In the Old Testament there were many figures. Adam and Eve were figures (Rom. 5:14). The flood was a figure (1 Pe. 3:21). There are figures on earth that are figures of things that are in the sky (Heb. 9:23-24). Figures are warnings (1 Cor. 10:11). Abraham was a figure, for in Luke 16:22 we read that Lazarus died and was taken by the angels to the bosom of Abraham. Why is it not written, bosom of the Father? Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God, is in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18).
Those that Jesus saves go to the bosom of the Father, for Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many homes. If it weren’t so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). Those who go to the bosom of Abraham go to another place. The leprous beggar went to the bosom of Abraham because he was hungry, whereas the Christian ate the bread of life (John 6:51). Lazarus wished to eat the crumbs that fell from the table of the rich man, not the bread of Christ (Luke 16:19-21). The rich man of the parable personified the priests: he was dressed in fine linen and purple, which were priestly garments (Ex. 28:4-6). So we see that the poor Lazarus was a poor and broken Israelite that, looking to the pomp of the priests’ life, thought, How can it be that the priests live as rich men, without any need to work, and I strive so much and live in such a miserable state?
Let us see if Abraham is a figure, and whom he is a figure of:
Jehovah spoke to Abraham, saying: “Know for sure that your seed will live as foreigners in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them. They will afflict them four hundred years. I will also judge that nation, whom they will serve. Afterward they will come out with great wealth” (Gen. 15:13-14). The way in which Jehovah revealed the details of what was going to happen to the offspring of Abraham forms a fascinating picture. It happens as follows:
- There was hunger in that land, and Abraham went down to Egypt to sojourn there (Gen. 12:10). Two hundred years later the same happened: “The famine was severe in the land” (Gen. 43:1).
- Abraham went to Egypt with Sarai, his wife (Gen. 12:11). Two hundred years later Jehovah took Israel to Egypt by the hand of Joseph, son of Jacob (Gen. 46:26). The whole house of Jacob was made of sixty-six souls.
- Abraham, in the land of Egypt, does not reveal that he was Sarai’s husband, and asks her to say that she was his sister (Gen. 12:12-13). For 80 years Jehovah did not reveal himself to the Egyptians as the god of Israel, for Joseph was invested with full authority over Egypt when he was 30 years old, and he died when he was 110 (Gen. 41:42-46; 50:26). Only after Joseph’s death the captivity that lasted 120 years began. Jehovah did not manifest himself for 200 years, while the people multiplied.
- Pharaoh took Sarai, the wife of Abraham, to be his wife: “It happened that when Abram had come into Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. The princes of Pharaoh saw her, and praised her to Pharaoh; and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house” (Gen. 12:14-15). The beauty of Israel, that is, the people of Israel, came into view because of the beauty of the character of Joseph. When Jacob arrived in Egypt, the text says: “Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from the presence of Pharaoh. Joseph placed his father and his brothers, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded” (Gen. 47:10-11). Thus the marriage of Pharaoh with Israel happened, of which Sarai was a figure.
- While Sarai is the wife of Pharaoh Abram prospers in Egypt. The text says: “He dealt well with Abram for her sake. He had sheep, cattle, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels” (Gen. 12:16). Jehovah also enriched in Egypt, for he said to Jacob: “I am God, the God of your father. Don’t be afraid to go down into Egypt, for there I will make of you a great nation” (Gen. 46:3). And the inheritance of Jehovah is the kingdom of Israel. David sang a psalm that said: “You, God, sent a plentiful rain. You confirmed your inheritance, when it was weary.” (Ps. 68:9). And Asaph sings yet another psalm: “Remember your congregation, which you purchased of old, which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your inheritance; Mount Zion, in which you have lived” (Ps. 74:2). The prophet Jeremiah declares, saying: “[Israel] is the tribe of his inheritance: Jehovah of Armies is his name” (Jer. 51:19). The increase of the people of Israel is the increase of the heritance of Jehovah, for Israel is his wealth. And that was how Jehovah became rich in Egypt, for Pharaoh loved Sarai, that is, Israel.
- Jehovah, then, struck Pharaoh and his house with great plagues, because of Sarai, Abram’s wife (Gen. 12:17). And Jehovah strikes Egypt, which is Pharaoh’s home, with great plagues, that is, ten plagues, which are narrated in the book of Exodus, from the 7th to the 14th chapter. This time, it was not because of Abraham, already dead more than 300 years. Jehovah hurt Egypt because he revealed himself as the husband of that nation, whom Sarai represented.
- In Abraham times, after the plagues, Pharaoh returns Sarai to Abraham, her husband (Gen. 12:18-19). Four hundred years later Jehovah strikes Pharaoh and all Egypt with nine plagues, because Pharaoh’s heart was hard. The last plague, though, the tenth, the death of all the first-born of Egypt, this terrible plague that killed the first-born of Pharaoh, knocked his resistance down, and Pharaoh said to Moses: “Rise up, get out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel; and go, serve Jehovah” (Ex. 12:31). Pharaoh returns the wife of Pharaoh.
With the figurative comparison of Abraham and Sarai, Jehovah and Israel, it becomes proven that Abraham is a figure of Jehovah in the Old Testament. This is the reason why the Pharisees and Sadducees would say that Abraham was their father. The apostle John registered this declaration when the Pharisees resisted Jesus, who told them that they did not know the truth; then they furiously answered: “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. They answered him, ‘We are Abraham’s seed, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How do you say, ‘You will be made free?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Most certainly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is the bondservant of sin. A bondservant doesn’t live in the house forever. A son remains forever. If therefore the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham’s seed, yet you seek to kill me, because my word finds no place in you. I say the things which I have seen with my Father; and you also do the things which you have seen with your father.’ They answered him, ‘Our father is Abraham.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham’” (John 8:32-39). When they said that they were children of Abraham, they meant to say that they were children of Jehovah (Is. 64:8).
Since Pharaoh is the dragon (Ezek. 29:3), when he allowed Pharaoh to take Sarai in Gen. 12:15-16, and when he allowed his people Israel to be formed in Pharaoh’s Egypt (Gen. 46:3), he delivered Sarai and Israel to be formed in the hands of Satan. This is the reason why Jesus said to the Jews: “You are of your father, the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and doesn’t stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks on his own; for he is a liar, and its father” (John 8:44).
8. We give two necessary explanations. The first one is that Jehovah declares that he married Israel in the ancient times, that is, before he was a large people. This is in Ezek. 16:2-8.
The second explanation is that Paul calls Abraham the father of faith, and many compare him to Jesus. Paul’s text says: “Even as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.’ Know therefore that those who are of faith, the same are children of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the Good News beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you all the nations will be blessed.’ So then, those who are of faith are blessed with the faithful Abraham” (Gal. 3:6-9). Abraham was the first one to believe, and Jesus is the author of faith; therefore Abraham could not be a figure of Christ, but he is the first believer, the first one to hear the gospel and believe.