If you have been around churches long enough, you will have come across the teaching of types. This is when an event is symbolic of something else. An example of a major type in the Bible is the experience of the Israelites. They are a clear type of the Christian life. In this regard the broad themes of the Israelite’s experience are types or mirror the experience of someone in their Christian life.
This type works as follows:
The Israelites were in bondage (oppressed in Egypt) just as before becoming a Christian, we were in bondage to sin (oppressed in satan’s kingdom).
The event of Passover and the blood of the Passover Lamb triggered their release from Egypt, just as Yeshua’s blood (the true Passover Lamb) brings us redemption out of satan’s kingdom.
The crossing of the Red Sea represents baptism in water, and receiving Torah at Mt Sinai represents baptism of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost).
From there the Israelites then marched into the Promised Land (modern day Israel) and had to warfare to take the land. As Christians we seek to push back the kingdom of satan and advance God’s kingdom. We are at war, but not with people, rather we wage a spiritual war against principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this age and the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph 6:12).
This is usually where this type sermon ends, with us all busy overthrowing satan’s kingdom.
However the story of Israel doesn’t end there, it continues for hundreds of years. Let me expand and provide some more types from their history.
God originally set up Israel in Canaan as a Theocracy, i.e. there was no visible government. Everyone was expected to relate to God and obey him for themselves. There were religious ceremonies and leaders, but politically there was no leader.
Judges 17:6 says: In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
At the time of Samuel however, the Israelites decided they wanted to be like the (pagan) nations around them. They wanted a king to lead them into battle, a figurehead, someone to trust in… The story is in 1 Sam 8:4-7:
Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord and the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.”
This is a type of the church when it moved away from the priesthood of all believers with no one having authority over anyone else to a system that established priests and bishops to reign over the people (just like the pagan religions around it). And in the process the ekklesia stopped looking to God as their leader.
The end result of having a human lead Israel rather than God was that their kings eventually lead them far enough astray that Israel got carried off into Babylonian captivity.
This is a type of the Babylonian paganism which was progressively introduced into and eventually took over the church, so the church essentially became a pagan institution (just like the religions around it).
The Israelites had a mixed experience in Babylon. Haman tried to wipe out the Jews (sound familiar) but Queen Esther had his plan foiled and the Jews were given a legal right to defend themselves. From that time on, the Jews started to flourish in Babylon. They had freedom and legal protection, even to the point that they started building religious buildings in Babylon (this is where synagogues first came into being).
Likewise for centuries under Catholicism true believers were persecuted and killed. It wasn’t until the reformation that believers started to gain some forms of freedom. Today, there are many denominations enjoying freedom of religion (mirroring the flourishing of synagogues in Babylon). However as outlined in my other articles, these “synagogues” are still deep within the heartland of Babylon.
But God had plans for Israel. He wanted them back in the promised land and worship reinstated at Jerusalem, so as prophesied by Jeremiah, after 70 years in captivity in Babylon the Jews were given permission to return to Israel. The problem was, life was now too good in Babylon. There was a new generation who had never experienced Jerusalem and they had a good life in Babylon. The idea of going back to Jerusalem to rebuild a ruined city and broken country held little appeal. So only a small remnant returned.
Likewise God is now calling us to return to our Hebraic (biblical) roots, to go back and rebuild what was lost (see previous article), to become the ekklesia. This is what the original Gentile believers were grafted in to (Rom 11:17). However, life in the “church” can be pretty comfortable…
Another challenge for the returning Israelites was that to get back to Israel, they had to cross a very large desert.
Likewise for us, returning to our roots could well involve a desert experience as we leave the comforts of Babylon, our familiar surroundings, possibly our families and friends and our synagogues.
The restoration of the Temple and Jerusalem was a long slow process, however in time it was completed, the Jews regained a measure of autonomy, Temple worship was reinstated. And the stage was set for Messiah’s first arrival on earth.
The type of this is obvious…
In Psalms 147: 2-3 it says
“The Lord builds up Jerusalem; He gathers together the outcasts of Israel. He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.”
Whilst this is a prophecy for the physical restoration of Israel, it is also a prophecy for the ekklesia. God is saying that just as He has gathered the outcasts of Israel (from Babylon), He is now also gathering up the ekklesia outcasts from Babylon and He will bind up their wounds. His focus is to build up Jerusalem and reinstate what was lost. To prepare the way for Messiah’s return!
Shalom and Blessings,