TYPES OF CHRIST IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2001 James Melough
“And after Abimelech there
arose to defend (deliver) Israel Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man
of Issachar; and he dwelt in Shamir in mount Ephraim,” Jgs 10:1.
The meaning of Tola a worm
from which is produced crimson or scarlet dye, as used for example in the
Tabernacle furnishings, reminds us of what is written of the Lord in Ps 22:6,
“But I am a worm, and no man,” and points to the fact that this Tola, like all
the judges, is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As has been noted by others,
the brief periods of earthly peace occupy little space in our history books.
It is the times of war and trouble that fill the pages. And so here, the
paucity of detail relative to the eras of Tola and Jair (the judge who
followed Tola), may indicate that they were times of relative peace, further
confirmation that both of them portray Him Who is the Prince of Peace. The
very fact of their having been raised up to deliver Israel, however, indicates
that the peace followed the deliverances which they brought to Israel.
It is to be noted that in Tola,
God would have us see a figure or type of Christ as the One Who procured our
peace through His death at Calvary, as it is written, He hath “made peace by
the blood of his cross,” Col 1:20; but in Jair He would have us see, not only
Christ reigning in the coming Millennium, but also the peace that every
believer can enjoy here and now in the midst of earthly circumstances. Nor
should we miss the significance of its being said that the time of their
judgeship came after the disastrous rule of Abimelech. It was after the
Lord’s defeat of Satan at Calvary that peace has been made available to men;
and it will be after Satan’s imprisonment in the abyss that the earth will
enjoy a thousand years of peace. It is the Lord’s soon-coming return in power
and glory that will bring to an end the misrule of all earth’s “Abimelechs,”
each one being but the minion of him who robbed the earth of peace long ago
when he persuaded Adam to disobey God.
God’s introduction of Tola
begins with the statement that he “arose to defend (deliver) Israel.”
In him, God would have us see the One Who is not only the Defender of Israel,
but of all who trust Him as Savior. No man can pluck the believer out of His
Tola’s brief genealogy is also
meant to instruct us, for Puah means he was scattered, the
scattering being associated with the blowing or scattering of the breath
in speech. Can the application be to anyone except Him Who is the Living
Word? Never man spoke as He did. But like seed scattered in sowing, He was
the corn of wheat that was “sown” in the earth in death, so that there might
be a vast harvest of men and women redeemed for God’s eternal glory, as it is
written, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth
alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit,” Jn 12:24.
Dodo meaning his beloved
needs no comment. There is only One of Whom God could say, “This is my
Further instruction comes from
its being said that he was of the tribe of Issachar, meaning he will be
hired: there is reward: he will bring reward. This points to the servant
character of the true Tola, Who came to do His Father’s will, to occupy the
place of a Servant so that we who were the unwilling slaves of sin, might be
delivered, and given the privilege of yielding willing service to the God of
The emphasis upon reward
reminds us that Christ also had the reward in view, for He is the One, “...
who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising
the shame ....” (Heb 12:2). But what is that joy? It is the joy of
having multitudes of redeemed men and women with Him for ever in heaven.
But this Tola, who was of the
tribe of Issachar, dwelt “in mount Ephraim” meaning double ash heap: I
shall be doubly fruitful. This unites service and fruitfulness, and
reminds us of the transcendent fruitfulness that has sprung from the Lord’s
willing service. It is impossible to number the vast harvest of redeemed
souls that will finally result from the sowing of that one Seed in death at
Calvary. It is God’s desire that the same fruitfulness should attend our
It is to be noted incidentally
that there is no contradiction between the seemingly disparate meanings of
Ephraim, for it is only as we cast on the “ash heap” the worthless things of
earth that we will be spiritually fruitful.
And the name of the place
where he dwelt in Ephraim was Shamir keeping: guarding, the thought of
guarding being connected with a thorn hedge. We should never forget that He
Who is the Guardian of our souls, the “Hedge” around us, is He Who became what
the thorns represent: sin, see Ge 3:18, as it is written, “For he hath made
him who knew no sin, to be sin for us; that we might be made the righteousness
of God in him,” 2 Co 5:21.
Relative to thorns as the
symbol of sin, there is a deeper significance than is usually perceived in the
Lord’s being crowned with thorns prior to His crucifixion. In removing the
thorns from the earth and placing them on Christ’s head, the soldiers were
unwittingly indicating the transfer of the curse from the ground to the head
of Christ, it being written, “Christ hath redeemed from the curse of the law,
being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth
on a tree,” Gal 3:13.
“And he judged Israel twenty and three years, and died, and was buried in
Because he was only a man, he
must die, and be buried in Shamir, symbol of the earth bearing the thorns
which are the emblem of the curse. The true Tola was also buried here in “Shamir,”
but He arose, Victor over death, His resurrection the assurance that all who
die in faith will also have a part in the resurrection of life, He being the
Firstfruits of that resurrection.
As with all of the judges,
however, Tola is a figure, not only of Christ, but of what every believer
should be, and the first lesson to be learned is that if Christ is to be
reproduced in us, then we too must be willing to occupy the same place as He,
i.e., the place of a “worm.” “Whosoever will be great among you, let him be
your minister: and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to
give his life a ransom for many,” Mt 20:26-28.
There must be also what is
represented by Puah. We must be willing to be “scattered” among men as God’s
ambassadors, our lips bringing to men and women the words of life. And our
lives are to be the living demonstration of what is represented by Dodo, i.e.,
that as God loves us, and has given His Son to redeem our souls, so must we
also love men, that love being demonstrated, not in the shallow sentimentality
that passes in the world for love, but in a faithful proclamation of the
gospel, warning men of their danger, and imploring them to trust in the Lord
Jesus Christ as Savior.
We too are to have our eyes on
the reward, not on the worthless baubles of earth. We are to live as did
Christ, and as did Paul who declared, “This one thing I do, forgetting those
things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are
before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in
Christ Jesus,” Php 3:13-14.
Even as we dwell here in “Shamir,”
a world of sin and death, we are to manifest that we are spiritual Ephraimites,
producing fruit for God’s glory, and our own eternal enrichment and honor.
Tola’s death, however, reminds
us that we too have but a brief time here on earth. He is a wise man who
lives his life in the consciousness of its brevity and uncertainty, and in the
knowledge that “the deeds done in the body” are fraught with eternal
consequences. We will be eternally rich or poor depending on whether we live
for Christ or self.