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after 38 years …

28-11-2011 - Posted by Andre Piet

On January 20, 2008, I was privileged to speak to the ecclesia, Eben Haëzer, in Rotterdam (click here). I spoke about, both, the superficial and deep(er) meaning of the phrase “thou shalt”. At the end of the sermon, I referred to the lame man in Bethesda (John 5), who, after 38 years was healed by Jesus on the sabbath. “Rise, take your bed, and walk…”, he was told. I briefly mentioned the symbolic meaning of the mattress: it is a representation of rest. Where a person receives new life (> “arise” > resurrection), it is fundamental for a walk in this ‘new life’ to first take up the mattress, in order that all the walking would be characterized by the rest (peace) of all that God promises. Unfortunately there is something I did not have time for this morning, to explain (I was already over my allotted time…). It concerns the deeper meaning of the 38 years. This period in the Scriptures represents the extra time that the people of Israel had to roam around in the wilderness (Deut.2:14), under the leadership of Moses, who is a type of the law. After 38 years, however, Moses died and the people were led by Joshua into the promised land. Joshua, in his name alone, already, refers directly to Jesus. In the Greek New Testament, there is not any difference between the two names (see e.g. Heb.4:8). The idea is: after 38 years, Moses makes room for Joshua (=Jesus). John 1:17 says:

“the law through Moses was given; grace and truth came through Jesus (=Joshua) Christ”.

After 38 years the Israelites passed through the Jordan river (an image of death and resurrection) and the promised land was obtained. Perfectly parallel with this, we find in John 5 a man who for 38 years was ill, unable to bring himself to the living water. No problem, because the ‘Living Water’, (Joshua/Jesus), came to him and he was healed; totally and without rehabilitation exercises. ——————————— translation: Peter Feddema