The Greatest Mystery of All: Part 3; Zebulun, the Spiritual Body, and Naphtali, the Spiritual Mind in Isaiah
In this third article of my series on Zebulun, we go to Isaiah 9:1 where another tribe is added to our study—the tribe of Naphtali. We need more than a spiritual body for our spiritual side. We also need a spiritual mind. Naphtali in type represents our spiritual mind.
As the spiritual body is awakened by Jesus, he also works to gradually awaken our spiritual mind that has also been asleep since the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden. There has always been a natural mind (Ephraim, in type) through which we view and interact with our natural world, but Naphtali sees beyond to the other side, the spiritual side, where things that have been closed to us are gradually revealed by Jesus as we mature in him. An awakened spiritual mind sees more deeply into the Scriptures, has more awareness of Jesus and the mind of Christ, can see and interact with angels and demons, and sees into heaven. This mind can also see into the hearts of men and discern the things hidden there.
For the sake of consistency having quoted from KJV in the previous articles, I am quoting this passage of Isaiah 9:1 in the KJV also, but it is not the best translation for this passage as I will now explain, and then we will look at what some other versions say about this passage:
Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. (KJV)
What this is speaking of historically is the fact that the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali were taken captive by the Assyrians. That was her vexation, her being lightly afflicted. Further on in the verse it says, and afterward more did grievously afflict her. The Hebrew word for “grievously afflict” is kawbad’ and it really is not a good translation here for this to be interpreted as grievously afflict. In fact most translations translate this as “honored” or “glorified” instead of grievously afflicted as seen here.
The New Living Translations says:
Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory. (Isaiah 9:1, NLT)
The English Standard Version states:
But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
Instead of being grievously afflicted, they are to be filled with glory. Now this is speaking about when Christ came 2000 years ago. Naphtali and Zebulun are the tribes whose land was called Galilee during the time of Jesus. In New International Version (NIV) Isaiah 9:1 is translated:
Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—(Isaiah 9:1, NIV).
They were greatly honored because Jesus grew up in Nazareth, formerly Zebulun’s territory, which was now in Galilee. Later he chose to live in Capernaum and a lot of his ministry took place in that area that was called Galilee that had been the land of Naphtali and Zebulun. The American Standard Version says:
But there shall be no gloom to her that was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali; but in the latter time hath he made it glorious, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. (Isaiah 9:1, ASV)
There were nine different translations in the group I was reading that said this part of Isaiah 9:1 was to be translated “to make glorious,” “to glorify” or “to honor.”
The lands of Zebulun and Naphtali were glorified and honored because that is where Jesus lived, and the many teachings and miracles he accomplished there were carefully recorded by eye witnesses and became a large part of the Gospels we read in our Bible today. The fact that the Bible is the most read book in the world is part of the evidence of their being honored and glorified.
Now that we’ve looked at this verse historically, let’s look at it spiritually. Zebulun and Naphtali are often seen together in Scripture. In the natural this would be because their territories border one another, but spiritually when we see Zebulun as the spiritual body and Naphtali as the spiritual mind, we can see they go together because the spiritual mind is within the spiritual body.
When the KJV speaks of their dimness and vexation, which historically was their being taken captive, this spiritually means that in humanity, our spiritual side went into a deep sleep or died at the time of the fall. Being cast out of the garden was not a geographical exodus but a spiritual death that blocked their ability to perceive the spiritual realm they had lived in.
Naphtali—Our Spiritual Mind
The name Naphtali means “wrestling.” When we are born again and our spiritual mind is being developed, we find ourselves wrestling inside because the natural mind wants to do one thing and the spiritual mind wants to do something else. So we have this battle going on inside as we wrestle over which mind we’re going to listen to. The Holy Spirit speaks into our spiritual mind, and that is the mind we need to listen to and obey.
If you will remember the prophecy Jacob spoke over Naphtali, he said:
Naphtali is a hind let loose; he giveth goodly words.
A hind is a deer or a sheep that can climb up high and survive in the tallest of mountains. They can go places other creatures and people would have great difficulty trying to go. So they are up in the high places, and that is what the spiritual mind is like. It can understand things that our natural mind cannot understand. It is in high places spiritually.
Jacob said Naphtali was “a hind let loose.” The spiritual mind (hind) has been bound since the fall of all creation, and in these last days it is being let loose; it is being released. There are a lot of things God did not want us to know until the end times, and the spiritual mind has been greatly diminished since the fall, but God is awakening it now so we can receive and understand more of the Word of God and the things of heaven that he wants to reveal to us.
There was another who spoke words over Naphtali after he had become a tribe and just prior to entering the Promised Land. That man was Moses, who, just before he died, spoke blessings over the tribes:
And of Naphtali he said, O Naphtali, satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the LORD: possess thou the west and the south (Deut 33:23).
In these words we find even more evidence that spiritually Naphtali does indeed signify the spiritual mind. Rather than a literal west and a literal south, we need to understand their spiritual significance. The west signifies the desire for truth. The south represents the divine light of intelligence which is wisdom. (See the Dictionary of Correspondences: the Key to Biblical Interpretation by George Nicholson.)
Truth, intelligence and wisdom are all characteristics of the spiritual mind. In the blessing of Moses, we see that the spiritual mind has the favor and blessing of the Lord because those who desire truth and wisdom will search for it and in this search, they will find it. These are the greatest riches and blessings the Lord can give us because he himself IS the truth. He is the ultimate of wisdom, and he longs to give himself to his children, but only if we want him. If we want him we will seek for him, and he promises us that those who seek will find.
Jesus in Zebulun and Naphtali Then and Now
When Christ came to earth approximately 2000 years ago, he spent most of his life in the territories of Naphtali and Zebulun geographically. He lived from early childhood until age thirty in Nazareth, a city in what was formerly the territory of Zebulun. Later he lived in Capernaum in the territory of both Zebulun and Naphtali as stated in Matthew 4:12; therefore, a lot of his ministry and miracles took place in the area of Galilee which belonged to Zebulun and Naphtali.
At the second coming, I believe he is coming again to Zebulun and Naphtali, not geographically and limited to one place, but all over the earth as he comes to the spiritual Zebulun and spiritual Naphtali in believers all over the globe. It is a spiritual coming as he awakens the spiritual body and the spiritual mind and begins to mature and develop them. Then he will be able to come in them in his power and perfection and minister through them. They will be the body of Christ, each member performing whatever ministry the Lord has chosen for them in a level of spirituality not seen before.
Let’s look at his coming on two levels as revealed in Matthew 4 where immediately after his temptation in the wilderness, he begins his Galilean ministry. I want to make it perfectly clear that I believe what the Scripture says here actually happened; however, there is another level of truth hidden beneath the surface of this level that has been reserved for the understanding of those alive at the time of his second coming.
First of all, when Jesus left Nazareth after he began his ministry, he lived in Capernaum. Capernaum means “the field of repentance; city of comfort.” When we choose to live in an attitude of repentance, then Jesus is able to comfort us and also enable us to be a comfort to others.
Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles:
The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death
Light has dawned.”
From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
What I want to reveal in this passage is, in type, what Jesus has been doing in me and will soon do in all faithful believers.
He has come to dwell in me (Zebulun means dwelling), in the region of Zebulun (my spiritual body) and Naphtali (my spiritual mind). I feel his love and his gentle touch like the peaceful waves of the sea washing away the sin and weakness of the curse in me continually (by way of the sea), and I am dying to self daily (beyond Jordan). Before this awakening in me, my spiritual body and mind seemed to be dead as I had no knowledge of them (in the region and shadow of death), but when Jesus came to me and awakened these things in me, I had a whole new life due to this great enlightenment (light) that he awakened in me like the dawn of a new day or a new age (has dawned). The light that has dawned in me is bringing me closer to victory over death—“the last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor 15:16). Ever since Jesus came to me and awakened the spiritual side of me (From that time) my sinful thoughts and actions are being gently and lovingly pointed out to me by the Lord (Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent”) and I repent because, not only do I not want any sin in my life, but also I know this is the way to enter the kingdom of heaven here on earth (“for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”).
As Jesus comes to us it is so astoundingly fabulous and wonderful we can hardly believe it. He demonstrates his love for us and praises us and gives us spiritual gifts. Then he begins to point out things in us that have to go if we are to enter his kingdom. Every thought and every word is judged as praiseworthy or sinful but always with love. The more sinful things I leave behind, the stronger my perception of his presence grows. And always there is the opportunity to love my neighbor and pour out to them the love and care Jesus pours into me. Only recently have I been permitted to write these things for the website. For this and a few other reasons, I believe this experience is coming to the true church very soon.
In the next article we will read more about Zebulun, our spiritual body, and Naphtali, our spiritual mind and learn about another tribe that adjoins them by the Sea of Galilee, and that is Issachar.