The Healing of Jacob
The next day, the third of Sukkoth, was a Sabbath day. As we walked toward the tabernacle in the morning, we saw a sick man lying on a cot not far from the gate, where Eli sat. Approaching him, I asked, “What is your name?”
“I am Jacob,” the sick man said. “I am too weak to stand by my own strength. Will you help me so that I may observe the ceremony at the tabernacle? I believe that if I could but pray at the tabernacle, I might be healed. But no one believes me, and even my family refuses to help me, because the crowd is too thick to walk through them.”
“How long have you been sick?” I asked.
“Most of my life,” he replied. “I have been unable to stand by myself for 38 years.” 120
“How did you become so weak?” I inquired. “What happened to you?”
Looking embarrassed, he said sheepishly, “Long ago, I envied the idols that foreigners had made. So I purchased a golden idol, although others, more righteous than I, warned me against it. But I took no heed to their warning, nor did I acknowledge the word of Yahweh that was in their mouths. Soon after this, I was struck down, and I have not walked without assistance since that time.” 121
“What happened to the golden idol?” Samuel asked.
“I destroyed it and cast its remains into the brook,” he said. “It is gone, but my sickness remains. I now have neither gold nor health.”
Seeing that he had long repented of his idolatry, I asked, “Do you wish to be healed?”
“No one will take me to the tabernacle, where God might heal me,” he said.
Ignoring him, I saw that his heart’s desire was to be healed. “Arise, take up your cot, and walk to the tabernacle,” I said quietly but firmly.
Strength surged into his legs, and he sprang to his feet. The crowd was dumbstruck as the man danced and shouted, holding his cot high over his head like a trophy of a victor.
Samuel, Nathan, Eleazar, and I blended back into the crowd, as the amazed people surrounded Jacob, plying him with questions.
“What happened to you?” “Has God healed you?” “What prayer did you use?”
But suddenly, a loud, anguished voice shouted, “Put down your cot!” It was the voice of Eli. “This is the Sabbath! Do not profane the day of our God! Have respect for God during Sukkoth!” 122
“But God has healed me!” Jacob replied as he lowered his cot and dropped it to the ground. “Is not Sukkoth a time of rejoicing? I am rejoicing over His mercy!”
“You are violating the Sabbath,” Eli repeated. “Rejoice without the cot. Surely you can understand such an elementary principle.”
“Yes, your Excellency,” Jacob said with his head bowed. With that, the crowd, still talking among themselves, hurried on their way up the inclined road past the gate toward the tabernacle where the morning prayer was about to begin.
“I think perhaps I ought to avoid the morning prayer,” I said in a low voice to Samuel and Nathan. “If Jacob sees me, he will surely point me out, and this could cause a disturbance.”
“I will go with you,” Nathan said, and Samuel nodded in agreement.
“Then I will go alone to the prayer,” Samuel said, “for I do not think that he will recognize me. And even if he did, the most he could say is that I was there when he was healed. I was not the one to tell him to pick up his cot on the Sabbath day! Yet I will see you later this afternoon, so that we can discuss it further.”
We parted, and the three of us made our way back through the traffic to our tent and sukkah. As soon as the crowd was behind us and it was quiet, Eleazar asked, “What is the meaning of this miracle? Surely it is a sign of spiritual things past, present, and future.”
“Yes,” I replied. “Jacob is a sign of the nation during its time as a diseased nation. When Israel refused to hear God’s voice in the time of Moses, and when they worshiped the golden calf, they lost their testimony that God rules. In the eyes of God, they lost their name Israel and returned to their original name, Jacob, the deceiver. Jacob is a sign to all of the people that this is the house of Jacob, not Israel. His infirmity is a revelation from God about the condition of their hearts. Yet the good news is that the day will come when God will raise them up and bring them into the Promised Land, as it were, after 38 years of spiritual sickness and death in the wilderness.”
“Will Israel—I mean, Jacob—be delivered from the Philistines in another 38 years?” he asked.
“Not exactly,” I explained. “Jacob’s sign was taken from a past pattern under Moses. The full time of the wilderness sojourn was 40 years—the same time as the present Philistine captivity—and if Israel’s heart had not been so full of fear and so desirous of idols, they might have entered the Promised Land after just two years. The extra 38 years were added on account of their heart idolatry.”
“It will again be fulfilled in the future in a greater way,” I added. “But at that time, the time of judgment will be extended to 40 Jubilee cycles.”
“Why?” Nathan asked with a puzzled look. “Forty Jubilees is a long time.”
“Because,” I replied, “in those days God will pour out His Spirit in a much greater way, and the people will have greater knowledge of the will of God. In those days, greater works will be done than those that Moses performed. Therefore, they will be held more accountable when they repeat Israel’s sin of idolatry. Yet once again, even as God brought Israel over Jordan into the Promised Land, so also will God raise from the dead those who hear His voice. This will be a greater miracle than anything seen in the previous patterns.”
“I see. It has been said that this will be a resurrection to judgment before the throne of God,” Nathan observed. “Is this true?”
“Yes,” I replied. “The people will be judged by One who is like Moses, yet greater. He is the Messiah, who, like Moses, will lead Israel out of the house of bondage; and He will be also like Joshua, who will lead the people into the Kingdom that God has promised. He will judge the people in righteousness, for at that time no unclean person will be allowed to enter His Kingdom. Those who do not believe Moses and obey His words that were given by God, will not receive life.”
By this time we had arrived at the tent, where we found Sipporah and Rebekah talking excitedly as they fixed the noon meal together. When they saw us approaching, Rebekah waved and greeted us.
“We heard about the man who was healed!” Rebekah shouted. “Sippore saw it all and told us! Nothing gets past our little dove, and she is happy to share her secrets with us.”
“Did she also tell you about Eli’s reaction?” Nathan asked.
“Yes, that part concerns us, but we are rejoicing with the man who was healed,” Rebekah replied.
“Your ears are blessed,” I said to her, “for you have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying. Miracles such as this are not done merely as an act of mercy upon one needy man. Such miracles are signs of much greater events that are yet to come.”
Later that afternoon, Samuel arrived, and we all entered the sukkah to discuss the word and to meditate upon it with prayer. Samuel began to recite the third speech of Moses: “Hear, O Israel! You are crossing over the Jordan today to dispossess nations greater and mightier than you, great cities, fortified to heaven… Do not say in your heart when Yahweh your God has driven them out before you, ‘Because of my righteousness Yahweh has brought me in to possess this land,’ but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that Yahweh is dispossessing them before you. It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land… for you are a stubborn people.” 123
“Why, then, did Yahweh allow Israel to possess this land?” Eleazar asked. “It is apparent that God had little confidence in their righteous hearts.”
“The judgment of God fell upon the Canaanites,” Samuel replied. “God had told Abraham that his descendants would return to possess this land after 400 years, because ‘the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.’ 124 God judges all men impartially by the same law. Yet God knew that the iniquity of the Canaanite idolaters would be ripe for judgment after 400 years had passed. So He timed Israel’s entrance to coincide with the full iniquity of the Canaanites.”
“This should serve as a warning to Israel,” Nathan said, “for later in this speech, if I recall, Moses spoke of our “awesome God who does not show partiality, nor take a bribe,” 125 when judging both Israelites and aliens. That implies that when the iniquity of Israel is complete, then God will remove them from the land and replace them with others, however imperfect they may be.”
“You are absolutely correct,” I said. “That is indeed what will happen after many generations. When the anointed king is finally crowned over all Israel, the nation will be given precisely 400 years to bear fruit, and if it fails, then the people will be taken into captivity. Unfortunately, I know that the nation will fail to bring forth the fruit of the Kingdom that God requires. So they will indeed be carried away into captivity. For this reason God will raise up another Moses and Joshua to fulfill His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The patterns of the past will be repeated in a greater way.”
“If that is so, then it seems that we are to be given the same amount of time that the Amorites were given,” Samuel said. “But why does this timetable begin with the crowning of the king?”
“The government of God,” I replied, “has not yet been established in Israel. Israel is yet ruled by judges, and God is judging the people in a lesser manner by putting them into subjection to foreign nations when they sin. It is only when their anointed king is crowned and planted in this land that God will seek for the fruit of righteousness.”
“But why are they given 400 years?” Samuel asked. “Why not 500 years—or even 300 years?”
“What does the law of fruit-bearing trees tell us?” I asked.
“The law says that when fruit trees are planted, the fruit cannot be eaten during the first three years, but “in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, an offering of praise to the Lord, and in the fifth year you are to eat of its fruit.” 126
“The fourth year is the fourth century in the national application of the law,” I replied. “After four centuries of spiritual growth, the nation ought to produce fruit that God can eat. But if there is no fruit, or if the fruit is bitter, He cannot eat it. If He cannot eat it, then neither can we enjoy the fruit of the Kingdom afterward.”
The discussion continued, hour after hour. No one thought to go back to the tabernacle for the evening sacrifice in mid-afternoon. Feasting on the living word was our priority, for having a heart to hear His voice and to know Him was the highest form of praise and worship.
Samuel finally came to the place in the law that said, “You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes; for you have not as yet come to the resting place and the inheritance which the Lord your God is giving you.” 127
He paused for a moment and then spoke with a note of sadness in his voice. “Nothing has changed. During the entire time that Israel has been in the land, everyone has done what was right in his own eyes. 128 That appears to be the sad song of Israel up to this day. We have not entered into our true resting place, nor can we as long as we retain idols in our hearts.”
“Does this not mean,” Nathan responded, “that although we now live in this land, and although each tribe and family has received land in which to dwell, nonetheless, we do not yet have our true inheritance? It seems to me that we have received a lesser inheritance than what God intended to give us.”
“Yes,” I said, “that is very true, though few have had eyes to see what God was speaking through Moses. We are given another hint of this when God said that Levi was not to receive a land inheritance, but that God was to be their inheritance. 129 Does this not show that there is an inheritance greater than that of land? Does this not tell us that our real inheritance is God Himself? What does that inheritance look like?”
We meditated upon that for a time. Finally, Samuel opened his eyes and said, “To inherit God, I believe, is to inherit His nature, to be like Him, to have a circumcised heart that has no more desire to violate the law of God. It is one thing to be obedient; it is quite another to have no desire to sin. When we have no more desire to sin, then we have truly entered into the resting place that is our inheritance.”
“Therein is the key to understanding the revelation of today,” I said. “The covenant at the Mount was man’s vow of obedience, but all men have failed to keep this vow. We have all failed to enter into our resting place by means of that vow. Hence, like Jacob, we have been sick for a long time, awaiting our release by divine intervention. Only the Messiah—or those who have His Spirit—can bring such rest to those who labor in bondage, those trying in vain to attain righteousness by the power of their own strength.”
“This intervention,” I added, “is the fulfillment of the second covenant that God made with the people in the plans of Moab. It is God’s oath to make all men His people and to be their God. Only God Himself is able to keep His word perfectly.”
“And so,” Eleazar said, “Jacob will again become Israel, for this is the promise implied in the healing miracle that we have seen this day.”
“Yes,” said Pegasus in his deep voice. “Put that into your feedbag.”
“Amen,” said Pleiades in response.
- On the third day of Sukkoth we see the third miracle-sign in John 5:1-9.
- Deuteronomy 9:16, part of Moses’ third speech (Deuteronomy 9-13).
- John 5:10, 18
- Portions of Deuteronomy 9:1-6, the beginning of Moses’ third speech.
- Genesis 15:16
- Deuteronomy 10:17
- Leviticus 19:24, 25
- Deuteronomy 12:8, 9
- Samuel’s theme in his book of Judges. See Judges 21:25.
- Numbers 18:20