Summary: This article was written and published Nov. ’14. We will find in Scripture that one of the general character traits of the Jewish people is that their deliverance and salvation by God is always in the flesh (a physical deliverance where their physical lives are saved), and this redemption is always through trouble and tribulation. This is why the majority of the Psalms give voice to the end-time Jewish remnant crying out to Jehovah for deliverance from their enemies. (But the Scripture-taught Christian knows this is distinctive of Israel and not the character of the believer/church. Christ and Christianity teaches us differently – Matt. 5:38-46. What I mean is that the Psalms teach Judaism and the Jewish position, and Christians need to be very careful in their use and application of them. The Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) teaches Christianity and the Christian position.)
In a previous article on the subject of the meaning of Jacob’s life, we discussed Jacob as being a wonderful and remarkable type of the nation of Israel (article #11). By his behavior and experiences, by the measure of his faith, by examples in his walk with God, Jacob prefigures the history of the nation. From that teaching we mainly see these two truths concerning Israel: First – Jacob spends a lot of time wandering in a strange land where God simply watches over him to preserve him. Israel does the same. God has scattered Israel into the Gentile nations (Ez. 36:19, Luke 21:24). But God watches over them to preserve the natural line of descent – He has His purposes for this nation in the end, and He is keeping them for these purposes (please see Ez. 11:16). God will be found faithful to fulfill all He has ever promised to Israel (Ez. 11:17-20). Second – Jacob wrestles and struggles in the flesh with God. So does the nation of Israel. They walk by sight and follow after signs. Their religion was particularly adapted to the flesh. The law was designed by God to test man in the flesh, man in Adam. The law is not of faith (Gal. 3:12); it cannot produce a walk of faith. The testing was of man as a sinner, and proved him to be lost. The principle of human responsibility is the principle of Judaism – do this and live. It is a struggle in the flesh by man in his efforts to become acceptable to a holy God. It is man’s struggle to be righteous and gain life (Gal. 3:21).
Jacob wrestles in the flesh all night, and he doesn’t receive a blessing until the dawning of a new day (Gen. 32:24-30). The same is true of Israel. They wait and wrestle with their law and fleshly ordinances until the time of reformation (Heb. 9:9-10) – they will get their blessing in the coming millennium. They must wait until then.
But there is more to the character of Israel to be found in the types and shadows of Scripture. In the story of Joseph we find an experience of Jacob and his sons that serves as an important type to understand. When Joseph revealed himself to his brothers after they returned to Egypt a second time, he makes this statement to them: “And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” (Gen. 45:7) This passage reveals the character of the nation.
Joseph is a type of Jesus Christ. His revelation of himself to his brothers comes after his humiliation. Previously Joseph was hated and rejected by his brothers, sold to the Gentiles, and by false accusations placed in prison. But Joseph rose out of this and was now the authority and power of the right hand of the throne. God ordered all these events, according to the purpose of His counsels. As the substance of this type we see God has sent Jesus before the nation of Israel. They did all the same things to Jesus, only worse. As with Joseph, so with Jesus in his humiliation – in both cases it was the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God (Gen. 45:8, 50:20, Acts 2:23).
The type reveals a truth in the “ways” of God – suffering and humiliation will always precede glory. It is the case with Joseph, and even more so with Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:5-11). And we find that the true believer will follow this same path:
“…if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
And again here:
II Cor. 4:17
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
But from Joseph’s statement above we find conclusively: Even though his brothers had rejected him, God had, by His own determined purpose and working, sent Joseph before his family; In a similar way God has sent Jesus before the nation of Israel. Even though they hated Him and put Him to death, through Christ and His work of the cross, through His dying for the nation as the foundation for it, God has prepared a blessing for them in His counsels regardless. In the epistles written to the church we find very little in reference to the nation of Israel. But in Romans we find this:
“Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers.”
It says that Jesus “became a servant to Israel.” Even though the nation rejected Him???!!! It says “for the truth of God” – I suppose this shows how God remains faithful to keep His promises to Israel through the service of Christ to Israel. It says “to confirm the promises made to the fathers” – these are not church fathers, but those of the nation of Israel. It may be hard to believe, but what we find is that by Christ’s death and resurrection He has become a servant to Israel on behalf of God. By His death and resurrection He has made good and confirmed the promises God made long ago to their fathers.
And here is an important distinction. At the point of the above statement Joseph, in type, had risen into his glory (Gen. 45:13). This was a new position for Joseph in relation to his brothers and family. It is a position from which he may fully bless his own (Gen. 45:9-13). And this reflects on a similar truth concerning Christ with Israel. Jesus is now in a new position in His relationship with Israel. He is Israel’s Messiah in glory. This is not a Messiah simply come in the flesh, but One in resurrection power and glory. So Paul speaks to the Jews at Antioch in Pisidia:
“And we declare to you glad tidings – that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’ “And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David.’
From David’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior – Jesus (Acts 13:23). The covenantal promises made by God to Abraham and David have been secured for Israel by the raising of Jesus from the dead. His resurrection is the source and power by which the earthly promises for Israel are guaranteed. His resurrection and glory is the basis and security for all their promises.
I will interject here that this is not the place of the church. This will be Israel’s place and Israel’s blessing. The fathers are not of the church; they are Israel’s. The promises are not for the church; they are for Israel. The covenants do not pertain to the church; they directly involve Israel (Rom. 9:4). The sure mercies of David are all promises that belong to Israel in the end (Is. 55:3).
Of course it will be all God’s sovereign work on Israel’s behalf – He will choose and preserve a remnant of the Jews (Rev. 7:1-8) on which He will pour out His Spirit before the great and terrible day of the Lord (Joel 2:28-32). With this remnant God forms the nation (Is. 66:8) – shall a nation be born at once? God will plant them in the land. But the church’s place is elsewhere.
Going back to Joseph’s statement to his brothers, we see more of the character of future Israel in type. He says:
“…to preserve a posterity for you in the earth…”
Israel’s calling is earthly. Their character is earthly. As a people and a nation they are connected to the earth. They will receive the land as their inheritance. They will have earthly blessings in the land, and will grow in numbers and prosper. During the coming millennium Israel will be the greatest nation on the face of the earth (Gen. 46:3, Deut. 32:8-9, 28:1).
From Joseph’s statement we see one more character trait of the nation. He says, “…to save your lives by a great deliverance.” Israel is always delivered through tribulation. What God saves of Israel is always preserved through judgments. This is the character of Israel as a people and nation. Noah and his family serve as a type in this – they were saved and preserved in the midst of judgment. They represent the Jewish remnant that God seals at the end of the age. God will keep them safe through the hour of trial that is to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth (Rev. 3:10).
This is a biblical principle established in God’s dealings with Israel as the earthly calling – their character is that they are always delivered through judgments. Joseph’s statement attaches this characteristic to the nation. Four hundred years later Israel, under slavery in Egypt, is delivered out of Egypt through great judgments. It is a “great deliverance.” The preserved Jewish remnant at the end of the age is represented in the vision in Revelation twelve (12) as the woman on the earth fleeing into the wilderness. In the world she has a placed prepared by God (Rev. 12:6)
“But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.”
This is the last 3 1/2 years of the tribulation, before Jesus returns to the earth. It is a period of time known in prophecy as “Jacobs trouble.”
“Alas! For that day is great, So that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, But he shall be saved out of it.”
But Israel will be saved out of it. It is their character in God’s ways with them. Also in Daniel we read this concerning Israel at the end:
“At that time Michael shall stand up,
The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people;
And there shall be a time of trouble,
Such as never was since there was a nation,
Even to that time.
And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Every one who is found written in the book.”
Daniel’s people is Israel. They will be delivered through this great time of trouble that is to come upon the whole earth. But it will only be a remnant of God’s choosing among them – those found written in the book. This is Israel’s character. Israel is God’s earthly calling.