The Apostle Paul On The Damascus Road A Perfect 'Type' Of The Jewish Remnant In The Tribulation - A.C. Gaebelein

A.C. Gaebelein (1861-1945) was a staunch defender of the dispensational interpretation of scripture, as is well known by bible prophecy students familiar with his work, holding specifically to the 'pre-tribulation rapture' [Rev. 5:9], the tribulation-judgment of the Christ-rejecting Jews and world to follow (during which a remnant of Israel will be 'brought through' and saved - similar to the 'type' of Noah), and the physical return of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ at the end of that tribulation to begin the "millennial kingdom". Likewise, most students of their bibles are familiar with the account in the 9th chapter of the Book of Acts of the apostle Paul's Damascus road conversion experience. In regard to these things, Gaebelein here draws a compelling parallel between that experience of Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus and the yet still future day, described in the Word of God as "the time of Jacob's trouble" [Jer. 30:7], when the Lord will call an elect remnant of Israel [Isa. 65:9] and open their blinded eyes [Rom. 11:25], just as He did the apostle Paul's so long ago saying "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" [Acts 9:4]:
Zechariah 12:10 'And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced...'

The Holy Spirit makes the conversion of Saul of Tarsus not alone very prominent, but also speaks of that event as a pattern. He has given us three lengthy accounts of it in the Book of Acts (chapters 9, 22, and 26). In First Timothy we read: "Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting." (1Tim. 1:16). And again it is written: "And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time" (1 Cor. 15:8) [comparing himself to the other apostles; i.e. coming along after-the-fact compared to the others, not knowing Christ Jesus on earth; see: 1Cor. 15:9 - ed.]. These are inspired statements which tell us we have to seek for a deeper significance of the conversion of him who calls himself "a Hebrew of the Hebrews" (Phil. 3:5).

It has often been remarked that Saul's conversion is the model conversion and the different steps are reproduced in every genuine conversion. But this is far from being correct. Saul of Tarsus' conversion was an altogether unique one. There has, up to this time, never been a conversion like this one. Never again were the heavens opened and a light shone brighter than the sun; never again did a sinner, such a blind persecutor, behold Jesus in glory and hear His voice, and never again was one called in such a way "to be a chosen vessel" and to bear the Name of the Lord "before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. [Acts 9:15]" His conversion is certainly not a pattern or outline of every other conversion and yet it is a delineation, a hypotyposis [lifelike description of a thing or scene].

All the great men of the Old Testament, priests, prophets and kings, were in their lives and experiences patterns, types. The great Apostle to the Gentiles, making known the salvation to the nations, himself a Jew, is no less a type. His wonderful conversion is typical of the future conversion of the nation to whom he belonged according to the flesh. What God did in his case He can and will do for Israel in a future day. The conversion of Saul of Tarsus is the type and earnest of Israel's conversion. In this light the full meaning of the quoted passages from the first Epistle of Timothy and Corinthians can be easily understood. In Saul's conversion Christ showed mercy "the first" or "as a first one." There are others to whom that mercy is to be shown and to whom mercy will come under the same circumstances and by the same heavenly manifestation of the glorified Son of Man, and the people to whom this will happen is Israel. When we read of Paul that he saw the Lord as one born out of due season, it is the same thought which underlies this statement. This [late birth - ed.] suggests another birth time as well as another birth, the birth of the nation, when Israel, the remnant of His people, will be born again by looking upon Him in glory, whom they have pierced.

The comparison of Saul's conversion with the future conversion of Israel as revealed in the prophetic Word is extremely striking. The delineation is perfect.

1. Saul of Tarsus in unbelief typifies the state of Israel as a nation throughout this present age. He was a learned Pharisee, a fierce persecutor, breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, blind and unbelieving [Acts 9:1]. Such is Israel, another unbelieving Saul, and, like him, zealous for God [the Jew's religion - Gal. 1:13] without knowledge.

2. The opened heavens, the vision and voice of the glorified Jesus, by which Saul of Tarsus was arrested in his career, are typical of the coming day when the heavens will be opened again and the Lord Jesus Christ will be manifested in power and in glory. At His second visible and glorious coming the remnant of Israel will behold Him and learn by His glorious appearing that Jesus is their Messiah and King (Zechariah 12: 10-14, Matthew 24:29,30, Rev. 1:7). The opened heavens, the great light flashing forth, the vision and voice of Jesus, the prostrate Saul there on the road to Damascus, was but a little sample of what God will do for the remnant of His earthly people and how they shall at last know Him and receive Him.

3. Paul's service to nations and kings foreshadows Israel's coming ministry to the nations of the earth. All nations are yet to know the glory of the Lord, but, world conversion is only possible after Israel is converted. Through Israel all the nations of the earth will at last be blessed.

What manifestation of the grace and wisdom of God! The instrument chosen to reveal the mysteries hidden in former ages and to complete the Word of God, the one to whom is given the full knowledge of the Gospel of Grace to be preached among the Gentiles, while Israel is set aside for a time, is also made a type, a pattern of what Israel is to be and to receive in the future, when God will arise and have mercy upon Zion. ACG

excerpted from: The Jewish Question - 1912 (ch. 2)
see also: The Three NT Manifestations Of Christ From Heaven Typify The Three Aspects of His Second Coming - A. C. Gaebelein
Hosea 5:15 'I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early''

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