Redeemed for a Purpose
Arlen L. Chitwood
The Elders’ Report
And they returned from spying out the land after forty days.
Now they departed and came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land.
Then they told him, and said: “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.
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.”
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.”
But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.”
And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature.
There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” (Numbers 13:25-33).
The account of the twelve leaders (ruling elders) from the twelve tribes of Israel being sent into the land of Canaan — the route that they took, their journey throughout the land, the time they spent in the land, their return, their report, the attitude of the people upon hearing their report, and the end result — is filled with spiritual significance. Everything is recorded exactly as God desired to have it recorded in order to, at a later point in time, teach His people deep spiritual truths from His Word.
Once the Israelites had arrived at Kadesh-Barnea, God, in His sovereign control of all things, brought matters to pass after such a fashion that He could, at a later point in time, have these events to draw upon in order to teach His people deep spiritual truths concerning their calling. And these truths involve two different lands to which His people had/have been called (an earthly land for Israel, and a heavenly land for Christians), the inhabitants in the land (Gentile nations in the earthly land, and Satan and his angels in the heavenly land), how the inhabitants can be overcome (through divine power in both instances), and that which lies beyond the conquest (an inheritance in an earthly or heavenly land, within a theocracy).
Then there are positive and negative aspects surrounding the matter. Both victory (seen in the report by Caleb and Joshua) and failure (seen in the report by the other ten) occurred in the type, and thus will it be in the antitype (1 Corinthians 9:24-10:11).
The inheritance to which one has been called must be won through conquest, through overcoming the enemy.
For Israel, this involved a conquest of Gentile nations in an earthly land (cf. Numbers 13:30; Deuteronomy 7:1-6);
For Christians, this involves overcoming Satan and his angels in a heavenly land (cf. Ephesians 6:11ff; Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21). And as the Israelites both overcome the enemy and were overcome by the enemy in the type, so will it be in the antitype.
These things form the heart of all teachings surrounding the Word of the Kingdom. If a person understands matters correctly at this point in Scripture, he will possess a basic, unchangeable foundation to build upon as he progresses through the remainder of Scripture. On the other hand, if these basics are not understood at this point in Scripture, then the inverse of that will, instead, be true.
In the preceding respect, a proper understanding of this section in Numbers becomes crucial. Understand this section, and other related passages throughout Scripture will naturally fall into place. Misunderstand this section though, and the opposite will be true. Other related passages throughout Scripture will never fall into place, and the person will find himself continually lost in a sea of misunderstanding and misinterpretation.
The beginning point for Israel occurred prior to the Exodus, in Egypt. The beginning point was the death of the firstborn, recorded in Exodus, chapter twelve. The firstborn first had to die. Only then could progression toward the land be undertaken.
In Egypt God had dealt with the Israelites solely on the basis of a substitutionary sacrifice. Blood from slain paschal lambs (“a lamb for a house”) was applied to the doorposts and lintel of all the houses throughout the camp of Israel. This was done to show that the firstborn had died in each and every Israeli home — a vicarious death, which God recognized.
Beyond this point though, God dealt with the Israelites on a completely different plain. He dealt with them as a redeemed people, a nation that had been redeemed for a purpose. And that purpose was to be realized in the land set before them.
Beyond the death of the firstborn, God never dealt with the Israelites again relative to that which had occurred in Egypt. This death formed the basis for all of God’s future dealings with His people; but once accomplished (once the firstborn had died), it was over and done with.
In actuality, God couldn’t deal with the Israelites relative to the death of the firstborn again.
The firstborn had died and God was satisfied. God couldn’t undo the death of the firstborn, redo His own satisfaction, and deal with the Israelites on this basis again.
Following the death of the firstborn, God could only deal with the Israelites relative to that which lay out ahead.
It mattered not whether it was the march toward the Red Sea, the Red Sea passage, the overthrow of the Egyptians in the Sea, the battle with Amalek, events at Sinai, or any other event that lay between the death of the firstborn and the Israelites’ arrival at Kadesh-Barnea.
Everything that happened in the camp of Israel following the death of the firstborn was with a view to the same central purpose. It was with a view to the Israelites ultimately entering into the land of Canaan, overthrowing the enemy, and realizing their calling as God’s firstborn son, within a theocracy.
Thus, this is what was climactically in view when Moses sent twelve leaders (ruling elders) from the twelve tribes into the land at Kadesh-Barnea. They were men sent into the land to gather information in advance of the anticipated conquest. They were to go into the land ahead of the others and find out everything they could about the land and its inhabitants. They were to spy out the land from one end to the other, obtain fruit from the land, and then return to the camp of Israel with the fruit and a report concerning their findings.
This was done so the people of Israel could know various things about the land and the enemy dwelling therein. They would then be able to fight the impending battle (against a heretofore unknown enemy in an unknown land) from this standpoint of knowledge rather than from a standpoint of little or no knowledge. The people of Israel, following the report of the twelve, were to march into the land under Moses — possessing information pertaining to the land and the enemy — conquer the inhabitants through divine power, and subsequently dwell in that land within a theocracy.
1. Gathering Information, a Report
The twelve followed Moses’ commission to the letter. Following the exact route Moses had prescribed, they ascended “the mountain” (an expression used referring to the whole of the land in order to guard the type, though some of it was coastal or low-lying land). They then traversed the land from one end to the other over a forty-day period, learning everything they could about the land and its inhabitants (Numbers 13:17-24).
At the end of forty days they returned to the camp of Israel with fruit from the land and with their report. And at this time they went “to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel” with their report and “showed them the fruit of the land” (vv. 25-29).
The twelve stated that it was a land flowing “with milk and honey” (an expression referring to a rich, fertile land that would provide an abundance of everything that the Israelites needed), and they had fruit from the land to show the people. Then they told the people about the strength of the inhabitants of the land, the fortified cities in which they dwelled (“the cities are fortified and very large” [Deuteronomy 1:28; cf. Deuteronomy 9:1]), and where the different nations dwelled in the land.
Then, beyond this overall, initial report, two different reports (actually, two different analyses of that which had previously been stated) were given to the people. The first was given by Caleb, with Joshua ascribing to that which Caleb stated (cf. 13:30; 14:6, 24, 30); and the remaining ten then gave their analysis (13:31-33).
2. A Good Report, an Evil Report
The report concerning the strength of the inhabitants of the land who dwelled in great fortified (KJV: “walled”) cities evidently caused a stir among the people of Israel. Caleb, before commenting on the report that had just been given, is said to have first “quieted the people.” Then he encouraged them with one simple statement:
Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it. (v. 30)
Caleb looked beyond any strength possessed by the enemy to the strength possessed by the Lord, who would go before the Israelites in battle. The battle was not so much the Israelites’ battle as it was the Lord’s (cf. Leviticus 26:3-8; Deuteronomy 1:28-30; 7:16, 22-24; 28:1-9; 1 Samuel 17:45-47).
In their own strength, they were powerless to defeat the enemy. But, within the promised Lord’s strength, no enemy could stand in their way. And this is exactly what Caleb had in mind when he encouraged the people of Israel after this fashion (cf. Deuteronomy 1:38).
Caleb rendered a true analysis of the situation, and, though Joshua is not named in this passage, he looked upon the matter the same way Caleb presented it (Numbers 14:6-10, 34, 37, 38).
However, the other ten leaders who had spied out the land for forty days with Caleb and Joshua rendered a completely different analysis, discouraging the people (cf. Deuteronomy 1:28). Immediately following Caleb’s statement, they spoke up and said:
We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we. (v. 31)
Then they went on to talk about the size of the inhabitants of the land. All the individuals that they had seen throughout the land were “men of great stature.”
The Hebrew word translated “stature” refers to size, with “great” being implied. The thought is that all the men that they had seen in the land were large and/or tall individuals (v. 32; Deuteronomy 1:28 [cf. 1 Chronicles 11:23 where the same word is used referring to an Egyptian who was five cubits — 7 to 8 feet — tall]).
The ten then singled out the gigantic sons of Anak that they had seen. The sons of Anak were of such a stature that the twelve Israelites appeared as “grasshoppers [or ‘locust’]” in both their own sight and in the sight of the sons of Anak (which implies that the sons of Anak saw the Israelites and probably left them alone, considering them to be of no threat because of the way they viewed them — as “grasshoppers [or ‘locust’]” in comparison to themselves).
The sons of Anak are referred to as “giants” in the KJV but called Nephilim in the Hebrew text, meaning “fallen ones.” The word Nephilim occurs only here and in Genesis 6:4. The earlier reference is to the name given the offspring resulting from the cohabitation of “the sons of God” (angels in the kingdom of Satan) with “the daughters of men” (female descendants of Adam and his progeny), and the latter reference can only be the same.
The first time this occurred, God put a stop to it by the waters of a worldwide flood, destroying “all in whose nostrils was the breath of life,” save Noah and seven others (Genesis 7:11-22).
The second time this occurred, God chose to use His people as the instrument of destruction. God had instructed the Israelites to go into the land and “utterly destroy” all the Gentile nations. Through divine power, through God going before His people and delivering the enemy into His people’s hands, those comprising the nations dwelling in the land would either be slain or driven out (cf. Deuteronomy 6:18, 19; 7:1, 2, 22-24; 8:18-20; 9:1-3).
(The first time this cohabitation of the sons of God with the daughters of men occurred, there appeared to be a concerted effort on the part of Satan to corrupt the entire human race, preventing the Seed of the woman from being born [cf. Genesis 3:15; 6:1-4].
The second time this occurred, there appeared to be a concerted effort on the part of Satan to prevent the Israelites from entering into and dwelling in the land as God’s firstborn son. The Nephilim were there ahead of the Israelites and formed Satan’s main earthly strength [strength among the Gentile nations under his control] in his efforts to thwart God’s plans and purposes concerning His people, the children of Israel, His firstborn son.)
Thus, Numbers, chapter thirteen ends with two conflicting analyses of a previously given report. All twelve had seen the same thing and knew the same thing about the land and its inhabitants. But two of them looked upon the matter one way, and the remaining ten looked upon the matter after an entirely different fashion. Two viewed matters from a divine, spiritual perspective; and the remaining ten viewed matters from a humanistic, natural perspective.
The Israelites under Moses form the type, and Christians under Christ form the antitype. And the beginning point is the same in either instance. It must be, for the antitype must follow the type in exact detail.
That which occurred in Exodus chapter twelve foreshadowed that which occurred on Calvary 1,500 years later. The Passover Lamb was slain in both instances, blood was shed in both instances, there was a vicarious death in both instances, and God was satisfied in both instances.
Then, as in Exodus chapter twelve, the blood must be applied. And, as in the case of the Israelites in relation to the death of the firstborn and the application of the blood in Exodus chapter twelve, God can’t undo man’s eternal salvation or redo His own satisfaction and deal with Christians again on the basis of His Son’s finished work at Calvary.
As in the words of Christ Himself, “It is [It has been] finished” (John 19:30). Man can’t add to, take from, or change anything as it pertains to the finished work of Christ at Calvary. All he can do is simply receive that which has already been done on his behalf. All he can do is simply “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:30, 31).
(The words, “It has been finished,” in John 19:30 are the translation of one word in the Greek text — tetelestai, a perfect tense usage of teleo, which means “to bring something to an end.” The reference is to Christ’s work, brought to an end, finished. And the perfect tense points to this work having been finished in past time and existing in that finished state during present time.
A perfect tense is also used relative to one’s eternal salvation in Ephesians 2:8 — “you have been saved.” Christians possess a salvation in which all of the work that God required to procure that salvation occurred in past time [divine work entirely], with everything existing during present time in a finished state.
Thus, to undo man’s eternal salvation, that which is seen in the preceding would have to be undone. But all of that is really neither here nor there, for God never again deals with saved man on this basis again anyway, for He is satisfied.)
And, as in the type, this is not an end in itself, as is often implied in Christian circles today. Rather, this is the beginning point. This is where the journey begins; and, as also in the type, the journey always leads toward one goal. It always leads toward the land to which Christians have been called — a heavenly land, typified by the earthly land to which Israel was called.
Everything that happens in an individual’s life, beyond his passing “from death to life” (John 5:24), is with a view to this goal being realized. This was the case in the type, and it must be the case in the antitype.
And as there were individuals inhabiting the land with far superior strength to that of the Israelites in the type, so must it be in the antitype. The Israelites were no match for the men of “great stature” or “the giants [the Nephilim]” dwelling in the land to which they had been called. And, in like manner, Christians are no match for Satan and his angels dwelling in the land to which they have been called.
In both instances — whether the Israelites under Moses (past) or Christians under Christ (present) — the words of Caleb and Joshua would apply:
and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land.
“If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land that flows with milk and honey.’
Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them.” (Numbers 14:7-9)
The battle though was/is the Lord’s; and with His strength — delivering the enemy over into the hands of His people — the strength of those inhabiting the land, as opposed to the strength of those called to inhabit the land, was/is of no consequence.
But, though the preceding was/is the case, the people of God must be knowledgeable about the land, the enemy inhabiting the land, and the ways of the Lord. This was the reason for the elders from among the twelve tribes being sent into the land under Moses, and this is the reason for elders (pastor-teachers) from among the people being sent into the land under Christ.
Christians, if they are to overcome the enemy and realize the goal of their calling, must know certain things surrounding that to which they have been called. They must know things about the land, the enemy dwelling therein, and the ways of the Lord.
And as elders were called and commissioned for this particular task under Moses, so have they been called and commissioned for this same particular task under Christ. Under Moses, it had to do with the goal of the peoples’ calling; and under Christ, it is the same. There can be no difference, for the type has been set, and no change can ever occur.
That which happened in the type will — it must — happen in the antitype. As there were leaders among the Israelites who had been into and traversed the land, gathered information, and brought back a true report to the people, so will it be in the antitype; and, as there were leaders among the Israelites who had been into and traversed the land, gathered information, and brought back a false report to the people, so will it also be in the antitype.
But one has to go back to the first few decades of the Church’s existence, during the first century of the dispensation, to see this to any degree in the Church. Because of the working of the leaven over almost two millennia of time, the whole matter is almost nonexistent today (refer to Chapter 5 of this book, “The Elders’ Search”).
That would be to say, a true type-antitype picture can really be seen only in the first-century Church, when the elders in the churches studied and taught these things, either through rendering a true report (as Caleb and Joshua) or through rendering a false report (as the remaining ten).
Beyond this point — once the leaven began to do its damaging work (which centered on the Word of the Kingdom) and elders in the churches correspondingly began to depart from their calling (a calling to ascend the mountain, learn all they could about the land and its inhabitants, and then proclaim these things to the people placed under their care) — the true type-antitype picture seen in the first-century Church began to fade. And the day eventually came when, for all practical purposes, it could no longer even be seen in the churches.
In this respect, the matter, of necessity, must be viewed from two different perspectives:
1. First-century Christianity.
2. Christianity today.
Only by so doing can one understand why Christendom, particularly in relation to things surrounding the Word of the Kingdom, has deteriorated from the state that it once occupied to the state that it presently occupies.
1. First-Century Christianity
Elders during the first few decades of the Church’s existence followed the instructions set forth in the type in Numbers chapter thirteen. They went up on the mountain, traversed the land from one end to the other, found out everything they could about the people and the land, and then brought back a report to those Christians placed under their care. That is to say, they went to the Word (recognizing that all things in the Word, after some fashion, move out toward that coming seventh day), traversed the Word from one end to the other, found out everything they could about the land to which Christians have been called and the inhabitants dwelling therein, and then taught these things to the Christians placed under their care.
However, in those days, as in the type, there were two different reports. There was a good report, and there was an evil report.
The former can be seen from the evident structure of the New Testament epistles and the direction toward which all things in these epistles move (along with verses in these epistles that state, in so many words, that the message surrounding the Word of the Kingdom was proclaimed throughout Christendom in those days [e.g., Colossians 1:5, 6, 23]).
And the latter can be seen from the warnings against false teachers (who were then present in the churches), recorded in several of the epistles, particularly in 2 Peter and Jude.
a. A Good Report
The structure of the New Testament epistles is the same as that upon which the whole of Scripture rests, set forth at the very beginning (Genesis 1:1-2:3). And this is really the only natural structure for any of the epistles to follow, for the epistles simply build upon and provide additional details for that which is set forth at the beginning.
(The preceding is not to say that every epistle covers the broad scope of the complete structure set forth at the beginning of Scripture, though some do. Rather, each epistle has its own peculiar emphasis and centers its teachings on particular points of the complete structure.)
The epistles, in actuality, cover material previously seen in the types, beginning in Genesis. They, in this respect, form a commentary on the types; and the types, in turn, form a commentary on the epistles.
Thus, if a person wants to fully grasp and understand what’s in the epistles, he must go back to the types (and other related portions of Scripture); and, to turn that around, if a person wants to fully grasp and understand what’s in the types, he must go forward to the epistles (and other related portions of Scripture).
Any correct study of Scripture is interrelated after this fashion — “comparing spiritual things with spiritual” — as one allows the Author of Scripture, the Holy Spirit, to lead the individual “into all truth” (John 16:12-15; 1 Corinthians 2:9-13).
Then note how a number of the basic overall types are structured (cf. Genesis 1:1-2:3; chapters 3-11; chapters 21-25; chapters 37-45; Exodus 12-Joshua 24). Each overall type, with its own particular emphasis, is structured exactly the same as the others. And all of the types, within their individual, corresponding structure, move toward that coming seventh day — the Messianic Era — the direction toward which all Scripture moves.
To say that the New Testament epistles are structured after any other fashion, or that the content of these epistles moves toward any other goal, is completely outside the realm of sound biblical interpretation.
Reading and studying the epistles in the light of the Old Testament types and in the light of their New Testament context leaves no room to question their structure and content (e.g., note Hebrews 3, 4 in the light of the subject under discussion in Numbers 13, 14).
And whether Christians today understand these things or fail to understand these things is of no moment whatsoever insofar as their validity is concerned. Various facets of this overall message, drawn from the types, are what those in the early Church who authored these epistles (as “moved [borne along] by the Holy Spirit” [2 Peter 1:21]) wrote about, this is the only way elders in the early Church could have understood these epistles. Consequently, these could only be things that the elders in the early Church taught and which Christians in the early Church understood.
Thus, viewing the epistles in the light of the type in Numbers chapter thirteen, it’s easy to see and understand that elders in the early Church spent time on the mountain (spent time in the Word studying things surrounding the kingdom, both present and future). But proclaiming a correct, true report to the people after spending time studying the Word after this fashion would correspond only to the report given by Caleb (and ascribed to by Joshua):
Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it. (v. 30)
This is one side of the matter, with there being another also. There were also those who proclaimed an incorrect, false report to the people after spending time studying the Word after this same fashion.
b. An Evil Report
Viewing the type, the remaining ten elders sent into the land under Moses took a position exactly opposite to the one taken by Caleb and Joshua, saying,
We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we. (v. 31)
And this false report given by the ten must be reflected in the epistles as well.
Then note something often overlooked. These ten knew just as much about the land and its inhabitants as Caleb and Joshua knew. All twelve had been there for forty days and had seen these things; and all twelve — the ten, along with Caleb and Joshua — had previously given a report concerning the land and its inhabitants.
The difference lay, not in their knowledge of these things, but in their outlook concerning the ability of the Israelites to go into the land and, under God, conquer the inhabitants and take the land.
The ten brought up a false report at this point. They apostatized — they stood away from the Israelites’ calling (the literal meaning of the word, “apostasy” [Greek: apostasia (apo, “from”; stasis, “to stand,” i.e., “to stand away from”)]) — and sought to tell the people that they couldn’t do what God had called them to do.
And the same type of false teachers could be found in the early Church (individuals who were knowledgeable concerning the Word of the Kingdom, but had apostatized. They had stood away from “the faith”).
This is the “why” of the warnings in the epistles of 2 Peter and Jude (epistles dealing mainly with warnings against false teachers), along with corresponding warnings in other epistles (e.g., Philippians 3:17-19; Colossians 2:18; 1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 3:1-7; 4:3-5). The warnings in these epistles pertain, not to unsaved individuals, but to teachers in Christendom (saved individuals) who understood things about the Word of the Kingdom and had apostatized. They had stood away from the truths inherent therein and were dispensing false information to the people.
(Note, for example, the “knowledge” possessed by these false teachers and the fact that through this knowledge they had, at one time, “escaped the pollutions of the world” [2 Peter 2:20]. The word “knowledge” in this passage is epignosis in the Greek text, meaning “a mature knowledge [particularly concerning things surrounding one’s calling].”
An unsaved person cannot possibly come into this type of knowledge of spiritual things; nor, beyond that, can he possibly escape “the pollutions of the world,” for that is done through epignosis [cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14].)
Then, the false information proclaimed by these false teachers had to do, not with the message surrounding salvation by grace through faith (that’s not even in view), but with the message surrounding the Word of the Kingdom. Such is evident from both the text and context of the different places where references to false teachers appear.
2. Christianity Today
Today though, matters surrounding either a true report or a false report are completely different. The leaven has done its damaging work to the point that elders in the churches of the land know little to nothing about the Word of the Kingdom.
They haven’t been up on the mountain and traversed the land. They, thus, don’t know enough about the matter to give either a true report or a false report. And, accordingly, a true antitypical picture of the type set forth in Numbers chapter thirteen cannot presently be seen in Christendom (except possibly in rare instances).
Elders in the churches today fail to see the epistles in their correct perspective (dealing mainly with the Word of the Kingdom); and they, correspondingly, fail to see the types in their correct perspective either. Thus, not understanding these things, they cannot relate the epistles to the types (or, vice versa) and properly teach both in the light of one another.
The central message usually seen in the epistles by those who haven’t been up on the mountain and traversed the land is salvation by grace through faith; the thought set forth by the same group of individuals surrounding false teachers in 2 Peter and Jude (and other places) invariably centers on unsaved teachers with a false message pertaining to salvation by grace through faith; and the thought set forth by these same individuals concerning earnestly contending “for the faith” in Jude 3 centers on defending the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith (which, when listed, never even mention the Word of the Kingdom — the only thing actually in view in Jude 3 [though not in the sense of “defending” in the presence of others but in the sense of “earnestly striving” in the spiritual warfare]).
And that’s where Christendom is today in relation to the Word of the Kingdom. The Church has been permeated through and through with the leaven; and the foundations, accordingly, have been and continue to be eroded.