The Acts of God
by Francis Foulkes ©

II.  The Greater Glory of The Future Acts of God

The second great fact on which typology is based is that hope of Israel that not only would God act on the principles of His past action, but that He would do so on an unprecedented scale.98 The faith of Israel as we see it in the Old Testament is constantly forward-looking. There was the promise made to Abraham, the promise that the covenant at the Exodus involved, and the promises made to David. As long as the inheritance that God had for His people was not fully possessed, as long as they suffered defeat or were confined by their enemies and failed to enjoy peace and security and prosperity, they could feel that the promises were not completely fulfilled. Conscious of the failures and defects of the past, the more enlightened in Israel felt that it required a more perfect future to render it altogether worthy of God, and fully adequate to the wants and necessities of His people.99 At least from the time of the earliest of the writing prophets, the people began to look forward to something more than a repetition of Gods acts of grace and judgment. They looked forward to a coming day of the Lord, when His people would be exalted more gloriously than ever before, and other nations would be judged. We find reference made by Amos to a popular expression of this hope in the eighth century B.C.100 In this case, as the prophet points out, the hope is perverted, and divorced from the understanding of Gods moral demands on His people; but at least it was the hope of a climax of history, and of Gods revelation of Himself. We find it as an important part of the message of some of the later prophets. It is in Haggai and Zephaniah, and is prominent in Zephaniah, Joel and Malachi.

Yet even though the prophets and people believed that this day of the Lord would be unique, they could not help but think of it in terms of the past. As Fairbairn puts it, the expectations cherished of what was to be, took very commonly the form of a new and higher

exhibition of what had already been.101 They thought of the future in terms of the greatest leaders that God had previously given them, and the greatest acts of God on the behalf of Israel.

(a) The Davidic Messiah

The most important, and most obvious expression of this was the hope of the Davidic Messiah. Without doubt this was associated with the promises made to David, and Gods blessing of Davids reign. Part of the promise was that the line of David would continue;102 God had entered into covenant with him that there would not fail one to sit on his throne,103 though it was said that the abiding line of David depended on the faithfulness of those who followed him.104 In comparison with Davids few of the kings who followed him could be said to walk in his ways, and thus to enjoy the blessings and triumphs of his reign. Men longed for another David,105 for the reestablishing of the house of David, for a second David of his line who would be the Saviour of his house and of the nation.106 And, though there is a diversity in the prophetic understanding of the person and work of the Messiah, this anointed one of the line of David was often spoken of in terms which made him greater than David. For example in Is. ix. 6f. it is said of him, The government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore (RSV). Or we may compare the words of Mi. v. 2-5 But thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting... And

he shall stand, and shall feed his flock in the strength of the .Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God; and they shall abide; and now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth. And this man shall be our peace... In Is. xi. 1-9 the reign of the one who is described as a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots is described in such a way as makes clear how exceedingly more glorious his reign is to be than that of the David of their history. In Is. Iv. 3f. the fulfilling of the everlasting covenant, the granting of the sure mercies of David, is described in terms that make the coming ruler a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander not just for Israel but to the peoples. The hope of a personal Messiah is based firmly on the experiences and the traditions of the greatest anointed king that Israel had ever had; like David, he would be, but far greater than David.

(b) A new Melchizedek, a new Moses, a new Elijah

There are other places in which figures of the present or the future are referred to in terms of personalities of the past; and even if these were in no sense Messianic in their original context, they became Messianic in interpretation. Whatever the date of Psalm cx, there is here clearly the description of one who can be called a new Melchizedek, one who like the Melchizedek of Genesis xiv would exercise the functions of priest and king at the same time.107 If the picture this Psalm presents of the rule and victories and judgments of the priest-king is an idealized picture of the reign of a historical king of Israel, at least it could be applied more truly to the coming Messiah. Similarly Deuteronomy xviii. 15-19 speaks of another Moses bringing Gods word to his people, The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken... And the Lord said unto me... I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. From the following verses it seems clear that simply the typical prophet of Israel is intended. But in later timesas is seen in the New Testament108it is evident that the hope that was based on this passage was for a prophet greater than Moses, even the Messiah himself, and it must

be said that the weighty words of verse 19 lend themselves to such an interpretation of the passage: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.109

In Mal. iv. 5 there is the hope of the coming of Elijah the prophet in the context of the hope of the great and terrible day of the Lord. Chapter iii. 1 is commonly associated with this, Behold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple.... Whether this was to be thought of as the return of the prophet of the 9th century, or whether of the coming of a new Elijah, there is the sense of the repetition of past history, but in the setting of the glory of the coming day of the Lord.

(c) The Feast of Tabernacles

The feasts of Israel were given an eschatological meaning. The Feast of Tabernacles was not only an agricultural festival, a thanksgiving for the land and its harvest: it recalled the dwelling in tabernacles in the wilderness days, and Gods provision for the people before they entered their land. The Fourth Gospel probably reflects the ceremonies that later Jewish practice added to the celebration of the feast, as well as the fulfilment of its meaning in Christ.

But there is an eschatological hope connected with the Feast of Tabernacles even in Old Testament days. In Zechariah xiv the thought of the Feast as the harvest is connected with the ingathering of the nations. All the nations and families of the earth are summoned to go up to Jerusalem to keep it. Whether or not it can be said to be evident from this passage, it is clear that before the time of Christ, there was, connected with the Feast of Tabernacles, the hope of the future tabernacling of God in the midst of His people in a more glorious way than ever before. It has been sufficiently well established that the Jewish Lectionary antedates the Christian era,110 and in this Zechariah xiv and

1 Kings viii, Solomons prayer at the dedication of the temple, were coupled as readings for the Feast of Tabernacles.111 There can be little doubt of the significance of this fact. The presence of the Lord with His people in the wilderness and in the temple was a picture, or a type, of that more glorious tabernacling in their midst in the day that was yet to be, when the ingathering of the nations would be fulfilled.

(d) The Passover

We may be certain also that long before New Testament times such a future hope was connected with the observance of the Passover. Again it is difficult to find direct evidence for this from the Old Testament itself. From the Gospels, however, we learn that the hope of a new redemption or deliverance glowed in the hearts of devout Israelites before the coming of Christ and the preaching of His salvation,112 and the thought of redemption must have taken their minds back to the Exodus. To the quietists the redemption that was sought was a spiritual deliverance; to the Zealots redemption was an intensely political hope. But for both we can understand that it burned most brightly at Passover time. We have already dwelt on the way in which the Exile was regarded as a new Exodus. We should also notice that the prophets spiritualize some aspects of the Exodus and the wilderness experiences in a way which prepared for the hope of a deliverance of a spiritual nature. Hosea said that the new captivity would be in Egypt, but not in the literal Egypt.113 In Ezekiel especially we see how Egypt is regarded as the place of moral and spiritual temptation and bondage.114 And the new bondage was, in a way that the old bondage in Egypt had not been, a punishment or chastening because of the nations sin. Hence, as we have seen, the people were to re-learn through their experiences the knowledge and fear of the Lord, even as the nation of old had learnt to depend on Him in the wilderness. The second Exodus was a repetition of the first, but it was in a much fuller sense a spiritual deliverance. This must have affected the keeping of the Passover, so that its place in the religious life of Judaism, especially in post-exilic times, must have been such that, with its observance, there was a hope of eternal deliverance, of deliverance from all the bondage of evil, for

which those of the Pharisaic tradition in particular hoped. Dalman says of the Passover:

Every thought of the redemption from Egypt, of which it is a memorial, must have led to a comparison between what had taken place and the present. Everything imperfect in the latter and not quite in tune with that redemption from slavery, must have awakened the hope of new redemption. The reality of Gods act at the Exodus, in so far as it was believed and perceived as the foundation of the character of Israel as a People of God, was an assurance of the fact that the second divine act could not but take place, when the success of the former one seemed to have been made void through human sin.115

There is good ground, therefore, for the belief that, for devout Israelites, the Feasts were not only witnesses to the fact that what God had done in the past He could do again; but that they also made vivid the hope that God would step into their history in a new way; the Messianic age would dawn in which there would be a new deliverance, greater and deeper than anything before. It is this hope that provides the background for the true relationship between type and antitype.

(e) The New Temple

We may illustrate this further by considering Israels institutions and in particular that of the temple. When, in Old Testament days, Israel thought of the presence of God in the midst of His people, they thought of the tent of meeting and of the temple. Before the days of the monarchy the ark and the tent of meeting were the particular symbols of Gods presence; the loss of the ark was felt to be the loss of the glory of the Lord from amongst His people.116 Then the temple was built, and it was regarded as in a unique sense the place of the Lords dwelling in Israel. When Gods judgment came on the nation, and the temple was destroyed, the prophet Ezekiel saw in his vision the glory of the Lord departing from the city.117 The return from the Exile saw the building of a second temple. To those who knew the old temple, and who saw the construction of a new and less magnificent structure, there could be only disappointment. But the answer of the prophet Haggai to them in their discouragement was that this new temple would be of more glory than that which had been destroyed.118

In the latter days God would come to His temple. In the coming day of the Lord He would shake all nations, and cause them to bring their riches into the temple. Because of His acts then, which would surpass any of His acts on behalf of His people in the past, it would be a more glorious house than they had before.

In a different way we find in Ezekiel xl - xlviii the vision of a new and finer temple than that which had been destroyed. The temple of the prophets vision was to be greater in dimensions and grander in structure than the old. But the one fact of transcendent importance was that to this house the glory of the Lords presence would return119 and consequently the city would be called The Lord is there.120 In various parts of the Old Testament, however, we find the expression of the hope that, since the Lords presence cannot be thought of as limited in any way to the temple, His tabernacling presence would in future be known in a more glorious way than could be realized in the temple. Gods dwelling is apart from men, and heaven is the place of His temple121; and no earthly shrine can adequately express or manifest the presence of God. In 1 Kings viii. 27, in the prayer of dedication of the temple, we have these words, But will God in very deed dwell on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded. The prophet Isaiah clearly felt this as, in his vision, he saw that just the skirts or the train of the Lord filled the temple, and as he heard the seraphs cry, The fulness of the whole earth is His glory.122 Yet perhaps the greatest expression of this in the Old Testament is in the words of Isaiah Ixvi. 1, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what manner of house will ye build unto me? and what place shall be my rest? As the sense of Gods transcendence grew, so developed the awareness that the tabernacling of the holy and omnipotent God among men was yet to be more wonderful than the temple could express.

From a different direction, some of the Old Testament prophets reached the verge of the hope that the tabernacling presence would not be thought of as in a place or a building, but in the hearts of men. Prophets could look for the day when the Lord would give His Spirit to His people in a new way, indwelling them and so giving new life and inspiration123; they could speak of a new covenant under which

there would be a new desire to obey the Lord and do His will, because the law would be set in their hearts124 or because His sanctuary would be in the midst of them in a new way.125 It needed, however, the fulfilment to bring together the understanding that was already there of the indwelling Spirit and of the tabernacling presence of God. In both there was a hope for the future, expressed in terms of what had been realized in the past, but which was to be experienced in a more glorious way.

(f) The New Covenant

This last point leads us to the thought of the new covenant. We have seen already that the basis of all the institutions of Israel, and all Gods dealings with Israel, was the covenant. There was the old covenant made with the fathers and with Israel in all their generations, and there was nothing imperfect in the divine side of that covenant, no failure at any time in Gods promises. Yet Israel had failed constantly. From time to time they were led back to renew the covenant and to make afresh their promises to their God who had pledged Himself to them.126 The prophet Jeremiah saw such a renewal of the covenant under Josiah; but he lived to see its failure, for the people could not keep it from their hearts. He was enabled to see that God in His grace would give a new covenant127, in which mans part would not be just a law written on tables of stone. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their hearts will I write it... and their sin will I remember no more.128 Thus the Old Testaments own understanding of the covenant provides the basis of the later New Testament antitype: the new covenant fashioned on and foreshadowed by the old, but far surpassing it.

(g) A New Creation and a New People

The point of Jeremiahs words, however, is not just that there will be a new covenant, but new men who will obey God from their hearts. Those of the old Testament prophets and psalmists who were led to

understand most deeply the nature of mans sin and of man himself, saw that only in new men, in a new creation, could the purpose of God be realized, and His people live in dependence on Him and in the victory and peace and obedience that He had planned for them. And here we are brought again to the repetition of the acts of God. For those who believe their God to be Lord of all, the supreme act of the past is the act of creation itself. He was at the beginning, He is author of all things. The action whereby God would overcome all the limitations and failures and sins of men is thus described in terms of a new creation. The word of the Lord through the prophets is, Behold I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind...129 The Messianic age, whether with or without reference to the personal Messiah, can be described as a return to the conditions of Paradise.130

We should associate also with thisalthough the themes are slightly differentthe renewing or reviving of Gods people, their re-creation. Where it is said in Ezekiel that this land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden,131 it is said in the same context, A new heart also will I give you; and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.132 The individual is to be made new, and so is the nation. This same prophet looked on the Israel of his day, and saw them, as it were, as dry bones; but he was enabled to see the Spirit of the Lord come and bring new life to the bones. They said, Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost, we are clean cut off. But the answer was, Thus saith the Lord God: Behold I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, O my people.... And I will put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I will place you in your own land: and ye shall know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.133

We can understand some of the Servant passages of Isaiah xl - Iv best as we see there a people redeemed by the new Exodus, made anew the servant of the Lord to carry out His purpose among the Gentiles as they have never carried it out before. The repetition of the old work of redemption and the re-creating of a people come very close together here. The prophet passes from speaking of Israel as a

nation and speaks of the Servant in terms that could never have been used of Israel in their past history. But the purpose of God for the Servant is based on the purpose of God for His people in the past.134 Thus we have the two basic elements of typology that we have noted elsewhere brought before us again. And at the heart of the great statement of the work of the Servant in Isaiah liii is the revelation that his life is to be made an offering for sin; His is a sacrifice with all the meaning of the old guilt offering; but the victim is now not an animal, but the righteous Servant of the Lord, a greater sacrifice than any that had been known before.

Thus we find in the Old Testament the twofold basis of typology. We find that the belief in the unchanging God who is Lord of history leads to the understanding of the repetition of the acts of God. We find also that the Old Testament itself points forward to divine acts more glorious than any in the past. The Old Testament is an incomplete book, it is revelation developing towards a climax. There is the constant prediction of a day of the Lord, a consummation, a unique revelation of the power and glory of God in the person of the Messiah or in a Messianic age. Then God will reveal Himself in mercy and in judgment more fully than ever before. This hope is expressed in terms of the past, yet exceeds anything experienced in the past. There is to be a new David, but a greater than David; a new Moses but a greater than Moses; a new Elijah or Melchizedek, but one greater than those who stand out from the pages of the old records. There is to be a greater and more wonderful tabernacling of God, as His presence comes to dwell in a new temple. There is to be a new creation, a new Israel, redeemed, revived, a people made up of those to whom a new heart and a new spirit are given that they may love and obey their Lord.

Old Testament prophecy, as we have seen, depended for much of its expression on the actualities of Old Testament history, and of its record. Its conviction of an unchanging God was the basis of that confidence that He would act in the future as He had done in the past. Its hope of a Messianic age provided for the relation between type and antitype, the latter greater and more excellent than the former. It needed only the coming of the One in whom all the prophecies of the Old Testament would be fulfilled, in whom all those themes of hope

in the Old Testament would be gathered up and realized, the Fulfilment and the Fulfiller of all the types that the Old Testament history presented. The unity of the Old Testament depends on the unchanging nature of the God who is there revealed. The unity of Old and New Testaments provides the justification for typology as we understand it, as the theological interpretation of history. The superiority of the New is to provide the antitype, the fulfilment in Christ Himself, of the Old Testament type or foreshadowing.