Prophetic Events of Matthew 14--Part 2
Jan 22, 2010
In Matthew 14:22-36 we read the story of Jesus walking on the water to the disciples in the midst of a storm. The same story is told in John 6:16-21, where we learn that Peter also walked on the water.
The event was prophetic of the second coming of Christ, where the overcomers go out to meet Him (1 Thess. 4:17). Not many today recognize this as a prophecy of the second coming, because it does not fit with the usual concept of the "rapture." Most teach that when we "meet" Christ in the air, He will take us all back to heaven for a few years, and then return with all of us to the earth.
However, the story here shows that Jesus did not take Peter back to the high mountain where He had been praying. Instead, Peter went out to meet Him for the purpose of escorting Him to the boat where the rest of the disciples were still struggling with the wind and waves.
In fact, the word "to meet" comes from the Greek word apantesis, which has to do with an official welcome of a visiting dignitary. The word means this every time it is used in the NT. In Matt. 25::1 and 6 the virgins were called to go out and "meet" the Bridegroom as He came to the wedding. The virgins were not waiting for the train to come and take them away. They were waiting for the Bridegroom to come to them, and when He arrived, the door was shut. There is no indication that they were singing "I'll fly away."
Again, in Acts 28:15, as Paul drew near to the city of Rome, the brethren came out to "meet" him. Though he was a prisoner, they treated him like a visiting dignitary (VIP), and Paul "took courage" from this. Those saints from Rome, however, did not expect to get back on the boat and return with Paul to Jerusalem. Instead, they were there to escort him to Rome--which was Paul's destination.
So it is with the second coming of Christ, when we go out to "meet" Him.
Another important detail often overlooked is the fact that not all of the disciples went out to meet Jesus. Not all of them walked on the water. This shows us that not all believers are eligible for the first resurrection, nor will all go out to "meet" Him. Not all will attain to the feast of Tabernacles at that time. Peter was acting out the prophetic role of the overcomers, while the rest of the disciples were playing the part of the Church.
When Jesus finally reached the boat with Peter, the wind ceased and in John 6:21 we read that "immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going." Mark 6:45 tells us that He actually sent them to Bethsaida, but when they were transported supernaturally to the other side of the lake, they landed in Capernaum (John 6:17 and 21).
I have often found that God has given original instructions to go to a certain place, only to find that God diverts me to another place. He often does this. He may use one situation as an excuse to start a trip and then later we find that this was not really what He had in mind after all. We have to be watchful at all times and take each step a day at a time. He does this, in fact, to keep us watchful and to keep us from making assumptions.
But in the NT story, the destination proved to be Capernaum, which is the Grecianized version of the Hebrew, Kaphar-Nahum. Thayer's Dictionary says this means "the village of consolation," takingkaphar to mean a village. Kaphar means to cover or protect; hence, it is also used of a village with walls of protection.
Nahum, of course, is the Hebrew word for consolation or comfort, and it is a prophecy of the coming of the "Comforter," that is, the Holy Spirit. Hence, Capernaum means "the covering of the Comforter." Or one may also see it as the place of dwelling ("village") of the Comforter. Either way we look at it, the prophetic significance in our present story is that the disciples were supernaturally transported to the covering of the Comforter. It indicates arriving at the place that Paul referred to in his prayer in Eph. 3:19, "that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God."
Whereas Pentecost gave us the earnest (downpayment) of the Spirit, the feast of Tabernacles gives us "all the fullness of God." This, then, is a prime purpose of the second coming of Christ.
After this, the people flocked to Jesus in order to be healed of their sicknesses. We read in Matt. 14:36,
" and they began to entreat Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were cured."
Why is this detail given? Why would the people want to "touch the fringe of His cloak"? Earlier, in Matt. 9:20, a woman was cured when she touched the fringe ("hem") of His garment. What is so special about the hem or fringe? In Numbers 15:38-40 we read that the people were to put a tassel, hem, or fringe on their robes and insert a blue thread in it "in order that you may remember to do all My commandments and be holy to your God."
When the people reached out and took hold of the hem on Jesus' garment (with its blue thread), they were prophetically taking hold of the divine law and the holiness of God. The law speaks of the mind and will of God, and in their obedience they found healing through Yahweh Rapha, "the Healer."
In the progression of this prophetic story, being positioned after Jesus and the disciples had come through the storm and landed at Capernaum, it indicates the remembrance and application of the divine law in the Tabernacles Age to come. It will be an age of divine healing for all who take hold of the hem of His garment. (Of course, it applies to us today as well, but the laws of God will be kept by greater numbers in the Age to come.)
Let me add also that there was an Old Covenant way to keep this law, and there is also a New Covenant way. I do not ascribe to the idea that we must all wear a blue-threaded hem on our garments today. That was a teaching tool by means of types and shadows. Such laws were designed to prophesy of an attitude of the heart, and in fact this is explained in Num. 15:40 itself, where we are told that it is about remembering the commandments of God.
Hence, the NT fulfillment of this law is to be obedient to the law of God, rather than merely wearing a blue tassel on one's garment. There were many in Jesus' day who wore the tassel but who destroyed the law by their traditions. Yet they thought they were doing what was acceptable to God, as long they wore the tassel. Their faith was in the tassel rather than in the God that they were supposed to obey.
There were many changes that took place after Jesus' death and resurrection. Before then, the people were to kill lambs for Passover and put blood on their door posts. After the true Lamb of God was killed, there was no further need for animal sacrifices, and today Passover is kept not by shedding more blood, but by applying the blood of the True Lamb to our own "lintel" (forehead).
The form of the law changed, but not the spirit (intent) of the law. This applies to the blue thread in the hem of one's garment as well. Neither animal blood nor blue threads have ever made anyone holy before God, for God is more interested in the heart than in external forms of "righteousness."
For the same reason, in the Tabernacles Age to come, we will not revert to animal sacrifices, as many have taught, nor will we all have to wear blue-threaded tassels. Our holiness is (and will continue to be) based upon the righteousness of Christ living in and through us.
This is the final part of a series titled "Prophetic Events of Matthew 14." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones