Israel has often been described as a type of the Church. So the 12 patriarchal tribal heads of Israel prefigure the 12 Apostles (pillars of the Church); the Passover and the Exodus prefigure the death of Jesus and the Redemption of the Church; the giving of the Law at Sinai prefigures the giving of the Spirit at Pentecost; the wandering of Israel in the desert prefigures the time of testing for the Church militant on earth; Israel’s entry into the Promised Land prefigures the entry of God’s people into the New Creation; the glory of David and Solomon on their throne in the earthly Jerusalem prefigures the glory of Christ on his in the heavenly Jerusalem. In other words, in terms of biblical books, Exodus to Kings/Chronicles.
If so, then what do we do with Genesis? And the Patriarchs in Genesis 12-50? And going further back, Genesis 1-11? Of course there are many spiritual lessons to draw from the patriarchal narrative, but how does the narrative as a whole, how do the Patriarchs taken together reflect life in the New Testament? Did Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac give him a small glimpse into how the eternal pact between the Father and Son would work out in history? Or Jacob’s vision of heaven at Bethel with the staircase on which angels ascended and descended? Do all the patriarchs taken together point us somehow to the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus? In other words does the whole narrative of the Old Testament prefigure the narrative of the New Testament?
And so are we meant to discern some large ‘covenant-cycles’ through Scripture? We can discern various ‘kings’ and ‘bringers of rest’ bringing these covenant-cycles to an end: Noah (whose name means ‘comfort/rest’ and who was given authority to wield the sword of justice with the death penalty); Joseph (who became the ruler of Egypt before whom his brothers did finally bow the knee); David (who established rest for Israel from their enemies in the land); and Jesus who brings true rest for the weary in the New Creation?