From Egypt to Canaan
By Arlen L. Chitwood
Companions of Christ, If . . .
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;
but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,
while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses?
Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness?
And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?
So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:12-19)
The Israelites departing Egypt under Moses had been called out of one land in order to serve God in a particular capacity in another land. They had been removed from Egypt in order to realize the rights of the firstborn in the land of Canaan (Exodus 3:7, 8; 4:22, 23).
They were to enter this land under Moses, overthrow the inhabitants by/through God’s power, and not only rule over all the Gentile nations but be the channel through which God would bless these same nations (as Israel realized kingly and priestly aspects of the birthright).
The Israelites were to be “a special treasure” to the Lord, placed “above all people [all the Gentile nations]” as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5, 6; cf. Numbers 13:26-30; Joshua 3:10; 1 Samuel 17:47).
Israel though, at Kadesh-Barnea, refused to enter into the land, overthrow the inhabitants, and occupy the position for which the nation had been called. At Kadesh-Barnea the nation fell away; and, resultantly, during the next thirty-eight and one-half years, God overthrew an entire generation of individuals — all who were twenty years old and above — save Caleb and Joshua (Numbers 14:22-24, 29-34).
The direction that Israel took at Kadesh-Barnea is looked upon in Scripture as apostasy on the part of the nation. The Greek word for “apostasy [aphistemi, the verb form of the word apostasia, from which we derive our English word, ‘apostasy’]” is used in Hebrews 3:12 in a passage warning Christians (in the antitype) to not let the same thing happen to them that happened to Israel (in the type).
Also, in the book of Jude, a book dealing centrally with apostasy, Israel’s actions at Kadesh-Barnea form the first example that the writer gives to illustrate the subject matter at hand (v. 5).
The word aphistemi in Hebrews 3:12, translated “departing,” has to do with removing oneself from a previously occupied position. This thought is easy to see from a breakdown of the noun form of this same word, the word apostasia. Apostasia is a compound word, comprised of apo (meaning “from”) and stasis (meaning “to stand”). Thus, the word simply means “to stand away from,” i.e., to occupy a different position than previously occupied.
The Israelites under Moses form one of the best examples of true apostasy to be found anyplace in Scripture.
These Israelites, preceding the events at Kadesh-Barnea, believed that under God they could enter the land of Canaan, overthrow the enemy, and occupy the position for which they had been called.
However, at Kadesh-Barnea, after hearing the report of the spies concerning the strength of the inhabitants of the land and the evil report of ten spies concerning the inability of the Israelites to successfully go up against these people, the people of Israel changed their minds. They ceased believing that they could enter the land and be victorious over the land’s inhabitants, and their thoughts shifted away from the land set before them back to the land that they had left.
Resultantly, they rejected the leadership of Moses, sought to appoint a new leader, and return to Egypt (Numbers 13:26-14:4). By this act they removed themselves from — they “stood away from” — the position relative to Moses and the land of Canaan that they had previously occupied.
Apostasy on Israel’s part had nothing to do with the death of the firstborn in Egypt or with the Red Sea passage. These were past, completed matters that could never again be brought up within the scope of God’s dealings with His people.
The firstborn had died in Egypt, burial in the Sea had occurred, and there had been a resurrection to walk in newness of life on the eastern banks of the Sea, outside Egypt. And within the scope of this resurrection to walk in newness of life, one central thing was in view — a realization of the nation’s calling as God’s firstborn son within the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Apostasy on Israel’s part had to do strictly with the Israelites’ refusal to enter the land and occupy the position for which they had been called. It had to do solely with that which lay beyond the death of the firstborn and the Red Sea passage.
And their resulting overthrow in the wilderness likewise had to do with the same thing. They were overthrown on the eastern side of the Red Sea, on the right side of the blood; but they were overthrown on the wrong side of the goal of their calling. They were overthrown short of entering the land and realizing the reason that they had been removed from Egypt.
The spiritual lessons for Christians under Christ in Hebrews 3, 4 are drawn, in their entirety, from that which happened to the Israelites under Moses, and later under Joshua. The historical account during a past dispensation forms the type, and that which is happening in Christendom during the present dispensation forms the antitype. And the antitype must follow the type in exact detail.
Those Christians who follow a similar path to that taken by the Israelites who believed the “evil report” of the ten spies relative to the land to which they had been called (an earthly land), will, as these Israelites, be denied entrance into the land to which they have been called (a heavenly land). Such Christians will, as the Israelites under Moses, be overthrown short of this goal.
On the other hand though, those Christians following the path that the remaining two spies took relative to their calling will, as Caleb and Joshua, be allowed to enter the land. Christians exhibiting this type of attitude, governing their lives accordingly, will one day realize the goal of their calling.
This is the heart of the warning, and the whole matter is really as simple as it sounds if one has eyes to see that which the Lord has outlined in His Word.
Do you, as one called out and separated from this world for a purpose, want to realize that purpose? Do you want to be a Caleb or a Joshua and one day enter the land to which you have been called?
Or, on the other hand, are you content to go along with the status quo? Does your interest lie in a realm other than the land in which you have been called to realize an inheritance, which could only be understood, after some fashion, as an interest in the things back in Egypt, the things of this present world?
The vast majority of Christians, like the vast majority of Israelites, fall within the scope of the latter group. For one reason or another, their interest is not centered on that heavenly land set before them, wherein the rights of the firstborn will be realized.
And there is really no middle ground in the matter. In the words of Christ Himself,
“He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad” (Matthew 12:30).
Most Christians today though haven’t even heard the message. They don’t know that they have been called to one day occupy positions as co-heirs with the King of kings in a heavenly land. They are pilgrims in a strange land, living their lives apart from a set goal, the goal of their calling — a goal that, in reality, is unknown to them.
Then there are others who have heard the message and have either ignored or rejected it, affixing their attention elsewhere. And these are also pilgrims in a strange land, living their lives apart from the same set goal, the goal of their calling — a goal known to them after some fashion.
Only a small minority of Christians have any real understanding and appreciation at all of these things, which is exactly as it was in the camp of Israel during Moses’ day. Only Caleb and Joshua exhibited any understanding and appreciation at all of the reason why they had been removed from Egypt and led to the borders of the land at Kadesh-Barnea.
Only Caleb and Joshua believed that, under God, they could go into the land, be victorious over the enemy, and realize their calling. The vast majority had no appreciation of these things, and, consequently, they turned away from the land and set their sights on the things back in Egypt.
With all of this in mind, in one sense of the word, the vast majority of Christians today would seemingly not fit within the framework of the type.
The Israelites under Moses heard the report of the spies concerning the land of Canaan, and they even tasted the actual fruits of the land that the spies had brought back with them.
In the antitype, this would have to be understood in the sense of Christians hearing about the land to which they have been called and even “tasting” (through knowledge of the Word) the fruits of this land. And this is an experience most Christians today have not had, mainly because of the failure of the pastor-teachers in the churches to fulfill their calling.
This though has not always been the case. In the early Church, before the leaven that the woman placed in the three measures of meal in Matthew 13:33 began to do its damaging work, “the hope of the gospel [the gospel of the glory of Christ, not the gospel of the grace of God],” was proclaimed “to every creature under heaven” (Colossians 1:23). There was an exact parallel in those days between type and antitype insofar as all hearing the message was concerned.
However, today, after almost 2,000 years, the leaven has done such a damaging work in Christendom that the message concerning “the hope of the gospel” is all but absent. And the leaven, according to Matthew 13:33, will work “till it was all” leavened.
That’s why the Lord stated that He would not find “the faith” (an expression peculiarly related to the Word of the Kingdom) on the earth at the time of His return (Luke 18:8).
(For additional information on the preceding, refer to the section on “The Faith” in the author’s book, Salvation by Grace through Faith, pp. 33-37.)
Thus, because of the working of the leaven in Christendom throughout the present dispensation, an exact parallel between this one part of the type — which once existed — really no longer exists. Rather, today there is a corrupted parallel, brought about by the corruption produced by the leaven. The Israelites at Kadesh-Barnea heard the report concerning the land, and they tasted the fruits grown therein. Most Christians today though — and the number is increasing, not decreasing (corresponding to the working of the leaven) — have neither heard the report nor tasted the fruits.
This would really have no bearing though on viewing the entirety of the Christian life within the scope of the experiences of the Israelites in that portion of Scripture extending from Exodus chapter twelve through the book of Joshua. The message throughout, within the framework of the type, does not change. The beginning event (the death of the firstborn in Egypt), subsequent events (the Red Sea passage, reception of the Word of God, the wilderness journey), and the goal (the things having to do with the land of Canaan) do not change.
The overall scope of this type is the message that was once proclaimed throughout Christendom. Today though the leaven has done such a damaging work that not only is this message all but absent in the churches of the land but even the message surrounding the death of the firstborn has become corrupted. In this respect, though the working of the leaven was/is centered on the Word of the Kingdom, corruption has really entered into the whole scope of the various teachings drawn from the type, for there is an inseparable relationship between the different parts of the whole.
(Concerning this corruption, extending throughout the whole body of biblical teaching in this respect, note, for example, the widely-accepted Lordship Salvation message [a corruption, in this case, inseparably related to the working of the leaven]. Lordship salvation, in reality, is a message that attempts to introduce things beyond the Red Sea passage [things beyond that point where the dead had been raised to walk in newness of life on the eastern banks of the sea] into things surrounding the death of the firstborn back in Egypt, corrupting not only the message surrounding the gospel of the grace of God but, essentially, for all practical purposes, doing away with the message surrounding the gospel of the glory of Christ as well.
For additional information on “Lordship Salvation,” refer to the author’s book, Salvation by Grace through Faith, Chapter 2.)
Consequently, if things seem somewhat awry in Christendom today when viewing the antitype within the framework of the type, the reason is evident. We are living in that day when the leaven is not only completing its work but, with this completion, the leaven is doing its most damaging work of the entire dispensation. The mustard bush — the third parable in Matthew chapter thirteen, immediately preceding the parable of the leaven — has become a great tree (an unnatural growth), and the birds of the air (ministers of Satan) have found a lodging place in the branches of the great tree (Matthew 13:31, 32; cf. vv. 4, 19).
The preceding is where Christians find themselves today, in our supposedly enlightened twenty-first-century Christianity.
1) Lest . . . .
In Hebrews 3:8, 9, 15, 16, Israel provoked the Lord in what is called “the day of trial (KJV: temptation) in the wilderness.” This provocation occurred at times preceding events at Kadesh-Barnea (e.g., the forming of the molten calf at Sinai or the later rejection of the manna that God had provided [Exodus 32:1ff; Numbers 11:4-8]), and God’s judgment fell on each occasion. But it was not until the nation exhibited a negative attitude toward entrance into the land at Kadesh-Barnea that the whole matter came to a head, resulting in the overthrow of an entire generation.
To tempt an individual is to put that individual to the test to show or prove that the individual is who he declares himself to be; and, accordingly, the individual will always react after a particular fashion, in keeping with his identity.
Note, for example, the temptation of Christ in the wilderness by Satan (Matthew 4:1-11). Christ was tempted in all points, as man is tempted, though He was not tempted to sin, for He couldn’t be tempted to sin (cf. Hebrews 4:15; James 1:13). Rather, Christ was tempted by Satan to show once and for all that He was exactly who He declared Himself to be; and, accordingly, He reacted to each presented situation in perfect keeping with His identity, exactly after the fashion that any member of the Godhead would react.
God was tempted after a similar fashion by the Israelites through the provocation (KJV) in the wilderness (Hebrews 3:15). They provoked Him and, in this manner, put Him to the test. And He, being God, One who could not countenance sin, could only react in a certain manner. Sin must be dealt with after a particular fashion, which is exactly what occurred.
The word used for “provoke” in the Greek text means to revolt or to rebel. The Israelites rebelled against God in different ways during their wilderness journey, putting God to the test on each occasion. But when they rebelled against God at Kadesh-Barnea relative to entrance into the land set before them (through rejecting the true report concerning the land and subsequently rejecting the leadership of Moses), that was the end of the matter for that entire generation insofar as God was concerned. They had put God to the test; and He reacted in completely keeping with that which He Himself must do concerning this particular provocation (NKJV: rebellion).
The enormity of Israel’s sin, viewed from an omniscient perspective, was declared by God to necessitate the overthrow of that entire accountable generation. And an overthrow of this nature is exactly what God brought to pass.
Except for Caleb and Joshua, the entire accountable generation present at Kadesh-Barnea, because of their sin, was rejected by God; and, rather than subsequently being allowed to enter the land of Canaan, they were, instead, overthrown in the wilderness. During the next thirty-eight and one-half years the Israelites comprising this generation were left to die in the wilderness, short of the objective, short of the goal of their calling.
This was what God thought about the Israelites attitude toward the things surrounding the land of Canaan when He was put to the test, which is exactly what God thinks about any Christian’s attitude toward things surrounding that heavenly land when Christians put Him to a similar test today.
God took a hard line toward the matter in the type, and He will take the same hard line toward the matter in the antitype. There can be no change in God’s attitude and resulting action from type to antitype.
One must form an exact parallel to the other, for two obvious reasons:
1) The antitype must follow the type in exact detail.
2) There can be no change in the attitude and actions of a member of the Godhead relative to the same provocation (rebellion), though by different individuals (Israelites, past; Christians, present).
God was “grieved” with the generation of Israelites under Moses, and He swore in His wrath that they would “not enter” into His rest (Hebrews 3:10, 11, 17, 18). They “could not enter in because of unbelief [unfaithfulness]” (vv. 18, 19). That is, they could not enter because they had not faithfully followed the Lord’s leadership in the matter. Rather, they had believed the “evil report” of the ten spies (exhibiting unfaithfulness) instead of the “true report” given by Caleb and Joshua. They had believed the report which, in reality, stated that God would be unable to complete His purpose for having removed His people from Egypt.
And relative to this whole matter, Christians are warned,
Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. (Hebrews 4:1)
Christians, as the Israelites, can go in one of two directions in this matter — the same two directions that had been open to the Israelites. Christians can either believe the “true report” concerning the land or they can believe the “evil report.” And God’s attitude toward their actions, resulting in action on God’s part (in exactly keeping with the type), will be determined by which report they believe and follow.
(In either the type or the antitype, realizing one’s calling in the land out ahead — the land of Canaan for the Israelites [3:18], or that heavenly land for Christians [4:10, 11] — is spoken of as a rest [3:11, 18; 4:1]. This rest is equated in Scripture with realizing one’s inheritance, which is synonymous with realizing one’s calling [cf. Deuteronomy 3:18-20; 12:9-11; Hebrews 4:11].
And within the septenary arrangement of Scripture, this rest, still lying in the future, is spoken of as a “Sabbath rest.” It will be realized during the seventh day, the seventh Millennium, the earth’s coming Sabbath [Hebrews 4:4-9].)
Christians are warned over and over in the book of Hebrews concerning the goal of their calling. This is the central subject of the book, it is the central issue within the Christian life, and it should be the issue that occupies the central place in every activity of every Christian at all times. This overall matter is set forth in the Word of God to be that important in God’s sight.
2) But Exhort One Another Daily
Right in the middle of the spiritual lessons drawn from the type, the Spirit of God commands Christians,
but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:13)
In Hebrews 10:23-25 the same command is restated after a slightly different fashion in connection with Christians assembling together:
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,
not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Note particularly how this section of Scripture ends. Christians are to conduct their affairs among one another after the preceding fashion “so much the more” as they “see the Day approaching [that coming day when one’s present hope will be realized].”
Contextually, in Hebrews, chapter ten, a central purpose for Christians assembling together (really, the central purpose in the text) — “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together . . . .” (v. 25) — is with a view to exhorting one another relative to the hope of our calling (cf. vv. 23, 25). And to do this, Christians would have to be knowledgeable, after some fashion, concerning this hope. They would have to talk about and discuss this hope with one another, for there could be no exhortation apart from some type of knowledge of the facts surrounding the Christians’ calling.
In other words, in the light of Hebrews 3:13; 10:23-25, Christians are to assemble together with a view to talking about and discussing among themselves the things surrounding their calling. They are to talk about that land out ahead (that heavenly land), the enemy therein (Satan and his angels), the necessity of present victory over the enemy (through the spiritual warfare), and the hope set before them — that of one day occupying that land with the “King of kings, and the Lord of lords” as Christ and Christians ascend the throne together (replacing Satan and his angels) and exercise the rights of the firstborn.
And, with these things in view, Christians are to spend time exhorting one another (“daily” in the text [3:13]) relative to the importance of keeping their eyes fixed on the goal out ahead; and they are to carry on an interchange with one another after this fashion so much the more as they “see the Day approaching.”
And that’s exactly where we are today — at a time when Christians should be exhorting one another “so much the more,” for we are living very near the end of the present dispensation, very near the end of man’s allotted six days (6,000 years), immediately prior to the fast-approaching seventh day (the Lord’s Day, the Messianic Era, to last 1,000 years).
But are Christians assembling together today with this purpose in view? Hardly! Christians, by large, know little to nothing about this whole matter. This is not something that they talk about, discuss; nor, much less, is it something which is uppermost in their thoughts, governing their actions. Consequently, Christians are assembling together today for purposes that completely ignore that which is stated in Hebrews 10:23-25. That’s how complete the leaven has done its damaging work.
Are conditions going to improve? Are Christians going to one day wake up? Not during the present dispensation! The dispensation will, according to Scripture, end in total apostasy; and that’s exactly the direction in which the Church continues, after a rapid fashion, to move today. The Church continues to be swept away in a direction that is rapidly carrying it completely away from “the faith” that it held universally during the first century.
Christ’s statement, “till the whole was leavened” (Matthew 13:33), and His companion statement that at the time of His return He would not find “the faith on the earth” (Luke 18:8), must be taken at face value. Christ, in His omniscience, knowing the future as well as the past and present, stated exactly what would occur within the Church during this dispensation.
After two millennia, at the end of this dispensation, the leavening process would be so complete that, correspondingly, the message surrounding “the faith” would no longer be heard in the churches. And the Church as a whole would be, as the Laodicean church in Revelation 3:14-21, “. . . wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”
Christ’s Co-Heirs, His Companions
Christians are to “exhort one another daily, while it is called Today,” in order to avoid, at all costs, following a similar course of action to that which the nation of Israel followed at Kadesh-Barnea (cf. Hebrews 3:8, 13).
According to Scripture, Christians will occupy positions with Christ on the throne, as His “companions,” IF… Christians will hold positions of this nature with Christ in that coming day only IF during the present day they “hold the beginning of [their] confidence steadfast to the end” (Hebrews 3:14).
(The word “companions” rather than “partakers” [KJV] would be the preferred translation of the word used in the Greek text in Hebrews 3:14, the word metochoi. This is the same word that the writer of Hebrews also used in 1:9 [translated “fellows”] and in 3:1 [translated “partakers,” as in 3:14]; and the preferred translation in these two instances as well would be “companions” [ref. Chapter 1 in this book; also see the author’s book, So Great Salvation, Chapters 1, 5].)
Holding “the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,” with a view to being “companions” with Christ in that coming day, must be understood within the framework of the type. Caleb and Joshua held the beginning of their confidence steadfast to the end; the remainder of the nation however didn’t.
Relative to entering the land, overthrowing the enemy, and occupying the position for which they had been called, Caleb, speaking for Joshua as well, said,
Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.
But the remainder of the nation manifested an entirely different attitude and took an entirely different approach toward the matter. They feared the inhabitants of the land, they wept through the night, they murmured against Moses and Aaron, and they then sought to appoint a new leader (other than Moses) and return to Egypt (Numbers 13:32-14:4). This is where the difference lay, and, contextually, Hebrews 3:14 must be understood within this framework.
1) Beginning of Our Confidence
The word “confidence” in verse fourteen is the translation of the Greek word hupostasis (a different word than used in v. 6). Hupostasis is a compound word — hupo, “under”; and stasis, “to stand.” Thus, hupostasis literally means, “to stand under,” referring to a foundation.
This word is used three times in the book of Hebrews (1:3; 3:14; 11:1), and only two other times in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 9:4; 11:17).
In Hebrews 1:3, the word is translated “person” (KJV), referring to Christ. The thought expressed by the use of the word has to do with that which the verse goes on to state concerning Christ: “upholding all things by the word of his power” (KJV). He is the chief Cornerstone, the Foundation underlying everything (Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:6).
And He is before all things [a foundation always has to be laid first], and in Him all things consist [and in Him all things have been placed together (which, of necessity, would have to rest upon the Foundation)].” (Colossians 1:17)
In Hebrews 11:1, hupostasis appears at the very beginning of the chapter to describe how “faith” is used in the chapter:
Faith is the substance [hupostasis, ‘foundation’] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
“Faith” is not simply something placed at the foundation. In the words of the text, “faith” is the foundation. Faith is the foundational aspect of all things hoped for; and, “without faith” it is impossible to please God (v. 6).
Then, continuing the verse, faith is further revealed to be “the evidence [‘a bringing to light’] of things not seen [though these things are seen ‘by faith’ (v. 3)].”
Hebrews 11:1 is not a definition of faith, as is often thought. Rather this verse has to do with that which emanates out of faith.
“Faith” is simply believing that which God has to say about a matter. The word for “faith” and the word for “believe” are actually the same in the Greek text. The former is a noun, and the latter is a verb (cf. John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8). In this respect, Hebrews chapter eleven begins with the statement, “Believing God is…”
Thus, placing Hebrews 3:14 within the framework of the type, along with that which is revealed by the use of hupostasis in Hebrews 1:3; 11:1, that which is meant by “the beginning of our confidence” is easy to see and understand. The thought has to do with that which stands under everything being dealt with — the foundational aspect to the matter — which in Hebrews 1:3 is seen as “Christ” and in Hebrews 11:1 as “faith.”
In the words of Hebrews 12:2, it is keeping one’s eyes fixed on Jesus (looking “from [anything which would distract] to Jesus”), while believing that which God has stated about the “joy” set before Christ, as He endured the sufferings of Calvary.
It is simply looking to Jesus and believing God, resulting in Christians expressing a confident assurance in that which God has said surrounding the goal of their calling, exactly as expressed in the actions of Caleb and Joshua (they believed God, resulting in a confident assurance that they could go in and, under God, take the land).
In short, Caleb and Joshua went back to the foundational aspect of the matter itself, which is exactly where Christians must go as well.
2) Steadfast to the End
In the words of the text, Christians are to hold that presented as foundational “steadfast to the end.” They are to possess an unwavering confident assurance in that which God has said throughout every experience of life, typically, from Egypt to Canaan. They are to keep their eyes fixed on the goal, believing God, throughout the whole course of the race (cf. Luke 9:62; Hebrews 12:1, 2).
The identical wording appears in the Greek text in Hebrews 3:6 relative to the “hope” set before Christians. In this passage they are to hold this hope (which has to do with “the confession of our hope” [Hebrews 10:23], “the hope that is in you” [1 Peter 3:15]) with confidence and rejoicing “firm [or, ‘steadfast’] to the end.”
And in Hebrews 3:14 Christians are to hold that which God has presented as foundational relative to this same hope (being “companions” with Christ in that coming day) “steadfast [or, ‘firm’] to the end.”