Time Has An End

by Harold Camping
Family Stations Inc.


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We have traveled the highway that is central to the main purpose and goal of the history of the world for about 9,500 years. To review briefly, thus far, God has used single families as He focuses on the unfolding of His purpose for the existence of this world. He began with the family of Adam and Eve who are the ancestors of each and every individual who would ever live on planet Earth (Genesis Chapters 1-5; I Corinthians 15:22, 45-47). Then, about 6,000 years after Adam and Eve, God again put the spotlight on a family, that of Noah (Genesis Chapters 5-11).

Then, about 3,000 years after the time of Noah, God placed another family in the position of continuing God’s major plan and purpose for the entire world. That family consisted of a man named Abraham together with his wife Sarah and a nephew named Lot (Genesis Chapters 11-12). With this family as the centerpiece, God began the preparations to expand the focus of the earth’s timeline. His plan was to develop a land and a nation instead of working through a single family. The land was the land of Canaan; the nation, Israel (Genesis Chapters 11-35). The land of Canaan was established as an external representation of the kingdom of God even as the nation which was to come from the family of Abraham had become an external representation of the kingdom of God.

Then, remember we learned from the Bible that to facilitate this important change from a family to a nation, God caused Abraham’s grandson Jacob, and Jacob’s family, to leave the promised land of Canaan and take up residency in the land of Egypt. That was in the year 1877 B.C. (Genesis Chapters 37-47).

But now, 430 years have passed since the family of Jacob came into Egypt to escape the famine. Seventeen years after they had come into Egypt, father Jacob had died, in the year 1860 B.C. (Genesis 47:28). Fifty-four years later, in the year 1806 B.C., Joseph died at the age of 110 (Genesis 50:26).

One practical result of Jacob’s family coming to Egypt was the protection of the bloodline of Abraham. Sons were born to the descendants of Abraham, and they needed wives. Except for the family of Abraham, all of the inhabitants of the land of Canaan were heathen. How were his grandsons and great-grandsons to obtain wives who trusted the God of the Bible? Abraham, for example, worked very hard to obtain a godly wife for his son Isaac (Genesis Chapter 24). In the heathen world of that day, this was a difficult task. Through  

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the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah, God gave Isaac twin sons, Esau and Jacob. Esau married Canaanitish women (Genesis 26:34-35; 28:6, 8). On the other hand, Jacob traveled hundreds of miles to the land of Haran to find a godly wife. Fact is, he ended up being married to four wives through whom God gave him twelve sons and one daughter (Genesis Chapters 28-29; 30:1-24; 35:16-18, 22-26). These sons also began to marry Canaanitish women. The Bible records that one son of Jacob, named Simeon, married a Canaanite (Genesis 46:10), and Judah, another son of Jacob, also married a Canaanite (Genesis 38:2).

As God was planning the unfolding of His salvation
program, it is clear that He planned to
transition from a family to a nation.

As God was planning the unfolding of His salvation program, it is clear that He planned to transition from a family to a nation. But how could this be done when the family is intermarrying with the heathen of the world? One thing was certain, and that is, down in the land of Egypt, this intermarrying would be very difficult. The family of Jacob was a shepherd family, and shepherds were an abomination to the Egyptians. We read in Genesis 46:34b:

. . . for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.

Thus, one principle reason God brought the family of Jacob to Egypt was so that the unfolding of God’s salvation program could transition from a family to a nation with little interference from other nations.

Year followed year. Finally, a Pharaoh began to reign who knew nothing about Joseph (Exodus 1:8). Meanwhile, the family of Jacob was multiplying so rapidly that the Egyptians began to fear that the Israelites might attempt an overthrow of Egypt. To prevent this possibility, the Israelites were made slaves. At one point in time, the year 1527 B.C., when Moses was born, the reigning Pharaoh even decreed that all the Israelites’ boy babies were to be killed. Indeed, the people who had been promised they would forever inherit the land of Canaan seemed inextricably trapped as slaves in Egypt. At the same time, the land of Canaan, which God had given to Abraham and his seed, was securely in the hands of wicked nations who had no knowledge of the God of the Bible.

But God had not abandoned this nation of Israel. In His divine mercy, He provided an individual named Moses to bring them out of Egypt (Exodus 3:6-10; Hebrews 11:24-28). By the year 1447 B.C., Israel had grown in size so that it numbered perhaps as many as two million people. We do know from the Biblical  

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record that Israel had over 600,000 men who were twenty years old and older. Adding all the women and children could bring the total population to possibly two million (Numbers 1:45-46). And now, the unfolding of the timeline of history would no longer be focused on a family. It would be focused on a nation. For the next 1,480 years, the nation of Israel was to be prominent in the unfolding of God’s salvation plan.

God Sets the Stage for Israel’s Departure From Egypt

Never before or since had a nation been presented
to the world as a special people in such
a spectacular way!

How is a slave nation consisting of perhaps two million people to be delivered from a nation that had total control over them? Israel’s enslavement set the stage for God’s great announcement to the world that Israel was to become known as God’s special people on earth. In the process of freeing them from their terrible enslavement, God would show His tremendous power and authority. God would send ten severe plagues upon Egypt, the impact of which would ultimately leave Pharaoh with no choice but to expel the people of Israel out of his country (Exodus 3:19-20; 11:1;12:39). Never before or since had a nation been presented to the world as a special people in such a spectacular way! The drama that was to unfold as God prepared to free them from bondage to Egypt has never in the entire history of the world been equaled.

To prepare for His announcement, God first of all raised up perhaps the greatest Pharaoh of all of Egypt’s history. Because of the exquisite accuracy of the Biblical Calendar, together with the available secular historical records, we can be certain that this Pharaoh was Tuthmosis III. The secular record shows that he was such a mighty military king that the archaeologists speak of him as the Napoleon of Egypt. The secular record disclosed that in his lifetime as Pharaoh, he carried out seventeen successful military campaigns. The Bible describes him as a Pharaoh who had “six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them” (Exodus 14:7). The Bible says in Exodus 9:16:

And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.
 

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Thus, the stage is set for the great announcement of the power of God. On the one hand, there was this nation of slaves with no weapons of any kind. On the other hand, there was this despotic king of great military strength.

To further enhance the announcement, God gave this mighty Pharaoh an enormous determination to keep the nation of Israel in bondage. Even though again and again God commanded Pharaoh, “Let my people go,” the Bible repeatedly declares that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus Chapters 7-14). Thus, even though the land of Egypt was suffering increasing destruction by plague after plague falling upon Egypt, Pharaoh refused to let the nation of Israel leave.

We must understand that the Bible teaches that the heart of man is desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). Mankind by nature is in complete rebellion against God and His commandments. The only reason unsaved mankind lives with any sense of decency and morality is because God to some degree restrains sin in the lives of individuals (Psalm 76:10). Otherwise, mankind would quickly destroy themselves. Thus, when God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, we must understand that this means that God took away all restraint on sin in Pharaoh’s life. Thus, in response to God’s command to let Israel go free, Pharaoh absolutely refused to allow Israel to go.

The more sinful he becomes, the deeper
he will go into sin.

It might be noted that this is the essential nature of every human being. The more sinful he becomes, the deeper he will go into sin (II Timothy 3:13). This is so even though he is destroying himself and others. This is true of the alcoholic, the sex pervert, the thief, and the murderer. The hardening of Pharaoh’s heart is similar to the language of Romans Chapter 1. In that citation, God speaks of giving people up (verses 24 and 26) or giving people over (verse 28) to a reprobate mind. Romans Chapter 1 then names more than twenty gross sins which become abundantly evident in their lives. This is why mankind so desperately needs salvation. Only through the saving work of Jesus Christ can the power and enslavement to sin be broken (Romans 6:6-23; I John 3:8).

Only through the saving work of Jesus Christ can
the power and enslavement to sin be broken.
 

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The Ten Plagues

Returning to the Pharaoh who refused to release Israel, this nation of slaves that God called “my people,” the Bible tells us that God brought a series of ten great plagues upon Egypt (Exodus Chapters 7-12). Each was preceded by a demand by God through Moses, God’s prophet, to let God’s people go free from Egypt. In each case, Moses warned Pharaoh that the plague was coming. In each case, except immediately after the tenth plague, Pharaoh refused to free this nation of slaves.

God describes the purpose of this whole scenario of the ten plagues as being twofold. The first purpose was to teach succeeding generations the greatness of the God of the Bible. We read in Exodus 10:1-2:

And the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him: and that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son’s son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the LORD.

The second purpose was to declare to the world the mighty power of God. We read in Exodus 9:13-16:

And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth. For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth. And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.

The plagues were incredibly awesome. Each one demonstrated in an astounding way that God is the Creator and that God can and will accomplish whatsoever He threatens to perform. They also give abundant evidence that God is the Judge of all the earth and that His perfect justice will prevail (Genesis 18:25).

For example, as God brought the first plague upon Egypt, He declared to Pharaoh in Exodus 7:17-21:  

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Thus saith the LORD, In this thou shalt know that I am the LORD: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall loathe to drink of the water of the river. And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone. And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.

For seven days (Exodus 7:25), the great Nile River was turned into a river of blood. How dreadful! God had created water to give life to plants, animals, and mankind. But blood signified death and destruction. To change water into blood is an act of creation. Thus, in this first plague, God is demonstrating that He is both the Creator as well as the Judge of all the earth.

The second plague consisted of enormous quantities of frogs coming out of the river (Exodus 8:1-15). God is showing that, from a river devoid of life, He creates life.

The third plague was that enormous quantities of lice were in all the land. The Bible reports in Exodus 8:17:

And they did so; for Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and it became lice in man, and in beast; all the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt.

Thus, God demonstrated His enormous creative power over the insect world.

The fourth plague consisted of great swarms of flying insects that came “into the house of Pharaoh, and into his servants’ houses, and into all the land of Egypt: the land was corrupted by reason of the swarm” (Exodus 8:24).  

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God added a further aspect of His power as He declared in Exodus 8:22- 23:

And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth. And I will put a division between my people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be.

God not only can create insects, but He can control their behavior so that a land can be off-limits to them. Thus was the case with the area in which the Israelites lived. It was off-limits to these flying insects. Significantly, as God demonstrated His great power by means of these plagues, He made certain that there can be no mistake that all of them were totally under His control and could not be a result of an abnormal quirk in nature. Many of the plagues, while Egypt was devastated by them, did not touch Goshen, the land of the Hebrews.

Additionally, God frequently gave the precise day when the plague would hit Egypt and when the plague would be removed. For example, we read in Exodus 8:9 that Moses asked Pharaoh, at the time the plague of frogs was corrupting Egypt:

. . . When shall I entreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, to destroy the frogs from thee and thy houses, that they may remain in the river only?

Pharaoh’s answer was “To morrow” (verse 10). Accordingly, Moses entreated the Lord that this might be the case. Then Exodus 8:13-14 records:

And the LORD did according to the word of Moses; and the frogs died out of the houses, out of the villages, and out of the fields. And they gathered them together upon heaps: and the land stank.

In the fifth plague, God brought a serious pestilence on the cattle and other animals of the Egyptians. We read in Exodus 9:3, 6a:

Behold, the hand of the LORD is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain. And the LORD did that thing on the morrow, and all the cattle of Egypt died . . . .
 

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Again, we read that nothing died of the people of Israel. Exodus 9:4, 6b says:

And the LORD shall sever between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt: and there shall nothing die of all that is the children’s of Israel. Of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one.

God is showing His mighty power over disease, even as
He has total authority over all life.

Again, God is showing His mighty power over disease, even as He has total authority over all life (Deuteronomy 32:39).

The sixth plague demonstrated God’s power over diseases, which afflict mankind as well as animals.

We read in Exodus 9:8-9:

And the LORD said unto Moses and unto Aaron, Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward the heaven in the sight of Pharaoh. And it shall become small dust in all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt.

In the seventh plague, God showed His mighty power over the elements of nature that produce storms.

We read in Exodus 9:18:

Behold, to morrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof even until now.

Once again, God demonstrated His complete control of this mighty storm as we read in Exodus 9:23-25:

And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt. So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such
 

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as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field.

The eighth plague was that of locusts that devoured every green plant that had not been destroyed by the hail (Exodus 10:1-20). The ninth plague was a time of thick darkness. We read in Exodus 10:22- 23:

And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days: they saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.

That thick darkness, like the other plagues, was a warning of future judgment upon the whole world. Christ is the Light of the world (John 8:12). Darkness is the absence of light. This is the awful condition that will prevail over all the earth at the end of the world when every person will see Christ as Judge over all the earth (Revelation 6:12-17). Christ’s appearance will signify that the Gospel of grace has come to an end. There is no longer any grace or mercy or possibility of salvation. How dreadful! The 3 days of total darkness signify that this is God’s purpose (see Chapter 8 of this study, “The Numbers in the Bible”). It will happen.

Yet, there is light in the land of Israel. That is, the true believers are eternally secure in Christ who is the Light.

By means of these plagues, God is showing in stark reality
that He will carry out all of the terrible consequences
of sin and that He has the power to do so.

What God is showing us in these ten plagues (and we will examine the tenth plague in just a moment) is the reality of Judgment Day. The people of Israel represent the fact that those who are truly saved will not experience His divine Judgment. Those who are rebelling against God’s Law (every unsaved person), will experience the awful wrath of God. By means of these plagues, God is showing in stark reality that He will carry out all of the terrible consequences of sin and that He has the power to do so (Psalm 78:43-53). Each of us should tremble as we read the Biblical account of these plagues.  

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As He protected Israel through the time of the plagues, God is demonstrating that those who have become genuine believers are always under God’s care. Moreover, as the people of Israel were delivered from the bondage of Pharaoh and Egypt, so God delivers all those who become saved from sin’s bondage.

The Death of the Firstborn

Egypt is frequently used in the Bible as a portrait or type identifying with those who are in bondage to sin. It is frequently used as a representation of the world that is ruled over by Satan. The world is chiefly occupied by those who are in bondage to sin. Those who are unsaved, that is, those who are in bondage to sin, have no ability to be freed from this enslavement. The same situation existed with Israel in Egypt. They were in bondage to a cruel king with no possibility of deliverance. The king of Egypt (Pharaoh) typified Satan who rules over the souls of the unsaved.1 It is from Satan’s kingdom that those who have become saved are set free. God speaks of this in Exodus 20:2:

I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Every true believer spiritually has been rescued from Egypt where they spiritually were in bondage to sin and to Satan. To be set free from sin requires that a ransom be paid. That ransom is the death of the Firstborn, Jesus Christ. Christ is called the firstborn in Colossians 1:18 because He rose from the dead after paying for the sins of those He chose to save before the foundation of the world. Colossians 1:18 declares:

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.


1 Incidentally, in the year 1877 B.C., when Joseph, as second ruler in Egypt, commanded Jacob and his family to leave the land of Canaan and come to live in Egypt, the Pharaoh who ruled at the time of the famine was not a figure of Satan. He, in that instance, was a picture of God who rules the whole world. True, in the Bible, it is unusual to find the concept that Pharaoh would represent God. However, in this account of Joseph, and in at least one or two other passages, heathen kings were representative of God. This was true, for example, of King Ahasuerus in the Book of Esther in the Bible (see Chapter 7 of this present writing). The family of Jacob did not come into the land of Egypt as slaves but as shepherds to shepherd the cattle of the Egyptians. They were like the believers of today who are commanded to come out of the local churches to serve Christ (who was typified by Joseph) by being shepherds to the world (typified by the Egyptians). The chief trauma for Jacob was that he was commanded to leave the promised land, the land of Canaan.  

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Christ, as the firstborn, who endured the wrath of God in the
place of those who become true believers, who are also called
firstborn (Exodus 13:13; Romans 8:29), was typified
by all the firstborn of Egypt who were killed by God.

Christ, as the firstborn, who endured the wrath of God in the place of those who become true believers, who are also called firstborn (Exodus 13:13; Romans 8:29), was typified by all the firstborn of Egypt who were killed by God in the night just before the nation of Israel was freed from Egyptian bondage (Exodus 12:29-31). This is referred to by the citation of Isaiah 43:3:

For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.

Ethiopia at times identifies with Egypt (see, for example, Isaiah 20:3-5). Seba was the eldest son of Cush (Genesis 10:7). Cush is the Hebrew word translated as Ethiopia. Isaiah 43:3 is referring to the fact that all the firstborn of Egypt were killed in order to typify that all true believers in Christ are set free from spiritual bondage.

This brings us to the tenth and final plague that came upon Egypt as God was preparing the nation of Israel to come out of Egypt. We read in Exodus 4:22- 23:

And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: and I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.

The blood signified that Christ as the firstborn died for all
those who are in the household of God.

Significantly, the night God was to come into the homes of Egypt to kill all the firstborn, God had commanded the Israelites to kill a lamb and put the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of their homes. Then when God was killing all the  

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firstborn of the land, He would see the blood and pass over the homes where the blood was placed on the doorposts. The blood signified that Christ as the firstborn died for all those who are in the household of God (Ephesians 2:13,17-19).

Thus, that night was the beginning of the “Passover” which was to be observed annually by Israel. It was pointing to Christ as the Passover Lamb who was killed (suffered the equivalent of eternal damnation) in order that all the true children of God would escape judgment and instead have atonement for their sins. The shed blood of Christ indicated His perfect substitutionary sacrifice on behalf of all those who become saved. The firstborn of the Israelites escaped the judgment of the tenth plague, and the wrath of God came upon all the firstborn of Egypt, which typified the judgment of God that will fall on all those who have no atonement for their sins. We read in Exodus 12:12-14:

For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.

Interestingly, God prescribed the precise day and year this first Passover occurred at which time the nation of Israel actually departed from Egypt. God declared in Exodus 12:2-3, 6-11:

This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:and ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. And ye shall let nothing of it
 

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remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’S passover.

The day was the fourtenth day of the first month, which was called Abib or Nisan. When Israel entered the land of Canaan forty years later, they were instructed to observe this Passover annually (Exodus 12:25; 13:5). It was a ceremonial law that was pointing to the great day in A.D. 33 when Christ as the Passover Lamb was punished for the sins of all those He came to save.

Let us now take another look at the Biblical Calendar. We can calculate, because of the exquisite accuracy of the great celestial clock which God put into place on the fourth day of creation, both the day of the week and the calendar day when the nation of Israel left Egypt. Moreover, the Bible teaches us that Israel left Egypt precisely 430 years to the very day after Jacob and his family had arrived in Egypt in the year 1877 B.C. (Exodus 12:40-41). Thus, we can know that it was the year 1447 B.C. when the nation of Israel departed from Egypt. Furthermore, we can know the calendar date and day of the month Jacob came into Egypt and the calendar date and day of the month of the Exodus. Our calculations show that the day Israel departed from Egypt was March 21, 1447 B.C. (according to our modern calendar). We may not know all the reasons why God has given us this precise historical information, but we do know it is altogether trustworthy information.

Curiously, the vernal equinox occurs in any year on or about March 21. On that date all over the world, the length of the nighttime is precisely equal to the length of the daytime. Each period is twelve hours in length. How interesting that this was the date Israel was set free from Egypt.

Though dates are interesting and may be of important significance, we do not want to lose our focus on the year 1447 B.C. It was a great milestone in the unfolding of the timeline of history. In this year, God thrust a nation, the nation of Israel, into great prominence as He was unfolding His salvation plan. The Exodus from Egypt typifies God’s salvation plan.

Israel Crosses the Red Sea

The rescue of the nation of Israel was not complete until a few weeks after they departed from Egypt. Israel had to traverse the Red Sea. Israel crossed the Red Sea safely by God’s miraculous power as God provided a dry path through the Red Sea, heaping up the water so that it stood on both sides (Exodus 14:21-22, 29; Psalm 78:13). However, when Pharaoh and his 600 chariots and his  

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armies attempted to follow Israel on the same dry path, Pharaoh and every one of his soldiers were drowned in the Red Sea (Exodus 14:23-28, 30). Miraculous!

Look at these amazing parallels!

Historical Subject Spiritual Representation
Moses Christ
Pharaoh and his armies Satan and his angels
Nation of Israel All those who become saved
Firstborn of Egypt who were killed Christ as the Firstborn who was was killed and became subject to the second death because the sin and guilt of those who would become saved was imputed to Him
Firstborn of Egypt who were killed All those who are under God.s wrath spending eternity in Hell because they are in rebellion against Him
Passover lamb whose blood was placed on the doorpost Christ who shed His blood (gave His life) as a substitute for all those who become true believers
Egypt Satan.s kingdom to which all people belong unless they have become saved
Red Sea Hell - eternal damnation
The people of Israel passing through the Red Sea without harm The true believers (because they are in Christ) going through Hell with no spiritual harm.
The destruction of Pharaoh and his armies in the Red Sea Satan and all those over whom he rules ending up in Hell forever

 

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Observing these parallels, we learn that God is giving us a significant illustration of His salvation plan. These dramatic events have been recorded in the Bible to help all of those who read the Bible know much more about the mighty power of God. He demonstrates His power as He brings deliverance to those whom He chooses and as He brings His wrath upon those who arrogantly flaunt and disobey His Laws.

We thus have learned that the year 1447 B.C. was an extremely important milestone in the unfolding of God’s salvation plan. But now, as we proceed down the timeline of history, we will begin to look at several very important feast days that were to be observed by Old Testament Israel. We will discover how tremendously important these Old Testament feast days were as they anticipated and identified with the development of God’s salvation plan throughout the New Testament era.

Laws Anticipating God’s Salvation

When we were in that part of the timeline of history that featured Joseph, when God brought Jacob and his family into Egypt, we learned that God used Joseph to set forth patterns that identify with two all-important milestones of history. The first of these two great milestones was the first coming of Christ as the Savior. The second all-important event is that of Christ coming at the end of the world, coming both as the Savior of all His true people and as the Judge of all the earth. We saw these tremendous events anticipated as Israel went out of Egypt and as they went through the Red Sea.

Immediately after Israel went through the Red Sea, they came to Mount Sinai in the land of Arabia. While they were there, God gave them a great many laws that became an integral part of the Bible. Many of these laws were moral in nature in that they were instructions to the human race as to how mankind is to honor God and relate to their fellowman. For example, the Bible commands that the God of the Bible is the only God man should worship.

Furthermore, no likeness of God should be made. In addition, laws that forbid stealing, murder, and adultery were set forth. These kinds of laws were not given only to Israel when they were at Mount Sinai, but they are given throughout the Bible.

We are to recognize that Christ did all of the enormous
work that is required for the salvation of an individual.
 

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Additionally, laws were given that were ceremonial in nature, that is, they were pointing to or representing some spiritual principle. For example, each and every seventh day was a Sabbath day during which no work of any kind was to be done. This ceremonial law was pointing to the divine principle that we cannot do any kind of work or put forth any kind of effort to merit the favor of God. We are to recognize that Christ did all of the enormous work that is required for the salvation of an individual. Likewise, there were ceremonial laws that involved sacrifices and burnt offerings. Each of these was pointing to the Lord Jesus Christ who is eternal God. But God’s Law decreed that He must personally take on a human nature and sacrifice Himself as payment for the sins of those He came to save.

Included in the ceremonial laws were a number of laws setting forth feast days that were to be observed by national Israel. They were especially significant because they definitely related to the unfolding of God’s salvation plan. As we previously indicated, we should examine these feast days because they help us to see elements of the timeline of history that have been worked out in exquisite detail from the beginning of time.

The feast days we will examine are the Passover, the Feast of Weeks (which is Pentecost), and the Feast of the First Day of the Seventh Month which, together with the Day of Atonement, is associated with the Jubilee.

The Passover Feast

If we could rank the feast days in order of importance, we would certainly place the observance of the Passover at the top of the list. We have learned that the Passover Feast was instituted at the time Israel left Egypt. We might remember that because the people of Israel obeyed the Lord’s command and placed the blood of a lamb on their doorposts, the Lord passed over them (Exodus 11:4-7; 12:28-29; Hebrews 11:28). When the Lord passed over Egypt, all of the firstborn of Egypt were killed because no blood was placed on the doorposts of their homes.

These firstborn of Egypt represented all people who are under the wrath of God because of their sin. The blood of the lamb that was placed on the Israelites’ doorposts represented Jesus as the Savior. He, as the Lamb of God, gave His life (shed His blood, which was represented by the blood on the doorposts). He took the wrath of God upon Himself in order that the people He came to save might be spared the sentence of eternal spiritual death.

All those whom God saves are also sinful. They, too, deserve God’s wrath (Ephesians 2:3). The wrath of God would justly fall upon them if Christ had not taken their sin upon Himself and endured the wrath of God for that sin in their  

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place (I Corinthians 5:7b; II Corinthians 5:21; II Peter 2:24; 3:18). He, therefore, became like the firstborn of Egypt who were killed. He became the firstborn in the sense that, on behalf of those He came to save, He experienced the second death which is eternal damnation (Revelation 21:8).

He had a beginning only because He arose from
the second death.

But Jesus did not remain eternally under the wrath of God. He did not stay dead. He rose again.

A further word of explanation is necessary. As the Savior, Jesus became someone of whom God can say He had a beginning by being born. Birth is essentially the beginning for each of us. But Jesus, of course, is eternal God from everlasting past who had no beginning. He is the ever-present One, the great “I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3:14). But after enduring the equivalent of eternity in Hell on behalf of His people, He rose again. He revived (Romans 14:9) because He had satisfied the demands of God’s Law that relate to the punishment for and absolution of His people’s sins. It was as if He had in that sense a beginning! God speaks of Jesus as His only begotten Son (John 3:16). The word “begotten” implies that Jesus had a beginning. He had a beginning only because He arose from the second death.

Remember, to be eternally in Hell is called “the second death” (Revelation 20:14). This is why the Bible says in Colossians 1:18:

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Returning to the Passover, we read in Leviticus Chapter 23 of this special feast called the Passover that anticipated the wonderful fact that Jesus would be the firstborn from the dead. He, as the Lamb of God, would shed His blood, that is, give His life so that those He came to save would not suffer the eternal wrath of God.

Leviticus 23:5-6 says:

In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’S passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.
 

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Speaking of the institution of the Passover, in the year 1447 B.C., God declared in Exodus 12:14:

And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.

This Passover Feast anticipated and completely identified with
the keystone, the centerpiece, the very essence of the
unfolding of God’s salvation plan.

This Passover Feast anticipated and completely identified with the keystone, the centerpiece, the very essence of the unfolding of God’s salvation plan. God Himself in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ would provide a means by which God could have a great many human beings with Him throughout eternity future. But the human race was doomed because God’s Law decreed that the penalty for sin was eternal damnation, and the fallen human race was destined to experience that penalty.

With no exceptions, each and every human being throughout the history of the world are sinners. Only because Christ became the substitute, the standin, for those He chose to save, that is, He paid their penalty, could they live with Him throughout eternity future (John 15:16; Romans 5:19; II Corinthians 5:21; II Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 2:9-11; James 2:5).

Later, as we proceed down the timeline of history, we will learn that more than 1,400 years after Israel left Egypt, Christ fulfilled what this Passover Feast anticipated. In A.D. 33, Christ literally endured the wrath of God on behalf of those He came to save. On the very day the priests were in the temple killing the Passover lambs, Jesus, the ultimate Passover Lamb, was enduring the wrath of God as He hung on the cross.

The Passover Day was to be observed on the fourteenth day of the first month of the Jewish calendar (Leviticus 23:5). The fourteenth day of that first month also became the first day of a seven-day period the Bible calls the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

We read in Deuteronomy 16:2-3:

Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the passover unto the LORD thy God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which the LORD shall choose to place his name there. Thou shalt eat no leavened bread
 

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with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life.

The unleavened bread points to Christ, the Bread of Life. Those who become saved eat of the Living Bread and have their spiritual life sustained by the Pure Bread which is Christ (John 6:51). He declared “I am that bread of life” (John 6:48). We read in I Corinthians 5:7-8:

Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

The unleavened bread typifies that the power of sin,
under which all are in bondage, is broken for the
person who becomes saved.

The leaven (or yeast) which causes bread to ferment and thus to rise, in this setting, is a picture of sin. The unleavened bread typifies that the power of sin, under which all are in bondage, is broken for the person who becomes saved. That is, an individual who has become saved has spiritually experienced Christ as his Passover.

The Feast of Weeks

A second feast was instituted shortly after 1447 B.C. when Israel came out of Egypt. Among the many commands God gave to Moses, when Moses met with God on Mount Sinai, one order from God is recorded in Numbers 28:26:

Also in the day of the firstfruits, when ye bring a new meat offering unto the LORD, after your weeks be out, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work.
 

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This Feast of Firstfruits is called a “feast of weeks” in Deuteronomy 16:16 and a “feast of harvest” in Exodus 23:16. In the New Testament, this feast is called “Pentecost” (Acts 2:1). This feast was unusual because it followed the Passover Feast by a period of seven weeks plus one day (fifty days). The following is an outline of the Biblical teaching on this.

The command to observe this next feast day (which, as we have seen, was called the Feast of Firstfruits or the Feast of Weeks or the Feast of Harvest), ties this feast to the Feast of Unleavened Bread which began with the Passover. The rule was given that seven weeks after the first Sabbath after the Passover Day, the observance of this second feast was to occur (Leviticus 23:11-16; Joshua 5:10-11).

In A.D. 33, when Christ was crucified on Friday, Nisan 14 (Passover Day), the next day was Saturday the Sabbath. Saturday was the seventh day of the week and was, therefore, the Old Testament Sabbath day. Each week the seventh day was the Sabbath.

The Feast of Weeks was to be observed fifty days (seven weeks plus one day) after this Sabbath day following Passover. That is why the New Testament calls this feast day “Pentecost.” The prefix “pente” signifies fifty. This fifty-day separation between a Sabbath day within the seven-day feast of unleavened bread and Pentecost tied the Passover very closely to Pentecost.

The Feast of Firstfruits or Weeks, or Pentecost, or Harvest, became a feast of great importance in the unfolding of God’s salvation plan. It was on the very Day of Pentecost in A.D. 33 - on that exact same day - that God greatly implemented His grand plan of sending the Gospel into the world.

Remarkably, as we have already learned, on the very day the Passover lambs were killed in the temple, Jesus, as the Passover Lamb, was crucified. So, too, on the exact same day that the Jewish Feast of Firstfruits (Pentecost) was observed, the spiritual reality to which this feast pointed took place. Just as at the time national Israel celebrated the bringing in of the springtime harvest, which resulted from the seed that was planted after the observance of the Passover in that year, so the Feast of Firstfruits pointed to the harvest of saved people that would result from the sending forth of the Gospel into the world after the great event of Christ being crucified and then rising again.

The Feast of the Passover, first observed in 1447 B.C., anticipated and identified with the crucifixion of Christ in A.D. 33. In addition, we will see that the Feast of Harvest (or Firstfruits) anticipated and identified with the entire Church Age during which time the world was harvested of those who became true believers. God used the local churches to send the Gospel into all the world so that the firstfruits of God’s entire harvest could be brought into His eternal kingdom.  

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Very Occasionally a Translation Must be Corrected

The next feast day that we must examine is the Feast of the Seventh Month New Moon. However, before we will be able to understand the significance of this feast more fully, we must make a few corrections in the English translation of the Bible. Of course, we would never attempt to make a correction of the original Hebrew of the Old Testament or the original Greek of the New Testament because those are the languages in which God wrote the Bible.

We absolutely would never desire to change
what God Himself wrote.

We absolutely would never desire to change what God Himself wrote. But translators are not inspired by God, and therefore, their work is subject to correction if it can be shown that the original-language word of the Bible was not translated as carefully as it should have been.

For example, there are three distinctly different Hebrew words that are translated as our English word “trumpet.” Yet, when we study the Biblical contexts in which these words are found, we learn that they each convey different spiritual meanings that are severely obscured when they are not carefully translated so that they remain three distinctly different words. We, therefore, must examine a few of these problem words before we can adequately continue our study of the Old Testament feast days.

The Word “Trumpet”

There are three Hebrew words that are translated in our English language as the word “trumpet.” They are “taqoa,” “chatsotserah,” and “shophar.” The Hebrew word “taqoa” is used only once in the Bible (Ezekiel 7:14), and it comes from a root word “taga” which is ordinarily translated “to blow.” Therefore, we cannot know what was blown or sounded in this verse where the Hebrew word “taqoa” is used.

The next Hebrew word is the word “chatsotserah.” It refers to two silver trumpets that were musical instruments. This Hebrew word is always correctly translated as “trumpet.” While these trumpets were normally sounded as musical instruments, occasionally, they were used to sound an alarm (Numbers 10:9). More significantly, they were sounded on the first day of each month (new moon) with the exception of the seventh month.  

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Numbers 10:10 declares:

Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God.

We learn from this verse that the sounding of the silver trumpets was to remind Israel of the significance of the burnt offerings and peace offerings. In other words, they were blown on the first day of each month to remind Israel that their salvation was dependent upon the Messiah who would come and offer Himself as a burnt offering.

The third Hebrew word that is frequently translated as the word “trumpet” is the word “shophar.” It is usually translated as our English word “trumpet,” but additionally, in three instances, it is translated as “cornet.” The “shophar” was not a true musical instrument. It was a ram’s horn that was used to give a loud blast of sound. It should never have been translated as “trumpet” or “cornet” because these incorrect translations seriously obscure the spiritual meaning that was conveyed by the blowing of the ram’s horn. We will see this as we continue this study.

While we are making correction of the translation of Hebrew words, two other words should be examined very carefully. They are the Hebrew words “teruah” and “yobel.”

The Hebrew word “teruah” is correctly translated in a number of ways, but upon occasion, it is translated altogether incorrectly. The Hebrew word “teruah” is used thirty-six times in the Bible. It is used at times of great joy or at the anticipation of great victory. For example, at the time the walls of Jericho fell, the priests gave a great shout (teruah), and the walls fell down flat (Joshua 6:20). At the time the ark was brought into Jerusalem, there was shouting (teruah) and the sound of many musical instruments (I Chronicles 15:28). When the foundation of the temple was laid in Ezra’s day, there was the shout (teruah) of joy (Ezra 3:13). Sometimes the anticipation of victory was on the part of the enemies of Israel as in Jeremiah 4:19, where God portrays the sorrow of Jeremiah as he hears “the alarm [teruah] of war.” Jeremiah had been told by God that the enemy would be completely victorious.

Teruah” is a Hebrew word that is also correctly translated as “jubilee.”

We read in Leviticus 25:9:

Then shalt thou cause the trumpet [Hebrew shophar, ram’s horn]
 

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of the jubilee [Hebrew teruah] to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet [Hebrew shophar, ram’s horn] sound throughout all your land.

In two verses of the Bible, the Hebrew word “teruah” is incorrectly translated as “blowing of trumpets.” In these verses, a more accurate translation would have been the word “jubilee” as was done in Leviticus 25:9, which is quoted above. These two verses are Leviticus 23:24 and Numbers 29:1.

In one additional verse, Numbers 31:6, the word “teruah” is translated as “blow” and would have been better translated as “of the alarm.”

Before we harmonize these verses together, we must also examine the Hebrew word “yobel.” The Hebrew word “yobel” should always be translated as “jubilee.” While ordinarily this has been done by the translators, in one very significant place it is incorrectly translated “trumpet.” Moreover, in a later chapter of the Bible, which we will carefully examine later in this study, it is repeatedly translated as “rams’ horns.”

The Feast of the Seventh Month New Moon2

With the above corrections in mind, we can now return to the feast days of the Old Testament. We began to examine the Feast of the Seventh Month New Moon, and there are verses that teach us the significance of this feast day.

Leviticus 23:24:

Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets [Hebrew teruah, jubilee], an holy convocation.

Numbers 29:1:

And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets [Hebrew teruah, jubilee] unto you.


2 Theologians frequently speak of this feast as the Feast of Trumpets. This is altogether an incorrect naming of this feast.  

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Psalm 81:3:

Blow up the trumpet [Hebrew shophar, ram’s horn] in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.

Remember it was the silver trumpets that were to be blown on the new moon days. Therefore, because it was the ram’s horn that was blown on this new moon day mentioned in Psalm 81:3, this particular new moon day has to have occurred on the Seventh Month New Moon which is also called a feast day in this verse.

Moreover, when we look ahead at the Day of Atonement, which was to be observed the tenth day of the seventh month, we will discover that the ram’s horn was blown on that day as well, closely identifying the Day of Atonement with the word “jubilee” which is translated from the Hebrew word “teruah.”

We read in Leviticus 25:9:

Then shalt thou cause [Hebrew shophar, ram’s horn] the trumpet of the jubile [Hebrew teruah] to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet [Hebrew shophar, ram’s horn] sound throughout all your land.

When we harmonize the verses we have been examining, we arrive at the following conclusions.

1. Except for the Seventh Month New Moon, upon each month’s new moon day, the silver trumpets were to be blown as a memorial of the burnt and peace offerings.

2. The Seventh Month New Moon was a feast day on which the ram’s horn was to be blown as a memorial of the jubilee.

3. On the tenth day of the seventh month, the ram’s horn of the jubilee was to be sounded throughout the land. This was the Day of Atonement.

Thus, we discover that the first day (new moon day) of the seventh month, and the tenth day of the seventh month (the Day of Atonement), were closely identified with the Jubilee. Therefore, we should now carefully examine the Bible’s teaching concerning the Jubilee. Why is it so closely linked to both the Feast of the Seventh Month New Moon and to the Day of Atonement? Let us first learn a bit more about the Day of Atonement.  

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The Day of Atonement

Nine days after the Feast of the Seventh Month New Moon, the Day of Atonement was to be observed. On this Day of Atonement, the high priest was to change from his glorious garments into simple linen clothing. After the temple was cleared of any other priests or occupants, and after offering suitable sacrifices, he was to enter into the Holy of Holies to sprinkle blood on the mercy seat which was the covering on the ark of the covenant. He would come into the Holy of Holies with burning incense so that the cloud from the incense would cover the mercy seat (Leviticus 16:2-29). Leviticus 16:30-33 declares:

For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever. And the priest, whom he shall anoint, and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest’s office in his father’s stead, shall make the atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments: and he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation.

A commentary on this holy activity that was carried out once a year on the Day of Atonement is recorded in Hebrews 9:11-12, where we read:

But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

Thus, God teaches us that the Day of Atonement is completely focused on Christ as the Savior who was sacrificed in order to provide an eternal redemption for those He came to save. On this Day of Atonement, God commanded that while the high priest was making atonement for all of Israel, the Israelites were to afflict their souls. Leviticus 16:29-31:

And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls,
 

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and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you: for on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever.

Why does God command Israel to afflict their souls?

Why does God command Israel to afflict their souls? Should this not be a super happy day for true believers who were typified by the nation of Israel? What could be more wonderful than to know that the penalty for sins was paid?

The phrase “afflict your souls” is indeed to be understood as something very joyful. However, to understand its meaning, we must see that the Bible is its own dictionary. The term translated “afflict your souls” is found in another part of the Bible. In Isaiah 58:3, 5 we read:

Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure. . . . Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? . . .

In this very revealing passage, God is connecting the affliction of the soul with “fasting.” Therefore, on the Day of Atonement, when Israel was commanded to afflict their souls, Israel was to fast. But why were they to fast? What did that signify? The answer is given in Isaiah 58:6-7:

Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

All of the phrases in these verses are metaphorically pointing to sending forth the Gospel. The unsaved are those in bondage to wickedness, those under the burden of sin, who are spiritually hungry for the bread of life (who is Christ Himself). They are those who are spiritually naked, etc. God is teaching that the  

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fasting God desires is that of sending forth the Gospel. He undoubtedly links fasting to sending forth the Gospel because the true believers are to deny themselves and follow Him (Jesus Christ) who came to bring the Gospel to the world (Luke 9:23).

Therefore, in a very hidden way, God tied the Day of Atonement to the true believers’ glorious task of publishing the Gospel to the whole world. The command to Israel to afflict their souls on the Day of Atonement was pointing to the action of every true believer who is commanded to send the Gospel into all the world—the Gospel that declares that Christ has made atonement for the sins of all His true people.

Through Jesus Christ, people are set free from the tyranny
of Satan and from their awful bondage to sin.

We now can understand why God linked the Day of Atonement to the Jubilee. Remember we read in Leviticus 25:9 that the “shophar” (ram’s horn) of the jubilee was to be sounded in the Day of Atonement. Remember that same verse also stipulated that the “shophar” (ram’s horn) was to be sounded “throughout all your land.

The following verse, Leviticus 25:10, teaches that this proclamation, that was to be sounded throughout the land, was to be a proclamation of liberty. Liberty, of course, is the very heart of the Gospel. Through Jesus Christ, people are set free from the tyranny of Satan and from their awful bondage to sin. They escape the terrible wrath of God which all of us rightly deserve because of our sins. This proclamation of liberty is precisely what God’s people proclaim as they send the Gospel into the world.

Remember, we have just learned from the Bible that “to afflict our souls” means to fast. To fast means to deny ourselves as we send the Gospel into the world. To send the Gospel into the world means to proclaim spiritual liberty throughout the land. The proclamation of spiritual liberty, which is the Gospel of salvation throughout the world, is completely identified with the Jubilee, proclaiming liberty throughout the land.

A significant emphasis on the word “jubilee” is recorded in Exodus Chapter 19. The setting is Mount Sinai on which Christ met with Moses to give him the Law. The Law of God identifies with God as the Judge of all the earth. Because of our transgressions of God’s Law, that is, because of our sins, we cannot come to God. Only if the guilt of our sins has been removed can we freely come to Him. So, God commanded Israel in Exodus 19:12-13:  

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And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death: there shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet [Hebrew yobel, jubilee] soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount.

The message is very clear. Death, pointing to the second death (eternal damnation), awaits every human being because our sins have brought us completely under the wrath of God, despite the fact that God created us to live with Him.

. . . the Jubilee is a reference to publishing throughout the world
the wonderful news that the time of liberty has come.

But!!! look at the last part of verse 13. There we read, “when the [jubilee] soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount.” Wonderfully, we see in this verse the very essence of the Gospel. Remember we are learning that the Jubilee is a reference to publishing throughout the world the wonderful news that the time of liberty has come. It is the most important of all liberties because it means to be set free from the tyranny of Satan and from the bondage of sin. It means to become free to eternally serve God as Savior and Lord. It means to have been set free from the penalty for sin that is demanded by the perfect Law of God. It was a beautiful portrait showing that in the time of Jubilee, through Christ, a saved individual can come into the presence of God without fear of punishment.

When the Jubilee sounded, Israel could come to Mount Sinai from where God spoke to them. In like manner, forgiven human beings can come to Mount Zion and not be destroyed. The penalty for their sins has been paid! (Hebrews 12:18-24). Genuine Christians have become free to go to God as their loving heavenly Father. Jubilee is a word that signifies all the blessings that flow from the Gospel of salvation.

Therefore, we can readily understand that Christ Himself is the very essence of the Jubilee. Even as Christ is the very essence of the Day of Atonement when the Jubilee was to be sounded, so we see Christ as the Jubilee who is to be proclaimed to the whole world.  

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We are beginning to understand the significance of the concept of the Jubilee. As we continue our study, we will learn how intimately the Jubilee concept is related to the timeline of history as God unfolds His salvation program. But the Bible has more to say about the Jubilee, and we must be certain that our present conclusions concerning it are in harmony with all that the Bible says about the Jubilee.

As we search the Bible, we discover that every fiftieth year beginning with the year 1407 B.C. is a Jubilee year. Therefore, we should now learn what the Bible says about each fiftieth year being a Jubilee Year.

The Jubilee Year

When Israel came into the land of Canaan, they were to observe that first year as a Sabbath Year. God’s Law for Israel given to Moses on Mount Sinai stated in Leviticus 25:2:

Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the LORD.

Following this first seven years, they were to continue observing a Sabbath Year every six years until seven periods of seven years had elapsed. We read in Leviticus 25:8:

And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years.

After these forty-nine years had ended, the next year, which was the fiftieth year, was to be a Jubilee Year. The Bible declares in Leviticus 25:10:

And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.

Thus, the Jubilee was a year in length. Moreover, as this verse indicates, it was a day when liberty was to be proclaimed throughout all the land.

Since the Jubilee Year was a year that came fifty years after Israel came into Canaan in the year 1407 B.C., the year 1357 B.C. was a Jubilee Year.  

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Moreover, every fifty years thereafter would have been a Jubilee Year. Thus, the years 1307 B.C., 1257 B.C., 1207 B.C., 1157 B.C., etc., through to 7 B.C., would have been Jubilee Years. In the New Testament era, A.D. 1994 would also identify as a Jubilee Year, since A.D. 1994 was exactly 2,000 (40 x 50) years after 7 B.C. If the world would exist for another fifty years, the year A.D. 2044 would be the next Jubilee Year. (For more on the Jubilee Year, please study Leviticus Chapters 25 - 27.)

In the New Testament era, A.D. 1994 would also identify as
a Jubilee Year, since A.D. 1994 was exactly 2,000
(40 x 50) years after 7 B.C.

We thus far have learned a number of facts concerning the Feast of the Seventh Month New Moon, the Day of Atonement, and the Jubilee Year. We can summarize them as follows.

  1. The first day of the seventh month was a feast day with a focus on being reminded of a “jubilee.” Thus, it was a day in which special focus should be on the Jubilee Year.

  2. The Day of Atonement identified altogether with the Lord Jesus Christ who, as the Savior, entered the Heavenly Holy of Holies with His own blood, thus providing eternal forgiveness for all whom Christ came to save (Hebrews 9:24). On that day, the people of Israel were to afflict themselves, which pointed to the sending forth of the Gospel of salvation (spiritual liberty) into all the world.

  3. Beginning with the year 1407 B.C., every fiftieth year was designated a Jubilee Year. Thus, both the years 7 B.C. and 1994 A.D. are Jubilee Years.

  4. Christ Himself was the very essence of the Jubilee. We will learn He was born in a Jubilee Year (7 B.C.), in all likelihood on October 1, which was the Day of Atonement, the day the jubilee was to be sounded.

It is very curious that God gave strict commands concerning the timing and character of the Jubilee Year. Yet we do not read anywhere in the Bible that  

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Israel ever actually observed the Jubilee Year. However, when we see that the Jubilee Year had everything to do with sending the Gospel into the world, then we see that indeed it was an event that became an exceedingly important, integral part of the history of the world. The key to our understanding of the Jubilee Year is in Luke 4:18-19:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

The language that describes the “acceptable year” is very parallel to the language that describes the “Jubilee Year.” We read in Leviticus 25:10:

And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.

Both of these citations are focused on the concept of preaching deliverance or liberty. While the Luke 4 account does not mention the sending forth of the Gospel into all the world, we do know that this worldwide hearing of the Gospel is intimately identified with the language God sets forth in Luke 4:18- 19. Thus, the teaching given concerning the “acceptable year” in fact is parallel to that given in connection with the “Jubilee Year” during which “liberty throughout all the land” was to be proclaimed.

We also know that the “acceptable year” was not a year that lasted 365 days. Actually, it encompassed the entire period that the Gospel was to go forth. Thus, we can also know, therefore, that the Jubilee Year, which would begin on one of the years in the fifty-year sequence established in Leviticus Chapter 25, would actually continue throughout the entire time that the Gospel was to be sent into the world.

Jesus is the very essence of the Jubilee, and as we shall learn,
He was born in the Jubilee Year 7 B.C.

Therefore, since Jesus is the very essence of the Jubilee, and as we shall learn, He was born in the Jubilee Year 7 B.C., we can know that His birth was  

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the Biblical fulfillment of the principle of the Jubilee Year and could be considered the beginning of a Jubilee period. Later in our study, we will be able to show from the Biblical data that there is a good possibility that Jesus was born on the Day of Atonement, which we have learned is intimately focused on the Jubilee Year. In addition, we will learn that He was announced as the “Lamb of God” in A.D. 29, on the first day of the seventh month, which we have learned is also the day in the year that is intimately associated with the Jubilee Year.

Furthermore, we will learn that this first Jubilee period came to an end at the end of the Church Age. Following this, there was a brief period when no one was being saved. However, following this sad time, in the Jubilee Year A.D. 1994, a second Jubilee or Acceptable Year began. It will continue to the day that Christ returns on the clouds when every eye will see Him (Revelation 1:7). That will occur at the very end of the world.

We thus are learning, as we continue our study, the beautiful and cohesive fashion in which all of the language of the Bible fits into the unfolding of God’s salvation program which alone governs the timeline of history.

Now we will continue going down the highway of time. The next significant milestone is the important year 1407 B.C.

1407 B.C. Israel Enters the Land of Canaan

Slowly, we are proceeding down the path of history. As we are proceeding, we are witnessing how God is showing us that the timeline of history is the unfolding of His salvation plan.

We now have come to another milestone. It is the entrance of the nation of Israel into the land of Canaan. It was the same land that was abandoned by Jacob and his family 470 years earlier. But first, we should learn that the Bible tells us that though Israel left Egypt in 1447 B.C., it was not until 1407 B.C. that the children of Israel reached their destination. God caused Israel to wander in the wilderness for these forty years. Earlier, when spying out the land, Israel had feared the heathen inhabitants of the land and had refused to go into the land as God had commanded them (Numbers Chapters 13 and 14; Hebrews 3:16-19). As a severe judgment upon the people, God delayed Israel’s entrance into Canaan until all those who at that time were twenty years old and older had died in the wilderness.

After Israel (Jacob’s descendants) departed from Egypt in the year 1447 B.C., and as they began their wilderness journey, they first spent about a year at Mount Sinai which was located in the wilderness of Arabia. While they were there, several important events took place. The first event was the giving of a written Law Book to Israel. While they were encamped by Mount Sinai, Moses  

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went high into the mountain to talk with God. God wrote on two tables of stone ten commandments that summarized how mankind was to relate to God and to their fellowman.

. . . even though for over 1,500 years God would continue to add to
the Bible, beginning in the year after Israel left Egypt, there was
available to mankind a written record of many of God’s laws.

In addition, God gave Moses a great number of other commandments that were to be observed by Israel and which are presently part of the Bible. Fact is, before Moses died, forty years after leaving Egypt, God had given Moses all of the information contained in the first five books of our present Bible. God gave laws concerning the qualifications of those who were to serve as priests and laws concerning burnt offerings and blood sacrifices, which were to assist Israel in understanding something about the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was coming to save sinners. Thus, even though for over 1,500 years God would continue to add to the Bible, beginning in the year after Israel left Egypt, there was available to mankind a written record of many of God’s laws.

Moreover, while camping at Mount Sinai, God caused a beautiful tabernacle to be built (Exodus Chapters 35-40). This was an external representation of the kingdom of God even as the nation of Israel had become an external representation of the kingdom of God. In its design, many aspects of God’s marvelous salvation program were anticipated. Fact is, it remained the chief worship center for more than 300 years after Israel came into the land of Canaan.

Within the tabernacle was the Holy of Holies, and within the Holy of Holies was the ark of the covenant with its golden cover called the mercy seat. Within the ark of the covenant were two tables of stone on which the Ten Commandments were written (Exodus 31:18; 34:27-28; Hebrews 9:4). Above the mercy seat were two cherubim with outstretched wings looking down on the mercy seat (Exodus 25:20; 37:9). The cherubim spiritually represented God as the Judge who looks upon the Law of God, represented by the Ten Commandments.

But between the judge (cherubim) and the Law (Ten Commandments) was the mercy seat (the covering of the ark) which represented Christ as the Savior. For all those whom Christ came to save, He took upon Himself the judgment of God. This wonderful fact was typified by the mercy seat, which shielded those who were saved from the application of the Law of God. Thus, the full gaze of God the Judge was on Christ, the Mercy Seat.  

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In God’s divine development of His salvation plan
during the Old Testament time, the character of
that salvation plan was veiled.

In God’s divine development of His salvation plan during the Old Testament time, the character of that salvation plan was veiled. It was faintly revealed by the multitude of ceremonial laws that were to be observed. It was also veiled in that the portrait of God’s salvation plan, demonstrated by the cherubim and the ark of the covenant with its mercy seat, was located within the Holy of Holies. No one could look within the Holy of Holies except the high priest. And even he entered the Holy of Holies only once a year on the Day of Atonement to sprinkle blood on the mercy seat. However, he entered the Holy of Holies with burning incense so that, even to his eyes, the cherubim and the ark were obscured by the cloud of incense (see the Book of Hebrews in the Bible).

However, when Christ was on the cross, the great curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple was torn open from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51). In this way, God demonstrated that His salvation plan was no longer hidden but was to be published to all the world (see Hebrews Chapter 9). Indeed, the Jubilee had come!

Another outstanding event continued to be observed during the forty years Israel was in the wilderness. It was the fact that God continually showed His presence with the nation of Israel in a most dramatic fashion. On each and every day, a cloud covered the tabernacle, and each and every night, this cloud appeared as fire. We read in Exodus 40:34-38:

Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: but if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.

In the Bible, clouds and fire signify judgment. Thus, by this cloud and fire, God was constantly reminding Israel that, as humans created in the image of God,  

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they were accountable to God. Therefore, as they experienced sin, they should know they were in deep trouble with God. Therefore, they should be constantly looking to God for His mercy and forgiveness.

God was constantly reminding Israel that, as humans created
in the image of God, they were accountable to God.

This forty years in the wilderness is a portrait of our life in this world. Fact is, God continues this portrait in Revelation Chapter 12 where He portrays a woman in the wilderness. That woman represents the true believers in Christ especially as they live throughout the New Testament era (the 1,260 days of Revelation 12:6). Later, we will show how this 1,260 days represents the whole New Testament era.

As we live in the wilderness of this world, we do not see a cloud or pillar of fire as a representation of the Law of God. But we do have the Bible. The Bible is a constant reminder to mankind that each and every one of us is accountable to God. There will be a Judgment Throne at the end of the world which every individual must face. Only if Jesus has become an individual’s Savior will that person escape that awful trial which results in the unsaved being condemned to eternal damnation.

God also gave striking symbols that pointed to
God as the Savior.

Even though God, by means of the fire and the cloud, primarily identified the reality of God as the Judge to whom someday each individual must answer, God also gave striking symbols that pointed to God as the Savior. For example, for forty years, God kept Israel in a hot, desolate wilderness where the scarcity of food and water were at times very great problems. To solve the food problem, God provided a food named “manna” which, on six mornings of each and every week, covered the ground. The manna was a representation of Christ who is the “bread of life” (John 6:47-51). Just as manna provided food to sustain life physically, so Christ as the Bread of Life provides eternal life to all who become saved.

Secondly, when water was not available, God provided water from a rock. This miraculous water represented the Gospel which comes from Jesus who was represented by the rock.  

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Unfortunately, even though the wandering nation of Israel, during their forty years in the wilderness, externally represented the kingdom of God, the vast majority of the nation was not saved. As we mentioned earlier, the Bible discloses to us that virtually all of those who were twenty years or older when they left Egypt perished in the wilderness because of unbelief. We read this sad news in Hebrews 3:17-19:

But with whom was he grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

And we read in Joshua 5:6:

For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: unto whom the LORD sware that he would not shew them the land, which the LORD sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey.

This is a huge lesson to all of us. We must never presume, just because we believe we are a Christian, or just because we have been baptized, or just because we are a faithful church member, or just because we live decent moral lives, that these actions mean that we are truly saved. The evidence of salvation is an ongoing, intense desire to be obedient to all of God’s commandments. That is, true Christians are happiest when they are doing God’s will.

One very important command God gave to Israel was the law that was concerned with the seventh-day Sabbath. On the seventh day of each week, Israel was not to do any work of any kind. In many Bible citations, God explained the importance of keeping this command. For example, in Exodus 31:13-15, God warned:

Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein,
 

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that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.

This command, like the commands concerning burnt offerings and blood sacrifices, was ceremonial in nature. That is, as Israel ceased from all work on each Sabbath Day, they were reminded that they were not to trust in any work that they did as a means to help them become saved.

The Bible teaches that all of the work required to save any individual was done entirely by Jesus. If, for example, a person believes he can become saved by accepting Jesus, or by praying a certain kind of prayer, or by being baptized in water, or by any other action he might perform, he becomes like someone who has done some work on the seventh-day Sabbath. He, therefore, will be cut off by God, that is, he is still subject to eternal damnation.

Thus, the seventh-day Sabbath command effectively is teaching that the work of salvation is 100% the work of God. Indeed, later in our study, we will discover that the principle hidden in the seventh-day Sabbath, that all the work of salvation was done by Christ, has become greatly highlighted by God in our day as God’s whole salvation program is nearing its end. We will find that the violation of the spiritual application of this ceremonial law is one of the most serious sins of the Church Age.

But now we should return to Israel in the wilderness. After wandering for forty years in the wilderness, God finally prepared Israel to go into the promised land, the land of Canaan. Before they crossed the Jordan River into the land of Canaan, Moses, under the inspiration of God, gave them instructions concerning certain truths the nation of Israel were to keep in mind. They are truths that each of us whom Christ saves are to keep in mind because each word applies to us as well as them. For example, in Deuteronomy 6:14-15 God warned:

Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you; (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.

In Deuteronomy 7:7-8, God declared to them:

The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and
 

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because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

In Deuteronomy 6:6-7, God instructed:

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

These truths are typical of many given to ancient Israel as well as to all of us today.

The Crossing of the Jordan River

And so God brought Israel to the Jordan River to cross over into the land of Canaan. It had been exactly forty years and four days since they left Egypt. Moses had died a few weeks earlier, and their new leader was a man named Joshua. On March 25, 1407 B.C., four days before the celebration of the Passover, God miraculously parted the rain-swollen waters of the Jordan River, and Israel crossed over on dry ground. They finally were in the promised land.

The details of the entrance into Canaan are very significant
in showing God’s salvation plan which He had been unfolding.

The details of the entrance into Canaan are very significant in showing God’s salvation plan which He had been unfolding. The time was the spring of the year (actually, March 25) when the Jordan River, which had to be crossed, was at flood stage. Therefore, it was a formidable barrier that a nation of perhaps two million people must cross.

This gave opportunity to God to demonstrate in a wonderful way the glorious salvation plan which was the object of the whole history of the world. Remember that the land of Canaan, which more than 600 years earlier had been given to Abraham, was a picture or representation of the kingdom of God which true believers enter into when they become saved.  

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The swollen Jordan River was a picture or representation of Hell or the eternal damnation that is the penalty that must be paid by all of mankind as a result of their sins. The nation of Israel was a picture or representation of those who become saved. We must remember that before God can forgive sins and bring anyone into the kingdom of God, the penalty God’s Law demands as payment for our sins must be made. Therefore, to illustrate how this payment was to be made on behalf of those whom God brings into the kingdom of God, God performed a great miracle in connection with this entrance of Israel into the land of Canaan.

First of all, God separated from Israel the priests who carried the ark of the covenant. Remember, this ark was the golden box normally kept hidden in the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle and which represented Jesus as the Savior.

In Joshua 3:3-4 the Bible records:

And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore.

In Joshua 3:15-16 we read:

And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,) that the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.

The truly saved person, as it were, has gone through an
eternity of Hell and come out on the other end with the
penalty for sin completely, totally paid!

The priests with the ark remained on the dry river bed of the Jordan River until all of Israel had crossed over, on dry ground, into the land of Canaan. The  

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spiritual lesson being taught is that Christ, typified by the ark in the river, endured the wrath of God on behalf of those whom God saves. The truly saved person, as it were, has gone through an eternity of Hell and come out on the other end with the penalty for sin completely, totally paid!

Once those sins were paid for, Christ, too, came out of Hell, as typified by the language of Joshua 4:18:

And it came to pass, when the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks, as they did before.

To further point to God’s salvation program, twelve stones from the dry land were placed in the bottom of the river before the ark came out of the river. This typified the fact that those whom Christ came to save, if it had not been for His paying for their sins, they personally should have spent an eternity in Hell paying for their sins.

Additionally, another twelve stones were taken out of the bottom of the river, and they were erected as a monument on the Canaan side of the river. The setting up of these twelve stones typified that all of those who have become saved were saved from enduring the eternal wrath of God.

The miraculous crossing of the Jordan River took place in the year 1407 B.C., exactly 1,400 years before Christ was born, in the year 7 B.C., and exactly 1,440 years inclusive from A.D. 33 when Christ actually did endure Hell as complete payment for the sins of all His true eternal people.

It also occurred precisely 3,400 years before A.D. 1994 when Christ came as the Jubilee to announce to the world that through Christ, sinners can be set at liberty from their sins. Indeed, we can see that the year 1407 B.C. was an important milestone in the development of the Calendar of History.

The following table summarizes the spiritual significance of the numbers 1,400, 1,440, and 3,400.*


* See Chapter 8 of this book for a more detailed study of God's use of numbers in the Bible  

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Number Spiritual Significance
      Since ... 2
    signifies those who are caretakers of the Gospel
7
    signifies perfect completeness
10
    signifies completeness
12
    signifies fullness
17
    signifies Heaven
    Therefore ...

1,400 = 2 x 7 x 10 x 10
    conveys the information that in the perfect completeness of God.s timetable for true believers, Christ was born
1,440 = 12 x 12 x 10
    conveys the information that in the complete fullness of time, Christ came as the Savior
3,400 = 2 x 100 x 17
    conveys the information that genuine believers, in the completion of time, would still become saved, that is, they would become identified with Heaven

Israel Faces the Wicked Cities of Canaan

More than 700 years earlier, in the year 2092 B.C., God had given the land of Canaan to Abraham. As near as we can tell, the land at that time had relatively few inhabitants. But after 700 years, the land of Canaan had many walled cities within it, and the population was greatly increased.

These cities had become extremely wicked, and it was God’s plan to destroy them because of their wickedness. We can remember how, at a much earlier time in history, God destroyed the whole world which had become exceedingly wicked. This was by means of the Flood of Noah’s day. We might also remember that in the days of Abraham, God destroyed Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim because of their wickedness. Just forty years earlier than the year 1407 B.C., God had destroyed the Egyptian armies in the Red Sea  

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because of their wickedness. And we have learned that even all the men of Israel, because of their wickedness, died during the forty years that Israel was in the wilderness, as they journeyed to the land of Canaan.

God’s plan was to use the men of Israel to be the executioners.

Now, the wicked cities of Canaan were about to be destroyed because of their wickedness. But this time, it is different. God’s plan was to use the men of Israel to be the executioners. In Deuteronomy 7:23-24 we read:

But the LORD thy God shall deliver them unto thee, and shall destroy them with a mighty destruction, until they be destroyed. And he shall deliver their kings into thine hand, and thou shalt destroy their name from under heaven: there shall no man be able to stand before thee, until thou have destroyed them.

God also commanded in Deuteronomy 12:2-3:

Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree: and ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.

God further commanded in Deuteronomy 9:4-5:

Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee. Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Please note that in verse 5, God is indicating His faithfulness to the promises He had made more than 700 years earlier to Abraham, Isaac, and  

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Jacob. Those promises included the statement that the whole land of Canaan had been given to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as an eternal possession.

Because Israel was not altogether obedient to the commands of God concerning the destruction of the wicked and concerning the commands not to worship any of the heathen gods, Israel, in turn, experienced many chastisements from God. God sets forth His rule on this matter in Deuteronomy 8:5:

Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.

Therefore, looking ahead for a moment, during the 360 years following Israel’s return to the land of Canaan, Israel experienced many periods of oppression by enemies in the land. Each time, the Lord delivered them, but repeatedly, they disobeyed God so that repeatedly, God brought an enemy upon them to oppress them.

However, in spite of these recurring difficulties, many of the cities were destroyed by Israel, and God divided the entire land of Canaan for the nation of Israel, giving each of the tribes of Israel a portion of the land (Psalm 78:55).

We Can Understand All of the Killing

The Bible record of the conquest of Canaan by Israel appears to us to be altogether alien to the Gospel of love and peace that is the true nature of God’s salvation plan. We read about God commanding that entire cities were to be destroyed. When God commanded, for example, in Deuteronomy 20:16-17, “thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth but thou shalt utterly destroy them,” we are appalled. Would a good, loving God give that command? Surely, we must be misunderstanding what the Bible is teaching.

The Bible record of the conquest of Canaan by Israel appears
to us to be altogether alien to the Gospel of love and peace
that is the true nature of God’s salvation plan.

Fact is, we are not misunderstanding what the Bible is saying. But we must read these statements in the light of the whole message of the Bible. An understanding of the conquest of Canaan and the complete destruction of its cities by the nation of Israel requires that we understand God’s entire program for the  

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world. We must go back to the very beginning of time, when God created this world. At the beginning of time, God created a perfect earth. God gave the earth to mankind. We read in Psalm 115:16:

The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.

Man’s task was to rule over this world. In Genesis 1:26, we read:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Mankind and all of the universe were perfect at the time of creation. God indicates in Genesis 1:31:

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Disaster Strikes

But then disaster struck. Some of the angels, which had been created by God as ministering spirits (Hebrews 1:14), that is, they were created to humbly serve God, rebelled against God. They were under the leadership of an angel called Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12) who somehow fell into the sin of pride. In his pride, he wanted to be like God. In this way, he and all who acknowledged him as their king would become the rulers and owners of this beautiful world that God had created.

Beginning with our first parents, Adam and Eve, the
whole human race came under bondage to Lucifer
(who is also called Satan).

We cannot understand how this could happen, but we know it did happen. Beginning with our first parents, Adam and Eve, the whole human race came under bondage to Lucifer (who is also called Satan). Consequently, mankind, who had been created by God to rule over this earth, became cursed by God because  

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of their rebellion against God. God, therefore, also cursed this beautiful world so that it no longer was a perfect creation. We read in Romans 8:20-22:

For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

All of the foregoing events set the stage for the unfolding of God’s salvation plan. This plan called for several very important events to take place. We can briefly outline them as follows.

  1. Satan, who became prince of this world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), had to be destroyed.
  2. The wicked people, which included every human being, had to be legally judged and sent to Hell as punishment for their sin and rebellion.
  3. Some of the people of the world had been chosen by God to live eternally as God’s servants. They had to have their sins paid for so that God’s perfect justice would be perfectly served without these individuals being required to be personally sent into eternal damnation.
  4. The world, which had been claimed by Satan and the wicked people of the world, had to be taken from them and given to those who had been chosen by God to be His righteous servants forever.
  5. Thus, the wicked owners of the world had to be destroyed.

Psalm 37:9, 20 declares:

For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.
 

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Psalm 104:35 declares:

Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the LORD, O my soul. Praise ye the LORD.

  1. Once the wicked are destroyed, the world is to be given to the people who had become the righteous servants of God.

Psalm 37:9, 11, 29, and 34 informs us:

For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever. Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.

  1. The earth will not begin as an eternal inheritance to God’s people in its present sin-cursed condition. Instead it will become a New Earth, that is, it will become so eternally perfect that it will actually become an integral part of Heaven itself.

We read in II Peter 3:13:

Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

The Land of Canaan Portrays the World

Keeping the above principles in mind permits us to understand the conquest of the cities of Canaan. Remember the land of Canaan had been given to the family of Abraham as an eternal inheritance. God had promised Abraham in Genesis 17:8:

And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

When Israel was ready to enter the land of Canaan, this promise was reiterated to Moses as he viewed the land. We read in Deuteronomy 34:1-4:  

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And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, and all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, and the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar. And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.

In this historical situation, the land of Canaan is a portrait or type of the world that has become the possession of the wicked of the world and which must be restored to the people of God. In that sense, therefore, it is also a picture of the kingdom of God into which every genuine believer enters when he has become saved. Remember, the kingdom of God consists of every true believer who will eternally occupy the New Heavens and the New Earth.

It is Christ who endured the wrath of God on behalf
of all the people God had chosen to become saved.

The work of restoring the world to the perfect service of God was to be done entirely by Christ who, as God Himself, was fully qualified to accomplish every aspect of that work. It is Christ who endured the wrath of God on behalf of all the people God had chosen to become saved. It is Christ who gave Satan a death blow that ensures that Satan and all the wicked angels and men who follow him will be cast into Hell forever (I John 3:8). Thus, it is Christ who rescued this world from the possession of Satan and will give it as the New Heavens and New Earth to those who were made righteous by God’s salvation plan (I Corinthians 15:22-28).

To clearly illustrate that Christ was in charge of the destruction of the cities of Canaan, we read a very interesting account in Joshua 5:13-15:

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the
 

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LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him,What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the LORD’S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.

This captain was Christ Himself who for a brief period of time took on the appearance of a man so He could speak with Joshua. The drawn sword represented the Word of God which will condemn the wicked on the last day (Revelation 19:11-21). It is the Law of God that condemns the sinner and calls for the penalty of eternal damnation. Mankind, being created in God’s image, was created to live forever. However, if any sin is committed by any individual, he must stand for judgment at the end of time so that legally, he can be found guilty of breaking God’s Law, and therefore, legally be sentenced to eternal damnation.

God frequently used physical death to illustrate the certainty,
the awfulness, and the severity of eternal damnation
as a consequence of sin.

God frequently used physical death to illustrate the certainty, the awfulness, and the severity of eternal damnation as a consequence of sin. We have spoken before of the destruction of the entire world in the days of Noah. Nothing in the entire world with the breath of life escaped physical death at that time. Nothing, that is, except for those who had found refuge in the huge vessel that God had commanded Noah to build. These eight individuals were the only people in the whole world of that day who truly wanted to obey God’s commands. They were a vivid illustration of those who have truly become saved, the evidence being their delight in obeying all of God’s commandments.

The dreadful event, the Noachian Flood, is carefully recorded in the Bible so that all mankind can know the certainty of God’s wrath upon sin. Remember, sin is disobeying the Laws of God which are set forth in the Bible (I John 3:4).

While the Flood of Noah’s day was by far the most universal judgment that took place in history, many other judgments are recorded in the Bible so that we cannot miss the truth that sin will bring God’s judgment. You will remember that in the days of Abraham, God totally destroyed four cities, Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, by fire and brimstone (Genesis Chapter 19; Deuteronomy 29:23). Only three individuals escaped that awful conflagration, an illustration that showed that sin will eventuate in God’s bringing judgment.  

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Sometimes in the Bible, we read that God directly caused physical death and destruction. At other times, God used individuals or whole nations to bring death and destruction. All were means to demonstrate the terrible nature of the final judgment that shall come upon the whole world on the last day of this world’s existence.

Thus, it was God who used the Israelites to bring death to the wicked people of the land of Canaan. Later, God used Babylon to bring destruction upon the wicked of Judah. Physical death is always horrible to contemplate. But, in each instance, it is pointing to the certainty of a death far more horrible. It is what the Bible calls the Second Death. And the Second Death is to be eternally damned to Hell as a consequence of our sins (Revelation 20:14; 21:8). Only when a sinner is truly in Christ can there be escape from death’s sting (I Corinthians 15:51-57; Philippians 1:21; Revelation 2:11).

How Terrible Is Punishment For Sin

The Bible repeatedly speaks of the punishment of eternal damnation. But the problem is that we can only read about it. No one can describe how super awful it is because no one has been there.

In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:23-25, 28), Jesus characterized Hell as a place of torments and flame. Throughout the Bible, God uses dramatic language such as Hell being a lake of fire (Revelation 19:20; 20:10, 15; 21:8), a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12), a place where the smoke of their torment never ends (Isaiah 34:10; Revelation 14:11), but no one can testify that they had been there and that now they can testify concerning its horrors.

Therefore, God has done at least two things as He speaks in the Bible of this awful punishment. One thing He has done is to use dreadful language in describing the horrors of Hell. One might read passages such as Deuteronomy 28:15-68 or Leviticus Chapter 26 to get some understanding of the awfulness of eternal damnation.

How can God convince us that eternal damnation, which
every unsaved person will absolutely experience, is
as terrible, as awful, as horrible as it really is?

Even more vividly, God has had people, who were under the wrath of God, ruthlessly killed. This killing could have been accomplished directly by the  

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action of God, as in the case of Sodom or Gomorrah, or it could have been done by the action of men who were under the command of God. In either case, we are horrified that this should happen! And that is just the point of all of this.

How can God convince us that eternal damnation, which every unsaved person will absolutely experience, is as terrible, as awful, as horrible as it really is? To be killed by strangling, by beheading, or even by being burned alive is terribly repulsive to our senses. But it is nothing when compared with the experience of eternal damnation. Whether a person dies of a lingering painful disease or by the action of his fellowman, it is a bad and tragic experience, but it is nothing compared to the awfulness and reality of eternal damnation.

Thus, God programmed and recorded the conquest of the land of Canaan so that we might take notice of the terrible predicament we are in because of our sins.

God programmed and recorded the conquest of the land
of Canaan so that we might take notice of the terrible
predicament we are in because of our sins.

Returning to the conquest of the land of Canaan, it is important to note that not all the people in Canaan were to be destroyed. God had decreed in Deuteronomy 20:10-11:

When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee.

This parallels the situation that occurs as God’s true people bring the Gospel to the world. We read in II Corinthians 2:15-16:

For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?

This explains why Rahab (who comes into view in our upcoming discussion on Jericho) and all who were in the house with her (that is, all those  

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who were of like mind) were saved, whereas the rest of the city of Jericho was destroyed (see following discussion). This also explains why a very important city of Canaan named Gibeon was not destroyed (Joshua Chapter 9).

Jericho Destroyed

And that brings us to the destruction of Jericho. It was the first city encountered by Israel after they had crossed the Jordan River and had arrived in the land of Canaan. In one sense, Jericho represented all of the cities of the land of Canaan. Remember, the entire land of Canaan at the time of Abraham had been given to Israel, and now, Israel was in the land to receive it back.

Jericho was perhaps the oldest city of Canaan. It was well protected by a great wall around it. The destruction of Jericho would, in a sense, represent the destruction of all of the cities of Canaan, which in turn typified the judgment of God upon all of the world. The saving of Rahab (Joshua 6:22-23, 25) paralleled the saving of the city of Gibeon which in turn typified the salvation of all true believers throughout the world.

While, in one sense, Jericho was representative of all the cities of Canaan, in actuality, its destruction was pointing altogether to yet another extremely important aspect of God’s salvation plan. There was another very important truth hidden in the account of the destruction of Jericho. This hidden truth is like a wonderful golden nugget waiting to be discovered. One of the reasons it remained hidden was because Bible translators incorrectly translated some very significant words in the sixth chapter of Joshua in which we find the account of the destruction of Jericho.

Incorrect Translation

What is not seen in the King James Bible is that a number of verses have been incorrectly translated. These verses have one or more key words that in the Bible narrative superficially do not appear to fit. These words are the Hebrew word “shophar” which should always be translated “ram’s horn.”

The second is “yobel” which should always be translated “jubilee.”

The third word is “teruah” which can be translated “shout,” as was done in this Biblical account (Joshua 6:15), or it can be translated “jubile,” as was done in Leviticus 25:9. “Teruah” is a word that is frequently used in the context where jubilee is in view.

The first verse we should look at is Joshua 6:4, which declares:  

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And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.

In actuality, the Hebrew words used in this verse should not have been translated “seven trumpets of rams’ horns.” It should have been translated, “seven rams’ horns of the jubilees.

What did the Jubilee have to do with the
destruction of Jericho?

We can understand the difficulty the translators faced. What did the Jubilee have to do with the destruction of Jericho? The Jubilee was the time when liberty was to be proclaimed. Every first day of each seventh month was to be a memorial of the Jubilee. The Day of Atonement - the tenth day of the month - was identified with the Jubilee, and every fiftieth year was to be a Jubilee.

But what did these notices of the Jubilee have to do with the destruction of Jericho? Moreover, the word “jubilee,” as it is written in Joshua 6:4, is a plural word. In no place in the Bible except in Joshua is the word “jubilee” a plural word. Indeed, the translators must have struggled with this chapter!

Joshua 6:5 gave the same difficulties. In the King James Bible, we read:

And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.

In actuality, the phrase “long blast with the ram’s horn” should have been translated “horn of jubilee.

Joshua 6:8 and 6:13 are equally incorrectly translated. In each verse, the phrase “seven trumpets of rams’ horns” should have been translated “seven rams’ horns of the jubilees.” Having learned this does not make the understanding of the Bible easier.

What does this signify that the priests bearing the ark are marching around the walls of Jericho blowing on seven rams’ horns of the jubilees? Does proper translation assist us in our understanding of this historical event? We will  

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discover that the plural word “jubilees” will greatly assist us in our understanding of the destruction of Jericho.

More Spiritual Truth is Revealed

Do you recall that Jericho is called the “city of palm trees?” This is noted in both Deuteronomy 34:3 and in II Chronicles 28:15. Moreover, in Psalm 92:12a we read:

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree.

Furthermore, the word “walls,” which certainly is important in this Jericho narrative, is spoken of as walls of salvation in Isaiah 26:1 and Isaiah 60:18. Isaiah 26:1 reads:

In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; we have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.

And Isaiah 60:18 reads:

Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.

Moreover, the city of Jericho was a city in the land of Canaan. Canaan was the promised land that externally represented the kingdom of God.

Jericho was a city that represented true believers
who are citizens of the kingdom of God.

What are we learning? We are learning that Jericho was a city that represented true believers who are citizens of the kingdom of God. But Jericho is being destroyed. Only Rahab the harlot and those who were with her in her house, which was located on the wall of Jericho, would escape. How can we understand this?

Question: What was going to follow once Jericho was destroyed? Answer: The conquest of the land of Canaan would begin. Remember we just learned that the conquest of Canaan typified the sending forth of the Gospel into all the world.  

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Remember II Corinthians 2:15-16:

For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?

Those who resist the Gospel end up under eternal damnation just as those who resisted Israel’s conquest of the land of Canaan were destroyed. Those who believed the Gospel were those who had been given eternal life, just as those in the land of Canaan who came under service to the God of Israel (the city of Gibeon, for example), had their lives spared. But Christ first had to go to the cross to pay for sins before the double-edged message of the Gospel would be sent into all the world.

And something else had to happen.

For almost 1,500 years, the nation of Israel was the keeper of the vineyard (Matthew 21:33-45). That is, they were the divine institution appointed by God to be the custodian, the caretaker, of the Gospel. They represented the spiritual City of God. In them were the righteous who grew like palm trees. They were surrounded by walls of salvation. But then Christ came. The Jubilee began to sound. We will learn that Jesus was born in 7 B.C., a Jubilee Year. He was announced on a Jubilee day, the first day of the seventh month in A.D. 29. Remember, the first day of the seventh month was to be a memorial of the Jubilee.

But before the program of worldwide evangelization could begin, God had to shift the task from national Israel to the Church Age. The walls surrounding Jericho, depicting any salvation found in the nation of Israel, had to be removed. No longer would God use the temple or the Jewish synagogues in the task of proclaiming the true Gospel. Effectively, the nation of Israel was spiritually destroyed. It was destroyed except for those who were typified by Rahab. They are the true believers like Mary and Martha and the saved disciples who lived right at the end of the period of national Israel. These individuals became the beginning of the Church Age.

Now we understand that the Jubilee was sounding, but the walls did not fall until the great shout, the “teruah.” Once they fell, Israel was ready to go on in its conquest of Canaan.

Once God was finished with the nation of Israel as the representative of the Gospel, the year of Jubilee - the Church Age - commenced.

Two Jubilees

But remember, we learned that in connection with the conquering of  

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Jericho, the word “jubilee” was a plural word. That meant that there was a second Jubilee in view. What could that mean?

As we go on in this study, we will learn that, most likely, in A.D. 1988, the Church Age came to an end. That terrible end was immediately followed by about a half hour of silence from Heaven (Revelation 8:1). That is, the end of the Church Age was the end of the first Jubilee. The first Jubilee in principle had begun when Christ was born. In reality, it identified with the wonderful task of sending the Gospel into the world that had been assigned to the local congregations throughout the Church Age.

But then there was a second Jubilee. It began as the latter rain. It identified with the sending of the true Gospel throughout the world by individuals outside of the local congregations. For 1,955 years, from A.D. 33 to A.D. 1988, the local churches were represented by Jericho, the city of palm trees, surrounded by walls of salvation. But before this second Jubilee could begin, this Jericho of the local congregations had to have its walls fall. The Holy Spirit had to leave the divine institution of the local congregations. The city of the palm trees had to come under the judgment of God. The Rahabs - the true believers - within the city had to come out. Only then could the final conquest of the land of Canaan - the final sending forth of the Gospel - begin. Only then could the beautiful promise of Isaiah 11:11-12 come to pass:

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

. . . the destruction of the city of Jericho
was a great historical parable.

Thus, we have learned that the destruction of the city of Jericho was a great historical parable. It truly was physically and literally destroyed as described in the Bible. But the detail of its destruction was like a huge parable pointing to, first, the end of national Israel as God’s divine institution for externally representing the kingdom of God, and second, the end of the local churches being  

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the external representative of the kingdom of God. The end of national Israel being used in that capacity was followed by the Jubilee of the Church Age. The end of the Church Age was followed by the Jubilee of the latter rain and the final ingathering of the elect by the sending forth of the Gospel by individuals outside the local churches.

We should note one other significant fact. The teruah, that is, the loud shout of the Jubilee, sounded after the armies of Israel had marched around Jericho’s walls thirteen times. We cannot help but see that the last Jubilee period — the period of the latter rain — begins a few years (2,300 days, Daniel 8:13- 14) after the end of the Church Age. We will see that, most likely, the Church Age ended in the 13,000th year of the history of the world (A.D. 1988). That is when the local churches were abandoned by God, and so, they were no longer being used of God to bring the Gospel of salvation to the world. But now, the final conquest is underway!

Now, we should leave Jericho and continue down the highway of time as Israel begins to live in the promised land, the land of Canaan.

1047 B.C.

We are learning that God has recorded in the Bible many historical events which are portraits or illustrations of significant aspects of God’s salvation plan.

The Old and the New Testaments of the Bible are in actuality one Testament or Covenant. The word “testament” and the word “covenant” are synonyms. Since the Bible is the Law of God, the words “testament” and “covenant” are also synonyms for the phrase “Law of God.” 3 That is why the Ten Commandments are called the “covenant” (Exodus 34:28).

The Old Covenant, which is the Old Testament, has recorded within it a great many historical events. These events are illustrations of aspects of the reality of God’s salvation plan as it was to be worked out throughout the New Testament era.

The New Testament of the Bible describes how Jesus actually did come to be the Savior in fulfillment of these Old Testament illustrations. The New Testament describes how the Gospel was sent into all of the world. It describes the end of the Church Age which would coincide with the beginning of God’s final judgment upon the world; and it describes in some detail the actual return of Christ


3 Occasionally, the Bible uses the word "covenant" when it is speaking of an agreement between two individuals (I Samuel 18:3; Matthew 26:15). Actually, the Bible, the Law of God, is an agreement within the Godhead on behalf of the human race. That is why those who sin are called "covenant-breakers" (Isaiah 24:5; Romans 1:31).  

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and the end of the world. Woven into the fabric of both the Old Testament and especially into the New Testament are copious references to the sinfulness of mankind, the righteousness of God, and the desperate need of mankind to have a Savior. In turn, the Bible gives much information to show that God Himself, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, is that Savior.

In this study, as we have been traveling down the timeline of history, we have already examined a number of these historical events, these illustrations of aspects of God’s salvation plan. We learned, for example, that Abram’s entrance into the land of Canaan represented the true believers coming into the kingdom of God. We learned that God’s rescue of the nation of Israel from Egyptian bondage was an illustration of those who become saved, being set free from the bondage of sin and of Satan.

Now we will look at that part of God’s timeline of history that was the 360-year period following 1407 B.C. (the year that Israel entered the land of Canaan). (See “Chronology of the Judges” at the back of this book.) The experience of Israel during this period of time can be summed up in a few words. Israel would rebel against God, and God would send an oppressor. The oppressor could be any one of the nations that Israel had not obediently destroyed. Then, as Israel cried to God for help, God would send a deliverer. Fact is, during these 360 years, seventeen different individuals were raised up to provide deliverance for them.

However, as time went on, wickedness became increasingly apparent until, finally, sadly we read the indictment in Judges 17:6 and in Judges 21:25, where God says:

In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

. . . we should be impressed by the remarkable mercy and
forgiveness of God and His perfect faithfulness
to fulfill His program of salvation.

As we are proceeding down the Biblical Timeline of History, we should be impressed by the remarkable mercy and forgiveness of God and His perfect faithfulness to fulfill His program of salvation. We must realize that the Bible is primarily focused on those who are actively involved in the Gospel program God has planned for the world. Yet, as God describes, in the Bible, His experiences with those who are especially under God’s care, we wonder how He can countenance their conduct, which is so often completely rebellious.  

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As we read the pages of the Bible, we learn much, on the one hand, about the righteousness, the holiness, the mercy, the grace, the patience, the faithfulness, the integrity, the power, the authority, the love, the tenderness, and the kindness of God. On the other hand, we learn much about the pride, the weakness, the untruthfulness, and the rebellion against God which characterize mankind. The Bible is a book every human should ponder, should meditate upon, should listen to most carefully, should be thankful for. Every human should rejoice that God has made it available!

Therefore, as we read about the experiences of Israel during the forty years in the wilderness or during the 360-year period of the judges, or as we read anything else in the Bible, we can anticipate a great learning experience for us in our day. This is true because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

One additional thought could be inserted at this time. We should never presume upon God. We should never play games with God. We should never look upon Him as an equal. We should always remember He is the royal Majesty, King of kings, Almighty Creator, and Judge of all the earth. Therefore, as we approach the Bible, as we contemplate any sinful action, as we speak of God or His Word, the Bible, we should tremble before Him (Isaiah 66:2; James 2:19).

Shiloh

Very near the end of the period from 1407 B.C. to 1047 B.C., a dreadful event happened to Israel that became a picture or illustration of the end of the Church Age, a time that would not come until about 3,000 years later in history. We might recall that when Israel was in the wilderness on their way from Egypt to the land of Canaan, God instructed them to build a beautiful tent called a tabernacle. The tabernacle was, effectively, a holy shrine that identified in a very special way with God Himself.

In this tent was the room called the holy of holies in which was placed the ark of the covenant. That ark was a beautiful golden box in which were kept the Ten Commandments, which were written by the finger of God on stone tables (Exodus 31:18). Above the ark were two golden cherubim that represented God as the Judge of all the earth. The covering of the ark was called the “mercy seat.” It was a golden lid that represented Christ as the Savior who alone provides a covering of the sins of His true people.

The holy of holies was separated from the main part of the tabernacle by a great veil or curtain which was never to be opened except on the Day of Atonement. On that day, the high priest opened the curtain in order to sprinkle blood on the mercy seat. However, his vision of the ark, the mercy seat, and the  

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cherubim was obscured. When he opened the curtain, he was to carry a pan of burning incense so that the smoke from the burning incense, to a degree, hid these things in the holy of holies from his view.

The tabernacle was permanently placed in a city named Shiloh after Israel began to occupy the land of Canaan in the year 1407 B.C. (Joshua 18:1). The name Shiloh was a significant name because it was a name that God applied to Himself.

In Genesis 49:10 we read:

The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

In this prophetic verse, the name Shiloh, which is possibly derived from a Hebrew word signifying “rest” or “tranquility,” can be speaking only of the Lord Jesus Christ who would come as the Savior (Matthew 1:20-21; Luke 2:11; John 17:2, 24). Therefore, it was altogether fitting that the city in which the tabernacle was placed would have the name Shiloh. This city, until the year 1068 B.C., was the most holy city in the land of Israel.

In the year 1068 B.C., however, everything changed for the worse. During the previous forty years (1108 B.C.-1068 B.C.), the high priest Eli was also the individual appointed by God to be the Judge of the people of Israel (I Samuel 4:18). Eli appointed his two sons, Hophni and Phineas, to officiate in the tabernacle in Shiloh (I Samuel 1:3). Unfortunately, these two men lived very wicked lives (I Samuel 2:12-25), and Eli, himself, became, to some degree, a part of that wickedness (I Samuel 2:27-29). Therefore, a situation developed under the watchful eye of God (and we must remember that nothing ever happens without God having full knowledge of all that is taking place), that precipitated utter disaster for Israel.

We read in I Samuel 4:1-2 that Israel went to war against the Philistines, and 4,000 Israelites were killed. God was putting Israel to the test. The number 40 is frequently used in the Bible to signify testing (see Chapter 8 of this book). At this juncture in Israel’s history, the number 40 is featured twice. It was the 40th year of Eli’s rule over Israel, and 4,000 (40 x 100) Israelites were destroyed in battle with the Philistines. From the Biblical information, we can calculate that the year was 1068 B.C.

What should Israel have done in the face of this defeat? They should have cried to God for His mercy. The priests, as well as the people, should have seen their sinful ways and turned from them (I Samuel 2:27-30; 4:3). But Israel failed the test. They had a brilliant idea (or so they thought); they took the ark of  

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the covenant out of the tabernacle in Shiloh and brought it to the battlefield! They truly believed that the ark represented God. With God being present with them, they would surely defeat the Philistines (I Samuel 4:3). Actually, their conduct was dreadfully sinful. The ark was never to be taken from the Holy of Holies unless God decreed that this was to happen.

Therefore, great judgment from God came to Israel. The ark was captured by the Philistines and moved to the Philistine cities of Ashdod, Gath, and Ekron (I Samuel 5:1, 8, 10). The two Israelite priests, Hophi and Phineas, were killed; 30,000 Israelites were killed in battle; and Eli, the high priest, died of a broken neck. The number 3 spiritually signifies purpose; the number 10,000, completeness (see Chapter 8 of this book). The 30,000 men who were killed in battle effectively signified that it was God’s complete purpose that Israel be severely punished for desecrating the tabernacle in Shiloh. Never before in the history of Israel had such a disaster struck. It was like God had departed from Israel (I Samuel 4:21-22). It was the ultimate tragedy.

Because the ark was no longer in the Holy of Holies, the tabernacle in Shiloh no longer served as a holy shrine. After almost 400 years, the tabernacle effectively was destroyed because now it was a tabernacle without the ark of the covenant within it. It was like the house of God without God being present. Because the tabernacle was no longer God’s house, the city of Shiloh, in a certain sense, was a city without God. And because the city of Shiloh was without God, the nation of Israel, in a sense, was without God. This terrible event was a picture pointing to our time in history. Today, God has departed from all the local congregations throughout the world (see The End of the Church Age and After, available free of charge from Family Radio).

God uses the tabernacle to demonstrate salvation. In the tabernacle, God met sinners to give them atonement and forgiveness of their sins. Likewise, in God’s spiritual Tabernacle, Christ Himself, God gives mercy to those He saves. Christ keeps the Law of God perfectly in their place so their sins can be forgiven (Exodus 25: 21-22; Hebrews 9:1-15, 19-26). But God also uses the tabernacle to represent the local congregations during the Church Age. Isaiah 54:2-3 says:

Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; for thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.

The word “Gentiles” in this verse is speaking of the nation that would hear the Gospel and become saved. The work of the New Testament churches  

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was to send the Gospel, the message of salvation in Christ, into all the world. Therefore, the local New Testament congregations were typified by the tabernacle that was in Shiloh. Moreover, even as the ark of the covenant was in the tabernacle, so too, God was in the local congregations applying the Word of God to the lives of all those whom He saved. Thus, the spiritual tabernacle was steadily increasing in size, the cords were lengthened, and the stakes were strengthened.

. . . the local New Testament congregations were typified by
the tabernacle that was in Shiloh.

But then disaster struck the local congregations even as disaster struck the tabernacle in Shiloh. God departed from the local congregations just as the ark was removed from the tabernacle. In Jeremiah 10:20-21 we read:

My tabernacle is spoiled, and all my cords are broken: my children are gone forth of me, and they are not: there is none to stretch forth my tent any more, and to set up my curtains. For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.

These verses can be speaking only of the end of the Church Age. This theme is further emphasized by the language of Jeremiah 7:14:

Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh.

Jeremiah was speaking long after the tabernacle of Moses and Joshua and Eli’s day had disappeared. During Jeremiah’s day, the tabernacle had been replaced by the temple. Thus, these words could be speaking only of our day.

The “house called by my name” had become the entity
in which the people trusted. That is, their trust was
in the external church itself.
 

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In Jeremiah 7:14, God is particularly calling attention to a grievous sin of the local congregations that existed during the New Testament Church Age. The trust of the people was not in Christ and the Bible. The “house called by my name” had become the entity in which the people trusted. That is, their trust was in the external church itself. Their trust was in a set of creeds or in the consensus of a group of like-minded people. It was in whatever the pastor or leader said or taught. The people’s trust was not in Christ alone, nor was it fortified by a thorough individual examination of God’s Word, the Bible. Truly, there has never been a church that could save anyone.

So much for a brief look at the disaster that struck Shiloh. But let us look again at our Biblical Timeline of History. It is noteworthy that in the same year (2068 B.C.), Abraham was circumcised, the city of Sodom together with three other cities were totally destroyed by God because of their great wickedness. Significantly, God links the destruction of Sodom to the end of the world, and particularly to the end of the Church Age, when God’s judgment came upon the local congregations. (Later we will learn that this judgment most likely began in A.D. 1988.)

There are Biblical references that tie the destruction of Sodom to God’s judgment falling on the local congregations at the beginning of the Great Tribulation (Luke 17:28-32; Revelation 11:8).

2068 B.C.: Destruction of Sodom
+1988 A.D.: Beginning of judgment on all local congregations
4056  

Curiously, the number of years inclusively (4,056) from the destruction of Sodom in 2068 B.C. to A.D. 1988, when the Great Tribulation in all likelihood began, breaks down into very significant prime numbers. The number 4,056 can be factored as follows:

4,056 = 2 x 2 x 2 x 3 x 13 x 13

For much more detailed, full information on how God uses numbers, see Chapter 8 of this book. But for now, as we consider the number 4,056, we might note the following:

  • The number 2 signifies those who are assigned by God to bring the Gospel.
  • The number 3 signifies the purpose of God.
  • The number 13 signifies super fullness.
 

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Spiritually, we could therefore conclude that it was God’s purpose that national Israel (which began in the year 2068 B.C., when Abraham was circumcised and Sodom was destroyed), and the local churches (which began at Pentecost in A.D. 33), both of which were mandated by God to be the caretakers of the Gospel, would be finished in the super fullness of time. (See more about A.D. 1988 in the next paragraph.)

We also note that the circumcision of Abraham (Genesis 17:23-26), which officially marked the beginning of the nation of Israel was related in a very curious way to what happened in Shiloh. Abraham was circumcised in the year 2068 B.C. It was in the year 1068 B.C. that this tragic end of Shiloh occurred. It is striking that between 2068 B.C. and 1068 B.C., there are precisely 1,000 years. What is even more interesting and possibly significant is that the end of the Church Age most likely occurred in the year A.D. 1988. This is precisely 13,000 years after the year 11,013 B.C. when God began the world and created our first parents, Adam and Eve. Could this be coincidental?

We can also point out that the ark of the covenant, when it was captured by the Philistines, remained in their country for 7 months (I Samuel 6:1). There are definite parallels having to do with the Great Tribulation to be considered. We have seen that the tribulation that Jacob endured when he was commanded to leave the land of Canaan in the year 1877 B.C. lasted 7 years. Later, on our timeline, the tribulation the nation of Judah endured when it was humiliated by the Assyrians and Babylonians, from 609 B.C. to 539 B.C., lasted 70 years. We will see that these two periods typify the Great Tribulation. Now, we see that when the ark was taken from Shiloh, it was outside of Israel for 7 months. Surely, we can see the parallels between these three events as God links them together by the number 7.

The construction of the tabernacle began in the year 1447 B.C. which was the year Israel was freed from Egypt. It came to its end, as we have seen, in the year 1068 B.C. or 379 years later. Seven months later, it was returned to Israel. This would have been very late in the year 1068 B.C. or very early in the year 1067 B.C. Exactly 100 years later, in the year 967 B.C., the building of the temple, which replaced the tabernacle, was begun by King Solomon. Exactly 380 years later, in the year 587 B.C., the temple was destroyed by the armies of Babylon.

We have learned that the tabernacle was a picture of many from the nations of the world who would become true believers during the Church Age. The same is true of the temple that Solomon built. We cannot help but marvel that God allowed the tabernacle to stand for 379 years; and that He also allowed the temple built by Solomon to exist from the beginning of its construction to the end of its existence for almost exactly the identical period, 380 years.  

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We should comment that all this is not surprising. The unfolding of God’s Timetable of His Gospel program for the world is not at all capricious or haphazard. God is the Grand Designer, and He has set up carefully and perfectlyplanned patterns. When we look at God’s design of the universe, whether we are looking at the structure of chemical elements or the petals of a daisy, we see that everything follows a distinct pattern. We will learn that, all the way to the end of time, a definite pattern will be clearly seen.

We Want a King

After Israel had been in the land of Canaan almost 360 years, they had another complaint against God. They wanted a king like all the other nations. Therefore, in the year 1047 B.C., God gave them their first king. He was a tall impressive individual named Saul. God the Holy Spirit came into Saul’s personality to qualify him to be what a king over a political nation should be. This was necessary because such a political national structure was wholly new to Israel. Saul came from a farm. There was no palace, no royal government, etc. Saul was selected by God as a man with whom the people would be pleased.

To give spiritual counsel to the king as well as to the people, God provided prophets. Because the Bible was still only partly completed, and because copies of the written Word had to be handwritten, and because God was still writing the Bible, those prophets, who were true believers, at times would receive messages directly from God. This was a great assistance to the kings who would eventually rule over Israel.

King Saul, however, was not a saved man. He was not always willing to obey God. Therefore, after a forty-year reign, in the year 1007 B.C., Saul was killed in battle and was replaced by a king who dearly loved God and whom God loved. His name was David, who at the age of thirty, ascended the throne.

Under the reign of David, Israel greatly prospered, both materially and spiritually, because it was altogether under the blessing of God. David ascended the throne in the year 1007 B.C., exactly 1,000 years before Christ (who was typified by David) was born, and 1007 B.C. is exactly 3,000 years before the second Jubilee began, in A.D. 1994.

Do we recognize the precision of God’s timeline of salvation?

  1,007 
 + 1,994 
 - 1 

  3,000 
 

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David not only ruled well, but also, he was used by God to write some of the Bible. That is, God spoke through David. In our Bibles, in the Book of the Psalms, often the notation is made “A Psalm of David” to indicate that the words of that psalm were written by God utilizing David as the scribe.

David as a youth had been a shepherd boy. Now, as a mature adult, he was ruling over the kingdom of Israel which became a very significant kingdom in that time of history (I Chronicles 17:8). God unfolded His salvation plan using the rule of David over Israel as a type or representation, and as an anticipation, of Jesus Christ who rules over the eternal kingdom of God. Jesus spoke of Himself as “the good shepherd . . . I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15). After reigning for thirty-six years, King David made one of his sons, named Solomon, co-regent with him. This was the year 971 B.C. Four years later, King David died, and Solomon continued as king of Israel for an additional thirtysix years.

King David had a passionate desire to build a magnificent permanent temple to replace the tabernacle Moses had constructed in the wilderness. Therefore, a great amount of preparation had already been done for the building of this temple by the time David died (I Chronicles Chapters 17 and 22). Immediately upon David’s death, the foundation of the temple was laid by his son Solomon. That year, which was the year 967 B.C., was an important milestone in the highway of time. Fact is, the Bible reports in I Kings 6:1:

And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.

This citation is of great help to us in constructing the Biblical Calendar of History because it assures us that 480 years after 1447 B.C., the year Israel was set free from Egypt, was Solomon’s fourth year as king. Thus, 1447 B.C. minus 480 years brings us to the year 967 B.C. as the fourth year of Solomon’s reign. Therefore, the first year of Solomon’s reign was four years earlier than 967 B.C. It was the year 971 B.C.

Both Jerusalem and the temple became very prominent in the
Bible as types or portraits of the eternal kingdom of God.

The temple, like the city Jerusalem where the temple was located, became an external representation of the kingdom of God. Both Jerusalem and  

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the temple became very prominent in the Bible as types or portraits of the eternal kingdom of God.

During Solomon’s reign of forty years (four years of which he was coregent with his father David), the kingdom of Israel became the most notable kingdom of the world at that time in history. God gave King Solomon wisdom and riches and honor above any subsequent king who ruled in Israel (II Chronicles 1:12; 9:22). Solomon was a true believer who also was used by God as a means of expanding God’s Law Book, the Bible. Much of the wisdom of Solomon is recorded in the Book of Proverbs.

A Major Change

Solomon did have one serious sin. Mainly for political purposes, Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. This strengthened his position in the political world of that day, but it also provided for his downfall. In his old age, probably to please some of his foreign wives, he worshiped heathen gods. The Bible gives little detail about this sin, but God’s Word does show that, Solomon’s idolatry was ultimately the reason God made a major change in the nation of Israel which, in turn, made a major change in the external representation of the kingdom of God (I Kings Chapter 11).


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