“And Isaac brought her [Rebekah] into his mother Sarah’s tent . . . and she became his wife; and he loved her.” (Gen 24:67) “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world [age] are come.” (1 Cor. 10:11)
When we speak of Abraham, Isaac and other Old Testament figures as types we do not mean that the Bible stories about them are fictitious. A person or thing is a type when the Scriptures indicate that the actual experiences prefigure and illustrate on a small scale some person or thing yet future. For instance, in certain respects Adam, as the head of the human race, was a type of Messiah, the second Adam. While the first Adam failed to give the race the eternal life desired, in God’s providence Messiah is to be the second Adam in the sense that He will regenerate as His children all the posterity of the first Adam. Messiah is thus declared in prophecy to be the Everlasting Father of mankind – the Father or Life-giver, who will give to our race everlasting life, instead of a heritage of weakness, imperfection and death. (Isa. 9:6)
Similarly, Moses was not only the real leader of the nation of Israel, he was also a type of the greater Mediator, Messiah. As Moses mediated the Law Covenant for Israel, so Messiah, the Prophet “like unto” Moses (Acts 3:22) will be the Mediator of Israel’s New Covenant, under which the Abrahamic blessings will reach them, and through them all the families of the earth. (Jer. 31:31) Similarly, Aaron was a type of the higher priesthood and its better sacrifices connected with the New Covenant and the under-priests and the Levites were types of the higher institutions by which the New Covenant will be inaugurated.
We now focus our attention particularly on Abraham, his son Isaac, and Isaac’s wife, Rebekah. Abraham is known in the Scriptures as the “Friend of God,” and as “the father of all them that believe.” (Jas. 2:23; Rom. 4:11) Isaac was the son of promise, miraculously born out of the natural order, when his mother was old. Rebekah was selected by Abraham to be the companion and joint-heir with his son Isaac in his inheritance. These three lived their lives wholly unconscious that God was using them and overruling their affairs so as to make of them prophetic pictures of His own great Plan of the Ages. Our understanding of these type-pictures must be in full harmony with the inspired writings of the Bible and never in contradiction to Scripture.
ABRAHAM A TYPE OF GOD
Not everything that Abraham did, however, is to be considered typical. In a general way this grand man of the past looms up before our minds as a monument of faith, integrity and justice. St. Paul points out that because the blessings promised to go through him to his Seed constitute him the “father of many nations” (Gen. 17:5), this makes him a type of the Almighty, from whom flows every good and every perfect gift – from whom proceeds the blessing which ultimately is to flow through Messiah, His Son, and through Israel, His people, to all the families of the earth. (Rom. 4:16-25; Gal. 3:8,16,29)
All Christians should be aware of St. Paul’s interpretation of Abraham and his family as types. As Abraham typified God, so his wife Sarah typified the Covenant through which the vitality of the promise ultimately develops the Seed of Promise – Isaac in the type, and Messiah in the antitype. St. Paul also explains that Sarah’s servant, Hagar, at Sarah’s wish, became for a time her representative with Abraham and brought forth Ishmael. St. Paul explains that Hagar typified the Law Covenant, vitalized by the gracious arrangements of the same God and Father; and Hagar’s son, literally Abraham’s firstborn, typified the Jewish nation, the first development under the Covenant. (Gal. 4:22-31)
Just as Abraham loved Ishmael and desired a blessing on him, so God loved Israel and desired a blessing upon Israel, the offspring of the Law Covenant. Nevertheless, as the offspring of the bond-woman, Ishmael was declared not to be the primary heir of the Abrahamic promise, but a secondary one. Likewise the children of Israel, the offspring of the Law Covenant, were not designed to be the Spiritual Messiah through whom the promised blessing would first proceed.
In the type, Abraham’s wife Sarah, who represented the original Abrahamic Covenant, brought forth a son of her own, Isaac, long years after her substitute, the bond-maid, had brought forth Ishmael. When Isaac was born, Sarah repudiated Ishmael and no longer acknowledged him as her son, but, instead claimed everything for Isaac.
While on the surface this may seem harsh, we see the antitype of this: As soon as God began the development of the Spiritual Israel and set forth the covenant by sacrifice (Psa. 50:5) through which this Spiritual Israel would be developed, it began to be clearly manifest that the chief portion of the promise of God to bless the world was not to be fulfilled through the Ishmael Seed, Natural Israel, but through the Isaac Seed – Spiritual Israel.
HOPE FOR THE JEWS
From the beginning there was a competition for the Abrahamic blessing. Just as the infant Isaac was mocked by the older Ishmael (Gen. 21:9), so Jesus, the antitypical Isaac, and His comparatively unlearned followers were mocked and persecuted by the established Jews. In continuation of the type, God commanded Abraham to send Hagar and her son into the wilderness. (Gen. 21:10-12) That sending away typified the Divine disfavor which came upon the Jews when they rejected Messiah, making them outcasts from God’s favor, just as Hagar and Ishmael were cut off from the presence and care of Abraham and his family.
Abraham gave Hagar bread and water to take with her and by these she and Ishmael were nourished in the wilderness for a time. (Gen. 21:14) This types the promises of God through the Law and the Prophets. These promises, which still belong to the Jews, have nourished them throughout their period of disfavor and without them the hope of the nation would have perished.
Now we come to the dire moment when the water provided by Abraham was gone and there was no more to be found. Ishmael was dying and Hagar separated herself from him because she could not bear to see it. God heard Ishmael crying and the angel of God appeared to Hagar and pointed her to a spring of water, where she refreshed herself and Ishmael with new life. (Gen. 21:15-19)
The antitype of this is now seen before us. Because the Jewish people became separated more and more from the Law and the Prophets, their hope became weak and faint. They have been about to die! But the Lord graciously points out a well-spring of the Water of Life at this critical moment. As Ishmael was rescued from death by this water, so the nation of Israel whom he typified, is now about to find in the providence of God that their portion of the Abrahamic Covenant is the earthly one, not the Heavenly one, not the spiritual. They are about to be refreshed and to enter upon a new vocation, a New Law Covenant relationship, not symbolized by Hagar, who represented the Old Law Covenant. Thenceforth they are represented under a new type.
God permitted Hagar to cease as a type after her child, representing the Jews, was recovered from perishing and her subservience to Sarah was shown. The Lord did not confuse the types by representing the renewal of Divine favor toward Israel by reinstating Hagar as Abraham’s wife after the death of Sarah. Instead, after Sarah’s death Abraham took another wife, Keturah. She was also a type and represented a third Covenant. Her many children represented typically the many peoples, families and tongues of the world which will ultimately come under the New Covenant arrangement and be children of the Highest.
It should be continually borne in mind that in this series of types God everywhere showed the superiority of the Sarah Covenant. In one sense of the word Sarah was Abraham’s only wife, because Hagar and Keturah are considered merely as concubines. Thus the Divine Plan all centered in the promise, “In thy seed shall all the nations [peoples] of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 26:4) Nevertheless the Jews and their Law Covenant have been used by the Lord as a supplementary means of blessing and instruction to the Church and to the world. Likewise the future blessings that will go to Israel under the New Covenant, and through Israel to the world, will all depend upon the first Covenant, the spiritual Sarah Covenant, and its Seed – The Christ, Head and Body.
At first our Jewish friends might be inclined to feel disappointed that they were represented in Ishmael and not in Isaac, by the Hagar Covenant of bondage to the Law, instead of being formed free from the Law. Their consolation is that Isaac typified the Messiah and that Israel is pictured as the nation on whose behalf Messiah will mediate the New Law Covenant. The Messiah must be spiritual, in order to be able to confer the great blessings indicated in the Covenant made with Abraham. The nation of Israel never expected to be spiritual and had no such promise in the Bible. To the Jews will come exactly what they have always been expecting – greatness as an earthly people, honor as the elect nation through whom the New Covenant blessings will be opened up to all mankind.
ELIEZER A TYPE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
When the time came, Abraham sent his trusted servant Eliezer (type of the Holy Spirit) to select a bride for his son Isaac. Eliezer was directed to limit his search to Abraham’s country and family, typifying that none would be called to be the Bride of Messiah except those already in relationship to God through faith, obedience and justification. (Gen. 24:3-4) When the servant found Rebekah he gave her certain jewels, explained his mission to her and her relatives, and asked her if she were willing to come and be Isaac’s bride. He explained that his master, Abraham, was very rich and had given all that he had to Isaac. (Gen. 24:35-36)
Thus the great riches of God are again illustrated in Abraham, and the fact that Messiah is His Son and the Heir of all the promises of God, the One through whom Israel and all mankind will be blessed. Rebekah promptly responded, betrothing herself to the unseen bridegroom and quickly accompanied the servant to Isaac. As her family told her goodbye they wished her a blessing in these words, “Be thou the mother of thousands of millions.” We read that “Rebekah arose, and her damsels [maids, servants], and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man.” (Gen. 24:60-61)
Here we find, in harmony with other Scriptures, a picture of the Gospel Age, and its work of bringing to Messiah a special Bride class of saintly ones. First among these saints were some of the Jewish nation, according to the Divine Rule; as the Scriptures set forth – “to the Jew first.” (Rom. 1:16) This Bride class has been selected from every nation, people, kindred and tongue yet in all will be but a little flock – “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” (Luke 12:32) This is the spiritual, unseen Kingdom of Messiah, joint-heirship with Him in His Throne. It is not the earthly Kingdom which has been promised definitely to Israel. (Jer. 3:17)
BRIDE CLASS AND GREAT COMPANY
Scriptures show us that among these saints there are two classes. A few, peculiarly devoted, will constitute the Bride class. A larger number, not so courageous for the truth and righteousness, will constitute her companions, her servants, as Rebekah traveled accompanied by her maidens. These two classes are particularly specified in the Scriptures (Psalm 45), where we read of the Messiah-Bride and Queen. In her resurrection glory she is pictured as the Queen robed in gold of Ophir with fine needlework – the glory representing the Divine nature which will be granted her, and the fine needlework representing her glorious righteousness, embellished with the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
The Psalmist tells us that she will be brought into the presence of the great King, the Heavenly Father, and then adds that the virgins, or companions, that follow her shall also be brought into the presence of the King, thus showing that there will always be a difference of rank on the spiritual plane. These two classes are pictured in the Law as Priests and Levites, the Bride class being represented by the Priests, owing to their willing sacrifices of the earthly portion in favor of the Heavenly.
We are not to identify the Bride class with the nominal Christian churches of today any more than we would identify the Apostles with the Jewish church of their day. The Apostles were a select few; and similarly all the members of the Church throughout the Age have been a select few out of a nominal many. “The Lord knoweth them that are His.” (2 Tim. 2:19) The true Church has not only been selected from all of the twelve tribes of Israel, but also from every other nation, people and tongue, even so many as the Lord our God has called.
Rebekah’s leaving her father’s house typified the personal consecration of each one who, led of the Spirit, accepts the Divine invitation to joint-heirship with Christ. The first jewelry given to Rebekah, when she first heard the invitation and invited the servant to her home, represents the earliest blessing received by believers. The jewelry she received after she had decided to go to Isaac and become his wife represents the blessings of the Holy Spirit which come upon the fully consecrated, those who determine to walk in the footsteps of Jesus in the narrow way into the Kingdom, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
When she arrived at the end of her journey, she found herself in the presence of Isaac, and immediately alighted from her camel and covered herself with a veil. This pictorially represents the fact that the Church, having experienced the change of the First Resurrection and having entered the presence of the Heavenly Bridegroom, will no longer need the guidance of the Holy Spirit through the Scriptures. This part of the picture, of course, is yet future. However, the Scriptures indicate and outward conditions corroborate that the time of this glorious change is near.
MOTHER OF THOUSANDS OF MILLIONS
Isaac immediately received Rebekah, and took her into his mother’s tent. Sarah had died, and Rebekah became her successor. Thus is beautifully pictured the fact that when the Bride of Messiah is complete on the plane of glory, the Sarah Covenant will be at an end, and its place as a channel of blessing will be taken by the glorified Church. Then will be fulfilled the prophetic blessing of her relatives, “Be thou the mother of thousands of millions.” Those thousands of millions represent the world of mankind, which will be regenerated, or granted new life, by the great Messiah during the thousand years of His reign as the Mediator of the New Covenant.
Messiah will be the regenerator and His Bride will be the nourisher, instructor, and helper, of all mankind under the New Covenant. This Antitypical Isaac and His Bride will mediate the New Covenant of Restitution blessings for Israel, and for the world through Israel. (Acts 3:19-21)
As St. Paul shows, the blessing of all the families of the earth through the Seed applies primarily to Messiah and His Church in glory, when their sacrifices are past and they have attained the spiritual nature as a reward. (Gal. 3:16,29)
The first to be blessed by the Seed will be whoever will first receive Messiah and come into harmony with the righteous laws of His invisible Kingdom. There will be no partiality in this matter, for “God is no respecter of persons.” (Acts 10:34) However, because of their past experiences and earthly hopes and trust in the Law and the Prophets, the Jews will be the first among the nations to accept the new order of things and to ally themselves with it. Therefore, to them will the blessings go first and through them the blessings will extend to all mankind. (Rom. 2:10; Isa. 2:2-3)
(Based on Pastor Russell’s Sermons, page 200)
THE 1967 WAR – A FIRST PERSON ACCOUNT
Below are excerpts from the book Window on Mount Zion by Pauline Rose, a British Jew who immigrated to Israel with her husband Albert in 1959. They eventually established their home on the top of Mount Zion and were there during the Six-Day War of 1967. This is her account of the war as experienced from the top of Mount Zion.
All through the month of May 1967, the storm clouds darkened on the horizon. Egypt was massing troops on the border and building up a formidable military force ready for attack; Israel was preparing to defend herself. Each day the situation became more serious. All our able-bodied men were being called up. The roads were filled with military vehicles carrying soldiers and equipment.
Many more soldiers were being posted in Mount Zion and every corner was inspected as plans for its defense went ahead. It was dangerous to linger near the border at night. . . . . War was threatening our beloved land . . . .
Thursday, June 1: The month began with a great movement of people; citizens of other nations who had been advised to leave and Israelis abroad who were hurrying to return. [A rabbi friend said] “It seems that war is inevitable . . . . And when all the Arab countries around us come against us intending to destroy us completely, what chance have we got?” . . . . I replied, “but I would ask what chance the Arabs have when they come to fight against Israel? . . . . You know what befalls the enemies of Israel who attempt to foil the plan of God.”
Sabbath Eve, June 2: Rabbi Uri . . . . said to Albert, “Again we have to face our enemies. When will they leave us in peace?” Albert answered cheerfully. “Next Friday we’ll all be at the Wailing Wall.”
The soldiers smiled at this incredible thought.
Monday, June 5: Suddenly the noise of machine-gun shells and rifle fire rent the air. Bullets were flying in all directions and as they hit the walls, I knew that I must leave everything and make a dash for the gallery . . . .
The noise was deafening and continuous. It sounded as if every bullet hit the wall of the gallery and every explosion was outside our door. The play of sound was very misleading . . . . There was no lull in the fighting that whole day. Shots were being fired from above the gallery and from all the posts around us. Also the bullets and shells were coming from the other side of Mount Zion. It was a great battle. Jerusalem – City of Peace – heralding by its name its ultimate destiny, was once again being lashed by the enemies of peace.
We tried to sleep that night but it was impossible. The battle for Jerusalem raged all night with unabated fury. Added to the deafening noise of shells and bullets was the roar of war planes flying over Mount Zion in waves with such speed and power, scooping up every other sound in their path and then casting it all back to earth with such a thunderous roar that it seemed as if our ears would be shattered. We listened to all the firing on Mount Zion, not knowing which was from our side and which from the Arabs, and because every shot and explosion always sounded as if it was destined for our wall, I imagined that little would be left of our house.
There was fierce fighting to the right of us, on the hill of Abu Tor, also on Mount Scopus and in the Mea Sherim quarter. Then we heard that four hundred Egyptian planes had been destroyed. We looked at one another. “That is surely impossible,” someone remarked. “They must have made a mistake in the announcement. Perhaps they meant forty.” But there had been no mistake in the announcement.
During the night we had to brave the bullets and flying shrapnel and go upstairs. The toilet was situated on the open roof, next to the room where our soldiers were shooting from behind sand-bagged windows. On this open roof, the whizzing of shells and bullets and the noise of their hitting the stones seemed so unreal that we did not fully comprehend the danger in which we stood. A great blaze in front of the Dormition Church lit up the whole area. Then, suddenly, the dome of the Church went up in flames.
Tuesday, June 6: A day we shall never forget. All day, without a stop, bullets and shells were flying and exploding. Always the noise seemed to be just outside the gallery. Israeli forces were occupying so many places, making such rapid progress, it was hard to believe . . . . [A broadcast came over in Arabic, which one of the men understood.] When it was finished he said simply: “King Hussein giving orders to his soldiers: ‘Kill every Jew you encounter, kill them with your guns, your hands, your feet, your teeth – only kill them.’”
At nightfall the shooting died down a little. The Commander came down . . . . “I have had some strange experiences today,” he said quietly; “every bullet we fired struck its target. Whatever we did succeeded. We were amazed to see how quickly the Arabs evacuated their posts . . . . I cannot believe the things I did today. It was as though someone else was commanding.”
Wednesday, June 7: I rushed upstairs. Everything was covered with a thick layer of dust which had fallen from the ceiling with every explosion, but I could not see any damage, not even a broken window. I was astonished. Where had all the bullets and shells landed during those two days of constant battle? It was really a miracle. Mount Zion seems to have been specially protected. I remembered the Commander’s words: “It was as though someone else was commanding.”
The shooting started again. There was hard fighting in the street and blood flowed in the narrow alleyways of the Old City. A high price was being paid in human lives and suffering in order to break down the walls of hatred and division. There are moments on the road of destiny which inspire fanciful thoughts, perhaps even prophetic thoughts. I looked into the future, the promised future, when the State of Israel would become the Kingdom of Israel, the Kingdom of peace, the Kingdom of God on earth with the Messiah ruling on the throne of David, and bringing peace to all the world.
Later in the morning there was a silence, a strange silence, broken only by occasional shots from snipers . . . . Then the sound of a trumpet could be heard, the long blast of the ram’s horn – the shofar – shattering the silence. The battle for Jerusalem was over. Rabbi Gorden, the army chaplain, was blowing the shofar at the Wailing Wall, the wall of the Temple, and we could hear him singing the prayers.
At that moment all Israel was pouring out its heart in prayers. For the first time for nearly two thousand years independent Jews were again in the City of David, at the Temple Wall, freed of its enemies. I remembered the time when the Jews stood praying at the Wall and had been stabbed in the back as they prayed.
However, the war had not yet ended, and we listened intently to the news coming over the radio. We heard that Jericho was in our hands, and later, Hebron and Bethlehem, Ramallah and all the surrounding towns and villages. We were quite dazed. It seemed so incredible.
Thursday, June 8: It was an emotional day. So much joy, so much tragedy and such a consciousness of having experienced a miracle. Even those who had no religious beliefs at all had to acknowledge that something had happened which was beyond their power alone . . . .
Everyone was saying with the Commander of Mount Zion: “It was as though someone else was commanding.” In fact, one religious soldier said: “I hope that our people will not forget that God has given us this victory.” His words reminded me of the time of the siege of Jerusalem in 1948. Then, too, a wave of religious fervor swept through the people.
“Yes,” I answered, “we hope that this experience will strengthen the faith of our people and bring a deeper realization of the fact that when Israel fights her battles there are also the ‘armies of God’ fighting with her.” “That was always true,” replied the soldier, “just as He fights for us now.”
Friday, June 9: In the first pale light of dawn I looked out of my window and saw intense action among the soldiers – some coming, some going. Then I learned that Egypt had accepted the United Nations cease fire. The war in Sinai was over.
A new sound drew me to my window. A huge bulldozer was noisily climbing the hill. I watched it turn clumsily to face the corrugated iron fence which marked the border, marred the beauty of the landscape and was a constant reminder of the divided Jerusalem. How intensely I had always wished it could be removed. As it passed, broken walls and mounds of scattered stones and debris were all that was left. But the great majestic trees which had shielded it from view also lay prostrate in the dust. The border had disappeared and a new road was being made. After little more than an hour of continuous work with the bulldozer a small part of the way was cleared and I saw a car coming through from the Old City – a safe and free road from Mount Zion to the wall – all barriers down. It was only five days since the war started.
Trouble has continued for Israel since that war and we expect more and worse trouble yet ahead, but we have the sure word of prophecy that they will ultimately be victorious. “Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses.” (Psa. 107:19) Note also Zech. 14:1-3: “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.” As the Berean Comments on this Scripture note, He will fight for them as He fought for Joshua against the six Amalekite kings at Gibeon; as He fought for David against the Philistines at Perazim; and as He miraculously delivered Israel from the hosts of Midian by Gideon and his band.
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