Exodus Insights: Jesus, the True and Better Israel
In John 15:1 Jesus proclaims about Himself: “I Am the True Vine…”
From Old Testament passages Isaiah 5:1-7, Jeremiah 2:21 and Hosea 10:1-2, we learn that Israel was also called God’s vine. God planted Israel and cared for them in every way and yet they acted like the nations and became a “degenerate shoot.”
Jesus, according to John, sees Himself as the true, better and perfect Vine. With reference to Jesus, this kind of Christologic, fulfillment typology runs throughout the Bible.
In Exodus 4:22 Moses is to tell Pharaoh on behalf of God that “Israel is My Son, My firstborn Son.” Biblical scholar, J.A. Motyer, points out that this is where Matthew’s gospel account begins in showing that Jesus is the “Son of David, son of Abraham” (1:1), “my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” (3:17)
As noted by Motyer, Matthew doesn’t stop in the first chapter His gospel with the comparisons between Israel in Exodus and Jesus the Son. Consider these similarities:
- Jesus, like Israel, was “threatened by the contemporary political authorities , and, like the, he even made the journey into Egypt (Matt. 2:13-15).”
- Like Israel, Jesus also faced adversity and satanic opposition (Matt. 4:1-11).
- Just as Israel left Egypt and came to the Red Sea in Exodus 14, so Jesus returns from exile in Egypt and then comes to the Jordan River to be baptized (Matt. 2:23; 3:1).
- Just as Israel emerged from the Red Sea to go into the wilderness (Exodus 15:22), so Jesus went through the waters of baptism into the wilderness of temptation (Matt. 4:1).
- Israel experienced an absence of water and food in the wilderness (Exodus 15:23 and 16:3), so did Jesus during His temptation (Matt. 4:1-4).
- Unlike Israel when they put the LORD God to the test (Exodus 17:2), Jesus refused to do this in His second temptation (Matt. 4:7).
Note: Jesus is like Israel, but is the better and perfect Son.
- Israel came to Mount Sinai (Exodus 19) where they turned to idol worship (Exodus 32:1-6), but Jesus, who was tempted from a very high mountain with all the kingdoms of the earth, proclaimed that there is only one God worthy of worship (Matt. 4:8-10).
Motyer concludes after this short juxtaposition: “In other words, Exodus is the story of the son of God who stands in need of salvation, failing at every point of life and even of privilege; Matthew tells of the Son of God who brings salvation (Matt. 1:21), perfect and righteous at every point and in every circumstance and test.”
Coupled with Matthew, Exodus reminds us that the life of Jesus is the turning point of history. Others walked where Jesus walked, but no one walked the earth like Jesus Christ. He is everything that Israel was meant to be. He is the true, better and perfect vine that is Israel. John and Matthew saw this vividly. We would do well to see it too.