Let’s continue on with my message which was presented at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. We’ve been discussing how God talked to the prophets who in turn talked to the people. God used writing and oral and acting prophets. Now we’ll cover people’s lives and objects which functioned as symbolic prophecies.
My favorite style of prophecy is symbolic prophecy. The Bible is full of symbolic prophecy. You will never love to read the Old Testament until you understand this point. If you know how to read the symbols in prophecy, you can find Jesus on almost every page. There are just so many symbols of Jesus in the Old Testament. There are even symbols in events. Every feast in the Jewish calendar is something that points to an agricultural event, to something in the past, to the giving of the Law, and to something in the future that will be fulfilled by the Messiah. Every event there is prophetic in nature.
There are also people in the Old Testament who are prophetic in nature. Their lives are symbolic prophecies.
One such person is Joseph. He is probably the greatest of all of the symbolic prophecies in the Old Testament. Joseph delivered a message from God to his kinsman, just as Jesus came to deliverer a message of God to the Jewish people.
What did Joseph’s kinsman do? They rejected him, just like the Jews rejected Jesus. What else did they do to Joseph? They took him and put him into a pit and left him for dead. They tried to kill him. What did the Jewish people do? They killed Jesus along with the Gentiles and others, but they actually killed Jesus. Then what happened to Joseph? Along came a caravan that pulled him out in a symbolic resurrection, just as Jesus was really resurrected. Then what happened? Joseph went into a foreign country, just as Jesus went into a foreign country. He’s gone to Heaven.
Then Joseph took a Gentile bride, just as Jesus is taking a Gentile bride right now. When He is finished taking His Gentile bride, Jesus will take the next step that Joseph did. Joseph revealed himself to his brethren and his brethren accepted him. Jesus will reveal Himself to His brethren and the Jews will look upon Him whom they pierced and they will weep and wale and mourn and they will receive Him as their Messiah.
All throughout the Old Testament there are these prophetic types. Take David for example. When David was anointed to be the king of all of Israel, Saul was still king. David became a king in waiting. Jesus is a King in waiting right now. Jesus came as our Savior. Right now He is our High Priest before God. But, when Jesus returns, He will be our king. He’s the anointed King waiting just as David waited to come back and reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Even inanimate objects are prophetic symbols. One of the most powerful is the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant was made out of wood, which was a symbol that the Messiah would be human. It was overlaid with gold, which was a symbol that the Messiah would be divine. It had three objects in it, and one of those objects was the Ten Commandments that were given to Moses. This was a symbol that the Messiah would perfectly fulfill the Law. There was a pot of manna, which was a symbol that the Messiah would be the Bread of Life. There was the rod of Aaron that budded, which was a symbol that the Messiah would be resurrected from the dead.
Over these objects was what was called the Mercy Seat. Once a year the High Priest would go in and sprinkle the blood on the Mercy Seat to indicate that one day the Messiah would spill His blood to make it possible for the grace of God and mercy of God to cover the Law of God, which makes it possible for us to be reconciled to God. On the seat were two cherubim, one at each end with their wings spread over the Mercy Seat. Their wing tips were touching. That was where the Shekinah Glory of God dwelled in the Temple.
When you understand these symbols, it brings the Scriptures alive in a way that it never has before. It also helps you to understand some things in the New Testament that don’t seem to be all that important. For instance, look at John 20. I will show you something very simple there that has a profound meaning.
John 20:11-12 reads, “Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping; and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and the other at the feet where the body of Jesus had lain.” This may seem like a simple historical statement. Mary sticks her head in the tomb, looks over to the burial chamber, and sees where the body of Jesus had been lying. There is an angel at each end. But, if you understand symbolic prophecy, you will understand that what Mary really saw when she looked into the tomb was the Mercy Seat where the blood had been spilled with a cherubim at each end. This was a symbol that the whole meaning of the Ark of the Covenant had been fulfilled in the life and death and burial of Jesus Christ.
We are told something very interesting in Jeremiah 3:16. It’s speaking of the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ.
“‘Then it shall come to pass when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days [the Millennium]’ says the Lord, ‘that they will no more say “the ark of the covenant of the Lord.” It shall not come to mind nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit, nor shall it be made anymore. At that time Jerusalem should be called the Throne of Yahweh and all the nations shall be gathered to it in the name of Yahweh. To Jerusalem no more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts.”
When the Millennial Temple is built, there will be no Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies. It will be empty. It will not be needed because Jesus will be there. He is the absolute fulfillment of the Ark of the Covenant as our Lord and Savior.