condemning in Luke 14.

Then v.10-11 implies that Aaron and his sons do not have the mere job of managing the sacrifices: they also have the duty to teach the people the meaning of the sacrifices.  How fitting it is that Moses is reminding Aaron of such a duty, after his two sons have died because they failed to understand the statute fully.  I think this is a crucial verse: so often we practise baptism, communion, sacraments, marriage and many signs of God’s grace to us, but we fail to understand its meaning.  This is why we have denominations preaching damaging lies like works-salvation, believer’s baptism, inter-faith or homosexual marriages.  They fail to remember what Scripture taught about these practices, and looked upon the physical truth and bound their subjective spiritual definitions to it.  The story of Nadab and Abihu is profound: it is telling us to listen to God, and rest on Christ alone as the definer of our faith.

v.12-18 then sees Moses asking the sons of Aaron to do as they were told and ensure that the remains of the sacrifice are dealt with as already told.  The key word in v.16, is diligent.  Moses is not half-hearted, and the message again is especially poignant after the death of Aaron’s two sons.

v.19-20 sees Aaron admitting his mistake in failing to serve the LORD properly, but there is a mark of humility and repentance in his actions: “If I had eaten the sin offering today, would the LORD have approved?”- indeed, the LORD would approve, as Moses stated.  Aaron was inwardly and spiritually mourning as the Father of the two sons, and just like those who fast because they mourn for the days of Jesus’ return (Matthew 9:15), Aaron’s fasting is a mark of his love for his two sons.  Thus, the difference between Aaron’s mistake and his sons mistake is quite significant: the former is one who continually feared and revered God and acknowledged his mistake.  However, the latter represents two people who impudently and rashly entered His presence with hostile sacrifices even though they should already know the statutes well.  Thus, the responses from the LORD are proportional and appropriate.  Here is Matthew Henry on Aaron’s repentant heart:

Moses charged the fault upon Eleazar and Ithamar (Lev_10:16), but it is probable that what they did was by Aaron direction, and therefore he apologized for it. He might have pleaded that this was a sin-offering for the congregation, and if it had been a bullock it must have been wholly burnt (Lev_4:21), and therefore why not now that it was a goat? But it seems it was otherwise ordered at this time, and therefore he makes his affliction his excuse, Lev_10:19. Observe, (1.) How he speaks of affliction: Such things have befallen me, such sad things, which could not but go near his heart, and make it very happy. He was a high priest taken from among men, and could not put off natural affection when he put on the holy garments. He held his peace (Lev_10:3), yet his sorrow was stirred, as David’s, Psa_39:2. Note, There may be a deep sense of affliction even where there is a sincere resignation to the will of God in the affliction. “Such things as never befel me before, and as I little expected now. My spirits cannot but sink, when I see my family sinking; I must needs be heavy, when God is angry:” thus it is easy to say a great deal to aggravate an affliction, but it is better to say little. (2.) How he makes this an excuse for his varying from the appointment about the sin-offering. He could not have eaten it but in his mourning, and with a sorrowful spirit; and would this have been accepted? He does not plead that his heart was so full of grief that he had no appetite for it, but that he feared it would not be accepted. Note, [1.] Acceptance with God is the great thing we should desire and aim at in all our religious services, particularly in the Lord’s supper, which is our eating of the sin-offering. [2.] The sorrow of the world is a very great hindrance to our acceptable performance of holy duties, both as it is discomposing to ourselves, takes off our chariot-wheels and makes us drive heavily (1Sa_1:7, 1Sa_1:8 ), and as it is displeasing to God, whose will it is that we should serve him cheerfully, Deu_12:7. Mourner’s bread was polluted, Hos_9:4. See Mal_3:14.

Leviticus 8-10: Jesus, our only High Priest

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

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

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

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

3.  Goshen (Genesis 46:31-47:11)

4. Israel’s burial (Genesis 47:12-31)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evangelism

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

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

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

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

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

3.  Goshen (Genesis 46:31-47:11)

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

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

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

4. Israel’s burial (Genesis 47:12-31)

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

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

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

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

Genesis 1:9-13; 24-31 – Day 3 & 6 – Born Again

And so we reach Day 3 and 6!!!

If you’ve been following the previous entries, the framework is Day 1-3 (formation), Day 4-6 (filling). And of course, the last entry I’ve hinted that Day 1, 2 and 3 have some significance we shouldn’t overlook, and we’ve been dealing with the doctrine of choice. If Day 1= incarnation, Day 2 = death, then surely Day 3 must be of some significance (and that Day 6 will fill in on that significance, notably, the day that man was made, though I will look at the image of God specifically in the next entry).

Genesis 1:9-13 –

“And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth (or Land, ESV footnote), and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants (or small plants, ESV footnote) yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, day three.”

Genesis 1:24-31 –

“And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds – livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make man (Adam, the generic term for mankind in Hebrew) in our image; after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on earth.”

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply & fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth. And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to very beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, day six.”

Now, I’ve been hinting on the theology of the separation of waters, the sea, the river of life (Psalm 1), but what of the theology of the land, the plants, the earth? So on the third day we see the waters retreat to a place called the ‘Seas’ (nothing like the ‘seas’ as we see it today), so that it is in no way a threat to the land (Jeremiah 5:22). What is this in preparation of? The grass and herbage, the seed-bearing plants, the fruit & seeded (trees) – and everything according to its kind. Yet, none of these things have sun-light, and only the Light shining which is separated from darkness. How were these grass and herbage, the seed-bearing plants, the fruit & seeded (treets) to give new life?

Let’s look @ John 12:24 and 1 Corinthians 15:35-49 – for we had borne the image of man in dust, and will bear the image of man in glory. Who is this image of man in glory? Who is the glorious righteous man? Who is the blessed one? Christ (Psalm 1). Yet, there were different seeds, trees, herbage, each according to its kind – what fruit are we to bear? What tree are we to be part of? (Genesis 2:16-17; Leviticus 26:4; Deuteronomy 21:22; Judges 9:7-15; Matthew 3/7/12; Romans 11; Galatians 5; 1 Peter 2:24). Palm, broom, green, fig, balsam, cedar, tamarisk, olive, poplar, almond, plane, sycamore, lotus, laurel, fir, apple, fruit, cypress, dry, leafy, myrtle, wild, cultivated…tree of lebanon, tree of good and evil, tree of life. What are these but a display of the variety of which the Trinity accepts, and that all these trees must go through the cycle of death to have life, through the markings of the sun and moon and stars and seasons (Day 4, in cultivation of the seed sown on Day 3). It is a choice which we make, the inevitability of death that comes to every tree… yet which tree do we wish to be grafted into? Rebirth is absolutely necessary, and God laid down that formation, that framework, long before man was made. This is a peeking into the mind of the Trinity before creation, the preparation for a bride for Christ.

Day 6

Now we have (1) livestock (e.g. cattle), (2) creeping things, and (3) beasts of the earth (wild beast). In Jonah, we see that the beasts also repented; in Leviticus 11 we see a differentiation between clean and unclean animals, split hooves (being clean) and what their feet look like and the way they eat. These beasts which touched the earth, was like Christ in Psalm 8, made lower than angels like man. Do what we eat make us unclean? Of course not. Then what theology do we have of the unclean and clean animal? What can the creation on Day 6 witness to the creation on Day 3?

And these beasts were to be (1) fruitful, to (2) multiply, to (3) fill the earth. But man has to subdue them… and all of this is done in preparation of everything for the Lord.

Man

Note: Let “us” make man – this occurs again at the Tower of Babel when the Trinity goes down to confuse man’s understanding of one another. Is this an indication of the one yet many Elohim, the Trinity? Or JW’s explanation that whenever God speaks in plurality, he is referring to himself and angels? It is of course easy for us to explain it with angels… because that so conveniently fits the progressive revelatory view of the Trinity being preached without clarity until the NT saints. Why is it so hard to accept that the Trinity is preached here? As Dev states, why not assume Christ is in everything unless proven otherwise? Why start with extra-biblical non-Christological views as presupposition, rather than Christ our logos as the first assumption?

v. 27 – “he created them” — a contradiction? No… God created ‘them’ was an accurate way of speaking, even before the creation of Eve – for Eve was not made of the dust outside of Eden, but made and cut from her head, Adam, just as Levi had paid his tithes to Melchizedek when he was in Abraham’s loins (Heb 7:9). So Paul exegetically uses the same Christian logic in explanation of Adam’s sin being carried down to his descendants – it is not a question of nature vs. nurture even. That is a secular argument. It’s not that simple. It’s not that we ‘copied’ Adam from a clean slate @ birth, or that we inherit little bits of Adam further down the lineal line — we were actually IN Adam, all of us, and that when he sinned, we also sinned; even before the Mosaic law was given, when all the saints from Adam to Moses were supposedly without the law, they still died (Romans 5). For what other way can we then be grafted into the tree of life; that we are sinners because we were IN Adam, that we are righteous because we are IN Christ.

And what of the first Adam made to rule over earth, but a witness and a prophecy to the second Adam ruling over everything (Psalm 2:7-8)? How can there be two rulers? Of course not… Adam was merely a shadow and type; Christ was the truth and always has been and will be.

Image of God

This topic is not without its variety of interpretations. I will lend my small views – is the image of God a physical trait? Is it a character trait? Adam (man), who were without the Spirit, were then given the ruah of God… is it therefore both physical (dust) and character (Spirit) traits? Is it a matter of transfiguration then? Is it an anthropomorphic fare? WE look like the pre-incarnate God, the image is both male and female. It is not a far stretch to realise how the church, the bride of Christ, is the very image of God; that marriage, is a picture of this image of God. Can angels also be images of God? Unlikely… Christ did not die for angels, the genderless angels who won’t share in the eternal kingdom in the same manner.

Ephesians 5 states that Christ’s love for the church and the church’s submission to Christ is the truth which marriage points to. It is no surprise that man, the image of God, clothes the church, the bride of Christ in her wedding clothes in sanctification and preparation for the great Wedding feast, enveloping the woman to also be in the image of God. Of what surprise to then see that woman is also the image of God, yet also be called into the race of “Adam”? Is woman also in the image of God? Yes… only because she was cut from Adam, and destined to be with Adam. Is “Adam” also in the image of God? Yes… only because they were cut from Christ, and predestined to be with Christ (Ephesians 1). If Adam is to father his son Seth in his own likeness (Genesis 5), so also the Spirit will sanctify us into His (Christ)’s likeness. Will every person in the world ultimately choose Christ? A quote from one of All Souls Clubhouse’s talk (taken from You are the Christ blog):

Very many Christians argue that we should love someone because they are special,
i.e. they are walking image-bearers, thus they deserve respect and honour and love
He then continued to say this is a whole bunch of nonsense,
since at the fall, the image of God was utterly destroyed

The illustration he used was this:
Like an old Victorian house which they’ve kept the front or façade of it
but they have demolished everything within it for renovation,
so once you look past the shell, it is only dust and destruction

That seems to be a good analogy of what remains of the ‘Imago Dei’
All was lost at the fall, with only a shell remaining,
That image, that likeness corrupted, ruined, devastated by sin

Thus only in Christ is that image remade new, rebuilt,
that Victorian house is renovated with a stunning new interior,
and in fact we wait for the exterior to be destroyed and rebuilt as well
An unbeliever is like a thing that does not exist
broken pots waiting to be smashed
A shadow, destroyed by the sun
A nightmare, vanishing with like a dream
Whereas those in Christ are clay jars that hold burning torches within,
also waiting, except we long, groan for the day of revelation

Why then do we love our neighbour?
Not for anything that they are,
but rather for Who Christ is,
and what Christ has done for us on the cross,
We love because God loved us first…
We forgive others because our debts are forgiven
We honour others, because all authority is given to us by Christ
We are patient with others, because of the Father’s patience
We are generous with others, because He will supply all our needs
We are kind with others, because He showed pity on us
We suffer and bear others, because He suffered so that by the grace of God, none of us need taste death.

v. 29-30 – So man’s food is every herbage and every tree with seed – why do we have to eat things with seed in it? Genesis 3:15 – because we ultimately will feed and drink from that Seed and water which will cause us no more thirst or hunger.

Naturally we can see the link between the seed, the fruit, the new life which must come necessarily from death first, that everything which God created was good – but not perfected until the High Priest ascended into the Holy of Holies (Hebrews 9). So also, Adam made his choice which man had to go through – to die first, before gaining new life and getting caught in the rapture of the Day. But it is a choice we make: what kind of tree will we partake in? Will we also be nailed on the tree with Christ and die a physical first death, just to be reborn to be caught up into the Holy of Holies? Will we regain the true image of God, not the image of man in dust, but the image of man in glory of heavenly bodies? For indeed, the world was made good – but yet to be perfected.

John 10:17 – “The reason the Father loves me is that I lay down my life only to take it up again.”

So also, the death of the Seed will be taken up into a tree of life; the death of us will be taken up into a body of Christ; and the death of Christ will be taken up to be at the right hand of the Father where he belonged all along. Did Christ only take his place at the Father’s right hand after his death on the cross followed by his ascension? No – everything was accomplished before creation even began; and Day 3 and 6 were merely shadows and copies of what the Trinity had already established before creation. Creation was merely a theatre of his glory, visible through the death of seeds, trees, men and Christ – and proclaimed and shouted on the cross and on Ascension day. But the Son garnered the Father’s love when he laid down his life and took it up again… an indication that Christ had not only done this once but had done this already in the past, for the Father did not cease loving him pre or post-incarnation as the Messiah.

And we are still left with the doctrine of choice – just as Esau rejected his destiny to stand by Jacob’s side, so the Benjamites reverted their curse to rejoice in theirs by putting their faith in Christ. God did not elect some to be saved and some to be reprobate: he gave all of us a choice, a choice displayed through these days of creation. Will we choose the dry land, the inevitable death of seed and beasts, which will be reborn in a state of glory and not mere goodness but perfection? Or will we choose the seemingly peaceful waters, without foreseeing the heavenly waters crashing down on us ending not only in first but second death in the impending lake of fire? Are we Rahab, or are we the hardened Pharoah?

Nay, we are preaching something very simple. We were made to be in the true image of God – Christ, the Light incarnate of day one, whose death was preached on day two.
But if we reject the doctrine of resurrection preached by Day 3 and Day 6, then we, like all the unsaved men, will be stuck on Day 2 and 5… and will never see the glory of the blessed Day 7, the eternal Sabbath, the glorious unending Jubilee.

Genesis 1:9-13; 24-31 – Day 3 & 6 – Born Again