Had Ye Believed Moses
By Arlen L. Chitwood
Through Faith We Understand
By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that the things that are seen were not made of things that are visible (Hebrews 11:3).
The book of Hebrews begins with a brief statement calling attention to the various means that God used to reveal Himself, His plans, and His purposes to man through Jewish prophets in time past. They were God’s spokesmen, the channel through whom He communicated His Word to His people. Through this means, through the prophets speaking God’s Word, not the prophet’s words, God spoke to His people “by [‘in’ (in the person of each of)] the prophets.”
Then the book continues with a parallel thought. An additional brief statement is given to the effect that God, “in these last days,” has spoken to man through another means. He has spoken to man in these last days “by [‘in’ (in the person of)] His Son” (Hebrews 1:1, 2a).
(In the Greek text there is a definite article before “prophets” [v. 1] but not before “Son” [v. 2]. The literal rendering is “in the prophets…in Son.”
The use of a definite article in the Greek text stresses a particular identity; but, when there is no article [a definite article; the Greek language does not use indefinite articles, as in English], quality and character are stressed. The absence of the article before “Son” allows an association to be shown between the Father and the Son that the presence of the article would not allow. Such a structure allows Deity to be shown in connection with both.
It is very similar to that seen in John 1:1, which concludes with the statement, “…and the Word was God.” There is no article before God, as there is no article before “Son” in Hebrews 1:2. As to essence and being, in John 1:1, the Word is associated with God; and in Hebrews 1:2, the Son is associated with God in this same respect. A Father-Son relationship is seen in both instances. Deity is seen throughout.
God used Jewish prophets in time past to communicate His Word. He spoke through these prophets. But the thought goes far beyond this in relation to God speaking in these last days to man through His Son. The structure of Hebrews 1:2 declares that the Son was very God of very God, God manifested in the flesh, communicating His Word to His people. God spoke as Son.)
This whole overall thought of God speaking to His people in the preceding fashion — first in the person of each of the prophets, and then in the person of His Son (or, as Son) — was alluded to during Christ’s ministry, within another frame of reference. And this was done shortly before His crucifixion through calling attention to that which had occurred both in time past (following the appearances of the prophets) and during the present time (following the appearance of God’s Son) in God’s vineyard, the house of Israel (Matthew 21:33-41).
God had spoken to Israel in time past by means of Jewish prophets. But these prophets had been rejected and ill-treated. Following their rejection, many had been beaten, and some had even been stoned and killed. And this type treatment was not the exception. Rather, it was the rule (Acts 7:52). And it occurred over centuries of time, down through the course of Israeli history (Matthew 21: 34-36).
Then, last of all, God sent His Son. But the attitude of the Jewish people remained unchanged, even though the very Son of the Owner of the vineyard was present with His Father’s message. There was only continued rejection — a rejection wrought by the nation’s religious leaders, with the multitudes following suit (Matthew 21: 37ff).
These religious leaders were made up mainly of the Scribes and Pharisees, who, because of their numbers, held sway over the people. The Scribes and Pharisees constituted, by far, the largest religious party in Israel, and they controlled the religious life of the Jewish people. They were the keepers and teachers of the Law, the ones recognized to occupy “Moses’ seat” (the ones controlling matters among the people in relation to the Law).
And they were the ones centrally responsible for misleading the Jewish people when the Heir of the vineyard appeared. They were the ones centrally responsible for the rejection of the message being proclaimed and the corresponding rejection and ultimate crucifixion of the Messenger.
Then, if that wasn’t enough, Scripture reveals that Israel’s religious leaders even knew the identity of the One in their midst. They knew that they were not rejecting and slaying just another prophet whom God had sent. They knew that this was the very Heir of the vineyard Himself, and their knowledge of this fact formed the reason for their actions.
Note Christ’s exact words as He revealed these things in a parable. And He spoke this parable to Israel’s religious leaders (in this instance, to “the chief priests and Pharisees”), revealing to the very ones who knew His identity the very things that they were doing and were about to do:
But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, “This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.”
So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him.
(Matthew 21: 38, 39; cf. John 3:1, 2)
Israel’s religious leaders extended a treatment to the Son in complete keeping with two things: 1) their previous treatment of the prophets, and 2) their knowledge of the Son’s identity. Those recognizing the Heir, casting Him out of the vineyard, and slaying Him in that day were not about to let Another come in and take from them that which had been committed to their trust, even if this other person was the very Heir Himself. They wanted to keep things completely in their own possession and under their own control.
But all of this — the rejection of the prophets, followed by the rejection of the Son, along with the ill-treatment accorded to them in the process — would not occur apart from grave consequences. And these consequences would be visited not only upon this generation of Jews but upon succeeding generations as well.
Israel’s rejection of Christ brought matters to an apex. And following His rejection, Christ made an announcement to Israel’s religious leaders concerning the grave consequences about to follow. After pronouncing “woe” after “woe” upon these religious leaders because of that which they had done (Matthew 23:13-33), He announced that “all the righteous blood shed upon the earth,” extending all the way back to Abel, would come upon “this generation” (vv. 34-36) — an all-inclusive statement relative to Israel and shed blood.
(Christ, making this announcement, referenced two violent deaths in biblical history — Abel [the first person slain] and Zachariah [slain in the ninth century B.C.]. Israel’s guilt in connection with shed blood though was not limited to the period between Abel and Zachariah. Rather, Christ’s statement would have to be looked upon as all-inclusive, covering the entire period of man’s existence on the earth, extending from Abel to Christ. “All the righteous blood shed upon the earth” would cover 4,000 years of human history and extend from the blood of Abel to the blood of the One Whom Israel was about to slay.)
And because of all this, with matters being brought to an apex, Christ reached all the way back to Abel when declaring Israel’s guilt. There had been a rejection of God speaking through the prophets. Then the entire matter was climaxed by a rejection of God speaking in these last days “by [‘in’ (in the person of)] His Son,” along with a rejection of the Son Himself (with Israel’s leadership knowing Who they were rejecting). And shed blood and death, following rejection, are seen throughout this period.
Cain slaying Abel formed a type (one brother slaying the other brother), pointing to that which Israel was about to do (one brother slaying the other Brother). And Christ began at the point of this original type when announcing Israel’s guilt and uncleanness. “All the righteous blood shed upon the earth,” beginning with Abel, would be laid to the account of this generation of Jews. Fulfilling the type in Genesis chapter four, Israel’s cup of iniquity had become full, necessitating judgment (cf. Genesis 15:14-16; Numbers 14:22, 23, 37ff).
Then, if this still wasn’t enough, the uncleanness of that generation of Jews would be passed on to succeeding generations (cf. Matthew 27:24, 25; Acts 3:25). Succeeding generations of Jews would bear the same guilt. They would be guilty of blood, though they would not have shed that blood themselves.
The generation of Jews present when Christ came the first time had not rejected or slain the prophets who appeared centuries earlier, but they were reckoned just as guilty as those who had done these things; and the generation of Jews present today, which neither rejected nor killed the prophets or Christ, is reckoned just as guilty as any generation of Jews that did do these things.
If guilt after this fashion — resulting in successive generations being just as guilty as preceding generations — were not true, Scripture could not look upon Israel as presently unclean through contact with the dead body of her Messiah. But the nation’s present uncleanness in this respect is a documented Scriptural fact, dealt with in a specific manner in Scripture.
According to the clear teaching of Scripture, Israel is presently unclean because of something that occurred two millennia ago. Then there is the matter of prior guilt and uncleanness through the shed blood of the prophets, et al. And Israel will remain unclean until the end of Man’s Day, until the end of six days, until the seventh day (cf. Genesis 4:8-15; Numbers 19:11, 12).
A generation of Jews completely separate from any of the generations committing these acts will one day have to stand in Christ’s presence and acknowledge that which was done when all of these acts were climaxed centuries earlier, bearing the guilt themselves (cf. Genesis 44:12-45:4; Zechariah 12:10). The passage of time and the passage of generations change nothing in this respect.
These are national sins, of which any succeeding generation of Jews finds itself guilty. Each succeeding generation — forming the nation that committed these acts — bears the guilt and uncleanness of their forefathers.
It is an inherited guilt and uncleanness, as that resulting from Adam’s transgression is inherited by man removed 6,000 years from Adam. And just as surely as the passage of time and the passage of generations does not remove Adam’s transgression, so with transgression in relation to the Jewish people. When Christ came the first time, the Jews of that day did not find themselves removed from the actions, guilt, and uncleanness of their ancestors; nor do the Jews of today find themselves removed.
Each succeeding generation of Jews over the past 2,000 years has borne exactly the same guilt, exactly the same uncleanness. And this guilt, this uncleanness, will not be removed until Israel is brought to that place where the Jewish people acknowledge, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:39).
And when a person would look for the cause of Jewish suffering down through the years — from the brickyards of Egypt during the time of the Pharaohs to the death camps in Europe during the years of the Third Reich, or that which is about to befall the nation during the coming Tribulation, when the future Assyrian controls governmental affairs on the earth — that person need look no farther than one thing in Israeli history. That person need look no farther than the nation’s rejection of God’s Word and the treatment extended to those who carried this Word, concluding with the nation’s rejection and slaying of the very Son of God Himself (cf. Leviticus 26:14ff; Deuteronomy 28:15ff; Matthew 23:37, 38).
The communication of God’s Word to His people in the preceding respect — which Israel rejected, resulting in dire consequences — is where Hebrews chapter one begins, though from another frame of reference. The One Whom Israel’s religious leaders cast out of the vineyard and slew, in a climactic act of rejection, was not only the One through Whom God had spoken “in these last days,” but the One Whom God had “appointed heir of all things,” the One “by [‘through’] whom also He made the worlds [‘the ages’]” (v. 2b).
God could only have “made the ages” in the respect stated in this verse through supernaturally designing and arranging the ages in complete accordance with the pre-planned activity of His Son within the framework of these ages. The framework of the ages and all things occurring within these ages was foreknown and pre-determined beforehand, even that which occurred when God sent His Son to His vineyard the first time. Nothing occurs apart from God’s sovereign control of all things.
Hebrews 11:3 takes one back to the same time spoken of in the opening section of the book. It takes one back to that time when the ages were placed in an orderly arrangement through the Word of God. That would be to say, God spoke, and the ages came into existence after a supernaturally designed fashion (cf. Genesis 1:3ff). And all things within the framework of these ages have come, are coming, and will come to pass in complete accordance with the divinely ordained design and arrangement of these things.
God performs all His works by means of complete order and design. Nothing occurs in the universe that God governs apart from a divinely ordained plan and a divinely ordained design within that plan.
Placed in an Orderly Arrangement
Order and structure are not only seen in God’s arrangement of the ages but these are things seen as well in that which reveals this order and structure. These are things seen in the Word itself, which God gave to man in order to make known His plans and purposes. And these are things which could only be expected to exist in the Word, for the Word, as the structure of the ages, is of the same divine origin.
The Word begins this way, the Word continues this way, and the Word ends this way. A divine order, structure, and design are seen throughout. And this would have to be the case, for imperfection could not emanate from One wherein only perfection exists. “Holy men of God” penned God’s Word “as they were moved [‘borne along’] by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21), this Word is “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16, NIV), and perfection exists in all areas of the Word, from beginning to end.
Thus, the whole of Scripture forms a revelation that is totally, completely unique among writings in man’s possession. It is of divine origin, and it reveals to man the numerous things that God would have man to know about that which is also of divine origin — God’s plans and purposes surrounding His Son, man, angels, the earth, and the universe at large. A divinely ordered structure of the ages, wherein God’s plans and purposes are worked out, is revealed by that which itself incorporates the very same order, structure, and design. All is of divine origin.
The Word begins with God’s creation of the heavens and the earth — an entire universe in which sin did not exist, with the earth singled out from among all that existed in the universe (Genesis 1:1). The Word then continues with the entrance of sin into that part of God’s perfect creation that had been singled out. And this begins a recorded sequence of events forming the remainder of God’s revelation to man — the ruin and subsequent restoration of the heavens and the earth (that part of the heavens that had been ruined, the heavens directly associated with the ruined earth), man’s creation, God’s revealed plans and purposes surrounding man, man’s fall, man’s redemption, and sin ultimately being done away with (Genesis 1:2ff). Then the Word concludes with the creation of a new heavens and a new earth, in which sin will no longer exist (Revelation 21:1ff).
That’s the overall structure. Then, within this overall structure, following the entrance of sin into one province in God’s universe, God set aside 7,000 years of time. And He set this time aside to not only do away with sin but to also bring into existence an entity created in His Own image and after His likeness, an entity that would ultimately have a part in His government of the universe.
Scripture begins with the briefest of all possible statements concerning the creation of the heavens and the earth. Then Scripture continues with the briefest of all possible statements concerning the ruin of that creation, because of the entrance of sin (Genesis 1:1, 2a; cf. Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:14-19). And it is only at this point, within the scope of the 7,000 years of time that God has set aside to bring an end to sin, that detail concerning God’s revealed plans and purposes begin to unfold in Scripture.
God used six days to restore the material creation — both the heavens and the earth. Then, at the end of His restorative work, God created man to take the scepter and rule the restored domain. And, on the seventh day God rested from all His work (Genesis 1:2b-2:3).
This is the way Scripture opens, and this forms a foundational pattern upon which the remainder of Scripture rests. And immediately following this foundational pattern being set, things begin to unfold in Scripture that relate to time and events previously seen in the foundational pattern. The remainder of Scripture, in this respect, simply forms commentary on the foundational pattern.
Sin is seen making its entrance once again. And sin is seen making its entrance through an act of the one originally introducing sin. Satan, deceiving Eve, brought about man’s fall; and this placed man in a position where he was no longer qualified to take the scepter that Satan held (Genesis 3:1ff).
As in the previous introduction of sin by Satan, so in the introduction of sin by man — ruin was once again the result. And the inevitable result of the reappearance of sin, as the first appearance of sin, had to do with both the one committing the sin and the domain over which this individual had been created to rule.
Man found himself in a ruined state, no longer in a position to take the scepter (as Satan had previously found himself, no longer in a position to hold the scepter); and the material creation was brought into a ruined state once again as well, though not the same type ruin previously seen following Satan’s sin (cf. Genesis 1:2a; 3:17-19). Rather, the material creation, though ruined, was left in a habitable condition. The earth, unlike the ruined state to which God had reduced the material creation following Satan’s sin, could still sustain life.
Then, in keeping with the earth being left in this habitable condition, allowing man to continue his existence on the earth, God did something not seen at all following Satan’s sin. God provided a means of redemption for the one who had fallen, for He had far-reaching plans for the individual created in His Own image and after His likeness. And beyond that point in Scripture, the whole of God’s revelation concerns itself with the restoration of that which had been ruined through sin.
At the very beginning of His Word, God established a pattern concerning how He restores a ruined creation. The pattern was established perfect in the beginning; and once God had established this pattern, no change could ever occur. Any subsequent ruined creation would have to be restored in exact accordance with the previously established pattern.
There could be no variance whatsoever. And when a subsequent ruined creation did appear — when man, created in God’s image and after His likeness, fell — he had to be restored in exact accordance with this established pattern. The Spirit of God had to move, God had to speak, and light had to come into existence in order to effect a beginning point in man’s restoration. Then there had to be a continued work, carrying man through that depicted by the entire six days in which God had previously worked. Only then could man enter into a seventh day rest, set forth in the original pattern (Genesis 1:1-2:3).
And that is exactly what the remainder of Scripture has to do with. The remainder of Scripture has to do with God taking six days — 6,000 years (2 Peter 3:8) — to effect a restoration of ruined man (a subsequent ruined creation, with the ruined material creation being restored for man at the end of six days as well), with a day of rest (lasting 1,000 years) following the six days of work (6,000 years of work).
The Sabbath was given to Israel as a “sign,” to keep this thought ever before the Jewish people. Attention was called to God’s previous work in the opening two chapters of Genesis (cf. Exodus 20:9-11; 31:13-17; Hebrews 4:4-9). And the Israelites, working six days and resting the seventh, were to understand from the sign of the Sabbath the various things involved in God’s present work and future rest — things surrounding man’s restoration (along with the restoration of the material creation as well), looking ahead to that day when man would ultimately hold the scepter.
The preceding is why God is seen in Scripture having an affinity for numbers to reveal His plans and purposes to man. God used numbers to establish matters surrounding all His works at the beginning. And God uses numbers throughout His Word to relate back to and expand upon that which He previously established.
God can be seen using numbers different places in types and signs as he deals with the Jewish people in both the Old and New Testaments. God speaks of time in connection with a coming seventh day, which will occur after six days (dating back to the first man, the first Adam)), or after two days (dating back to the second Man, the last Adam). God, through this means, is simply providing commentary on the foundational framework that He set forth at the beginning of His Word (e.g., Exodus 19:11; Numbers 19:11, 12; Esther 5:1; Hosea 6:2; Matthew 17:1; John 1:29, 35, 43; 2:1; 11:6, 7).
The preceding forms the divinely ordained structure one finds throughout Scripture as a whole. There is nothing in Scripture that leaves a person at the mercy of man’s interpretation and understanding. God provides data, commentary on the data is provided elsewhere, and this is all given in a divinely designed and arranged structure (ref. the author’s book, THE STUDY OF SCRIPTURE, chapters 2-4).
By Faith, By Sight
Christians must understand that God has communicated His Word to His people, with a view to His people coming into an understanding of this Word and acting accordingly. And this, in turn, is with a view to that which lies out ahead.
Our text from Hebrews 11:3 is introduced by calling attention to two types of Christians — those “drawing back” unto destruction, and those “of faith” to the saving of the soul (10:39). Those in the latter group know and understand things about the hope set before them, but not so with those in the former group (11:1). This places the whole of Christendom in two categories and deals with the whole of Christendom relative to that toward which all Scripture moves.
Then, two realms are seen in Hebrews 11:3 — one that has to do with God’s orderly structure of the ages, and the other that has to do with disorder that entered (resulting from sin). The first part of this verse (within the structure of the verse as it is usually translated into English) has to do with the natural, with that seen apart from faith; and the second part of the verse has to do with the spiritual, with that which can be seen only by faith. And this verse is all-inclusive. It covers not only the present order of things in the world but the future order as well, an order that is about to be brought into existence by the One Whom God has “appointed Heir of all things.”
Hebrews 11:3 is one of the most difficult verses in the Greek New Testament to properly translate into English. And about the only way in which this can be satisfactorily accomplished is to add explanatory statements different places in the text:
By means of faith we understand that the ages were arranged by the Word of God; with respect to that [the arrangement of the ages by the Word of God], the things being seen to have come into existence [the disorder that has come into existence, which one sees in the world about us], not out of things appearing [this disorder is not part of that, did not originate out of that, which can be seen by faith]” (v. 3).
1) That Visible Apart from Faith
The things that can be seen all around us, apart from faith, have to do with the chaotic disorder existing in the world, resulting from man’s sin in Eden. Man is in a ruined state, the material creation is in a ruined state, and Satan continues to hold the scepter.
That which exists in this respect, though foreknown by God in the beginning when the ages were arranged around the pre-planned activity of the Son within the framework of these ages, is not part of God’s orderly structure. Rather, it has to do with the disorder that entered. But God, before He has His Son bring order out of disorder, will use things occurring even during this present time of disorder to bring to pass that which was decreed in the beginning.
It was during this time of disorder that Israel, the wife of Jehovah, was brought into existence. And it is during this time of disorder that the Son’s wife is to also be brought into existence — by means of a present work of the Spirit. Both the wife of Jehovah and the wife of the Son, brought into existence during the present time of chaos and disorder, will figure prominently in not only the Messianic Era but in all the ages beyond as well.
A principle set forth in Genesis 1:26-28 — “let them [the man and the woman, whom God had created] have dominion” — cannot be violated. Man occupying the position for which he was created — ruling the earth in Satan’s stead — cannot rule alone. He must have a wife to rule with him. This principle, relative to the government of the earth, is set forth at this point in Scripture; and the principle can never change. The man and the woman must rule together.
This is the reason that God had to have a wife within the Old Testament theocracy, and this is the reason that the Son will have to have a wife in the theocracy about to be established. Israel’s position as the wife of Jehovah formed a major part of the nation’s calling in time past; and the Spirit is presently in the world calling out a bride for God’s Son, fulfilling the type set forth in Genesis chapter twenty-four. Apart from both — the existence of the wife of Jehovah, and the existence of the wife of the Son — there can be no future theocracy.
And moving out into the eternal ages, a rule of the universe will emanate from “the throne of God and of the Lamb” in the New Jerusalem on (or possibly above) the new earth. And, with this rule emanating from the earth (though the new earth), the principle set forth in Genesis 1:26-28 would have to still hold true. The rule of both the Father and the Son, in that coming day, will have to be in conjunction with both possessing wives to have a part in that rule.
Thus, though disorder presently exists in one province in God’s ordered universe, God is using events and circumstances surrounding this disorder to bring to pass His Own predetermined plans and purposes. It is all with a view to order being restored in this one province (which God’s Son, with His wife, will take 1,000 years to accomplish), followed by that which God predetermined at the beginning relative to activity in the ages beyond the Messianic Era.
2) That Visible Only by Faith
Much of the preceding cannot be seen by the natural man at all. He can see only the chaos and not that which Scripture reveals will emanate out of this chaos.
Sin produced the chaos, and God cannot countenance sin. Sin, when it appears, has to be dealt with. That was true in history when sin appeared, it is true during the present time as sin continues to be manifested, and it will remain true until sin has been done away with at a future time.
This fact forms the entire basis for the whole of that seen throughout Scripture — God’s actions following Satan’s sin (Satan disqualified to hold the scepter, his kingdom ruined), and God’s actions following man’s sin (a ruin once again, requiring redemption if man is to one day take the scepter, with redemption necessitating death and shed blood). And the sole and complete reason for the Son’s past work at Calvary and His present work in the heavenly sanctuary are seen in the latter.
In the coming Messianic Era when God’s Son (with His co-heirs, i.e., with His wife) takes 1,000 years to bring order out of disorder, the matter of sin, producing ruin and death, will be the issue. Order must be restored; only then will sin and death be done away with.
These are the things which God has revealed to the one created in His Own image, after His likeness. And only through faith, only through believing God, can man know and understand these things.