Many students of Bible prophecy have long recognized
the concept of dual fulfillment. Perhaps the most obvious example is
found in Jesus Christ's Olivet Discourse, where He describes the Tribulational
events which would occur at the Roman siege of Jerusalem, even as those
same descriptions forecast events at the end of the age.
Some believe there will be another outpouring of the
Spirit of God, which will be an end time's version of the Pentecost event seen
in the book of Acts. Others see yet another Exodus type event, in which the people of the LORD come out from
among the nations.
It is self evident the escape from Egypt, and the
journey into the "promised land" has an end of days prophetic application as
well, for the New Covenant plainly tells us believers in Christ are to exit the
world system, and enter in to the Kingdom of God. In light of the fact that
there are many, many obvious parallels,
it is interesting to note how virtual no one ever seems address an enormously
important event, known as The Provocation, and how it must
also have a parallel fulfillment.
Temptation In The Wilderness
The episode being referenced is mentioned in both the
Old Testament and the New, and because it was consummated in what the
Scriptures describe as the wrath of God, we would do well to examine it –
especially if it prefigures a cycle which is to be repeated in our time.
Provocation occurred when the children of Israel were
about to arrive in Canaan, to receive the inheritance the LORD had promised
them – a reward which was associated with God giving them a "land flowing with
milk and honey" (Exodus 3:8).
In essence, this "provocation" was a rebellion which
emerged within Israel, as a powerful faction rose up against Moses, voicing
their discontent with his leadership, the plan of the LORD, and just about
everything else. At the outset, we should take heed concerning certain facts
about the pivotal event.
The Provocation started out with
murmuring against Moses, and it continued through several phases – including an
insolent attitude exhibited by Miriam and Aaron, who sought to place
themselves on an equal standing with Moses,
in terms of the leadership of Israel.
Taking note of the two-fold
symbolism of rebellion by Miriam and Aaron against the singular vessel of Moses (see Zechariah 13:8 on the
tri-partite division of all things), God quickly put an end to that opposition
through direct intervention; but at another point, the children of Israel also complained
about their circumstances, and the text tells us
"…the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burned among them, and
consumed those who were in the uttermost parts of the camp" (Number 11:1).
Actually, after the rebellion had fully emerged, the
LORD revealed that Israel had provoked Him "ten times" (Numbers 14:22).
However, there are several aspects of the entire episode which help us to
characterize the key characteristics of the Provocation, and how they
are mirrored in our time.
First, the primary
revolt was led by men in the priesthood
– as opposed to those who were fighters or some other profession, within the
camp of Israel. Second, it occurred after
the LORD had led Israel through the arduous events of the Passover and the
Exodus. This would include the parting of the Red Sea, the destruction of the
Egyptian host, and even the miraculous provisions of manna and quail, which had
been delivered from heaven to feed the large group.
Third, as the Israelites
were in direct proximity to the land the LORD had promised them, God had sent
out 12 leaders to survey the land and its abundance. It is here that we find a
primary trigger of the Provocation.
Readers will recall that ten of the spies gave a discouraging report, for they saw the
giants in the land and, fearing them, worried that God would not be able to
fulfill His promise:
"The land, through which we have gone to
search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants
thereof, and all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature. And
there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak…" (Numbers 13:32, 33).
Echoing the ten times Israel had provoked the
LORD, the ten spies so frightened the people that Scripture tells us
that all Israel spoke of rebellion
against Moses and Aaron:
"And all the children of Israel murmured against
Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto
them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt!" (Numbers
Here is a remarkable metaphor in that two
of the 12 spies stood up to oppose the ten who doubted – obviously
anticipating the Northern ten tribes who were dispersed long before the
faithful duo of Joshua and Caleb sought to calm the crowd's fears, prefiguring
the shift of the leadership of Israel to the two tribes of Judah and
Benjamin in Jerusalem.
Ultimately, God destroyed the ten spies by plague, and
punished Israel by having them wander in the wilderness for an extended period,
until that entire generation died out. The fact that modern prophecy
figures practically ignore this event may very well be related to the fact that
the Old Testament verse in which the LORD tells Moses how Israel has provoked
Him, also includes His threat to disinherit Israel from their
standing as His chosen people – an event which occurred at the rejection of
"How long will this people provoke
me? I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will
make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they" (Numbers 13:11, 12).
The New Testament has several key verses which show the
continuing pattern of the Provocation. For example, we see
another manifestation of the two-fold
pattern of Miriam and Aaron opposing Moses the mediator of the Old Covenant, when the Scribes and
the Pharisees seek to do the same with Jesus – the mediator of the New Covenant:
"And as he said these things unto them, the
scribes and the Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke
him to speak of many things: Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch
something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him" (Luke 11:53,54).
It is profoundly significant the Provocation in the Old
Testament occurred when Israel was in the wilderness,
as it anticipates the time when the Christians, who are Spiritual Israelites
(Romans 2:29), Provoke the LORD in the wilderness
of the end times. To that end, in the book of Numbers we find a
revealing verse, where the wrath of God is kindled against those who led the
"Surely they shall not see the land which I
sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them
me see it: But if the Lord make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth
and swallow them up…and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall
understand these men have provoked the LORD. And the earth
opened her mouth, and swallowed them up…" (Numbers 14:23, 30, 33).
event, in which Israel is subjected to the wrath of God, before the body
of true believers entered into the promised land,
anticipates the Spiritual wilderness seen in Revelation. In the end times, we
see a description of the woman who is widely associated with Israel in the Spiritual wilderness, and it occurs before
the believers enter into their heavenly promise, even as they are subjected to
of the dragon:
"And the dragon was wroth
with the woman…And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle,
that she might fly into the wilderness…And the serpent cast out
of his mouth as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried
away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her
mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth"
In this astonishing imagery, in addition to the
widespread use of prophetic parallels to communicate prophetic truth, we see a fascinating
example of the use of role reversals, a phenomenon which
also occurs on a repetitive basis in the Word of God.
Of The Provocation
The book of Hebrews repeatedly warns of a New
Testament era Provocation, when it exhorts the believer to open our hearts,
and receive the true Word of the LORD:
"Wherefore the Holy Ghost saith, Today if
ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the
day of temptation in the wilderness" (Hebrews 3:7,8).
Although this may appear to be a simple exhortation, it
is embedded with key prophetic features which communicate the fact the cycle of
occurs twice – just as virtually every other primary prophetic pattern
has a dual fulfillment. This is confirmed by the fact the precise phrase
"harden not your hearts, as in the provocation" occurs twice in the text
(Hebrews 3:8 and verse 15).
Most believers in this generation do not recognize we
are seeing a prophetic recapitulation of the events which occurred in that generation
-- because they are part of the majority "ten" whose hearts are "hardened" to
the truth --- but this very text in Hebrews warns of these things:
"I was grieved with that generation…So I sware in my wrath, they shall not enter into my
rest…..Take heed, brethren lest there be in any of you an evil heart of
unbelief, in departing from the living God" (Hebrews 3:10, 11, 12).
Just like the stiff-necked Israelites of old, most
Christians today will assume they are on the right track, because they are
already immersed in the prophesied "falling away" (II Thessalonians 2:3) from
the truth in these end times (see also the Snare in Luke 21:35). Unfortunately,
just as the ten who doubted the LORD's ability to provide His people with
victory, only the two were shielded from what the text plainly calls the "wrath"
of God. Since the original Provocation in the first timeline,
when the majority of the Israelites "tempted" God after their calling into salvation (Hebrews 3:9) resulted in "their
carcases [falling] in the wilderness," a prophetic
parallel is scheduled to occur in our generation:
"All these things happened unto them for
examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the
world are come" (I Corinthians 1:11).
The role of Joshua and Caleb, who were the faithful two
which were preserved, even as the majority were
destroyed, prefigures the pattern of the Two Witnesses. Indeed, in Revelation,
the LORD confirms the present day prophetic parallel of the Provocation
in the Spiritual "wilderness," where most of His people are "tempting" Him even
now, also carries preservation for those who hear his voice:
"Because thou hast kept the word of my
patience, I also will KEEP thee FROM the
hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the
world, to try them that dwell upon the earth" (Revelation 3:10).
"I pray not
that thou should take them out of the world, but that thou should KEEP them FROM the evil" (John 17:15).