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Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Some Recent Typological Thoughts

Just a few things, mostly related to Revelation 11, which my Bible study group is currently in.

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In Luke 3, John the Baptist tells the people that whereas he was baptizing with water, one (Jesus) would come after him and baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire (vs. 16). Peter follows the same pattern in 2 Peter 3 in distinguishing between the destruction of the ancient world and the destruction of "the heavens and the earth that now exist" (vs. 7). John the Baptist was a New Noah, leading the... repentant to safety through the flood waters, and bringing judgment on the unrepentant (1 Peter 3:18-22). Jesus would come to do the same, only this time with fire. As such, this seems to be the general pattern of the Old Testament (water) and the New Testament (fire), but also the pattern of the Christian life. Water is the means of Christian initiation, and fire the means of the Christian's sanctification (1 Peter 4:12).

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The parallel between the Flood and the destruction of Jericho had never occurred to me before until this morning. Noah and his family entered the Ark, and in it was the only safety from the Flood. Likewise, the two spies told Rahab to bring her Father's family into the house. Outside of its doors none would be safe, but inside its doors none would be harmed by the flood of the Israelite army. It is reasonable then to see in both the Church, which is in Christ. All who are in Him are safe from destruction.

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The two spies that Joshua sends to Jericho remain strangely unnamed in the text. But it is obvious that they are intended to point back to those faithful spies Joshua and Caleb, who first spied out the land, with ten others who also were unnamed, and were the only ones who believed God's promise. In a similar vein, we see in Revelation 11 the two unnamed witnesses, testifying against Jerusalem (...vs. 8). The typology tells us they are intended to point back to Moses and Elijah (vs. 6). Like Moses they came in the spirit of the Law, and like Elijah they came in the spirit of the Prophets (Rom. 3:21), testifying against those who would not believe in Jesus, the one who fulfilled the Law and the Prophets, and through whom God would fulfill His promises. The same type of destruction that came upon Jericho would come upon Jerusalem as well.

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Absalom was killed while hanging from an oak tree, having been caught in the branches. And so he was a type of Christ. "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree." (Deut. 21:23; Gal. 3:13)

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The two witnesses of Revelation 11 also point back to the two angels/men that Yahweh sent to examine Sodom after His conversation with Abraham (Genesis 18 & 19). It is the pattern of Scripture that judgment is made upon the testimony (witness) of two or three persons (Deut. 17:6, 19:15; 2 Cor. 13:1; 1 Tim. 5:19; Heb. 10:28). And God, fulfilling His own Law, sent two angels, that they might exami...ne the state of Sodom and Gomorrah, to determine whether it was worthy of destruction (Gen. 18:20-21). As Yahweh sent fire down upon Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:24), so also fire would come from the mouths of the two witnesses of Revelation 11 as a judgment upon Jerusalem (Rev. 11:5). And lest we miss the parallel, we are told that this city was "spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified" (Rev. 11:8). Jerusalem had become Sodom as well as Jericho; the Jews had become pagan Gentiles, persecuting the Messiah and His True People, the Church, and were receiving the judgment of God for it.

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God had told His people Israel that if they did not obey the words of His covenant, he would bring the plagues that he put upon Egypt upon Israel themselves, and even take them back in captivity to Egypt (Deut. 28:60, 68). This was partly fulfilled in the days of the reigns of Jeroboam and Rehoboam. Jeroboam brought Egypt and its false worship to Israel, by setting up golden calves in Israel (1 ...Kings 12:28-29). Just as Israel herself in the Exodus had failed to learn from Lot's wife (Lk. 17:32) and looked back to the food and worship of Egypt, so Jeroboam sought to turn Israel spiritually from Yahweh and back to Egypt. And in accordance with God's promise of judgment, Egypt attacked Jerusalem in the days of Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:25-26). As the Israelites had once plundered the Egyptians as a blessing from God upon their leaving Egypt (Ex. 12:35-36), so now they were plundered by the Egyptians, who even took vessels from the Temple and the king's palace, some of which had been made from the very materials that Israel had originally taken from Egypt. Though God at first intended to bring the full judgment of slavery He had promised, Rehoboam humbled himself and God relented from His anger (2 Chron. 12:7-8).

But in Revelation 11, we see the plagues of Egypt that God had promised finally brought in full upon Israel. Like Moses and Aaron coming with signs and wonders, bringing plagues upon the Egyptians and calling them to cease their persecution of His people, so the two witnesses would come with signs and wonders, bring those same plagues upon Israel, and deliver His Church from her.

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