I’ve recently become increasingly interested in the typology of the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness under Moses, and how the historical shadows are reflected in the New Testament as the “substance” of our faith and practice. Since I am not an Idealist, I do believe that historical types can, and often do, have real fulfillments in history. But I have come to the conclusion that everything involving Israel’s history was simply a type of what would ultimately be fulfilled in the Gospel Dispensation.
John must have had this principle in mind when he wrote the Book Of Revelation. Take the “two witnesses” in Revelation 11 as an example. John was not “borrowing” from Zechariah’s prophecy, as it is sometimes asserted. He was showing that, as Joshua and Zerruabel were commissioned to complete the physical temple once the Jews returned to the land, so in the days immediately preceding Christ’s second advent, two witnesses will be commissioned to complete the spiritual temple–that is, the church. From the earliest times, expositors understood these two witnesses to be Enoch and Elijah (see Hippolytus, Treatise On Christ and Antichrist, 43). I am of that opinion as well. However, I also believe that the two witnesses look back to Moses and Aaron. During the last of Daniel’s 70 weeks, these two witnesses will supervise the completion of the spiritual temple, during a time of general unfriendliness–that I use no stronger word– to the disciples of Christ. They will go in before “Pharoah” (a type of the “Beast”) and petition him to allow the spiritual sacrifices (true worship) to go on. Of course they will meet with opposition. In the midst of the week, an edict will go out forbidding the churches to congregate, and issuing in the killing of the two witnesses. As a recapitulation, or anakephalaosis, of what happened in Christ’s own person, the Gentile political power (first Beast) will collude with the Jewish religious authority (second Beast) to persecute the saints. As Irenaeus taught, the Body follows the example of the Head (Against Heresies, 4:34:4).
I mentioned to someone just recently, that passages like Isaiah 13 can be understood according to the same canons of interpretation. Prophecies concerning Israel “in the land,” along with those involving the surrounding nations, have their true fulfillment in the Church Age. The Babylon of the NT is to us what OT Babylon was to the nation of Israel. The point to keep in mind is this: Babylon came into conflict with Israel long after Israel had entered the land. The antitypes now become clear, especially when we realize that the true wilderness period typified by the ministry of Moses occurred during the “transition period” of 30AD-70AD. It was the true Passover of Christ’s crucifixion that started the “journey” out from the bondage and rigor of the legal dispensation to the grace and liberty (NOT license) of the current church age. The elements of the law truly “melted away” in AD 70. But not as Preterists claim. The “passing away” was not eschatological in nature, but only positional. The corporate position of the church is now “in the land.” Experientially, however, the church is still in the Plains of Moab, receiving the last instructions of Christ before entering into the Millennial Kingdom via rapture or resurrection. Revelation has the same significance for the church that Deuteronomy did for the nation of Israel. Both came at the very end of the 40 year period of wilderness wandering.
There is something even more important when studying these types. All of the institutions of worship and modes of worship inculcated in the wilderness were not to be discontinued when Israel entered the land, but were to be carried over! Nothing was left in the wilderness, but everything crossed over into Canaan. That is perhaps the more critical point to keep in mind. If AD 70 marked a positional “crossing over” into the land, then we know that that is when the “age” began, and all of Israel’s historic types would find their fulfillment in the Gospel Dispensation. Even the laws regarding sowing and reaping could not be enforced until Israel entered the land. That is correct. Christ’s parables of Matthew 13 are fulfilled in the present age, not in the wilderness period of 30AD-70AD. And the Great Commission of Matthew 28 is a “land entrance” passage. During the wilderness period, the apostles never baptized in the name of the Triune God, nor did they disciple all nations, teaching them to observe Christ’s commands. One can certainly say that AD 70 marked a “great reset.” But not an eschatological one. And nothing has changed doctrinally.
Nowadays, confusion is rife among Preterists who (strangely enough) hold that although the law passed away in AD 70, Christians are supposed to be enforcing the Law of Moses upon the nations, rather than the antitype: the Teachings of Christ. Of course, if you really tried to enforce the law, you would have to be executing someone every 5 minutes. But the church is no longer on a mission of extermination. Its ‘operational excellence’ consists in its bringing the Gospel to all mankind; so that as Moses’s ministry issued in the destruction of the nations, Christ’s ministry would issue in their salvation. We need no other tool to save society than the salt and light of the Gospel. Keep the salt pure and the light shining brightly, and we, as the corporate body of Christ, will see victory after victory; not only in churchly circles, but in politics as well. Of course, that’s as long as we don’t forget our commission and succumb to the false gods of the surrounding nations. Then, after continued disobedience Babylon swings into position.
“After the doings of the land of Egypt wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances” (Leviticus 18: 3).
“Moreover, it shall come to pass, that I shall do unto you, as I thought to do unto them” (Numbers 33: 56).