When the children of Israel reached the river Jordan the Lord then told Joshua to have the people set up twelve stones in the midst of the river and to take twelve stones from the river bed and set them up on the side of the promised land:
"So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the Lord had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down. Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day" (Joshua 4:8-9).
Reid writes that "after crossing the Jordan, the Israelites set up two 12-stone monuments-one stone for each tribe. One group of stones was set up in the middle of the Jordan's riverbed, where the Ark had been standing (4:9), and the other group of stones was set up in the Promised Land on the 'resurrection side' of the Jordan (4:8). These monuments would be a perpetual reminder that God's people were to identify with the Ark-where it had been in the Jordan and where it was after crossing the Jordan. The spiritual picture is quite clear: we must identify with Christ in both His death and His resurrection. According to Romans 6, when Christ died for sin, we died to sin. When Christ was raised in resurrection, we were raised to 'walk in newness of life' " [emphasis added] (Reid, Ibid.).
Habershon says that "when they crossed the Jordan, the children of Israel were told to set up 'twelve stones' for a memorial: a stone for a tribe; twelve in the midst of the Jordan, and twelve on the other side. The stones evidently typify the believer's standing in its two-fold aspect. Those in the midst of the river of death tell us that we are dead with Christ; and those in the land that we are risen with Him" [emphasis added] (Habershon, Ibid., p.23).
III Design of the Typologial Relationship
The "Nation" of Israel Symbolizes the "Individual" Christian
As mentioned earlier, a "type" is a sketch or illustration which pictures the antitype. The experiences of the "nation" of Israel in the OT present a picture of the "individual" Christian's blessings. For instance, David realized that the redemption of Israel was a "national" redemption:
"And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself...which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods?" (2 Sam.7:23).
Henry W. Soltau understands the principle that the "redemption" provided by the passover lambs was "nationalistic" in nature: "Israel was considered one assembly in redemption through the blood of the Paschal Lamb in Egypt. Though many lambs were slain, ( 'a lamb for a house,' ) yet they were considered as one lamb: 'the whole assembly of the congregation shall kill it in the evening' Exod. Xii. 6" (Soltau, The Tabernacle, the Priesthood and the Offerings [Kregel Classics, 1994], p.451).
Israel as a "nation" was sanctified by the "blood of the covenant" when that blood was sprinkled upon the people. On the day of atonement the rituals were in regard to a "national" cleansing. The crossing of the Jordan was in regard to the "nation" of Israel entering the promised land.
On the other hand, the NT speaks of blesssings received by the "individual" believer. Craig A. Blaising writes that "the heavenly nature of the church's salvation was interpreted by classical dispensationalists in an individualistic manner. Political and social issues were 'earthly' matters which did not concern the church. The church was a spiritual unity found in Christ. This unity manifested itself not only in the oneness of Christ but in the oneness of personal salvation. Issues in the church were individual, private, spiritual matters, not social, political, earthly matters" [emphasis added] (Blaising & Bock, Progressive Dispensationalism [Baker Books, 1993], p.26).
Therefore, the experiences of the "nation" of Israel from Egypt to the promised land are a "type" or illustration of the blessings received by the "individual" Christian during the present time.
Israel's Earthly Blessings Symbolizes the Christian's Heavenly Blessings
In the types previously presented the blessings received by the nation of Israel were "earthly" and it is not difficult to understand why this is true. By its very nature a "nation" is earthly, having territorial and political characteristics. The following verses which are a prophecy of the time when Israel's New Covenant will be put in place illustrates this point:
"Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land...I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land" (Ez.37:14,21; NIV).
On the other hand, the blessings received by the Christian today are not earthly. Reid writes that "Ephesians 1:3 says that believers are 'blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ.' Our spiritual Promised Land, called here 'the heavenlies,' is the sphere of our spiritual blessings in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-14)...The people of Israel were promised earthly, temporal blessing in the possession of the Land, but earthly physical or material blessings are not promised to the believer" [emphasis added] (Ibid.).
Today the believer is said to have a "heavenly" citizenship: "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil.3:20; NIV).
Lewis Sperry Chafer writes that "The Church is composed of all nations, including Israelites, and sustains no citizenship here, but instead the believers are strangers and pilgrims...every covenant or promise for the Church is for a heavenly reality, and she continues in heavenly citizenship when the heavens are recreated" [emphasis added] (Chafer, Systematic Theology, IV:47-53).
Chafer correctly understands that today's New Covenant "for the church is for a heavenly reality." Paul writes that the Lord "hath quickened us together with Christ...and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph.2:5-6).
"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God" (Col.3:1-3; NIV).
Therefore we can see that in the types we have examined the "nation" of Israel is a "type" of the individual believer, and the earthly blessings are a "type" of the "spiritual blessings in the heavenlies" received by the Christian. Next we will see that Israel's New Covenant follows this same typological design.