"The secret things belong to the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong to us." - Deuteronomy 29:29.
Pulpit Bible Study.
Copyright © 2018, by The Pulpit
A theologian or divinity student can study the Bible for years, but never see what you are about to see. That's because it simply requires some imagination, and the ability to see two things at once.
idden in the Bible is a code: It isn't a gimmick or some new theory, but has always been there. Whether you are first learning about the Bible, or already familiar with the scriptures this is essential knowledge: The Study of Types. The Bible provides historical information, even comforting words but without understanding the Type Code it is still only one dimensional, without depth and unappreciated as it was meant to be. When you first begin to see, the scriptures come alive with meaning! Types are prophetic: The Plan of God is revealed in this way. Truths are imparted using universal symbols which resonate with the imagination. In this course you will learn how it all works.
"And I saw a light brighter than the sun and I fell to the earth, and heard a voice speaking to me in Hebrew, saying Saul, why do you oppose me? Surrender!" cf. Acts 9:1-8; 26:13-18. The glare blinded his eyes. He was a fanatic, a strict rabbi of the law and an inquisitor of Christians. But the Lord had other plans for Paul, the last person anyone would expect to be used of God!
"Arise, I will make thee a minister and a witness of things I will show thee...to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light." He had never met Jesus in life, but now he was being mentored by the Ascended Lord through direct revelation. cf. Galatians 1:11-18. In his New Testament epistles we find sound interpretations of types, and these set the bar for the science of Typology. In I Corinthians 10:1-11, he gives a brief synopsis.
"Now all these things happened unto them for examples, and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." (I Corinthians 10:11.) Who is them? Of what things is he speaking? Paul is reviewing the history of his people, the ancient Israelites. The things are the object lessons along their odyssey, recorded for the benefit of his contemporary Jewish hearers, (vs. 1-11.) as well as for us today. These were foreshadows of the future, a prophetic picture language in which the truths of the New Testament are prefigured in type: A type is a mark, an impression.
The depth of these sublime truths have yet to be plumbed by preachers and teachers, many have never even heard of types. From the Creation to the New Heavens and Earth, the Bible is fraught with meaningful symbols all linked together by an obvious thread of intelligent planning. It doesn't require a great stretch of the imagination in order to connect the dots.
Understanding types is not only academic, but beneficial through life-application. There are no accidents with God's Plan, and that includes all He has in store for you and me. Things appear to us to be chaotic, but that's only our vantage point. Everything is in His Hands down to the precision timing of events. The Bible is the evidence.
The Infinite Plan.
God is because He does. His Plan is already and not yet: Always moving forward, refining and upgrading to better things, leaving behind the old. Sentimental God is not. His thoughts are far ahead of us in ways we cannot comprehend. His works are new each day, surprising us with things unexpected. He broods over the Creation with the temperament of an Artist.
"When will you make an end?" asked the pontiff. "When I'm finished!"
"The Agony and the Ecstasy," by Irving Stone is the story of Michelangelo painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel: The enormous fresco of the Bible, a masterpiece. He was reluctant to take the commission, saying he wasn't a painter but a sculptor. He lay on his back on scaffolding painting into wet plaster before it set. The work was backbreaking and grueling, with a few apprentices to help. Unsatisfied with the initial results, he kept scraping out what he saw as mediocre. Beginning over again, laboring and driven towards perfection- like the Creator Himself.
Who is God?
"Know and understand that I am he; before me there was no God, neither shall there be after me." - Isaiah 43:10.
No gender has God. Because I AM is a verb, it is motion- positive, or "male." God is the Light of Intelligence- Eternal Mind: He is Self-Existent and never ceases to Be. He needs nothing, the entire universe is His House. He is the Source of all things manifest. Being unseen and without manifest, the only way to know about Him is through signs and symbols. His desire is to make Himself known to man, created in His Image. The disclosure of the All Being happened gradually, through dispensations and chosen vessels- in due time sending a reproduction of Himself: A Son.
The Bible is basically about one thing: Jesus Christ. Otherwise there is no story to tell, no need for types or the prophets. Types are for our benefit too, as we look back on it all. In Bible times copies of the scriptures were rare and cherished. The law and prophets were studied by learned rabbis and read orally in synagogues. Following the Babylonian captivity, expectations grew of the coming of a messiah, a great deliverer. The prophets, particularly Isaiah, contained such veiled predictions. But the wait seemed very long, and many are still waiting.
Delivered from what exactly? Not from the oppression of gentile occupation as was expected, but from ourselves. Our mistakes. Jesus is the antitype of Adam.
Michelangelo, "The Creation of Adam." (Detail from the fresco).
Numbers are Symbols.
Numbers in the Bible have typical connotations. It's no accident we are born with ten fingers for counting. The Creation Days are seven, the number of completion. We see the repetition of certain numbers because each represents an idea. For example, forty: 40 days and nights of the flood; 40 years the children of Israel wandered because of unbelief; Jesus was tempted 40 days in the wilderness, and he remained on the earth 40 days following his resurrection; 40 years later was the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.
Is Zero a Number?
Zero was used by Dionysius Exiguus, as a word, nulla, meaning nothing. When division produced 0 as a remainder, nulla, or nihil was used, but not as a symbol. The Ancient Greeks seemed unsure about the status of 0 as a number: They asked themselves, how can nothing be something? This lead to philosophical and religious arguments about the existence and nature of zero. But something did come out of nothing, or ex-nihil:
Who is "Us?" "Let us create man in our image, after our likeness." The Seven Spirits of the Elohim are like powerful projection lenses of creativity: light, sound and color. They are seen again in the Revelation: The Seven Lamps standing before the Throne of God.
Thesis + Antithesis = Synthesis.
"The man has become as one of us, he knows." Why does God allow evil? This is not a course in ethics, but the question does pertain to our study of types: Without polarity nothing can be created; a thing must have its opposite to define it. God separated light from darkness, but once man discovered the difference the genie could not be put back in the bottle. We are intelligent beings and now given a choice: Knowing right from wrong. It only makes sense that if God dwells in each of us, we are both witness and judge of ourselves. Our works follow us and we must learn from our mistakes. Not punished.
A Book, not a Religion.
You could burn all the Bibles, but still many people know its words by heart and can quote it verse by verse. Its power is not in the bound pages but something more, a Living Word- a story that never goes away. Organized religion is flawed, temporal and finite. The Word of God is everlasting and it disrupts our vain objects of worship. cf. Acts 19:24-27. The true Church is not an opulent temple of stone built by the hands of men. Paul calls it "a mystery:" Concealed in type, revealed in the antitype.
Type. → Antitype.
Typos, (Greek). To strike, stamp, imprint; a mark made by impress; A person, thing or event, serving as an illustration or prophetic similitude, of something else. - Oxford Dictionary.
The Old Testament scriptures conceal clues, disguised revelations of Christ and hints of things coming but not revealed until the New Testament. They point forward, like sign posts, foreshadows of the already and not yet; like Jungian patterns developing towards a profound, eternal purpose.
"The secret of wisdom is double that which is." (Job 11:16)
The type denotes; the antitype connotes. Everything is a symbol representing some idea. Denotation simply indicates something on its face, nothing more. Connotation is the meaning behind the symbol, how it strikes us. The esoteric principle of "as above, so below."
The antitype compliments the original type, its mirror image. From the scriptures we have the vantage point of seeing them in all directions, past, present and future. When we say something is typical, it doesn't mean common or average but refers to the application of these prophetic pictures. Types are tangible: People, places and things; numbers, colors and especially certain events.
A type passes through replicas of its own kind, until it reaches the point when "it is finished." A familiar example is the Brazen Serpent and the Cross: Jesus said, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, So shall the Son of man be lifted up from the earth." John 3:14,15. cf. Numbers 21: 8,9. Like the caduceus, the Serpent is a type, from Genesis 3:1,13, to very the end, Revelation 12:9; 20:2.
Two comparative words, "as" and "so" are called to our attention: The word as is used for the type, and the word so for the antitype. The first is historic, the second is prophetic. For example,
"As the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so shall your minds be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." II Cor. 11:3.
"As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." I Cor. 15:22.
"As in the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be." Matt. 24:37.
"As Jonah was three days and three nights in the Whale's belly; so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Matt. 12:40.
The Epistle to the Hebrews.
Written to Jewish Christians, this book is located near the end of the New Testament: The decoder of types. The writer says, types are but the shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the thing. (10:1.) The shadow is cast forward in time concealing a truth yet unseen. A shadow isn't the same as the thing itself, it is dark, distorted, only a vague outline to be clarified later by illumination: The intuition that comes from within. (This overview concludes with a commentary on Hebrews).
Without boundaries it can all lead to nonsense, not everything is a type. Certain criteria have been established by scholars who agree on what is or is not a type, and what the type actually means in its plain sense without reading more into it than was intended. Some of their opinions:
The only authority for the application of a type is in the scriptures themselves. Expositors have often imagined correspondence where in fact none exists. -Angus Green
The former must not only resemble the latter, but it must have been designed to resemble the latter in its original institution. The type and antitype must have been preordained as constituent parts of the same scheme of Divine Providence. -Bishop Marsh
A type is an institution, historical event or person ordained by God, which prefigures some truth in connection with Christianity. It must be meaningful in its own right. Therefore it is not the same as an allegory. -Fritsch
Hints for Bible Study.
Taken out of context, the Bible can be used to mean anything. But proper interpretation must be contextual.
Choosing a Bible.
The Bible has been revised many times to be made more palatable for the modern reader. But each time an original of anything is copied or changed, something is lost. Beginning with the Revised Standard Version in the 1950's, we now have a choice of many contemporary versions. A Study Bible contains notes, charts and additional helps for the student. I recommend the New Living Translation: It is easiest to read and faithful to the original meaning.
Word Study. A word study is exactly that, selecting a word from the Bible, be it Hebrew, Greek or Latin in order to find its true, original meaning. This can be done by using a Bible Dictionary and a Bible Concordance. Commentaries are helpful too. It is often surprising to learn the real meaning of a word is different from what has been generally accepted.
Using a Concordance. Let's find the meaning of "Church." έκλεκτος eklektos, (Greek): The elect, ecclesia, or "ones called out.” An assembly of believers separated from the world. #1588 is the reference code from Strong's Exhaustive Concordance. In this volume we find the etymology of every word contained in the Bible: Hebrew words from the Old Testament and Greek from the New Testament. Most Bibles contain a limited concordance in the rear of the book, but for word studies Strong's is among the best because it is codified. You will need a good concordance in your toolbox.
The advantage of using Strong's is purity and accuracy, it settles any dispute over the original meaning. To do word studies from the Old Testament, we go to the section of Hebrew in the forward portion of the volume.
ישדאל Yisrael. # 3478 in Strong's. “He will rule as God.” Right towards God. This was the name Jacob was blessed with, so it is subjective; a standing and status before the God of the Hebrews. There is no suggestion of any racial or national context in the original meaning.
ציוך Zion. # 6725. A monumental or guiding pillar. A sign, a way-mark; a permanent capitol. Both words are typical of higher realities: A true Israelite is right before God. The word "Zion" is also found in the New Testament in The Revelation 14:1, so it does not refer to any earthly capitol of God, but points to a heavenly one.
Commentaries. Pastors usually have huge libraries. Some of the finest minds have spent their lives studying the Bible, and have written commentaries. These are often verse by verse expositions of scripture. From these scholars we can glean wonderful gems of truth and find answers to confusing questions. Having a good set of commentaries is optional, but the serious student is encouraged to begin building a library.
Doctrine. Doctrines are fundamental beliefs held by various denominations. Not all agree on what the Bible says, some areas are confusing. There have been many councils in Church history held to decide on certain tenants of doctrine, questions such as predestination, the divinity of Christ and the Trinity. Dogmatic insistence and disputes over doctrine are of no help. You must discover for yourself what the Bible says to you: That's the purpose of reading it.
Infallibility of Scripture. This is an example of a doctrine. It means every word taken literally is true and without error. But the scriptures have been touched by the countless hands of editors over time. The canon, (Rule) is all we are left with: Only the scrolls approved by early Church councils. Many books and gospels were omitted, considered "uninspired" for whatever reason. These lost writings are available today for the student to consider.
Bible Charts. Charts are generally timelines or other diagrams used for Bible study. These are often fascinating and elaborate, but their accuracy can be questionable depending on the view of the designer. Clarence Larkin's beautiful hand drawn charts are popular, and now in the public domain. Larkin was a dispensationalist and types figure prominently in his illustrations.
Dispensationalism. A system of theology which interprets Biblical history as divided deliberately by God into defined sections of time, or ages. In each period God has allotted certain administrative principles. Premillennial dispensationalism came from England and Scotland and was popularized in America in the late 19th century by a number of preachers including C.I. Scofield, editor of The Scofield Reference Bible, considered a definitive work on the subject.
Typology interprets figuratively, whereas dispensationalism interprets many things literally. But dispensations provide a timeline of past and future, for if history happened all at once there would be no story of Jesus coming and types would serve no purpose. Time charts are often artistic and captivating but no substitute for personal study- "To show thyself approved unto God, a worthy workman rightly dividing the truth." cf. II Tim. 2:15.
Types, not Stereotypes. We can miss the point of why the type is there in the first place. A stereotype is when a type is stalled in time, warped by personal opinion, be it academic, political, racial, etc. When the disciples expressed how great were the stones of Herod's temple they dragged the former type into the new dispensation. The Lord was unimpressed, and even predicted the fall of the imposing shrine. cf. Mt. 24:1, 2. There would be no more stone temples. cf. I Peter 2: 4-8. Hebrews 9:11. The idea of building a third Jewish temple is an example of a stereotype. After his resurrection, the disciples recalled that he had said, "destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it again."
Archetypes. "According to the pattern shown thee on the mount." cf. Hebrews 8:5.
The First Temple, or Solomon's: Sacked in 586, B.C.
Think of an arch, or an arc, a curve, an expanding thought. Archetypes are potent themes existing in perpetuity, a die cast; one of a kind, never an imitation. An original pattern or model, the prototype from which copies are made, varieties after its kind. The Jewish Temple was a mutation of the original Tabernacle (below). Both are long gone, but the pattern and careful arrangement of its elements and furnishings remains in its heavenly version, seen in the Book of Revelation 11:1, 19.
Arkhitekton n. (Greek) ἀρχιτέκτων. The word "architect" comes from ἀρχι- "chief" and τέκτων "builder." The God of the universe is thought of as an architect, the Chief Builder. The design of the Tabernacle was given to Moses with exact specifications, as if from the Mind of an Engineer. In fact, the floor plans of Gothic cathedrals were later designed after this same order- another jump from the original archetype. Beginning in Exodus 25:8, we find the elaborate pattern for the tabernacle, "according to all that I show thee."
Hebraic Origins of Types.
The Torah. ("Instruction, teaching.") Christian scholars usually refer to the first five books of the Hebrew Bible as the "Pentateuch," Greek: πεντάτευχος, "five scrolls", a term first used in the Hellenistic Judaism of Alexandria, meaning five books, or the Law. All the types in the Bible originate somewhere in the Torah: The foundation of the scriptures consisting of the first five books of Moses.
Tanakh. An acronym of the three sections of the Old Testament: First is the Torah; second is the Prophets or Nevi-m; and the third part are the Writings or Kethuvim, wisdom and poetical literature. The scrolls were translated into Greek for the Hellenistic culture, called the Septuagint (seventy scholars) in 250, B.C.
In the Old Testament, prophets had more power than kings, providing a channel for God's Voice. But their message was not always heeded by the kings, which led to defeat by their enemies, the departure of God's Spirit from Solomon's Temple and the eventual splitting of the kingdom into Judah and Israel. (Judea and Samaria).
Following the fall of Palestine and the destruction of the temple in 70, A.D. the rabbis gathered in Jamnia during the first century and codified the oral laws, legends and rituals of Judaism. This became known as the Mishna. These had their own commentaries, called the Gemara. Together they comprise the body of Jewish literature known as the Talmud.
Hebrew is written from right to left. The opening line of Genesis 1:1, contains seven words. It forms a menorah, a template. At the center, occupying the middle position (the servant candle), we see something interesting: Aleph Tav: The first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. "I am the Alpha and the Omega." - Jesus
In the beginning, א-ת created the heaven and earth.
Tohu wa Bohu. Formless, emptiness; chaos; disorder, confusion. cf. Genesis 1:2. Isaiah 34:11; 45:18. Jeremiah 4:23. This abyss of formlessness and emptiness in verse two is thought to be the left-over chaos of a previous earth, perhaps eons before cosmic light was created in verse three. God separated the darkness from the light, and called the light day and the darkness night. However, sunlight wasn't created until day four. This was the initial light of energy.
Memorials are a cause to remember God's covenants with man. These are specifically named as perpetual ordinances. Memorials are eternal and always reappear in the Book of Revelation. The Rainbow is a covenant sign made with Noah after the Flood. (Gen. 9:13-17. Rev. 4:3). When we see one we always stop and take notice. It is truly a marvel.
The Law. The public display of the stone tables has become a contentious issue by thinking they represent sectarian religion. These statutes were given for a good reason! They are imperative for any civil and well ordered society. We have all witnessed the tragic results of man's obstinate disregard for these ten simple commandments. The original tables placed in the ark are seen again in the Book of Revelation, when the Ark of the Testimony in the heavenly temple is opened, and the world is judged pursuant to the unchanging eternal laws written by God in solid rock. cf. Ex. 32:16. Rev. 11:18,19.
The ten commandments grew into 613 obscure laws. Only the priests knew what they all were, an unfair advantage over the people and bondage imposed by the ecclesiastical class. cf. Mt. 23:4. But Christ consolidated all the laws into just two, which covered everything:
The Shema. Hear, Oh Israel! The Lord thy God is One Lord. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, all thy soul and all thy strength. - Deut. 6:4,5. "This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like unto the first: thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two hang the law and the prophets." - Mt. 22:37-40.
שבת "On the Seventh Day God ended his work which he had made, and rested. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it." Genesis 2:2-3.
Sabbath. To Jews, Sunday has always been considered the first day of the week, a "market day," when normal business was resumed. It was never the original Lord's Day, we find nothing said by Christ or the apostles ever suggesting the seventh day be changed to Sunday- a violation of the commandment, Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it. cf. Ex.20:8; 31:13. Ezekiel 20:12,20. Sabbath begins sundown Friday and ends sundown Saturday, according to the original creation account "the evening and the morning was a day."
The Appointed Feasts.
The Lunar Calendar. A twenty-eight day cycle. In ancient Israel, the first sight of the new moon began a new month, called Rosh Chodesh, "head of the month." I Chron. 23:31; 31:3. The Appointed Feasts and Sabbath instructions begin in Leviticus Ch.23. The Feasts are typical: Three are past; one is present, (Pentecost, the Church Age); and three are future.
Types keep building on previous forms, passing through two major institutions, or archetypes: The Tabernacle and the Appointed Feasts. The former represents space, the latter represents time. Four events in Genesis begin the flow of typical themes. Two examples, the Fall and the Flood:
O.T. Type. N.T. Antitype.
Creation. Event. Tabernacle. Feast Day. The Lord's Supper. → →
Light/Darkness. The Fall. Altar of Sacrifice. Passover. His Crucifixion. ↑ → → → → → →
Water Baptism → →
The Waters. The Flood. Laver of Water. Unleaven. Bread. His Burial. ↑ → → → → → →
1). The Fall. (Gen. 3:1-6). The word sin literally means "you missed the target." Off-center. By choosing to know duality, man "fell" or lost consciousness of his Creator. In darkness, he gropes back and forth never able to find the perfect center. The Lord said, "If thine eye be single thy whole body shall be filled with Light."
2). The Flood. (Gen. 6:5-13). Man's thoughts were consumed with evil continuously. He starts over with a cargo of eight souls and two of every creature. The Flooding of the earth is a type of baptism. Its antitype is a baptism of fire, still to come. According to Clarence Larkin, the Ark of Noah is a type unfulfilled, something we haven't seen yet. Some interpret it to be the Church, but this is not a match. More like a great vessel of some sort to preserve another remnant from the judgment of fire. "For as it was in the days of Noah, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."
3). The Nations. (Gen. 11:1-9). The building of the Tower of Babel is foiled by introducing languages, and the gentiles are scattered abroad. Ancient Babylon is a type, and reappears metaphorically in the Revelation representing all forms of false worship, material greed and opposition to God. The gentiles typify worldly thinking. The Israelites are a type of the spiritual man, set apart from gross carnality. "Take no thought, saying what shall we eat or drink or what clothes to wear. For after all these things do the gentiles seek."
4). Israel. At the time of Christ's coming, there were basically two kinds of people living throughout the Mediterranean world: Jews and Gentiles. Gentiles were simply non-Jews. They were considered inferior in status and to be avoided, a notion clearly not shared by Jesus who freely mingled with them. Suffice to say these prejudicial sentiments were part of the overall plan of man's redemption- and its typology: There are two of everything.
Abram, a devout man of Chaldea, was contacted by the One True God. He was told to take his wife Sarai, and his household and depart from Babylonia. To disrupt his life, drop everything and go. Because Abram never objected or questioned the order, his faith is considered a type of righteousness; the standard set by his obedience. In their old age, they had a son, Isaac. Isaac had a son Jacob. Jacob had twelve sons, and because his name was changed to Israel, these were the heads of the twelve tribes. The eleventh was Joseph, the one his father loved most.
As a child, Joseph had a dream of eleven sheaths of wheat: His brothers making obeisance to him. He went looking for them and found them tending sheep, telling them of his vision. They wanted to kill him, but Ruben objected, so the boy was thrown into a pit instead and left there, "separated from his brethren." The prophetic dream came true many years later when Joseph was in Egypt, his identity unknown, making provision of grain for his starving family. He is symbolized by wheat, and his coat of many colors given to him by his father.
"It is I, Joseph!" Notice the emotions in the picture above: Joy, fear and remorse. After many years believing Joseph was dead, he reveals his identity to his eleven brothers- the ones who betrayed him as a child, jealously throwing him into a pit and telling their father, Jacob, he was killed- showing him the coat of many colors smeared with animal blood. cf. Gen. 37:1-34. But Joseph was picked up by travelers and sold into slavery in Egypt. There he rose to a position of governor and deputy over grain storage. When Canaan was swept by famine, Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to purchase grain. They met with Joseph, unaware of who he was. But Joseph knew exactly who they were.
This amazing story is so typical of Jesus: Loved most by the Father, but betrayed and unrecognized by the Jews, his "brethren." Joseph chose grace and forgiveness over revenge. cf. Gen. 45:3,4.
There is no tribe called Joseph. Jacob was nearly blind and dying when he was reunited with his eleventh son. "Come closer," he told Joseph. "And who are these?" Two shy boys peaked out from beneath Joseph's robe. "These are my sons, born in Egypt." When Jacob went to bless them with his name Israel, and birthright, he crossed his hands. Joseph thought he couldn't see, his right hand was on the younger, Ephraim. Ordinarily, Manasseh would be first. "Not so my son. I know what I'm doing." Ephraim and Manasseh bring the total number of tribes to thirteen. Joseph's timing was perfect: Reaching his father's bedside bringing his two sons. From the one thought to be long dead, came two.
Joseph moved the entire family of Israel, some seventy souls, to Egypt where they dwelt and prospered in Goshen under his watchful care with the approval of Pharaoh. Following his death, "A new king arose who knew not Joseph," cf. Ex. 1:8-11. The Children of Jacob were now enslaved for four-hundred years making bricks for Pharaoh: How quickly the tables can be turned in life! A type of the expulsion from the ease of the Garden. They lost knowledge of the God of their Hebrew fathers, but God never forgot about them and heard their groans of bitter bondage, "serving with rigor in mortar and brick."
Generations passed, the Hebrews grew in number and the new king felt threatened. During a slaughter of innocents, Moses was placed in a tiny ark made of reeds and set adrift in the Nile: A double type of Noah's Ark; and hiding the Christ Child in Egypt when Herod sought to kill him. Both grew up to become lawgivers and prophets.
From a burning bush the All-Being spoke to Moses, flustered by the daunting task given him. Ex. 3:1-16. Moses answered, "Who am I that should go to Pharaoh and lead the Children of Israel out of Egypt? They will say, the God of our fathers? What is his name?"
"This is my name forever, a memorial unto all generations."
"I AM the Lord thy God which hath brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage."
Can you see the typology? Egypt is a type of serving the corrupt world system. Pharaoh is a type of Satan, who rules it. And we are like them, servants of the world always working for the man, "making bricks." The Children of Israel finally wrenched themselves free from slavery, but only through the intervention of God, making a way where there was no way.
Another type: Jesus turning water into wine is antitypical of Moses turning the Nile into blood. This was one of nine polemics, each one against a deity of Egypt. But the tenth would get personal, and break the stubborn will of Pharaoh. "Not even a dog will growl, that you may know the difference between the Egyptians and the Israelites! " Ex. 7:20- 11:7. cf. Romans 9:17.
פסח Pesach: To skip; to pass over.
"A night different from all other nights."
"The blood shall be a token upon the houses where you are. And when I see the blood I will pass over you when I smite the land of Egypt. And this day shall be a memorial; and you will keep it as a feast unto all generations, as an ordinance forever.” Exodus 12:13,14.
Passsover. Each year on the 14th day of Nisan, the Jews commemorate the epic story of their ancestors' deliverance from bondage in Egypt, and the exodus. Each household was told to slay an unblemished lamb and apply its blood to the top and sides of the door lintel.
The typical significance is a prophecy of the Savior: The blood forms the sign of the Cross, and the Lamb slain prefigures Jesus Christ. Why the shedding of blood? A good question. Blood is one thing which cannot be artificially replicated. If someone needs blood, only blood will do, and that can only come from another person. There was no efficacy in the practice of ritual animal sacrifices, it was only a visceral type ending with the sacrifice of Christ "once and for all." cf. Hebrews 9:20,22; 10:4, 10.
Ex.12:15. Passover begins the second Feast: Unleavened Bread, because on the day they were thrust out of Egypt there was no time to wait for bread dough to rise. (Ex.12:39). "And it shall come to pass when your children ask what this means, you will tell them of the Passover." (12:26). At midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn, beginning with the son of Pharaoh who rose up in the night and called for Moses, and said take your people and go- and be quick about it! (30-33).
Matzoh. Yeast is a type of the puffing up of a prideful heart, so unleavened bread or matzoh, is typical of self denial; very bland, without taste sensation. Its appearance is pierced and striped: The impress of the Lord's savage scourging and crucifixion. In Jewish homes, by sundown beginning Passover, all traces of leavened bread, every crumb must be removed from the house recalling the haste in which the Hebrews fled Egypt. Some types have double meanings: Jesus compared leaven to the gospel message: Once the gentiles received it, it would grow and spread over the world.
The Seder. "Order." The type finds its antitype in Christ, "our Passover." I Cor. 5:7. The Lord ate this last meal with his twelve disciples, and just like the first Passover, this night would be different from all other nights. No doubt they rehearsed the Passover story, a custom during the Seder. The bread was matzoh. This time was B'rit Hadashah, or the new covenant. The Lamb of God would be slain the very next morning, and the Seder would change to the Lord's Supper: A memorial ratified by the apostle Paul. Eucharist, (Greek) eukharistia, means "thanksgiving."
"For I have received of the Lord that which I deliver unto you, that the same night in which he was betrayed took bread. And when he had given thanks he broke it and said, take and eat, this is my body broken for you. After the same manner he took the cup, saying this cup is the new testament in my blood. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, do so in remembrance of me." cf. I Corinthians 11:23-26.
Man was created on a Friday, the sixth day. It was midnight, Nisan 14 when the first Passover happened: Death came to take all the first born of Egypt, passing by homes marked with blood. Jesus was arrested at midnight, it was early Friday, Nisan 14. He was crucified for six hours beginning 9 am. At the sixth hour, noon, darkness came over the land until the ninth hour: Death came and saw the Lamb's Blood on the Cross, and passed-over, taking God's first-born Son. 3 pm was the time of the evening sacrifice, as lambs were being slain in the temple for Passover. But few if anyone made the obvious connection!
Saturday. The Children of Israel, estimated to be two-million strong, left the following morning or the seventh day. Passing through the Red Sea was a type of baptism. cf. I Corinthians 10:1,2. The name "Red Sea" typifies Christ's blood. But deliverance from bondage was only the beginning, there was no bus on the opposite shore waiting to take them to the Promise Land. They walked the whole way: A trek which should have taken about two weeks took forty years! True freedom is not freedom from God's authority or the consequences of our actions: A type of the believer's walk, and the difficult lessons to be learned before reaching home.
Shavuot. (The Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost is second of the three temple pilgrimages). According to Jewish tradition, on this date Moses received the tables of the law at Mt. Sinai-fifty days after leaving Egypt.
The Book of Ruth is the text traditionally read in synagogues for this occasion of the giving of the law. It is a short but important book: Ruth is in the lineage of Christ. The story is about a young widow on her own, a gentile, an outsider finding a place to call home. Boaz, a type of master, notices the lovely girl gleaning in his fields in the evening after harvest. Ruth typifies gleaning the gospel, the gentiles' portion left on the ground by the Jews, and their adoption by faith into the eternal covenant of Abraham.
The antitype of Pentecost is another Pentecost: Exactly fifty days following Jesus' resurrection the disciples were assembled as one and received the promise of power from the Holy Spirit. They witnessed the phenomena of repentance. cf. Acts Ch.2,3. Jerusalem was filled with Jews from all over speaking different dialects. Peter gave the message that day, and everyone heard it in their own language, antitypical of Babel and the scattering of the gentiles. The great assembly in Jerusalem mirrored the scene at the base of Mt. Sinai, when the Children of Israel were assembled as one and witnessed supernatural power from on high. On this first occasion they received the mosaic law. On the second they were freed from its bondage.
Most everyone will say the Christian Church was conceived in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, as described in The Book of Acts, Chapter 2. But the Church actually traces its line directly from the solemn assembly at Mt. Sinai. In fact, even long before that in Genesis, Chapter 28.
Beth-el, "God's House." At the place where his grandfather, Abraham first built an altar (Gen. 13:4), Jacob's dream of a ladder reaching up to heaven, with angels ascending and descending took place here. He took a stone and used it for a pillow. Gen. 28:11,12. Here Jacob wrestled with the angel who could not prevail, and blessed him with the name of ISRAEL (Gen. 32:24-28). He exclaimed, Surely the Lord is in this place and I knew it not!" 28:13-22. So the first type of the Church was really just a stone Jacob anointed and set up as a memorial. If you recall our word study of "Zion," Jacob's Pillar Stone perfectly matches the etymology. cf. Isaiah 28:16. But that stone is also a "stumblingstone." Romans 9:32,33. "The Stone the builders rejected becomes the Chief Cornerstone: Not of another temple of dead stone, but a spiritual one. cf. I Peter 2:4-10.
The Ecclesia. Jesus said, "God is Spirit. True worship is only in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeketh such to worship him." John 4:23,24. Paul's reveals the "mystery" is all a prefigure of the Church, not privilege or ancestral heritage. cf. Romans 9:6-8,30,31; 11:7. Ephesians 3:9,10,21; 4:4-6. The Church is not "gentile." By faith, the gentiles were grafted in; by adoption made heirs to the covenant of Abraham and fellow citizens of the commonwealth of Israel. No longer outsiders, the wall of partition has been broken down."Of the two he hath made one." Eph. 2:11-22; 3:6.
The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary on Types.
©2001 by James A. Fowler. All rights reserved.
This epistle does not have a traditional epistolary introduction or prologue as do other Pauline epistles. Explanation for the absence of such was made by Clement of Alexandria (c. 200 A.D.), noting that Paul avoided the inclusion of his name at the beginning of the letter so that the message he had to share would not be detracted from by any previous biases or prejudices of the recipients who were suspicious of his association with, and inclusion of, the Gentiles. Paul, therefore, gets right to the point of demonstrating and documenting that Jesus Christ is the better revelation of God to men. He will do so by asserting that Jesus is better than the prophets (1:1-3), and better than the angels (1:4-14), and thus provides a better incentive to be receptive to Christ (2:1-4).
The saints in the church at Jerusalem were wavering in their stand with Christ. They were in danger of drifting (2:1) back to Judaic religion, of slipping away from their moorings in the supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus Christ. From the very outset of this letter Paul proceeds to affirm the superiority of Christ over the religion of Judaism, and thus to demonstrate that the reality of Jesus is better than any religion.
The author of Hebrews was probably Paul. To the Jews it the contains the message that God's arrangement with man in the former dispensation has ended. Christ is superior to every feature of the law of Moses. The recipients are warned that if after participating in the new covenant, they revert to the Jewish religious practices of their past they will forfeit the opportunity to be partakers of the good things of God.
1:3 "He (Jesus) is the radiance of His (God's) glory." As the "I AM" (cf. John 8:58; 10:9,11; 11:25; 14:6), Jesus is the eternally present tense emanation of divine glory. "The Word was made flesh, and we beheld His glory" (John 1:14), and the eternal Word continuously radiates divine glory as God. It is not that the Son merely reflects the glory of God like a mirror. That would be to separate the Son from the divine source. No, Jesus radiates, emanates and expresses divine glory as the self-generating God. Through the prophet Isaiah, God declared, "I am the Lord..., I will not give My glory to another" (Isa. 42:8; 48:11). God cannot dispense His glory as if it were a detached commodity. His glory is in Himself, and God is glorified when His all-glorious character is expressed unto His own glory. Again, He is subject and object, source and recipient, of His own glory. "Crowned with glory and honor" (Heb. 2:7,9) as the God-man, Jesus glorified the Father by expressing divine character at all times as a man, and then prayed that He might "be glorified with the glory that He had with the Father before the world was" (John 17:5), in order to continue as the Glorified One to express and emanate divine glory as God.
In what some have regarded as a synonymous or parallel statement to the previous, but which is surely a deeper amplification of Jesus' deity, Paul explains that the Son is "the express image of God's essence." This is a difficult phrase to translate, as is evident in the many English translations: "exact representation of His nature" (NASB), "express image of His person" (KJV), "bears the very stamp of His nature" (RSV), "exact representation of His being" (NIV). It seems inadequate to indicate that Jesus is the "representation" of God, for the point that Paul seems to be making is that Jesus is the very "reality" of God. The word that Paul uses, the Greek word charakter (from which we get the English word "character"), was used in the engraving of an imprint to stamp an image on a coin, thus eliciting the translations of "representation", "image", "stamp," "imprint", etc. What we must avoid is any translation that implies that Jesus is a separated, secondary, instrumental stamp or imprint that is in any way less than God. The second noun in the phrase is no less difficult to translate: the Greek word hupostasis refers to the underlying reality of essence, substance or constitution. Since the Greek language has a clear word for "nature" (phusis), it is preferable not to translate this word in the same way, but to translate it as "essence" or as "substance" (as the KJV translates the same word in Heb. 11:1).
What is Paul attempting to convey in this phrase? Apparently the same thought as he expressed to the Colossians, that "in Him (Jesus) all the fullness of Deity dwells" (Col. 2;9). Or as Jesus said, "He who has seen Me, has seen the Father" (John 14:9), for "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30), essentially and purposefully. Perhaps to counter the tendency of Judaism to make God into a monad, Paul wanted to emphasize to the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem that Jesus is the very embodiment of deity, the self-existent, self-generating essence of God. All that God is, Jesus is, and Jesus is the better revelation of God, superior to the Jewish prophets because He is the very essence and Being of God in action.
Christian theologians have long struggled to express this inexplicable oneness of Father and Son (and Spirit). (cf. trinity) Sometimes they have referred to the "hypostatic union" (from hupostasis) of the persons of the Godhead, or to the consubstantial oneness of God as "three in one". Other explanations have referred to the ontological coinherence of Father and Son in perichoretic oneness (based on the Greek word perichoresis, meaning the interpenetration of Being), or of the homoousion of the singular sameness and oneness of Being in Father and Son. Simply put, Paul wanted to tell the Jewish Christians that "Jesus is God," a foundational premise of Christianity that they may have been in danger of denying as they endured the pressure of Judaism in Jerusalem. But from Paul's perspective to reject Jesus would be to reject God.
Continuing his extended statement concerning Jesus, Paul writes that the Son "upholds all things by the word of His power." This is not a portrayal of Jesus as an "Atlas figure" holding up the planet in his hand. The statement conveys more than the words of the popular song, "He's got the whole world in His hand." Though inclusive of the idea of God's providential sustenance of the created order, it appears that Paul's meaning is closer to what he wrote to the Colossians, that "in Him (Jesus) all things hold together" (Col. 1:17). "All things" of God (which He is the co-creator of and heir of - cf. 1:2) are continually borne and carried by the Son. Jesus bears the responsibility to express the dynamic of God's empowering in all things. He was "declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead" (Rom. 1:4), and thus serves as the divine agent of expressing the divine dynamic and empowering of all the activities of God, including "the power of God for salvation to every one who believes" (Rom. 1:16). The Palestinian Jews were preparing to make a power-play against Rome, but Paul tells the Christians that the real power of God is invested in Jesus, on whom they should rely instead of military might.
Clyde F. Whitehead explains that
"The Hebrews epistle deals with most of the important things that were associated with the old dispensation. The writer's objective is to show that the Mosaic law has been replaced by something that is far 'better.'"
J. Barmby, writing in the Pulpit Commentary, comments that
"its main purport is to show, from the Old Testament Scriptures themselves, that the Mosaic dispensation was from the first only preparatory for and prophetic of a higher one to come which was entirely to supersede it, and that Christ had come as the one only true High Priest for all mankind, the true fulfillment of all ancient ritual and prophecy, the satisfaction of all human needs, to renounce whom would be to renounce salvation."
The Epistle to the Hebrews is pivotal to understanding the old covenant literature of the Old Testament. It is equally as pivotal to understanding all of the rest of the new covenant literature of the New Testament. This epistle might well have been placed as the first book in the New Testament canon arrangement, providing the bridge that explains the preliminary purpose of God in the old covenant and the superlative fulfillment of God's purpose in the new covenant, i.e. in Jesus Christ.
Over and over the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews uses the word "better" to describe the spiritual reality afforded in Jesus Christ. Christians have a "better hope" (7:19) within a "better covenant" (7:22; 8:6) with "better promises" (8:6). "God has provided something better for us" (11:40) by the "better sacrifice" (9:23) of Jesus Christ, that we might enjoy the "better possession" (10:34).
R.B. Yerby writes,
"Along with the other New Testament writers, the author of Hebrews saw the total and overwhelming superiority of the new and better age that dawned at Calvary. Like them he saw that all of the people, and events, and institutions of the former dispensation were merely shadows of the better things that God reserved for this present age, and for the eternity of the new heavens and new earth. Like them he realized that after Calvary the natural types and figures had served their purpose and were vanishing away, having been replaced forever by the eternal and spiritual realities."
Those who fail to understand the better reality of the new covenant in Jesus Christ as plainly expounded in the epistle to the Hebrews, tend to have a false hope for a return to the physical and external rituals of old covenant Jewish religion. This has become a popular theological interpretation in Western Christendom. Yerby responds to such by noting that,
"Hebrews...perhaps more than any of the books of the Bible, stands as a monumental source of frustration and embarrassment to those who teach that God plans to return one day to the natural trappings and embellishments of the old Jewish economy, to the natural land and city, the natural law and ordinances, the natural kingdom and throne, and the natural temple and sacrifices."
"Like Paul, we should be 'afraid of' anyone who teaches that God's program calls for a future return to the bondage of those weak and beggarly elements of Old Testament Judaism (Gal. 4:9-11)."
Proper understanding of the Epistle to the Hebrews will reveal the logical absurdity of any expectations that God is going to renew the Jewish religion, re-establish a physical kingdom, re-institute the Jewish priesthood, reinstate the animal sacrifices, rebuild the Jewish temple, or restore the physical land. Such expectations are the very backward reversions to religion that this epistle warns against, by explaining that all such external and physical religion has been superseded in the spiritual reality of Jesus Christ.
Yet it is two sides of a coin: Without the story of the ancient Israelites with their traditions, there would be no overture to the better things to come. Like walking into a theater without seeing the first act of the play, you would have no idea what the second act is about.
8:5 The Jewish priests are those "who serve as an example and a shadow of the heavenly things." In their temple ministry the old covenant priests served as examples (cf. 4:11) or copies (cf. 9:23); the pictorial pre-figuring that provided a sample and a sketch of what God had predetermined to do in the redemptive and restorative work of His Son, Jesus Christ. The Judaic priesthood and the Law (10:1) were but a "shadow" that foreshadowed the reality that was to be effected in Christ. Paul used the same word when writing to the Colossians, explaining that the old covenant festivals and Sabbath days were "a shadow of what was to come, but the substance belongs to Christ" (Col. 2:17). The substance of God's intent was the reality of Christ's eternal priestly ministry of "heavenly things" while "seated at God's right hand in the heavenlies" (cf. Eph. 1:20; 2:6). The imperfect procedures of the old covenant priesthood served only as "copies of the things in the heavens" (9:23). Again (cf. 8:2), it should be noted that these "heavenly things in the heavens" do not necessarily refer to cosmological location or placement, but rather to the effectual priestly work of Christ in drawing all Christians into the presence of God (cf. 3:1; 12:22).
The present tenses of the verbs describing the Jewish priests "serving" and "offering" (vs. 4) in their priestly duties, seems to indicate that the priesthood was still functioning in the temple at Jerusalem when this epistle was written, prior to 70 A.D. Paul wanted the Jerusalem Christians to know that the religious procedures taking place within the temple walls were only a preliminary sampling of the eternal and heavenly spiritual realities of the priestly ministry of Christ in their lives. There was no reason for them to even consider reverting back to the shadow-pictures of Judaism as the socio-political activists were encouraging them to do. They already had the superior provision of eternal spiritual realities in Jesus Christ.
To illustrate that the function of the priests in the tabernacle and temple were but preliminary prototype models, Paul refers to the occasion when "Moses had been warned when he was about to erect the tabernacle;" Although Bezalel (cf. Exod. 31:2; 35:30; 36:1,2; 38:22) was actually the construction supervisor for the tabernacle, he constructed it under the authority of Moses. God had warned Moses, "saying, 'SEE THAT YOU MAKE ALL THINGS ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN HAVING BEEN SHOWN TO YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN'." This quotation from Exodus 25:40 was utilized by Paul to document that the old covenant priesthood in the tabernacle was but a "pattern" or a "type" (the Greek word is tupos, from which we derive the English word "type," which is the translation in Romans 5:14) of the heavenly priesthood of Jesus. Some have speculated that God showed Moses a model or a "blueprint" of the prescribed tabernacle, either in tangible form or as a mental image, while on Mt. Sinai.
The positive content of the new covenant was promised by God through Jeremiah, "I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MINDS, AND I WILL WRITE THEM UPON THEIR HEARTS." Here is the promise of a "change of law" that Paul indicated was necessary in 7:12, for the externally codified Law of behavioral rules and regulations "made nothing perfect" (7:19). The old covenant Law could not restore mankind to the perfect end-objective for which God had created them. But in the "new covenant", the law, which expresses the character of God, is no longer externally codified but is internally personified, as the dynamic of Christ's life becomes the functional provision to express God's character of godliness. "We have been granted everything pertaining to life and godliness" (II Pet. 1:3). The new covenant is "not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (II Cor. 3:6). The law is no longer letters engraved on stone tablets, but now in the new covenant the dynamic of deity has engraved God's presence and character upon our minds and hearts.
Continuing to explain what would transpire in the "new covenant", God says through Jeremiah, "AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE." God's intent from the beginning was to have a covenant relationship with humanity wherein they would function by His dynamic to express His character unto His glory. "They will be My people, and I will be their God" (cf. Exod. 6:7; 29:45,46; Lev. 26:12; Deut. 26:18; Jere. 24:7; 31:33; Ezek. 11:20; 37:23). The unfaithfulness of the people of Israel, in even failing to desire such a relationship, was graphically illustrated by the prophet Hosea marrying a prostitute (representing Israel), and naming his first son, Lo-ammi, meaning "you are not My people, and I am not your God" (Hosea 1:9,10). This illustrates the "disregard" (cf. vs. 9) that God had for old covenant Israel. In the new covenant, Christians are "the people of God, a people for God's own possession" (I Pet. 2:9,10) in a covenant that is not legal and contractual, but personal and relational the continuum of which will be eternal (cf. Rev. 21:3)
8:11 In this new covenant that Jeremiah prophesied of, "THEY SHALL NOT TEACH EVERY ONE HIS NEIGHBOR, AND EVERY ONE HIS BROTHER, SAYING, 'KNOW THE LORD,' FOR ALL SHALL KNOW ME, FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST OF THEM." The essence of all human religion is an attempt on man's part to "know God," and then to tell others (their neighbors and brothers) how they might "know God." The old covenant of Judaism was a law-based religion that exhorted each generation to instruct future generations to "know God" (cf. Deut 4:9,10; 6:20-25; 11:19), by reviewing their history, and explaining their theology, and admonishing moral conformity to the Law. The new covenant of Christianity is not essentially a belief-system or a moral code that can be instructively taught, cognitively known, and behaviorally applied. It is the dynamic presence and activity of the living Lord Jesus, who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (Jn. 14:6). Christianity is not a collection of propositions, precepts and principles, but the living Person of Jesus Christ.
Paul explains that as a consequence of the already accomplished antiquation of the old covenant, "the thing being antiquated and growing old is near to disappearing." The old covenant was dying of old age. Its temporal and temporary purpose had been expended. It was no longer viable. The Greek word translated "growing old" is the word from which we derive the English word "geriatrics." The old covenant was in its "dying days." It had been superseded, and was, at the time this letter was written, being "fazed out" and eliminated. It was "near to disappearing," Paul wrote. How near? The time for the disappearance of all the religious activities of the old covenant was imminent when Paul wrote this letter. In just a few years (perhaps five or less), the whole of Palestine was destroyed, and the people who remained to fight against the Roman armies were decimated and annihilated in the Jewish wars of 66-70 A.D. The temple was demolished and laid desolate. The Jewish priesthoods vanished (cf. Lk. 24:31; James 4:14), and all Judaic practices were terminated.
Did Paul have an intuitive suspicion that the Jewish revolt against Rome was going to fail? that the entire Jewish enterprise was going to be eliminated? that a catastrophic judgment was going to come upon the Jewish rebels of Judea (as Jesus seems to have foretold; cf. Matt. 24,25)? We do not know the answers to those questions, but certainly seems to indicate that the old covenant was "on its last legs," antiquated and geriatric, and would soon meet its terminal demise and disappear.
4:9 - The conclusion Paul draws is: "There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God." God's promised rest remains open, available and accessible to be experienced by His people "Today." Paul's emphasis is on the present availability of God's rest, for he wanted the Jerusalem Christians to focus on all that was available to them in Christ Jesus in the present, rather than on a future expectation of a nationalistic "rest" after the hoped for defeat of the Romans a false hope, indeed, as verified by subsequent history within a few short years. Paul was encouraging the Christians of Judea to live their present lives in receptivity to the divine dynamic of the indwelling Spirit of Christ within them, rather than thinking that the "rest" of God was only an historical phenomenon of yesteryear or a utopian hope for the future. Those who have interpreted this verse to mean that "there remains in the future a Sabbath rest for the people of God" have missed Paul's point entirely, and fall prey to the same utopian hopes that Paul was warning his readers against. The "Sabbath rest" that Paul refers to is not a paradisiacal repose in a millennial period of time with governance located once again in the Palestinian land as some have speculated. This is not to deny, however, that the Sabbath rest already available to the Christian presently does not also have a continuum of fulfillment into the future and unto eternity.
10:38 Paul continues to quote from Habakkuk 2:4, though the two phrases are reversed. “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS ONE WILL LIVE OUT OF FAITH;…” This is a favorite text of Paul’s, which he quoted in his epistle to the Galatians (3:11), as well as in the letter to the Romans (1:17). The Jerusalem Christians are identified as “righteous ones” (Rom. 5:19; I Cor. 1:30; II Cor. 5:21), who needed to continue to “live by faith,” remaining receptive in faith to the activity of the living Lord Jesus within them.
This responsibility of faithfulness is contrasted, “AND IF HE SHOULD DRAW BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.” Paul uses these words of Habakkuk to continue his warning against defection, desertion, and apostasy. The word for “draw back” was used in the Greek language as a nautical term meaning, “to shorten the sail.” The Christians in Jerusalem needed to let the sails of their lives be open and receptive to the winds of the Spirit of Christ, and if they were to “shorten sail” in a withdrawal of faith, God would not be pleased. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him” (11:6)
“By faith we have comprehended the universe to have been ordered by a word of God.” God asked Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth! Tell Me, if you have understanding” (Job 38:4). Job needed the same kind of enduring faith that the Jerusalem Christians needed, the faith that trusted the acts of God in the past, present and future. Paul explains that it is via faith that we comprehend and understand with our minds (the Greek word for mind is nous, and the word for “comprehended” is nooumen) the evidence of God’s creative acts in the past. Faith is not a blind leap of conjecture or presumption, but is a mental and volitional act based on objective evidence. Looking at the created order, honest searchers after truth can see a power, if not a Person, who brought the universe into being with “intelligent design.” Writing to the Romans, Paul explained the natural revelation of God in the universe, “since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made” (Rom. 1:20).
It is only by means of faith that we understand that the ages, the aeons, the entire space/time context of the universe, was formed, framed, ordered, prepared, and arranged by God. It is interesting that Paul does not use the usual word for “create” (Greek, ktizõ), but instead uses the word katartizo, meaning “to prepare” (10:5), “to equip” (13:21), to form, order, or arrange. This may have been based on the Hebrew use of bara for “create” (Gen. 1:1,21,27), and yatsar for the forming, fashioning, framing, and molding of preexisting materials (Gen. 2:7,8,19). This latter process of formation is explained in the Genesis account as “God said…” (Gen. 1:3,6,9,11,14,20,24,26). This speaking things into being in the formation and arrangement of the creative process seems to be what Paul is referring to by his reference to the universe having been ordered “by a word of God.” The psalmist wrote, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all the host. …For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Ps. 33:6,9). Asaph’s Psalm explained, “Thou hast prepared the light and the sun. Thou hast established all the boundaries of the earth” (Ps. 74:16,17), obviously referring to the Genesis account, “And God said, ‘Let there be light…’” (Gen. 1:3). The universe was formed and ordered by the utterance of the Creator God brining things into being and arrangement out of Himself (ek Theos). “Word of God” does not refer to scripture, nor is it a Christological reference to Jesus as the “Word of God” (Jn. 1:1,14). The word for “word” used in this verse is rhema rather than logos. Because of recent misrepresentations of God’s creative acts, it must be noted that God did not create and fashion the universe by employing some “law of faith” or speaking a “word of faith;” utilizing a proceduralized formula or technique which can then be exercised by others to create supernatural phenomenon also. Faith did not create anything – God created all things! Faith is not predicated of God, but is a personal responsibility (response-ability) of man – not a God-given commodity or God-effected response (despite misinterpretations of Eph. 2:8,9 and Gal. 2:20) – allowing man to respond to God by recognizing His past creative acts, His present sufficiency, and His future consummation of all things. Our faith is not in faith principles, but in God Himself!
4:10 - Continuing to develop the theme of "Sabbath rest" available for all Christians, Paul more specifically connects Christian "rest" with God's creation "rest" in Genesis 2:2, noting that God's rest in both categories involves a resting from "works." "For the one who has been entered into His rest has himself also rested from his works, just as God did from His own." Who is "the one" who has entered into God's rest and rested from his works? Some have understood this in a Christological sense as referring to Jesus Christ and His having entered back into the Father's rest after having rested from His redemptive works, just as God the Father rested from His creative works. The problem with such an interpretation is (1) it bifurcates the work of the divine Father and Son, thus impinging upon the trinitarian oneness of the Godhead, and (2) there is nothing in the immediate context of Paul's argument that would justify the insertion of a reference to Christ's redemptive work at this point. It is preferable, therefore, to understand "the one" being referred to as any (and every) individual Christian who is part of "the People of God" (4:9). Every regenerated Christian person "has been entered into" God's rest in Jesus Christ. The verb (eiselthon) is passive, meaning that the subject has been (aorist tense) acted upon by another. As Joshua (4:8) had ushered the Hebrew nation into the promised land of rest in Canaan, Jesus has ushered every Christian into the opportunity and availability of God's rest in Himself. But, as previously noted in the case of those who went into the promised land with Joshua, to be led in entrance into the place of rest does not necessarily entail experiencing God's rest subjectively by faithful receptivity to His activity. Likewise, it is true for Christians that "having been entered into" God's place of rest in Jesus Christ, there remains the choice of faith to experience God's rest by ceasing from our "works" orientation of religious performance, in order to rest in the sufficiency of His grace. This Christian responsibility to choose to experience God's rest will be emphasized anew in the next verse in an exhortation to diligence.
11:1 Transitioning to continue the theme introduced by the quotation of Habakkuk 2:4 in 10:38, Paul begins, “Now faith is the substantiation of things being hoped for,…” Paul is not attempting to formulate a formal definition of faith, but rather to provide a functional description of the faith required by the Jerusalem Christians in the context of the situation confronting them. This is sometimes called a “working definition.” The Hebrew Christians needed faith that would endure the pressures and persecutions of their present problems, until such a time that their hopes would be realized in the peaceful fulfillment of the promises of God, whether in this life or beyond. Instead of defining faith as an exact equation of essential equivalence to a particularly defined static idea or concept, Paul is describing faith as the dynamic means of forward-looking action that anticipates the fulfillment of divine promise.
Neither could the Greeks have understood faith as the means to proving “the certainty of things not seen.” Again, the word Paul uses, elengchos, can be subjectively interpreted as an inner conviction or convincing of certainty, or objectively explained as the evidence, proof, and demonstration that exposes the certainty of that which is looked for, but not seen. The pragmatic (Greek word pragmaton) practicalities of the events and realities that were not yet observable with the sense perception of physical sight would be demonstrated and proven by the objective fulfillment of God’s promises.
Paul’s mention of “things not seen” is not a metaphysical reference to mystical intangibles. Paul is not indicating that faith itself can make invisible things visible in some magical manifestation. Nor is he promising that unseen spiritual realities can be made to seem as real (subjectively) as those observed with physical eyes. The “things not seen” refer to future promised events and situations, the fulfillment of which was not yet in sight. Paul was still encouraging the Judean Christians to a forward-looking faith that could endure the then present observable situation that appeared quite bleak. Their enduring faith would lead to an obviating demonstration of the certainty of all that God had promised in Jesus Christ. Believing in the certainty of God’s faithfulness to His promises would serve to set aside the subjective uncertainty and paranoia that plagued some of the Christians in Jerusalem. Their faith would be proven valid in the demonstrable evidence of events and realities that, though not seen now, would be made visible and real in the fulfillment of God’s promises. Promise will become reality; hope will become experience; faith will become sight. In the meantime, faith acts (cf. James 2:14,16,20,26) with a certitude that expects the certainty of “things not seen” to be made visible in the future in accord with God’s promises. Such enduring action of faith is what Paul sought to motivate the Jerusalem Christians to maintain.
Paul ties his Jewish Christian readers to their Jewish heritage by reminding them of their “...having so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us,...” The faithful of old are regarded as presently serving as a quantitative and qualitative “cloud of witnesses.” Both in the Hebrew and Greek languages the word “cloud” was often used as a metaphor for a “crowd” – for a host or multitude of people. The faithful Jewish forebears “received witness” (11:2,4,5,39) of their faithfulness, and are now represented as an encompassing and encircling crowd witnessing the actions of Christians who have the privilege “in Christ” of participating in all that the Jewish believers were expecting in faith. The question might be asked: “Are these prior Jewish faithful circumlocated around the Christians in an historical sense, or in a spiritual and heavenly sense? Both, though the latter better serves the figurative picture that Paul seems to be drawing. The encompassing “crowd of witnesses” has long been regarded as a metaphor for spectators in a stadium, arena or amphitheater observing an athletic race. As “witnesses” in the heavenly grandstands cheering on the contestants, their “witness” may be regarded as both passive observance, as well as active attestation. As prior participants who have gone before and actively persevered in faith, they now observe and testify to the value of the goal, despite the hardship of the race.
12:5 In the midst of the onslaught of religious “sinners” (3), while suffering hostility (3) and shame (2), it is often difficult to remember and recognize that God remains in sovereign control of the situation, especially when those causing the pain claim to be serving as God’s instruments. The pain and unpleasantness of the conflict can be so discouraging, distressing, disturbing, and unsettling. There is always a temptation to question why God allows such suffering, hardship and adversity. In theological language, this is the issue of theodicy – the attempt to determine an explanation for evil and suffering. We must avoid a direct attribution of all affliction and adversity upon God, for such can impinge upon His character and be a denial of the fact that God “does not tempt any one” to evil (James 1:13), for He cannot act contrary to who He is – His own Being. Persecution and suffering often have a primary cause in the hearts of, and at the hands of, evil doers and “sinners” (3) who act out of the character of the diabolic Evil One (cf. Jn. 8:44; I Jn. 3:8,12). The same situations of suffering can, however, become positive disciplinary training as God uses them as a means of good in the lives of His people. “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). In God’s sovereignty, those who inflict suffering on His people cannot thwart His purposes. After all that Job had suffered, he confessed, “I know that Thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of Thine can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). “Shall we accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10), asked Job. We must recognize that adversity has a purpose, that there is significance in our sufferings. The unpleasant experiences of our existence are not to be viewed as random events of “bad luck” under which we have the misfortune of being victims. God is a heavenly Father who loves His children, and therefore He does not protect them from all problems, but perfects them in the midst of distressing situations, and brings them through as “overcomers.” This is what Paul was encouraging the Jerusalem Christians to understand.
“Have you forgotten the encouragement He speaks to you as sons?”, Paul asks. Though these words could be an indicative statement of accusation (“You have forgotten...”), they can also be translated as an interrogative question (“Have you forgotten...?”). The latter of these alternatives seems preferable. Paul is asking his readers if they have forgotten the encouraging words of exhortation that God spoke through the wisdom literature of Scripture in Proverbs 3:11,12, which he then quotes. He applies these words directly to the Jewish Christians, indicating that they are addressed “to you as sons.” In so doing, Paul is introducing the filial family relationship which is the context for understanding God’s disciplinary purposes in the unsettling circumstances of life. Christians are “sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26), and the intent of God in Christ is to “bring many sons to glory” (Heb. 2:10). The process of doing so means that God loves us enough to seek our highest good through disciplinary training by His grace.
The trials of life are common to man (I Cor. 10:13). We have an extended vocabulary of words to describe these circumstances: Pain, suffering, hardships, affliction, attacks, persecution, etc. Although God is Sovereign, He is not blameworthy of evil which is contrary to His Nature. We cannot therefore assume that God purposes, causes, or orchestrates such events without impinging on the Creator's goodness.
However, the Bible does indicate that God tests believers (John 6:6). His examines His people in the midst of all situations, employing His corrective instruction and soliciting us to allow His character of holiness to be manifested in us. Moses explained to the Israelites that during their forty years of wandering in the wilderness, the Lord was disciplining them just as a loving father disciplines a son (Deut. 8:5. Heb. 11:17).
Eliphas advised Job in the midst of his sufferings, “Do not despise the discipline of the Almighty” (Job 5:17). The Psalmist admits, “It was good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn Thy statutes” (Ps.119:71). The Lord Jesus Christ “learned obedience” (Heb. 5:8) and was perfected (Heb. 2:10) “through suffering.” In like manner, God’s children are made perfect (cf. Phil. 1:6; Col. 1:28) in the maturation of being “conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). God the Father is committed to the training of His children that develops evidencing and exhibiting His character in our behavior. This developmental process of “bringing many sons to glory" (Heb. 2:10) may involve, if necessary, "being distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith...even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise, glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and believing in Him, you may rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.” (I Pet. 1:6-9).