Theme: The last days (Part 9)
(Key Verse: Gen 49:21)
In the final section of the book of Genesis we see Jacob living in Goshen in Egypt for seventeen years before his death (Gen 41:54-57). It was in the final days of his life here in Egypt that Jacob called his twelve sons to him to “tell [them] that which shall befall [them] in the last days”:
Gen 49:1 And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.
Gen 49:2 Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father.
We also know that it is from the physical things that were created, even the things which were written down for us and transpired in the lives of the sons of Israel, that we understand the spiritual things of God (Rom 1:20; 1Cor 10:1-11; Rev 22:18-19). These physical or outward parables reveal the kingdom of God for those who are given to “know” the purpose of all parables:
Mar 4:13 And he [Jesus] said unto them [His disciples], Know ye not this parable [of the sower]? and how then will ye know all parables?
Luk 17:20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
Luk 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Very few are given in this age to see the work of God from beginning to end within themselves (Mat 22:14). If you cannot see the kingdom and work of God in you, you look outside. But we indeed learn from moving from the outside to the inside – first from the natural to the spiritual (1Co 15:46). That is why these sons of Jacob are all types of the spiritual Israel of God, His elected few, on whom the “last days” or the end of this physical age has come:
1Co 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them [physical Israel] for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world [Greek: aiōn = age] are come.
What Jacob said to each son and what happened in their lives all contribute to this theme of “the last days”. In previous discussions we already touched on Jacob’s words to Reuben (meaning “behold a son”), Simeon (“to hear”), Levi (“joined”), Judah (“praise”), Zebulun (“habitation”), Issachar (“reward”), Dan (“judge”), Gad (“a troop”), and Asher (“blessed”). In this discussion we want to look at a few aspects in the lives of Naphtali and his tribe and see how this all are applied within our own lives.
Naphtali: his birth and the meaning in his name
Naphtali was Jacob’s sixth son born from the handmaid of Rachel, namely Bilhah, who also bore him Dan before she birthed Naphtali:
Gen 30:7 And Bilhah Rachel’s maid conceived again, and bare Jacob a second son.
Gen 30:8 And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali.
Naphtali means “wrestlings” as he was a symbol of the struggle for Jacob’s favour between Rachel and Leah. Rachel was off course Jacob’s first choice for a wife, but he was deceived by Laban (the father of Leah and Rachel), into marrying Leah first before he could marry Rachel (Gen 29:16-28). Again an example of how the natural comes first and then the spiritual, but also this situation in Jacob’s life explains how we first get attached to the false church being under the impression that it is the true church of God, all by God’s design. As it happened to Jacob, who discovered “in the morning” that it was not Rachel but Leah he slept with, we also find out that we were actually spiritually in bed with the mystery whore, Babylon, when God’s true light is brought to us. When we can see the lies and false teachings of this spiritual whore Babylon, then we know we “have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication” and that these words written in the book of Revelation are fulfilled in us:
Rev 17:1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:
Rev 17:2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
Rev 17:3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
Rev 17:4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
Rev 17:5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
Rev 17:6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
But these insights do not come through a quick route as the many years of trials and tribulations in the lives of Jacob, his wives and his sons also testify. It does take a lot of wrestling within to discern how to separate the good from the evil within the kingdom of God in us “at the end of the world” (Exo 23:30; Deu 7:22; Eph 3:9-10):
Mat 13:47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:
Mat 13:48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.
Mat 13:49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just.
The separation between what is good and what is evil, and this wrestling between the flesh and the spirit is designed by God to bring spiritual maturity in us (Dan 7:2; Eph 6:12; Heb 12:3; Rev 12:7):
Heb 5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age [Greek: teleios = brought to its end/consummation], even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Gal 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
This spiritual wrestling is in our heaven or our mind – between the mind of the flesh, with all its rulers of darkness, and the mind of Christ which is the light of God that will eventually defeat all darkness and deceit:
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places [heaven].
The names of Naphtali’s four sons also witness to this process of wrestling and judgment in our lives.
Gen 46:24 And the sons of Naphtali; Jahzeel [meaning “God divides” and “whom God allots”], and Guni [“my defender” and “my covering”], and Jezer [“moulding”/“forming”/“shaping”], and Shillem [“requital”/“retribution”].
Naphtali’s portion in Israel
Under the banner of the tribe of Dan (whose name means judgment), the tribe of Naphtali with the tribe of Asher camped on the north side of the tabernacle in the wilderness (Num 2:25-29). These three tribes journeyed “hindmost” of all the tribes of Israel during their time in the wilderness, even as the harvest or judgment is at the latter end of the physical age or the last days of our lives (Mat 13:39-43). These tribes help to remind us that it is actually in our last days when we can hear “behind” us or understand what actually transpired in our lives when are given to “readeth…hear the words [of Christ]…and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (Rev 1:1-3):
Rev 1:10 I [John] was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet…
Rev 1:12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks….
This tribe of Naphtali was also given settlement in the northern regions in Canaan and thereby also formed part of the northern kingdom of Israel (1Ki 11:30-31). We know that the north indeed relates to judgment, and this area was also first taken into captivity, even as the land of Naphtali was among those who first tasted the wrath of God in this sense (1Ki 15:20):
2Ki 15:29 In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abelbethmaachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria.
Isa 9:1 Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.
It is actually to this area and the “land of Nephthali” where Jesus first came to bring His words of light right after His baptism in Jordan as He also spent a big part of his earthly ministry in this region (first in judgment…first to see the light – 1Pe 4:17; Isa 26:9). This is how Matthew describes this territory in spiritual terms, referring to the words of the prophet Isaiah (Isa 9:1-2):
Mat 4:13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:
Mat 4:14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
Mat 4:15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;
Mat 4:16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
“Galilee of the Gentiles” is a very important description of what we are when Christ comes to us. We are these Naphtalites when we can see that we are the ones who have been born in darkness, spiritually blind from our creation and in need of God’s light through His righteous judgment (Gen 1:1-2; Joh 9:1-5; Joh 9:39-41). The “region of…death” is our natural state, even as Adam was created “after the flesh” and could not resist to “mind[ing] the things of the flesh” which is what spiritual death and darkness is defined as in the scriptures (Gen 2:7; Jer 18:4; Rom 8:20):
Gen 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Rom 8:5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
Rom 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Everyone born in flesh has this same condition as king David describes:
Psa 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Jesus came into this same state and was “made…sin” being made “after the flesh” and He also walked “by the way of the sea”:
2Co 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Heb 2:17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
However, Jesus never committed any sin while within His “body of sin” and this is the essence why He came to earth, died for our sins, and was raised from the dead to instil in us His life to become overcomers, even now while we are in this body of sin (1Co 15:3-4; Rom 6:6; Rom 8:37; Php 4:13; Heb 2:18; 1Jn 5:4). He indeed was the pure and true Light that God called out of darkness:
Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Gen 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Gen 1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
Gen 1:4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
Gen 1:5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
Joh 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Joh 1:2 The same was in the beginning with God.
Joh 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Joh 1:4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
Joh 1:5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
Only those who are the true church of God in this age can testify that Christ is the true “light that shineth in darkness” who “is come in the flesh” as they are the “members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones” (Eph 5:30):
1Jn 4:2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
With this background in mind, let us look at Jacob’s final words to Naphtali:
Gen 49:21 Naphtali is a hind [Hebrew: ayâlâh = female of ayâl = male deer] let loose [Hebrew: shâlach = send away/put away]: he giveth goodly words.
“Naphtali is a hind let loose…”
A hind is a female deer (stag), and as such this tribe also typifies the church that is the body or the female part of the Christ, with Jesus as the Head or male part:
1Co 11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
Eph 5:31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
Eph 5:32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
But like all symbols in the scriptures, “a hind let loose” has both a negative and positive application (Exo 14:20; Isa 45:7; Heb 4:12). When it applies in the negative, it is of course referring to a divorced spouse as the Hebrew word “shâlach” in the words of Jacob to Naphtali also mean “to put away”. The false church is “let loose” or divorced from God because of her spiritual adultery in her doctrines. This was typified in physical Israel and Judah:
Jer 3:1 They say, If a man put away [Hebrew: shâlach = send away/put away] his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.
Jer 3:8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away [Hebrew: shâlach = send away/put away], and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
Jer 3:9 And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.
When we lose our first love, we become entangled in the spiritual deceptions of the harlot church, the spiritual church in the wilderness who “sit[s] upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns” (Isa 1:21; Gal 4:25; Rev 17:3). This is the spiritual hind who does not give goodly words at this stage as she cannot accept the truths in the Word of God. When we are involved with this church we are deceived to think we are Christ’s having “two horns like a lamb”, and we cannot see or hear that we still are an earthly beast whose words are that of the dragon, as this dragon (Satan) gives this beast his “power, and his seat, and great authority” (2Co 11:13-15; Isa 30:9-11; Rev 13:3):
Rev 13:11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
At this stage we appear as the church of God and we say “we are Christ…and…deceive many” because our hearts and words are earthy and from the spirit of the world filled with pride and lusts (Mat 24:4-5; 1Jn 2:16). This is what the tribe of Naphtali also did as a type of our time of not removing these fleshly connections in our lives but rather receive “tributaries” as we are beguiled by our flesh:
Jdg 1:33 Neither did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Bethshemesh, nor the inhabitants of Bethanath; but he dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: nevertheless the inhabitants of Bethshemesh and of Bethanath became tributaries unto them.
In our time as the spiritual hinds of spiritual Babylon we give birth to a spiritual offspring who is attached to this world (“the field” and its tares). We forsake those who are in our care not even supplying the true milk of the doctrine of Christ (Mat 13:38; Rom 14:1-2; Heb 5:12-13; 1Pe 2:2):
Jer 14:5 Yea, the hind also calved in the field, and forsook it, because there was no grass.
In the positive application we are certainly “let loose” from the dominion of these fleshly tribes in our lives to be dead to this world but alive to Christ:
Rom 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Rom 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Rom 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
Rom 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
This spiritual hind in Christ is set upon high places, even being seated in heaven to know the doctrine and mind of Christ and apply it in wisdom (1Co 2:16; 2Co 10:2-5):
Psa 18:33 He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places.
This is when we use the wisdom that is “from above”, longing for the pure waters in His Word as we also do these words of Christ without partiality and hypocrisy (Jas 3:17-18):
Pro 5:19 Let her [godly wisdom] be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.
This is the time when we can hear the voice of God which strengthens us and causes us to bring forth fruits of righteousness – His goodly words!
Psa 29:9 (Brenton) The voice of the Lord strengthens the hinds, and will uncover the thickets: and in his temple every one speaks of his glory.
As we fear God and do His commandments we are fearless in confronting this world inside and outside, as our beloved is with us in every aspect of life (Mat 28:20; Joh 14:18; Act 18:9-10; 2Ti 4:14-18):
Son 2:9 My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice [an opening].
“[Naphtali] giveth goodly words”
Our words connect with our works as God’s words also produce His works in us – that is how we “see” Jesus and the Father:
Joh 14:8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
Joh 14:9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
Joh 14:10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
Works are an outward proof that God’s Word is active and alive in us, also through the faith those words produce (Rom 10:17; Heb 4:11):
Jas 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
The faith of Christ comes via His Word which produces the works when others will indeed see Christ and His Father in us. This is how we glorify the Father (Rom 10:17):
Joh 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Joh 15:8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
These are the spiritual works of the Word of God (John 6:63):
Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Gal 5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Gal 5:24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
Gal 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Gal 5:26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
We see this also in type through the tribe of Naphtali in the fruits they brought forth through their actions in times of trouble. We see this tribe acting with bravery in the battle with Jabin and Sisera, as Deborah also sang their praises afterwards:
Jdg 5:18 Zebulun and Naphtali were a people that jeoparded their lives unto the death in the high places of the field.
Men from Naphtali also joined Gideon to fight and conquer the Midianites:
Jdg 7:23 And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after the Midianites.
The Naphtalites also joined with David in his fight against Saul fighting and supplying in the needs of those on David’s side. This again typifies yet again this struggle between the old man of flesh (Saul) and the new man, Christ (David) in us:
1Ch 12:34 And of Naphtali a thousand captains, and with them with shield and spear thirty and seven thousand.
1Ch 12:40 Moreover they that were nigh them, even unto Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, brought bread on asses, and on camels, and on mules, and on oxen, and meat, meal, cakes of figs, and bunches of raisins, and wine, and oil, and oxen, and sheep abundantly: for there was joy in Israel.
It was also through Hiram, who was a widow’s son of the tribe of Naphtali that God filled with wisdom in the building of the temple:
1Ki 7:13 And king Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre.
1Ki 7:14 He was a widow’s son of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass: and he was filled with wisdom, and understanding, and cunning to work all works in brass. And he came to king Solomon, and wrought all his work.
Through the wisdom of Christ in us this tribe of Naphtali is spiritually included in type within the twelve tribes of spiritual Israel, the true temple of God in heaven:
Rev 7:6b Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand.