Numbers and 2 John
That which is revealed by and through Moses in the five books that he wrote in the Old Testament parallels that which is revealed by and through John in the five books that he wrote in the New Testament. This parallel is seen in Genesis and John, Exodus and Revelation, Leviticus and 1 John, Numbers and 2 John, and Deuteronomy and 3 John.
Both 2 and 3 John are short, one-chapter books (thirteen and fourteen verses respectively); and the parallel with Numbers and Deuteronomy seen in these two books has to do more with the central messages of the books rather than with the books as a whole, as seen in the first three parallels.
From Sinai to Kadesh-Barnea
The book of Numbers takes up where the books of Exodus and Leviticus left off.
At the end of Exodus, the nation of Israel under Moses was in possession of the Magna Charta for the kingdom (the Law — the rules and regulations governing the people of God in the theocracy). And with the establishment of the priesthood, the completion of the tabernacle, and the Glory subsequently covering and filling the tabernacle, a theocracy came into existence at the base of Mt. Sinai one year after the Exodus from Egypt.
Then Leviticus has to do with the provided means for the people of God (fallen creatures, though redeemed) to approach a holy God, along with the way man was to then walk before a holy God.
The book of Numbers then picks up the story. The nation under Moses was now ready to march to the borders of the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, enter into that land, drive out all of the nations inhabiting the land, and not only rule over all the Gentile nations of the earth within a theocracy from that land but also to be the channel through which God would bless these same nations.
Before the Israelites departed Sinai for the covenanted land, God provided a number of necessary instructions for His people (Numbers 1-8). They then kept the Passover (chapter 9a), and this was followed by their march to the borders of the land at Kadesh-Barnea, in the wilderness of Paran (chapters 9b-12).
Note that the previous timing of God’s people keeping the Passover in Egypt had been after a similar fashion. In Egypt the Passover had been kept immediately before the Exodus. Here the Passover was kept immediately before their departure from Sinai.
Once at Kadesh-Barnea, eleven days after the nation’s departure from Sinai, God instructed Moses to select and send twelve men into the land to search it out, one from each tribe. Leaders from each tribe were selected, they were commissioned concerning the task at hand, they were sent into the land, and they searched the land for forty days, “from the wilderness of Zin to Rehob” (the entire extent of the land, from north to south).
Then, these twelve men returned to the camp of Israel with a report concerning both the land and its inhabitants, along with showing the people the richness of the land by showing them different fruits grown in the land that they had brought back with them (13:1-25).
The report of all twelve was, at first, positive — it was a land flowing “with milk and honey” (a way of describing a rich, fertile land), as evident by the fruits of the land (vv. 26, 27; cf. v. 23).
Then the strength and stature of the land’s inhabitants came into view:
Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there.
The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan. (Numbers 13:28, 29)
(The “children of Anak” were the gigantic Nephilim, as first seen in Scripture in Genesis chapter six [Nephilim is the Hebrew word translated “giants” in v. 33 (same as in Genesis 6:4)]. The Nephilim resulted from a cohabitation of “the sons of God” [angels in Satan’s kingdom] with female members of the human race.
Their first appearance in Genesis chapter six was Satan’s attempt to corrupt and destroy the human race at the outset. Their appearance in the land during Moses’ day could only have been Satan’s attempt to prevent the Israelites from moving in and occupying the land.)
This report evidently caused quite a stir in the camp, for Scripture states:
Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” (v. 30)
But the other men who had gone with Caleb, excluding Joshua (14:6), then said:
We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we. (v. 31b)
These ten men proclaimed what Scripture calls “an evil report.” And the people believed the ten rather than the two, ultimately turning their backs on the entire matter, seeking to appoint another leader (replacing Moses), and return to Egypt (Numbers 14:1-4).
This is where Israel fell away and found it impossible to be renewed again to repentance (i.e., found it impossible to get God to change His mind once He had decreed that the entire accountable generation [twenty years old and above], because of unbelief [not believing God was able to lead them in and cause them to be victorious over the enemy] would be overthrown in the wilderness [14:5-45]) — something dealt with in relation to Christians in the antitype in Hebrews chapters three through six (ref. the author’s pamphlet, “If They Shall Fall Away…”).
The remainder of Numbers and all of Deuteronomy then deals with experiences of the Israelites during their wilderness wanderings, with the book of Joshua subsequently dealing with the entrance of the second generation of Israelites into the land under Joshua, slightly over thirty-eight years later.
Christians in the Antitype
As previously stated, the antitype of the entire matter is laid out in Hebrews chapters three through six.
In the preceding respect, Christians who have passed through that which is seen in the Red Sea passage (baptism and that which is set forth by baptism [Colossians 2:12; 3:1ff]), that which is seen at Sinai (a reception of the word relative to that which is in view — the kingdom), and have become knowledgeable about and tasted the fruits of the land set before them (seen in the experiences of the Israelites at Kadesh-Barnea upon the return and report of the twelve) fall into two categories — those typified by Caleb and Joshua, or those typified by the other ten and the disbelieving remainder of the nation. There is no middle ground (cf. Matthew 12:30; Luke 11:23).
The Israelites had an earthly land set before them, inhabited, at least in part, by the Nephilim — offspring of angels ruling under Satan. Christians, on the other hand, have a heavenly land set before them, from which Satan and his angels presently rule through the Gentile nations on earth.
In this respect, the Israelites’ warfare to take the land of their inheritance was against a partly supernatural flesh and blood enemy dwelling in and possessing the land. But the Christians’ warfare to take the land of their inheritance is not against a flesh and blood enemy at all. Rather it is “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” — against spirit beings, against Satan and his angels ruling from the heavens, dwelling in and possessing the land set before Christians (Ephesians 6:10-18).
With respect to this land and its present inhabitants, Christians can say with Caleb and Joshua, as they look toward the land of their inheritance:
Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it. (Numbers 13:30)
Or Christians, relative to this land can say with the other ten:
We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we. (v. 31)
The latter part of the ten spies’ statement — “for they are stronger than we”— in either respect (the Israelites’ warfare, or the Christians’ warfare) would be correct. The inhabitants of the land were/are stronger than those called to move in and overcome them. But that is completely immaterial, for it is the Lord who was to go before the Israelites and will go before Christians, with the inhabitants of the land being defeated by and through His power.
The battle is the Lord’s . . . . (cf. Numbers 14:40-45; Deuteronomy 1:30; 2:25, 31-34; 3:1-3; 1 Samuel 17:45-47).
With the preceding in mind, note how the heart of that which is seen in 2 John would parallel that which is set forth as the heart of that which is seen in Numbers, with both sides of the matter dealt with:
I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father. . . .
For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming [lit. is coming] in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.
Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.
If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him;
for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. (2 John 4, 7-11)
The preceding verses, with the type from Numbers and the antitype outlined in Hebrews — knowing that this matter, from a biblical standpoint, lies at the center of all Christian activity — should require little to no explanation among Christians. But, is this really the case among Christians today?
Little to no explanation would have been needed for first-century Christians, for this was the message of the hour in the first-century Church. But after almost twenty centuries of the working of the leaven that the woman placed in the three measures of meal early in the dispensation (Matthew 13:33), such is not the case at all today.
From the standpoint of the type, most Christians today are still back in Egypt or wandering aimlessly about in the wilderness, having no understanding of the warfare or the land set before them. Such Christians are not even in a position to respond as the Israelites at Kadesh-Barnea, for they have no understanding of the entire matter.
Deceivers and Antichrists, as seen in 2 John, have been around as long as the Church has been in existence. They are still around today, and they are here, as always, to make sure, if possible, that Christians never make it to Kadesh-Barnea; or, if they do, to make sure that these Christians heed the words of the ten spies, not those of the two.
But, dare to be a Caleb! Dare to be a Joshua! They are the ones who overcame and realized their inheritance, seen as “a full reward” in 2 John 8.
All of the others within the entire accountable generation were overthrown in the wilderness, having been denied entrance into the land (Hebrews 4:1ff).