Interpreting, with Eyes Open
“These things happened unto them typically, and they were written for our admonition,
upon whom the ends of the ages are come” (1 Corinthians 10:11 RVIC).
by James Parkinson
We may be confident when the Bible identifies a notable event as a type/foreshadow of something later to come. When the Bible is not specific, we should allow some uncertainty but may consider whether an event might have a typical significance. Greater confidence may be gained in those interpretations which can be verified or falsified before the church is complete.
Battle of the Kings (Genesis 14)
Two alliances had conquered western cities and were now returning to put down a rebellion. Abraham, with his nephew Lot, had previously come to the West (at the behest of Amraphel king of Shinar / Ur-Nammu king of Sumer) and could have remained a neutral observer if Lot had not associated himself with rebelling Sodom.
Melchizedek (Meläk-tzedeq, King of Righteousness) typifies Jesus Christ (Hebrews 5:6-10). Abram would picture those called out (ekklesis, out-calling; hence the word “ecclesia”).
More speculatively, Shinar and Elam might typify the irreligious world and Islam, while the nations of the West might typify the nations of Christendom (which are then conquered one battle at a time), or perhaps institutionalized Christianity (as distinguished from individual practicing Christians). We do see Atheism and Islam collaborating to destroy Christianity (and attempting to destroy Israel). If they succeed, the world will not be able to blame Christ for Armageddon.
Lesson: If we see some of our Christian brethren allying with “Sodom” (immoral “Christianity”) we should not follow them there, but they are still our brethren. If they get into trouble, we should be ready to help, as was Abraham.
Joshua’s Battle at Ai (Joshua 7-8)
While we are not assured in the New Testament that the battles at Ai are intended to be a type, nevertheless, we may see what it might typify. It took two battles to conquer Ai. Achan, of the tribe of Judah (which was to become the ruling tribe of Israel), had taken a Babylonish mantle at Jericho that was to have been destroyed (while the gold and silver he took were to have gone into the tabernacle treasury).
Lesson: Even if we have great zeal for the Lord, if we practice some of the sins of Babylon, we will then be rejected. Nevertheless, the faithful church, purged of sentiment for any and all of the sins of Babylon, will ultimately triumph in Christ’s thousand-year kingdom.
Deborah vs. the Canaanites (Judges 4)
The climactic battle for each of the Judges seems to typify one or another aspect of Armageddon. Jabin’s captain, Sisera, came after Israel with nine hundred iron chariots — the high technology of the time — but did not reckon with Jehovah God’s power over clouds and torrential rains. Just as Pharaoh’s six hundred iron chariots became bogged down in the mud, so were Sisera’s chariots.
Lesson: Our God is more than able to thwart even the best technology of the twenty-first century.
Gideon’s Victory Over Midian and Its Allies (Judges 6-7)
Gideon’s struggle was against three enemies (Midian, Amalekites, and sons of the east/Arabs; all descended from Abraham). These three may parallel the three enemies of Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20), the three unclean spirits of Revelation 16:13-14, and perhaps the three groups in Genesis 14.
Lesson: In any case, our God is more than able to defeat multitudes of enemies — even billions. It would not surprise us if millions will attempt to invade Israel at Armageddon, but our God is more than able to defend His people.
Jehoshaphat’s encounter with three enemies may add more information (2 Chronicles 20). Two enemies ganged together to destroy the third, and then they destroyed each other. Might they typify Leftist Atheism and Islamicism (Ammon and Moab?) allying to destroy institutionalized Christianity (and its tyrannies), before the Atheist powers attack Israel and its Muslim neighbors? Or will there soon be another set of three powers? We need only wait to see.
Are these three also the same as the three unclean spirits of Revelation 16:13-16? Let us watch and wait and see.
Saul, Jonathan, and David Defeat the Philistines (1 Samuel 14, 17)
The Apostle Peter tells us that David typified Jesus (e.g., Acts 2:22-32 and Psalm 16:8-11, Acts 2:34-36, and Psalm 110:1). We may be less sure about what Jonathan and his victory over the Philistines may typify, but the following suggestion may fit:
If the forty-year reign of King Saul represents the Jewish Age or its Israelite rulers, then Saul’s son Jonathan may represent the Ancient Worthies (David, Daniel, Isaiah, etc.). Jonathan looked to God and brought Israel victory over the Philistines (1 Samuel 14:6-15). Similarly, the prophets many times brought Israel to Jehovah God, who in turn gave them victories and peace.
Jonathan innocently ate honey during the battle and was enlightened. But King Saul unwisely forbade Israel the food to strengthen them, and so the enemy was not fully vanquished (1 Samuel 14:24-30). Likewise, many kings of Judah descended into sin, to the hurt of the nation.
Lesson: When the smell of personal success is at the expense of others, we can expect it to come back to hurt us. Later on, Saul was disobedient when conquering the Amalekites, so God rejected him (chapter 15). Similarly, Israel became disobedient and was taken captive by Assyrians, and then Judah by Babylonians.
David was anointed by Samuel the prophet while Saul was still king (chapter 16). Similarly, Jesus was anointed (Messiah) before the end of the Jewish Age. (After the death of Saul and Jonathan, David was anointed king of Judah and still later over all Israel, 2 Samuel 2:4, 5:3. These latter two anointings correspond to Christ at his return becoming king over the saints he resurrects, and after Armageddon becoming king over the whole world of mankind.)
David and Goliath: David would typify Jesus Christ, or the Christ — Jesus the head and the true church his body (e.g., R5662). Goliath might be variously understood to typify: sin and iniquity (e.g., R5662), Satan and all who are on his side (e.g., R3230), Papal Rome (might appeal to Reformation Protestants), or Pagan Rome might appeal to Preterists: Catholics or Liberal Protestants). In any case, David vanquished the enemy, first by using his slingshot to knock Goliath unconscious (1 Samuel 17:49), and then to use Goliath’s own sword to slay him (1 Samuel 17:51).
Lesson: We may continue to watch and see how the tyranny in “this present evil world” continues to be more entrenched, leading up to Armageddon. We are to encourage one another and to appreciate all the honest and kind people who are attempting to buck the trend. Jonathan and the much-younger David had genuine godly love for each other (1 Samuel 18:1-4). Similarly, the prophets prophesied unto the true church, and the true church loves now the prophets.