Winter 2007 Magazine: Israel and the Church Part I
Author: Professor Walter J. Veith, PhD
Publish date:
 
 
The history of Israel typifies that of the Church. Both are delivered from Egypt, both are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, both are led through the desert, both are sustained by the bread of heaven, and both journey towards rest. The typical foreshadowed the journey of the antitypical.

The history of Israel also foreshadowed the story of the remnant. However, in this article, we will only look at ancient Israel’s broad foreshadowing of the history of the Christian Church.

Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come (1 Corinthians 10:11).


The purpose of Israel was to restore knowledge of the divine and to point the way to the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. Satan has warred against this task from the beginning. Israel failed dismally in presenting the Lamb of God to the world. On the contrary, they crucified Him.

They were constantly led into idolatry and when determined to stay faithful to God, they were led to bigotry, believing that redemption was excusive Israel. The history of God’s people from the very beginning is a history of enmity. The promise of the Messiah that was to be heralded to the world was already given in Genesis.

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel (Genesis 3:15).


God called for universal reformation but He knew that the blood of the Lamb and the blood of the saints would stain the road; the history of the true people of God was to be one of the cross. Faith in the Messiah is not a crutch, but a cross that may even require of us the ultimate sacrifice. But God does not forget His people. The blood of His saints is precious to Him. While there is yet time, we should herald His coming and warn the world of the impeding judgment. God is not slack concerning His promises, but patient, not wishing that any should perish.

And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth (Revelation 6:10)?

How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me (Psalm 13:2)?

LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph? How long shall they utter and speak hard things? and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves (Psalm 94:3-4)?

Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate (Isaiah 6:11).


The murmuring and idolatry of Israel also foreshadowed the idolatry that would creep into the Christian Church. In the desert Israel worshiped the golden calf. No sooner were Moses and Joshua gone then Israel slipped into idolatry. Even in their day they had to be brought back by stern words.

And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

…And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them?

…And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin—; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.

And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them. And the LORD plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made (Exodus 32:1-4, 21, 31-35).


It is almost incomprehensible that this great apostasy was undertaken in the very presence of the most magnificent display of divine power ever witnessed. The cloud covered Mount Sinai veiling the glory of God. Aaron himself had been on the mount with Moses and yet he was party to the great apostasy of Israel. It is possible that we could be repeating the history of this act without even being aware of it?

Here are several statements from the Spirit of Prophecy regarding this apostasy:

From this record we may learn how little dependence can be placed in men who trust in men, and do not make God their reliance. Those who are living in these last days are in the greatest danger of placing their confidence in men rather than in the true and living God. The Lord has given instruction that the history of the apostasy of Israel is now to be presented, because men who in the past have had great light have become self-sufficient, and are looking to men, trusting in human leaders, who are themselves practicing evil. Men who ought to stand as firm as a rock to principle are treading in the same path that the Israelites followed, “Some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” This is the snare that has come into our ranks. There are wrong sentiments that have to be met. There are men who are acting the part of Aaron at the very time when every soul should be working to seal the law among God’s disciples. They are building up the very things that God has specified should not be built up” (RH, February 4, 1909, par. 8).

A great deal of time and labor and anxiety are required to counterwork the ingenuity of satanic agencies that are pressing their way among those who are ready to accept wrong philosophy, to cause confusion and division. Every jot of influence is needed to discern the great evils of Satan’s divisions, and to keep souls from being drawn into the net of the modern Aarons who are saying, “These by thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (RH, February 4, 1909, par. 9).

Long before, the Lord could have told Moses what was taking place. He could have revealed that Aaron could not be depended upon. But for wise and holy purposes He permitted the evil to develop. He suffered this shameful representation to come to its height. Then when the leading men had done all that it was in their power to do, he sent Moses down to punish the transgressors. The Lord sees what is in the hearts of men. At times he permits evils to take place that he may prevent still greater evils that would appear unless he permitted the designs hidden in human hearts to work out (RH, February 4, 1909, par. 10).

Mark God's words to Moses concerning this apostasy. They "have corrupted themselves," he said: "they have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them." Every man is tempted when he is drawn aside by his own lusts” (RH, February 4, 1909 par. 11).

The fact that Aaron had been blessed and honored so far above the people was what made his sin so heinous. It was Aaron, "the saint of the Lord," that had made the idol and announced the feast. It was he who had been appointed spokesman for Moses, and concerning whom God himself had testified, "I know that he can speak well," who had failed to check the idolaters in their heaven-daring purpose. He by whom God had wrought in bringing judgments both upon the Egyptians and upon their gods, had heard, unmoved, the proclamation. "These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." It was he who had been with Moses in the mount, and had there beheld the glory of the Lord, and who had seen that in the manifestation of that glory there was nothing of which an image could be made,—it was he who had changed that glory into the similitude of an ox. He to whom God had committed the government of the people in the absence of Moses, was found sanctioning their rebellion. "The Lord was very angry with Aaron to have destroyed him." But in answer to the earnest intercession of Moses, his life was spared: and in penitence and humiliation for his great sin, he was restored to the favor of God (RH, February 4, 1909, par. 12).

If Aaron had had courage to stand for the right, irrespective of consequences, he could have prevented that apostasy. If he had unswervingly maintained his own allegiance to God, if he had cited the people to the perils of Sinai, and had reminded them of their solemn covenant with God to obey his law, the evil would have been checked. But his compliance with the desires of the people, and the calm assurance with which he proceeded to carry out their plans, emboldened them to go to greater lengths in sin than had before entered their minds (RH, February 4, 1909, par. 13).

Of all the sins that God will punish, none are more grievous in his sight than those that encourage others to do evil. God would have his servants prove their loyalty by faithfully rebuking transgression, however painful the act may be. Those who are honored with a divine commission are not to be weak, pliant time-servers. They are not to aim at self-exaltation, or to shun disagreeable duties, but are to perform God's work with unswerving fidelity (RH, February 4, 1909, par. 14).


The Bible is a wonderful record of Israel’s actions and God’s dealings with them. Did they learn from their apostasy? It seems that humanity never learns and in spite of their experiences, the Biblical record shows that they apostatized again and again, determined to be worse than their predecessors.

And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the LORD, and served not him (Judges 10:6).

And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree: And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the LORD carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the LORD to anger: For they served idols, whereof the LORD had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing (2 Kings 17:10-12)


The prophets of Israel lamented the deplorable condition of Israel and fearlessly proclaimed the Word of God:

Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water (Jeremiah 2:11-13).


Did Israel heed the admonition of the prophets? No, in fact they arrogantly opposed them:

Then all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense unto other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying, As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil (Jeremiah 44:15-17).

Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint (Isaiah 1:4-5).

But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves (Amos 5:26).



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