One of the greatest testaments to the divine authorship and redaction of the Holy Bible is its undergirding canonical unity. One of the many ways that this unity makes itself known is through what I refer to as prophetic keys. A prophetic key is any nugget of biblical truth, that once brought to light, consequentially unlocks the true meaning of random passages of scripture scattered across the vast expanse of the biblical canon. Through prophetic keys, one is confronted with the under-girding spirit of truth which unifies and brings to life the entire body of Holy Scripture, which in turn testifies of its divine authorship and redaction. Given that they are such a powerful exegetical tool, it is important to understand the nature of prophetic keys and how they function–and the best way to do this is to look at an example. In this brief analysis, we will be looking at the camp of Israel in the wilderness as an example of a prophetic key. As we will see, the knowledge of how the camp of Israel in the wilderness was organized breathes new life into numerous other prophecies and Scriptures which are scattered across the entire biblical canon.
The book of Numbers: Authorship & Historical setting
The biblical description of the camp of Israel in the wilderness is found in the second chapter of the book of Numbers. The book of Numbers is one of the five books of the Pentateuch (Torah), or Five books of Moses. It is the fourth book in both the Jewish Tanakh, as well as every Christian biblical canon that I am aware of. It is ascribed by tradition to Moses (John 3:14), which would place its date of authorship to Moses’ forty-year ministry.1.
Modern-critical scholars on the other hand reject the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, and cleave instead to what is known as the Documentary Hypothesis—a view of authorship which traces its origins to the nineteenth century. The Documentary Hypothesis essentially maintains that all of the five books of Moses were written by at least four discernibly different writers (or schools of writers), who were writing at different times between about 950 BC and 400 BC. The theory holds that these four documents were finally assembled together and redacted by some unknown hand (probably a priest)—sometime during the mid to late fifth century BC. This is the prevailing view of modern-critical scholars, whose views currently prevail in the academic field of biblical studies today.2
The historical setting of the book of Numbers is the wilderness of Arabia during the forty-year period between the Exodus from Egypt under the leadership of Moses, and the entry into the Promised Land under Joshua. This was a period of preparation and testing for the nation of Israel. The people of Israel were now free, they now had God’s Law, and they were preparing to inherit the land that God had promised to their fathers. During this time God would begin to try the hearts of his people, purge them of their worldly ways they had acquired while in Egypt, and make them into a holy people prepared to inherit the blessings that he had prepared for them.
An aerial view of the camp of Israel in the wilderness
In Numbers chapter 2, God gives Moses very specific instructions for how the camp of Israel in the wilderness was to be organized. The twelve tribes were organized into four camps, each of which was to be set up on one of the four sides of the tabernacle of witness. God was very meticulous with regard to how he wanted this done. The tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun formed the camp of Judah, which was to be established on the east side of the tabernacle of witness. The tribes of Reuben, Simeon, and Gad formed the camp of Reuben, and they were to set up their camp on the south side of the tabernacle. The tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin formed the camp of Ephraim—they were to set up on the west side of the tabernacle. Finally, the tribes of Dan, Asher, and Naphtali formed the camp of Dan—these were to set up on the north side of the tabernacle. The Levites and priests were in the court of the tabernacle in the midst of all four of these respective camps. Below is an aerial view of what the camp of Israel in the wilderness would have looked like, according to the description of this chapter:
As can clearly be seen, God instructed Moses to have the children of Israel set up their camp in in the form of the shape of the cross. For all of you skeptics out there who would write this off as a coincidence—I’d ask you to go ahead and make a mental note of where the camp of Benjamin is located on the chart above, then reflect carefully on the fact that the Hebrew name Benjamin (ןימִֽיָנְבִ) is a Hebrew compound which literally translates as: “son of the right hand.” Now, if you’d like to try and argue that is also a coincidence—please be my guest.
The symbolism of the camp of Israel in the wilderness
Before we proceed, it is necessary that we first nail down the most basic symbolism that is being implied by the mystery of the camp of Israel in the wilderness as described in Numbers chapter 2. Obviously, the camp of Israel in the wilderness was deliberately organized in the shape of the cross of Jesus. What this does is it identifies Jesus Christ as a personification of the whole nation of Israel, and the knowledge of this truth will breathe new life into several biblical passages scattered all over the biblical canon, as we shall see.
With the exception of the Levites and priests, the people in their camps represent flesh. Flesh in the Bible signifies human nature, which is inherently sinful and unbelieving (recall that the entire first generation of Israel which came out of Egypt perished in the wilderness for their persistent unbelief—a fact which itself reinforces this interpretation that they represent sinful human nature). It thus follows that the people in their camps represent sinful human nature generally, and individual sins particularly—which Christ bore in his own body on the cross. The priests and Levites in the tabernacle courtyard represent the inward spirit of man—or the “inner man” (Eph. 3:16). Those that are in the flesh cannot please God (Rom. 8:8), because God is a Spirit—and therefore they who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24; cf. Mal. 2:4-6). Thus, as the Levites signify the inner man—they signify that part of man that worships God in spirit and in truth. The Holy place (of the tabernacle) where the Levites minister represents the habitation of the spirit of man, while the Holy of Holies represents the “God-shaped hole” that resides within the heart of every human being. Man tries to fill this hole with every idol under the sun, but it is a hole that was designed to be inhabited by the spirit of the living God. The Spirit of God inhabiting the Holy of holies, of course, signifies the eternal Spirit of God which indwelt the earthly tabernacle of Jesus Christ.
Ezekiel 37 in light of the camp of Israel in the wilderness
One specific prophecy which builds upon Moses’ testimony of the structure of the camp of Israel in the wilderness is Ezekiel 37. This isn’t really an example of a prophecy whose meaning has been “unlocked” by the knowledge of the camp of Israel in the wilderness, but it is nevertheless a cool allusion which demonstrates a little bit of the canonical interplay I described earlier. Behold:
The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore. (Ezek. 37:15-28)
As we can see, in this prophecy (which was given to the prophet Ezekiel during the Babylonian captivity), God tells Ezekiel that he will take the stick of Judah and will join it with the stick of Joseph, and make them one stick again. What he is referring to is the reunification of the house of Judah (natural Israel, or the Jews) and the house of Joseph (the 10 northern tribes who became “lost” after the Assyrian invasion of Samaria in 722 BC). The two houses had once been united under David and Solomon, but had split into two separate kingdoms after the death of Solomon—the kingdom of Israel in the north (often called by the name of its dominant tribe Ephraim in prophecy), and the kingdom of Judah in the south. The fulfillment of this prophecy of Ezekiel, which hinges on the latter-day identity of the house of Joseph—is a very important mystery in and of itself, but that is a very lengthy discussion in its own right that will have to wait for another day.
As pertaining to our present discussion, what is important is that the reunification prophecy of Ezekiel 37 is alluded to by the camp of Israel in the wilderness as revealed by Numbers chapter 2. Here the camp of Judah (consisting of the tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun) is the proverbial “stick of Judah” spoken of by prophet Ezekiel, while the camp of Ephraim is the “stick of Joseph” in the hand of Ephraim (Ezek. 37:19). The prophecy states that God will one day join these back together, and make them one stick again. With that in mind, note that the camp of Judah and the camp of Ephraim are joined together by the tabernacle courtyard which was inhabited by the tribe of Levi in the middle. Got it? Now, note that the Hebrew name of Levi literally means “joined.” By this the camp of Israel in the wilderness as described by Moses in Numbers chapter 2 prophetically alludes to this rejoining of the two proverbial sticks of Judah and Ephraim, as spoken by the prophet Ezekiel in the early sixth century BC.
Jesus Christ as the nation of Israel personified
Moving right along, note how all of the following OT verses are suddenly brought to life by our knowledge of the camp of Israel in the wilderness:
Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying, . . . . (Numbers 14:15)
Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was gathered together as one man, from Dan even to Beersheba, with the land of Gilead, unto the LORD in Mizpeh. (Judges 20:1)
And all the people arose as one man, saying, We will not any of us go to his tent, neither will we any of us turn into his house. (Judges 20:8)
So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, knit together as one man. (Judges 20:11)
And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem. (Ezra 3:1)
And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel. (Nehemiah 8:1)
As can clearly be seen, the knowledge of the camp of Israel in the wilderness breathes new life into all of the above verses containing the “one man” metaphor that several biblical writers used to describe the united nation of Israel. That is to say, our knowledge of how the camp of Israel in the wilderness was organized gives us the eyes to see that all of the above verses where this metaphor is used, function on a higher level as cryptic prophecies referring to Jesus Christ—who is the nation of Israel personified.
Another thing all of the above five verses do is they collectively establish that the phrase “one man” functions throughout the biblical canon as figurative code name for Jesus Christ. We find one example of the metaphor being used in this way in the Gospel of John:
But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. (John 11:46-50; cf. John 18:14)
These words spoken by Caiphas (who was at that time the present occupant of an ecclesiastical office which had been anointed by God from the foundation of the world to function as a beacon of light to all of the common people of Israel) were prophetic—yet he was completely oblivious to the true prophetic meaning of what he had said. Yet for those of us who have the knowledge of the aerial map of the camp of Israel in the wilderness as described in Numbers chapter 2—we know that “one man” in Scripture is a prophetic code word for Jesus Christ. Thus, by saying that one man should die for the people so that the whole nation doesn’t perish—he was literally saying (without even realizing it) that Jesus Christ specifically should die for the people! And because Jesus Christ was the embodiment of the entire nation, he was literally the only person who has ever walked the earth qualified to die in place of the nation.
Matthew’s citation of Hosea 11:1 in light of the camp of Israel in the wilderness
The following claim of prophetic fulfillment found in the Gospel of Matthew is yet another example which demonstrates how the knowledge of the camp of Israel in the wilderness functions as a prophetic key:
And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. (Matthew 2:13-15)
For comparison, below is the Scripture from Hosea that Matthew was citing:
When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. (Hosea 11:1)
Armed with our newly acquired knowledge that Jesus Christ is the the nation of Israel personified, the above prophecy is suddenly brought to life. Because we know (based on our knowledge of the camp of Israel in the wilderness and the “one man” metaphor used throughout Scripture) that the nation of Israel and Jesus Christ are relationally interchangeable within the Logos—we are once again able to see that “Israel” in this prophecy is being used as a prophetic code word for Jesus Christ. Matthew’s claim that Jesus’ flight out of Egypt as an infant was the fulfillment of this prophecy is thus 100% correct—for the transpiring of these things filled Hosea’s words with new meaning. Thus we see yet again how the knowledge of the camp of Israel in the wilderness becomes a prophetic key which unlocks the true meaning of the prophecy of Hosea 11:1.
Now, if you were to ask a secular biblical scholar about Matthew’s citation of Hosea, they would tell you that if you actually go to the book of Hosea and read Hosea’s prophecy, you will clearly see that Matthew deliberately takes Hosea’s words out of context in order to claim that it’s a prophecy about Jesus. They would tell you that Hosea was referring to Israel coming out of Egypt when the nation was in its infancy. Because they will not even consider the possibility that the prophets could have perhaps prophesied under divine inspiration, they fail to realize that the prophets themselves were ignorant of the true prophetic meaning of their own words.
It is true that Hosea’s conscious intent when he penned that prophecy was to reference Israel coming out of Egypt. Being a mere mortal man bound by the laws of time and space, he had no way of knowing that he was prophesying of the infant messiah being brought out of Egypt some 750 years into the future—the knowledge of the person of Jesus was not even on his radar. Nevertheless, the eternal Spirit of God was the external force that moved him to make that reference in the first place (2 Pet. 1:21; 2 Tim 3:16). Because Jesus Christ is the personification and embodiment of the nation of Israel, the spirit of God deliberately moved Hosea to make that reference—for the purpose of fashioning a veiled prophecy which foreshadows the flight of the infant Jesus out of Egypt following the death of Herod.
All prophecies in Scripture have a dual application—each consisting of a form and a fulfillment. The prophetic form is a figurative type or representation of the literal prophetic fulfillment that it foreshadows, and is usually reflected by the conscious intent of the prophet or biblical writer (the earthly level of meaning described earlier). In contrast, the prophetic fulfillment reflects the conscious intent of the spirit of prophecy that is moving the prophet to write (the heavenly level of meaning). The form always precedes the fulfillment in the biblical narrative, so that the form may function as a witness of its fulfillment after the fulfillment is brought to pass (Isa. 42:9; 48:5; John 13:19; 14:29). The fulfillment, once it comes to pass, then brings the form which testifies of it to life and gives it new purpose and meaning. Thus, the form bears witness of its fulfillment, while the fulfillment validates and affirms that the witness of the form is true and faithful (Heb. 9:24; Heb. 3:5).
To apply this principle to our present example—Israel’s Exodus from Egypt is the figurative form of Hosea’s prophecy, which finds its literal fulfillment in the flight of Jesus out of Egypt as an infant. Yet because the form and fulfillment function as a pair and are inseparable—it is impossible to reference the one without inevitably referencing the other. Thus, by referencing the flight of the infant nation of Israel out of Egypt in the days of the Exodus—Hosea was unknowingly also referencing the flight of the infant Jesus out of Egypt after the death of Herod. The latter event was the fulfillment of the former which foreshadowed it. In other words, because the flight of Israel out of Egypt in the days of the Exodus was divinely designed to bear witness of the infant Christ’s flight out of Egypt in the days of Herod—it was not necessary for Hosea to be conscious of the latter in order to prophesy of it, as his ability to prophesy of the latter was merely a consequence of his referencing the former, which God had preordained and deliberately fashioned to foreshadow it.
What the secular academics do, in other words, is they try to deny the prophetic fulfillment on the grounds that it doesn’t fit with the conscious intention of the mortal hand God used to fashion the figurative form which foreshadows it. They have it backwards; it is the fulfillment of a prophecy which embodies its true substance—not the dead and lifeless form encasing it (Heb. 10:1; cf. Heb. 3:2). To claim that the form of a prophecy is to be esteemed above its fulfillment is like claiming that the scratch demo of a song recorded live in a garage with a cassette recorder is to be preferred over the professionally mixed and mastered version recorded track by track in a professional studio. Such a claim would be absurd, insomuch as the former is merely a temporary expression of the latter—which is created to serve a particular purpose until the latter is brought into existence (Gal. 3:23-25; Heb. 10:1; Heb. 3:5; 1 Cor. 13:10). Thus just as every man must lose his old life built outside of the will of God in order to find his new abundant life hidden in the body of Christ from the foundation of the world (Matt. 10:39; 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; 17:33; John 12:25; cf. Col. 3:3; John 10:10); so too every prophecy in Scripture must lose its temporal meaning (reflecting the conscious intent of the biblical writer) in order to find its true prophetic meaning (reflecting the conscious intent of the spirit of prophecy) kept hidden within the collective body of Scripture from the foundation of the world.
Isaiah 53 in light of the camp of Israel in the wilderness
Knowledge of the mystery of the camp of Israel in the wilderness also unlocks the Servant song prophecies contained in the latter half of the book of Isaiah. Of these, there is one in particular that really stands out—that of Isaiah 53. Isaiah 53 contains what are undoubtedly the most popular and commonly cited Old Testament prophecies concerning Jesus in the history of Christian apologies. The prophecies contained within this chapter are so specific in their description of Christ, his rejection, and his painful death—that many Christians have often wondered how devout Jews are able to read the book of Isaiah and still not believe that Jesus was the Messiah.
The traditional Jewish interpretation of this chapter has always been that Isaiah is describing the nation of Israel itself in anthropomorphic language, and that the “suffering servant” of Isaiah 53 is a sort of personification of the nation of Israel itself. To their credit, this would certainly fit the context of the prophecies, as God’s servant is literally called “Israel” several times in the second half of the book of Isaiah (Isa. 41:8; 43:1; 44:1, 44:21-23), which would thus appear to validate the traditional Jewish interpretation. In any case, the question remains, which of these two seemingly conflicting interpretations is the correct one? Is Isaiah 53 about Jesus as the Christians have always claimed? Or is it about the nation of Israel as the Jews have always claimed? The answer, if you haven’t yet guessed, is that they are both correct.
As we have seen, the prophetic key of the camp of Israel in the wilderness identifies the nation of ancient Israel as a collective typological personification of the one man Christ Jesus, and as has already been demonstrated—the consistent use of the “one man” metaphor throughout the Old Testament to describe the nation of Israel itself validates and reinforces the objectivity of this interpretation. Because of this, the prophecies of Isaiah 53 have a dual meaning. On one level, the Isaiah 53 passages concerning the famous “suffering servant” are indeed about the nation of Israel itself. This is the temporal, earthly level of meaning (the form) that Isaiah was likely conscious of when he originally penned these Scriptures way back in the eighth century B.C.E. On a higher level, however, these passages about Israel as God’s suffering servant simultaneously function as prophecies concerning Jesus Christ. This is the eternal, heavenly level of meaning (the fulfillment). The dual meaning of these passages in this chapter are made possible because the nation of Israel was a collective typological personification of Jesus Christ himself, as the prophetic key of the camp of Israel in the wilderness reveals to us.
The Daily Sacrifice
Before we conclude this matter, there is one final exegetical door that I’d like to unlock with the prophetic key of the camp of Israel in the wilderness. During his earthly ministry, Jesus is recorded as saying something very powerful to his disciples, the full prophetic significance of which has not been fully realized for almost two millennia. What I about to share is very deep, and therefore before we proceed, it is necessary that we first recall to remind some of the specific details about Israel’s journey through the desert as recorded in the book of Numbers:
And on the day that the tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony: and at even there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until the morning. So it was alway: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night. And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents. At the commandment of the LORD the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the LORD they pitched: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents. And when the cloud tarried long upon the tabernacle many days, then the children of Israel kept the charge of the LORD, and journeyed not. And so it was, when the cloud was a few days upon the tabernacle; according to the commandment of the LORD they abode in their tents, and according to the commandment of the LORD they journeyed. And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed: whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed. Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it was taken up, they journeyed. At the commandment of the LORD they rested in the tents, and at the commandment of the LORD they journeyed: they kept the charge of the LORD, at the commandment of the LORD by the hand of Moses. (Numbers 9:15-23)
As the above passage states—it was the Spirit of God who was leading the children of Israel through the wilderness of Arabia. He would visibly manifest his presence as a pillar of a cloud during the day, and as a pillar of fire by night. When the Spirit of God remained upon the tabernacle, this meant that the children of Israel were to remain encamped where they were. However, when the pillar would lift up from off the tabernacle and begin to move, this meant that the children of Israel were to immediately pack up their camp and begin following him—as he led them one step at a time into “the Promised Land.” For the entire nation of Israel, the forty-year wilderness period was quite literally “a daily walk with God.” They had to fully trust him and rely upon him, and they had to follow him continually. Bearing all of this in mind, I would like to bring to your remembrance something Jesus said to his disciples during his earthly ministry (pay very close attention to the bolded and underlined phrases):
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)
When Jesus uttered the above statement to his disciples—it was on one level an allusion to Israel’s wilderness journey as recorded in the book of Numbers. When that Spirit would lift up from off the tabernacle and begin moving, the children of Israel would pack up their camp, and thus quite literally “take up their cross”—and begin following him. Thus, when Jesus uttered the above statement to his disciples—he was, quite literally, identifying himself as the Spirit of God—whom the children of Israel were following into the Promised Land.
While impossible to prove, perhaps the camp of Israel in the wilderness as described in Numbers chapter 2 was also what Jesus had in mind when he said the following to the scribes and Pharisees who vehemently opposed him:
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. . . . Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words? (John 5:39; 46-47)
In this analysis we have seen that the camp of Israel in the Wilderness was deliberately set up in the pattern of the cross of Jesus Christ. By this The Bible identifies that Jesus Christ is the living embodiment, or personification of the entire nation of Israel. We saw from the very get-go how the precise position of the camp of Benjamin (whose name literally means: “son of the right hand”) within the camp makes it impossible to deny that this is a deliberately placed prophetic foreshadowing of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. What is more, we saw how the knowledge of this particular mystery functions within the biblical canon as a prophetic key—opening cryptic meaning of numerous other biblical passages scattered throughout the vast expanse of the biblical canon. By this we were confronted with the under-girding divine unity of the biblical canon—which is one of the strongest witnesses of its divine authorship and redaction. The under-girding canonical oneness that we have just witnessed shows us why the Bible is the greatest witness of its own divine authority.
If we are to accept the traditional view (which is affirmed by the Bible itself) which says that the book of Numbers was written by Moses, that means that it was written during the same 40-year period in which that book is set (ca. 1446-1406 BC), making it one of the oldest books in the entire Bible. Of course, as we noted previously, this view has long been dethroned in Western secular academia in favor of Wellhausen’s Documentary Hypothesis, which remains the prevailing view of authorship for the Pentateuch in secular academia and pop culture to this day.
Let us suppose that the higher critics are correct in their assertion that the book of Numbers was not written by Moses, and that the Pentateuch is a hodgepodge of approximately four discernibly different textual documents which were all written at different times between about 950 and 500 BC. Assuming this view is correct, that still leaves a chronological space of about 450-500 years between the time that it is claimed that this book was finished, and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. So, my question to the secular academics and higher critics is—how is it that a book you claim was completed in the fifth century BC, contains an undeniable allusion to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ? Since the nineteenth century you have constructed your entire historical-critical method and approach to biblical authorship and dating upon an ideological foundation which says that foretelling future events under the hand of divine inspiration is impossible. Thus you claim, for example, that the second half of the book of Isaiah had to have been written by disciples of Isaiah writing after the Babylonian captivity, in part because you hold that there is no possible way that an eighth century BC prophet like Isaiah could have called Cyrus of Persia by name well over a hundred years before he was even born. So now I’m asking you directly—how did the ancient writers responsible for the book of Numbers accurately foretell of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, several centuries before it occurred?
I would also be interested in hearing you guys explain the undeniable canonical interplay and unity of witness which inevitably results from the revelation of the mystery presented here. I won’t bother repeating all of the Scriptures that were suddenly brought to life by the knowledge of this one mystery—you saw them. I’d be interested to know how you fit that within your little postmodernist modern-critical paradigm? If the Bible is merely an anthology of randomly assembled ancient Hebrew and Greek literature, whose books can only be correctly understood in light of the original intent of the author and the historical context in which the books were written (as you yourselves claim)—then how did the knowledge of that one mystery consequentially set off a chain reaction of biblical revelation, bringing to life numerous different Scriptures scattered all over the biblical canon by investing them all with new meaning reflecting a unified and inseparable Christological witness? How do you reconcile such obvious and undeniable canonical oneness and unity with your modern-critical paradigm which denies the possibility of divine inspiration? I’m genuinely curious and I’d be interested in hearing what you have to say.
- The most common contemporary merger of biblical and secular chronology places Moses forty year ministry to 1446 – 1406 BC
- As a disciple of Jesus Christ, it is obviously my contention that this latter view of authorship and dating of the five books of Moses is nonsense, and I am mentioning it only so that by the end of this post everyone will be able to see for themselves that the prophetic spirit of the Bible confounds the erroneous carnal logic which under-girds these views of the secular academics.