Straight away we are presented with the pattern of the week in Genesis. It was divided into two portions, the six days of Work, and one day of Rest. Six days for man to operate, followed by one day when he was required to turn aside and realise that he was walking in a sacred temporal zone, where work was forbidden, and worship to take its place.
We have suggested that this was the first indicator of a symbolism that gradually became clearer as time progressed. The ever rolling pattern of the week became a constant reminder that God was working His purposes out as the waters cover the sea. In this chapter we shall present a few further indicators that this symbolism is correct, and that as God was working towards His final goal, He was also presenting further proofs of His work.
Take, for example, the life of Noah. We are distinctly told that, “Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.” (Gen.7:6) And in verse 11, “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened, and the rain was upon the earth for forty days and forty nights.”
One year later we read, “And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year [of Noah’s life], in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up . . . and in the second month, on the twenty seventh day of the month,” Noah was instructed to leave the Ark. (Gen.8:13-17)
Noah’s work was done during six centuries on the old earth, and at the beginning of his seventh century he lived on the new earth. Here is the same pattern, this time in terms of centuries, rather than days or millennia. The old world was physically far more beautiful and productive than the new world, but it had to be destroyed because of the wickedness of man. In the outworking of the symbol, we are expecting the seventh millennium to furnish a restoration of the beauties of the old world, but purge out the wickedness. It will be a reversal of Noah’s day in respect of the physical condition of the world.
Before moving on to the next example, another symbolism is also apparent in these chapters about the flood, which are three in number. Chapter 6 deals with the judgment and the construction of the Ark. Chapter 7 deals with the flood itself and the security of Noah’s family in the Ark. Chapter 8 tells of the emergence from the Ark into the new world.
The numbers 6, 7, and 8 are like the days Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Here is a parable of the crucifixion. The judgment of all mankind was heaped on our Lord’s shoulders on Good Friday when He was crucified. On Saturday He descended into hell, but Satan was unable to touch him because like Noah in type, He was a perfect sacrifice. Noah, we are told, was “a just man and perfect in his generations, and walked with God.” (Gen.6:9) He was not sinless, but his perfection was a divine attribution due to his walk of faith. In that respect he was like the Son of God.
In Gethsemane, Jesus pleaded with His Father, but finally accepted the great trial before Him. There was no alternative, no turning back. It was like a woman whose labour pains had just started. Likewise we are told that when Noah entered the Ark, “the Lord shut him in.” (Gen.7:16) There was no turning back.
Jesus held “the keys of hell and death.” (Rev.1:18) He was able to open the nether region from the inside and come forth triumphant in resurrection, bringing with Him, “a multitude of captives.” (Eph.4:8) just as Noah was able to alight from the Ark into the new world, accompanied by his family, figured by the number 8 in the chapter of Genesis, and the 8th day for Jesus’ resurrection.
Furthermore, in 1 Peter 3:19-21 we read the following. “Jesus . . . put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which having gone He preached to the spirits in prison, who were sometime disobedient when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the Ark was being prepared, wherein few, that is eight souls, were saved by water. The like figure whereunto baptism now saves us.”
Compare this with our Lord’s words in Luke 12:50. “I have a baptism to be baptised with, and how am I straitened until it be accomplished.” He was using baptism as the figure of His passion, now but a few months away. So we have yet another parallel between Noah and our Lord.
We now move on to the story of Joash in 2 Kings 11, and 2 Chron.22.
THE STORY OF JOASH. In this example we shall look at the dramatic story of Joash, the little boy who was crowned king at seven years of age. The circumstances surrounding the crowning were clearly prophetic of the days in which we now live. Rather than quote the passages, I’ll attempt to re-tell the story with an emphasis on the important factors.
The story is set in the days of Elijah and Elisha, when Israel was divided into two Kingdoms, the northern kingdom of Israel, with ten tribes, and the southern kingdom of Judah with two tribes. God’s promise to David, that the Messiah would come through his line, was therefore within the southern kingdom. And whereas the O.T. tells us that in the northern kingdom there was not one king who served the Lord, there was a measure of faithfulness preserved in the southern kingdom.
JEZEBEL AND ATHALIAH. The kings of Judah needed to keep apart from the idolatrous activities of their northern brethren. Mixture would undoubtedly lead to spiritual and moral failure. All was well until Judah’s king Jehoshaphat made a devastating blunder. He tried to create a union between north and south. But the northern king, Ahab, had married an evil woman by the name of Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of Tyre, who was a slavish worshipper of Baal. Jezebel brought Baal worship into Israel, and established 450 prophets. Ahab was a weak king, and allowed this to permeate his kingdom as yeast permeates the dough.
But Jehoshaphat believed in ecumenism. He thought that he could bring the two kingdoms together again. In human eyes, this was a laudable goal, but in the eyes of God it spelled disaster. His great mistake was to marry his son Jehoram to Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. Now Athaliah had a head-strong nature like her mother, and she planned to introduce Baal worship into the kingdom of Judah.
After the death of Jehoram, their son Ahaziah was made king. Athaliah was Queen Mother, and ruled the roost, enjoying her position of power. It looked as though the yeast of Baal was going to permeate ALL of the two kingdoms. This was Satan’s plan. It would destroy God’s work. It would prevent the prophesied Messiah from coming.
JEHU. But God had a plan to deal with this problem. Elijah was told to anoint Jehu as king of Israel. In fact it didn’t happen in his days, but in Elisha’s ministry. Jehu began to purge both kingdoms of Baal worship, and slaughtered all the offspring of Ahab and Jezebel. Then he killed Ahaziah, and the rest of Athaliah’s sons. But Athaliah was left alive, and she was livid with rage. “Hell knows no fury like a woman scorned.” Her real motives were then revealed, because she caused all her grandsons to be killed, thereby blotting out the line of Judah’s kings altogether. That was Satan’s goal, and it was also within the heart of Athaliah. She set herself up as Queen, the only queen ever to sit on the throne of Israel or Judah.
JEHOSHEBA AND JEHOIADA. But Jehoram, her husband, had had other wives, and through one of these was born a daughter by the name of Jehosheba, who grew up to be a godly woman, and who eventually married the High Priest Jehoiada. And at the time when Athaliah was slaughtering her grandsons, Jehosheba dashed into the palace and grabbed a little baby of one year of age, named Joash, and hurried him away into the Temple. Athaliah had no knowledge of this. She believed she had eliminated the line of David, and was about to set up a new dynasty of her own choosing.
THE SIX YEARS WAIT. Baby Joash was tended by Jehosheba and his nurse for the next six years. The Temple was the safest place. It was virtually unused for worship in those days. Its courts were broken up, and its furniture removed. Athaliah would never have bothered herself with it. Hence it was ideal for concealment. And during that time there were but few who knew of the secret, for security reasons. And many of the house of Judah were in mourning for the loss of their kingly line. All hope for the future had vanished.
JEHOIADA’S COUP D’ETAT. At the end of six years, when the young prince Joash was just seven years old, High Priest Jehoiada decided to act. Temple security guards were supplied with weapons deposited there by King David. It was a Sabbath Day. Everyone was on duty in the Temple Court. Little Joash was brought out, and crowned king amidst great rejoicing, and cries of “God save the king!”
THE END OF ATHALIAH. Athaliah heard the noise, and went to investigate. On entering the Temple Court, she was to witness the crowning ceremony, and screamed out, saying “Treason! Treason!” But it was too late. The guards were ready to put an end to her, but Jehoiada cautioned them, saying that they must first escort her out of the Temple, to avoid defilement to the holy place. She was then killed.
RIGHTEOUSNESS RESTORED. New life surged through the house of Judah. Those who mourned were now comforted. The young king, nurtured continually by the aged Jehoida, began a reign of righteousness, and caused all the paraphernalia of Baal to be purged from the land. The Temple was cleansed, and worship of Jehovah re-instituted. The whole line of Jezebel had been eradicated from both Israel and Judah.
THE GREAT LESSON. God has used times, people, situations, and events to provide a prophetic backcloth in the Bible. See how this works in this story. A span of six years is depicted, in which righteous government is not only absent, but (in the eyes of the majority) never likely to emerge again. Isn’t that how world history has been shaped? How many times over the six thousand years have people mourned, and wondered why apparently God has abdicated His role in world affairs? Yes, the six years of Joash represent the six thousand years of world history. Some Christians will not accept this figure, desiring to make it much longer, but there are cogent reasons why the 6000 years is a very real and believable figure from Biblical analysis.
THE SABBATH DAY. And then we learn that Joash was crowned on the Sabbath Day. After the six thousand years, the Book of Revelation speaks about a 1000-year reign of Christ, together with all His elect family. Is not this the meaning of the six days of creation in type? Is it not the case that God’s children KNOW about little Joash, even if the world is ignorant? Those who carry precious faith are aware that all will be well, and that the promises are still sure. It is a secret, but the Crowning Day is near, even at the doors!
There is even more symbolism in the Old Testament. Immediately after the giving of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, we find the following – “These are the judgments that you [Moses] shall set before them, [i.e. the children of Israel.] If you purchase a Hebrew servant, he shall serve for six years, but in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing.” (Exod.21:1-2) In other words his freedom is complete. There will be no outstanding debts or commitments. He will be able to walk into a life of freedom, with no ties binding him to his past life of servitude. This must surely be a symbol of this world’s condition, where men and women are bound to one form of servitude or another, each and every one of us, whether we be millionaires or on the dole queue. But in resurrection, all forms of slavery will be banished. We shall not be dependent on finance, food, shelter, medical assistance, or transport.
The basic requirement, stated in Exodus 21, is amplified in Deut.15:12-15. “If your brother [or sister], a Hebrew man or Hebrew woman, be sold to you and serve you six years, then in the seventh year you shall let him go free. And when you send him out, you shall not let him go away empty; you shall furnish him liberally out of your flock, and out of your threshing-floor, and out of your winepress, of all that the Lord your God has blessed you, you shall give to him. And you shall remember that you were a bondmen in the land of Egypt, and the Lord God redeemed you, therefore I command you this thing today.” What a bountiful God! What a caring Lord we have! Seldom in the history of this world has such a command been carried out, so far as we know. On the contrary, we have known and read of many cases where quite the opposite has been done, either by enforced slavery with no promise of release, or if release comes, then a man is sent away empty.
Jeremiah had something to say about the sad and sorry situation that obtained in his day in respect of slavery. “I made a covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, saying, at the end of six years of service, let every man go that is an Hebrew, but your fathers hearkened not to me, neither inclined their ear. . . . You turned and polluted my name, and caused every man his servant and handmaid to return to bring them into subjection. . . As a result, I now proclaim liberty for the sword , pestilence, and famine to chase you.” (Jer.34:12-17)
And so we long for the day of release from the bondage of this world, the day when God’s sons will be manifested, and freedombe the keyword to men’s songs as the Millennial Kingdom is established throughout all the earth.