THE JEWISH CONCEPT OF TIME
REPEATING PATTERNS -CYCLES & TYPES: THE STUDY OF TYPOLOGY
THE WESTERN CONCEPT OF TIME IS LINEAR
Modern historical chronology sees time as a linear progress from beginning to end; from Big Bang to the End of the Universe; from Genesis to Revelation. This idea from western rationalism, evolutionary theory, and scientific measurement has led to some non-biblical ideas such as the inevitability of human progress and enlightenment…. Forgetting that sinful human nature does not change through time, only individuals are changed when the human heart is renewed by Jesus Christ. In the early 1900’s they called this the Social Gospel Movement: theologians believed we could fix the human condition with social programs and government actions. WWI put an end to that theology, but today, we see an atheistic version of this belief in the perfectibility of mankind through laws and government programs. But we also see how this attempt to fix human nature with government programs and laws has failed.
The root of the error here is believing that people are basically good, instead of what the bible says: we are basically selfish and sinful, unless redeemed by Jesus Christ through faith in His Name.
THE HEBREW CONCEPT OF TIME IS CYCLICAL – PATTERN THAT REPEATS.
• In Jesus’ day, the Jews were looking for signs that would identify the Messiah. He was to be a King like David, a Prophet like Moses, and a Priest like Aaron. He had to have all three characteristics. • ““The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—” (Deuteronomy 18:15, ESV) • “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’” (Deuteronomy 18:18–20, ESV) “So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.” (John 6:30–36, ESV) • The irony here is that Jesus had just fed the 5,000 in the wilderness (not counting women and children, according to Matt 14:21). The problem was that the Jews were looking for an exact repetition of manna, and did not see what was obviously right in front of their eyes!
TYPES AND PATTERNS
- Because time is a repeating pattern to the Jews, with changes, time is like variations on a theme. You still recognize the tune even thought it has modulated. • “Now if he (Jesus) were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.” (Hebrews 8:4–6, ESV) • “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:11–12, ESV)
- The Gospels were written to prove or show that Jesus was the Messiah. But in what way were they trying to show Jesus as the fulfillment of a prophet like Moses, a king like David, and a priest like Aaron? They did they by using types and examples from the Torah and Joshua, to show how Jesus was not just like them, but the fulfillment of them. The Gospels were written as evangelical tracts with a lot of theology written in to them.
• It is important to remember then, that because they saw time as cyclical, they were not trying to write a strict linear chronology like we do in the west. They were using the events of Jesus’ life to show why he is the Messiah.
THE GOSPEL OF MARK
• Papias was Bishop of Hierapolis in the first century and knew the apostles: “Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but afterward, as I said, he followed Peter, who adapted his teaching to the needs of his hearers, but with no intention of giving a connected account of the Lord’s discourses, so that Mark committed no error while he thus wrote some things as he remembered them. For he was careful of one thing, not to omit any of the things which he had heard, and not to state any of them falsely.”
So we see here that strict chronology was not the central concern of the way they wrote. That is why we see slight differences in the arrangements of the stories in the Gospels.
MATTHEW USED THE EXODUS AS HIS MODEL
- While all the gospels are very united on the Passion of Jesus at Passover, they differ on their arrangement of the events of Jesus’ life on earth. Matthew wanted to show how Jesus was the fulfillment of Torah and based his gospel on the pattern of Exodus. Here are parallels Matthew points out:
• Moses was rescued from death, hidden from the decree by an evil Pharaoh – Jesus was rescued from the slaughter of innocents ordered by evil King Herod.
• Moses was 40 days on the Mountain top – Jesus was 40 days in the Wilderness
• Moses gave the Ten Commandments and gave the Laws from Holy Mt Sinai – Jesus preached “The
Sermon on the Mount”
• Matthew also uses other parts of scripture like the Psalms and Isaiah to show how Jesus fulfilled the types: being born of a virgin and entering Jerusalem on a colt.
LUKE USES DEUTERONOMY AS HIS MODEL
- In Deuteronomy 5-6, Moses reiterates the Ten Commandments and rehearses the Laws of God on the plain – Luke 6:17-49 records Jesus Sermon on the plain. He did not record the sermon on the mount.
• Obviously, there are many other parallels and other scriptures used to show Jesus as the Christ. And Jesus’ own words testify to his nature.
JOHN USES GENESIS AND JOSHUA TO REVEAL JESUS
- John compares Jesus, the Word of God, to the Word spoken at beginning of Creation by God in Genesis one and John 1. He declares that is Jesus, by whom and through whom all things were created. “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:3, ESV)
• Jesus is the Divine Word of God. The Logos, in Greek, means the not just the Word but the reason behind all things and for all things. Jesus is the Reason, not just the reason for the season, but the reason for All Life.
JOHN USES JOSHUA, AS HIS MODEL AS WELL:
JOSHUA IN HEBREW IS YESHUA, YESHUA IS THE HEBREW FOR THE NAME JESUS
JOSHUA = YESHUA = JESUS
JOHN ALSO SHOW HOW JESUS FULFILLS THE FESTIVALS
- Jesus fulfills Passover in his death and resurrection at Passover.
- Jesus fulfills Tabernacles in John 7-9, which has the festival of lights:
- “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”” (John 8:12, ESV)
• Drawing of water: “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ”” (John 7:37–38, ESV)
Just as Joshua led the people across the Jordan River to bring the people of God into the Promised Land, John records Jesus crossing the Jordan River, on his way to certain death in Jerusalem, to deliver the people of God from death to life; into the promised land of the Spirit. Jesus is on the other side of the Jordan River but returns (John 10:40) to raise Lazarus, knowing from then on they will try to kill him.
• “So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.” (John 11:47–53, ESV)
CONCLUSION – THE PATTERNS OF THE OT FULFILLED
• We see how the writers of the New Testament saw Jesus as the fulfillment and completion of the Torah, the Holy Scriptures, the Psalms, the Prophets, the prophecies, and the Covenants of God. They saw Jesus everywhere in the scriptures as foretold if not in literal words, then in the patterns of God’s movements in the past. And they wanted to prove that Jesus is the Messiah by pointing out how the types and patterns were repeated and fulfilled in Jesus.