I post this teaching nearly every year. Some of you have read it before, but we have many new readers to this blog who haven’t read it. Hopefully this post will be a blessing to both our old and new friends. It contains very important truths relevant to understanding Bible prophecy and end times events. Parts 2 and 3 will follow. Enjoy!
Biblical Types and Antetypes
A major key to understanding biblical prophecy is to recognize the relationship between antetypes and types in the Scriptures. This means that an event or a series of events occurred once, was recorded in the Scriptures, and then at a later time a similitude of the event repeats itself, but with different characters and scene.
An antetype is a type or pattern of something that occurs before the actual event occurs (sometimes incorrectly referred to as an antitype, which means opposite rather than before). In other words, the first event predicts or points prophetically to the future event. This is a way for the Creator to give clues and hints about future events that will come to pass. Those who are ardent students of his Word and those “who have (spiritual) ears to hear” will pick up on these clues and be able to have a sense of what the Creator is going to do at some future date. In this way, those who diligently seek him are rewarded with understanding or “inside information” about what he is planning to do in the future. At the same time, his divine plans and purposes will be obscured from those who don’t have a diligent heart to seek him and his truth, and who could possibly misuse the truth, if they were to discover it, for selfish purposes if they were to learn it.
Similarly, the Gospels record that Yeshua explained deep spiritual truths via parables not to make the meaning clear to the general public, but rather to obscure it. His teachings were meant to be understood only by those whom he had called that they might know the mysteries or secrets of the kingdom of Elohim (Matt 13:10–11; Luke 8:9–10).
For thousands of years, the prophets of the Bible, as well as biblical students, scholars and sages have understood the concept of antetypes and types and it has helped them to understand Bible prophecy and future events.
Biblical antetypes are identified in three ways. First, the Scriptures themselves identify events as being antetypical. Examples would be:
- The life of Moses pointed to Yeshua (Deut 18:15–19; Heb 3:3–6).
- The serpent on the pole pointed to Yeshua’s crucifixion (John 3:14).
- The rock from which the Israelites drank prefigures Yeshua (1 Cor 10:4).
- The manna the Israelites ate prefigures the Word of Elohim or flesh of Yeshua (John 6:32, 48–51).
- Aaron as the high priest was antetypical of Yeshua’s high priesthood (Heb 5, 7 and 8).
- The sacrificial system pointed to Yeshua’s atoning death on the cross (Heb 9 and 10).
- Jonah in the whale is a prophetic picture of Yeshua’s death and resurrection (Matt 12:40).
- Melchizedek was an antetype of Yeshua (Heb 7).
- The first exodus (or redemption of Israel out of Egypt) was prototypical of a second exodus or redemption of Israel out of the world in the end times (Isa 11:11; Jer 23:7–8).
- The Jewish sages from antiquity have also identified antetypes. Examples would be:
- The difficulties surrounding Jacob’s return to the Promised Land after 20 years of exile in Babylon (under Laban, Gen 31–33) is antetypical of the difficulties surrounding the return of Jacob’s descendants to the land of Israel in the last days, which the Scriptures call “Jacob’s Trouble” (Jer 30:7).
- The life of Joseph prefigured that of a Messiah Son of Joseph, the Suffering Servant.
- The life of David prefigured that of a Messiah Son of David, the Conquering King.
- The seven-day week is antetypical of the seven thousand years of man’s tenure on this earth.
Christian Bible teachers have identified antetypes in the Scriptures as well. Examples would be:
- The Passover lamb was antetypical of Yeshua’s crucifixion.
- Isaac’s near sacrifice and the ram caught in the thicket in Genesis 22 was antetypical of Yeshua’s death.
- The tabernacle of Moses pointed in all aspects to the ministry of Yeshua as Savior and Redeemer.
Finally, Hebrew roots teachers have identified antetypes in the Scriptures. Examples would be:
- The biblical feasts point to the steps in YHVH’s plan of salvation for mankind centering around the first and second comings of Messiah.
- The stages of the biblical wedding point to YHVH’s plan of salvation for mankind.
- YHVH’s judgments on Egypt point prophetically to his judgments on Babylon the Great in the last days.
In like manner, the story of Joseph’s interacting with his brothers (starting in Genesis chapter 37 through 46) is antetypical of future events that are to happen on a national level with the children of the patriarchs.
In this study, we will examine the events of Joseph and Judah in Egypt to see how they relate to the houses of Joseph or Ephraim (broadly speaking, the Christians) and Judah (broadly speaking, the Jews) in the last days. Remember that although the events and details of antetypes and types correlate, they do not match each other perfectly in every detail. There should, however, be enough similarities between the two that to the rational and biblically astute mind the juxtaposition of the two is not a logical stretch. Some of these parallels the writers of Scripture tell us about, while others we must arrive at through our own diligent and careful analysis of the Scriptures.
Joseph and Judah (the Two Houses of Israel)
In what follows, we will see types and shadows that point to the end-time reunification of the two houses of Israel (Joseph/Ephraim and Judah/the Jews), and to Yeshua the Messiah whose role it would be to regather and reunite the two houses of Israel by laying his life down as a ransom or substitute for his brothers. In this study, we will discuss the following themes:
- reuniting lost family members
- reconciliation and healing of wounds and offenses between families
- forgiveness of past wrongs, offenses and misunderstandings
- prophetic shadows of Yeshua the Messiah
Let’s now analyze the events in the life of Joseph (and to a lesser degree, Judah) as they occurred chronologically to see how they pointed forward to events that would occur in the future including the end times.
Joseph Taken as Captive to a Gentile Nation (Gen 37)
Joseph was sold into slavery and taken as a captive to Egypt. Similarly and prophetically, Joseph’s descendants (Ephraim and Manasseh), along with their fellow tribesmen of the northern kingdom of Israel (or house of Israel), were taken as captives into Assyria (ca. 723 B.C.). From there they were scattered around the world (into spiritual “Egypt,” ) where the biblical prophets predicted they would remain until the final regathering at the end of the age (just prior to and at the coming of Messiah). We will understand this more as we proceed.
Joseph: From Slave to Ruler (Gen 37, 41)
At first, Joseph was a slave and a prisoner in Egypt, but then he prospered and was elevated to a position of leadership there. Likewise, in the future, Joseph’s descendants (Ephraim, Manasseh, and the rest of the house of Israel) would start out as slaves and captives in Assyria (in the eighth century b.c.), but would later become leaders and rulers in their captive nations and would actually have their own nations just as Jacob prophesied would occur to Ephraim and Manasseh (that they would become a multitude of nations, Gen 48:19). We believe that these nations have become the primary Christian nations (of which America is the leader). As we shall see below, the ancient Jewish sages, based on their understanding of the Scriptures, foresaw that the nations of the ten tribes would spread the truth of Messiah Son of Joseph, the Suffering Servant (Yeshua the Messiah at his first coming) around the world. This would help to prepare the way for the Messiah Son of David (Yeshua the Messiah at his second coming).
How do we know that many people in the major Christian nations would be the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh? The answer is found in understanding the prophecy that Jacob made on his death bed over Joseph’s two sons. In Genesis 48 while prophesying over Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, Jacob crossed his hands over their heads making the symbol of the Paleo-Hebrew letter tav (like our letter t or x in our English alphabet), which resembles a cross.” Jacob then spoke of the Heavenly Messenger of YHVH (the Hebrew word malak being mistranslated as “angel” in most Bibles), understood to be the preincarnate Yeshua, who had redeemed him from all evil and who would bless the lads (see Gen 31:11–13). Jacob then prophesied that the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh would become like “fish in the midst of the land.”
In light of this prophetic symbolism, which religious group on earth today fulfills the religious symbolisms in Jacob’s prophecy as to who the descendents of Ephraim and Manasseh would be? Which religion on earth today uses the fish as their symbol, speaks of a Messenger from YHVH as their Redeemer, and has the sign of the Paleo-Hebrew letter tav, which looks like a cross? The Buddhists? The Moslems? The Hindus? Even the Jews? No! Only Christianity fits this enigmatic criteria. Many Christians are without a doubt the literal descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh. Those who are not, according to the Apostle Paul, in some unique sense become the descendants of Abraham once they come to saving faith in Yeshua (e.g., Gal 3:7, 29).
The Jewish sages from antiquity have understood the prophetic implications of the events and prophecies surrounding Genesis chapters 37 through 49. For example, in Genesis 48:18 Jacob prophesies that the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh would become “a multitude of nations.” What do the Jewish sages say about this prophetic verse as pertaining to the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh?
- Ibn Ezra declares that many nations will descend from him (i.e., the word TKN [melo], “fullness,” connotes “abundance,” the phrase meaning: And his seed will become the abundance of the nation [Neter; Karnei Or].)
- R. Avraham ben HaRambam states that the expression denotes abundant profligacy to a point that they will have to inhabit lands of other nations. This is an allusion to Ephraim’s expansive territory.
- Radak says that this refers to the exile when the lands of others will be filled with his scattered descendants.… See also Hos 7:8: “Ephraim shall be mingled among the nations.
The ArtScroll Bereishis/Genesis Commentary says of this verse,
What kind of blessing was this prediction that one day [Jacob’s] descendants—the Ten Tribes—would be scattered among the nations? R. Munk explains: while it is true that the dispersion was caused by the unfaithfulness and sinfulness of Ephraim’s descendants (Hos 7:8ff), Jacob’s blessing was not in vain for “they will return to God” and will have their share in the world to come ([Talmud] Sanhedrin 110b). And R. Eliezer adds: ‘Even the darkness in which the Ten Tribes were lost will one day become as radiant as the day’ (according to the version of Avos d’Rabbi Nosson 36). And in the perspective of history, did not these exiled children of the Patriarchs enlighten the nations among whom they were scattered? They did so by teaching their conquerors the fundamental ideas of the knowledge and love of God, ideals they had never forsaken. Hence they too have a messianic vocation and their Messiah the … Messiah son of Joseph (Succah 52a), also called Messiah son of Ephraim (Targum Yonasan on Exodus 40:11), will play an essential role in humanity’s redemption, for he will be the precursor of the … Messiah Son of David…. (emphasis added, especially note part in bold type).
Joseph Resembles an Egyptian (Gentile)
Joseph lived in Egypt, became Egyptian, resembled an Egyptian in appearance and even married an Egyptian. When his brothers saw him, they didn’t suspect that he was their Hebrew brother.
Prophetically, Joseph’s physical descendants (the house of Israel and later, Christians) would be carried captive into heathen Gentile nations where they would live as Gentiles in a sort of spiritual Egypt. There they would be all but cut off from the Hebraic roots of their faith and would be indistinguishable from the heathen nations in which they were mixed (Hos 7:8; 8:8; also note Yeshua’s Parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11–32). Some see the prodigal son in Yeshua’s parable as a picture of the modern Christian who was cut off from the Hebrew roots of his faith (or his father’s house), but who will eventually return to the faith of his fathers as prophesied in Malachi 4:4–6).
Please stay tuned for parts two and three of this study…