Types and Shadows
Mark H Prior, Chichester
THE STUDY OF GOD'S WORD is most profitable. Since the translation of the Bible into the English language much blessing has accrued to those who have sought to find out God's will as expressed therein. When there was a willingness to learn, and faith to put into practice that which had been learned, then God most graciously gave further light. Hence, through the centuries, there have been many revivals which have recovered, to the enrichment of the Church, precious truth which had become obscured during the Dark Ages. These revivals (in the spheres they influenced) resulted in great gospel effort, missionary zeal, and a return to New Testament doctrine and practices. Whenever and wherever these conditions prevailed, God's blessing was further manifested in wonderful unfolding of Church truth, dispensational teaching, and rich ministry of Christ from the Old Testament types and shadows, prophetic and other subjects, as well as from the New Testament. How interesting and delightful these types became when it was seen that the Tabernacle, the old ceremonial Law, and much else, pointed on to Christ.
PRINCIPLES TO OBSERVE
In the study of types and shadows, certain principles should be observed, otherwise there is a danger of falling into doubtful, or even bad, doctrine; and it is to bring this matter before you that this article is written.
1. A type may involve contrasts which, however, can be instructive.
2. No type or shadow, or group of types, can fully set forth the full glory of the Antitype; hence
3. We need to discover where the type falls short of, or is demonstrably in contrast with the Anti-type, otherwise there is a very serious danger of trying to interpret the contrast as setting forth Christ!
4. We must beware of letting our imaginations run away with us, and of spiritualizing everything !
5 A safe method of interpreting types is to see what the New Testament teaches of Christ, His work and sacrifice, and then to look back and see how God exemplified these things in the types and shadows.
6. If our interpretation casts any slur on, any disparagement of Christ, or even the slightest lowering of His glory, then we may be absolutely certain that it is our interpretation that is at fault.
7. When we speak of an Old Testament person as being a " type of Christ " (e.g. David, Solomon, and many others) we should realize that such types are very limited in their scope, as surely they must be.
SOME TYPES COMPARED
Let us now examine a few types in the light of these principles, taking a complete contrast first.
Absalom was the disobedient son of David ; his name meant " father of peace "; there was no spot or blemish on him physically ; his adviser, Ahithopel, was a traitor to David ; he rode into battle upon a mule ; was found hanging in a tree ; a price was put upon his head ; a soldier pierced him with darts ; he was buried beneath a heap of stones, and there he is, " to this day " ! He had reared a memorial to himself in the King's Dale, where, years before, Melchisedec met Abram with bread and wine. Two men ran with news of his death, and one outran the other. All this was because of his own evil ways. The Obedient Son of David took the place the sinner deserved - but was a complete contrast, see 2 Samuel 18.
Both Samson and Jonah were types of Christ in some ways, but it was very obvious that they were likewise great contrasts.
Aaron was a wonderful type of Christ in priesthood and ministry, but Heb. 5. 1-6 shows him in weakness, failure, and in need of an offering for himself; many have fallen into error by not seeing the contrast in these verses - in fact Aaron is passed over, for Christ was made a High Priest, not after his order, but after the order of Melchisedec.
THE BURNT OFFERING
In Leviticus, chapter 1, the inwards and the legs of the offering needed to be washed in water so that it might more perfectly set forth Christ's purity.
His life was pure, without a spot, And all His nature clean.
In the same chapter the weakness of the offerer is made manifest. The wide range of offerings (some very valuable and others of less monetary value) reflected, to some extent, the affluence or poverty of the offerer - the suggestion conveyed by this being that the quality of our worship will depend upon our spiritual state. Those who are spiritually enriched will have a great apprehension of Christ's worth - their worship would be represented by the bullock. The poverty-stricken souls will have little appre¬ciation of Christ and their worship will be of the turtledove character. (We hasten to add that in Israel, of course, the materially rich, whose offerings were costly, may often have been less devoted than their poorer brethren and sisters, who could not afford such expense (see Luke 21. 3).)
We, too, are all only too conscious that our thoughts of Christ and His work often come short of what they should be ! Another has said in regard to this chapter: " The normal offering is the Bullock . . . but few are possessed of such a large appreciation of Christ. The Sheep is a smaller apprehension. There is no leaning upon the victim. The sense of Christ's death and of His perfection is there, but not the sense of personal identification . . . Still, the offerer has a certain power of discrimination . . . When we come to the Fowls it is feebler still. The priest has to do almost everything in this case . . . there would appear to be that which is natural mixed in the offerer's apprehension of Christ which cannot be offered as a sweet Savour . . . ". The priest, discerning the good, casts on one side the undesirable. What a mercy is this ! How carefully God guards the glory of our Lord.
Genesis 22 speaks beautifully of Christ in typical and prophetic language and we see Christ plainly set forth as the burnt offering, and as dying " instead of " the sinner - but care is needed to note the contrast, for He was never " caught in a thicket." In whatever circumstances we find Him, we know that it was of His own " voluntary will " that He came into them, in wondrous grace to sinners. Men tried to catch Him but He was superior to every circum¬stance and situation, see Luke 4. 30 ; 11. 54 ; Mark 12.13 ; John 18. 6 ; 19. II.
On the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16) Israel was presented with a remarkable cluster of types and shadows - probably the most detailed and greatest of them all.
a. Aaron the high priest and his household, cf. Heb. 5- 1-6.
b. 1 he most important of the offerings was the bullock, a sin offering for himself and his house. It was the blood of this bullock which was the ground for the entry into the holiest. Hebrews 10 tells of the Great High Priest and His household, and our entry there also.
c. The two goats were specially for Israel (though we, too, strikingly get the benefit of them). It should be noted, v. 5, that the two goats were a sin-offering taken together. The Lord's lot shews the Godward side, Christ offering Himself in death -PROPITIA¬TION ; while the people's lot shewed how He bore their sins away -SUBSTITUTION. It was only upon the head of the second goat that Aaron laid his hands and confessed their sins.
d. The Incense. What a holy and happy place the sweet perfume of Christ's holiness and preciousness takes in the atonement!
e. A ram for a burnt offering for Aaron and his house, v. 3.
f. Another ram for a burnt offering for Israel, v. 5.
These, however, were not the only offerings on the Day of Atonement. Numbers 29. 7-11 tells us that that great day opened with a remarkable group of offerings which Numbers 28. 2, describes in vivid language that these were peculiarly God's portion - " My offering, and my bread for my sacrifice made by fire, for a sweet savour unto me, shall ye observe to offer unto me in their due season."
Now let us note the contrasts, shewn to be such in the Epistle to the Hebrews - where so much of the teaching is by way of contrast.
r. The High Priest and his family were not perfect, while Christ is perfect and I lis family is perfected for ever.
2. Perfection could not come in by the Levitical priesthood, ch. 7. 11.
3. The Law made nothing perfect, ch. 7. 19.
4. The blood of bulls and goats could never take away sins, ch. 10. 4.
5. Gifts and sacrifices . . . could not make . . . perfect as pertaining to the conscience, ch. 9. 9.
6. The way into the holiest was not yet made manifest, ch. 9. 8.
7. The Law was a shadow and not the very image of the thing - hence every type, and all types taken together, do not bring out that full glory which alone can be seen in Christ.
8. The sacrifices were repeated continually.
9. Aaron never sat down, for his work was never done, but Christ has sat down in perpetuity.
10. Aaron alone went into the holiest, but now the priestly family has access there by a new and living Way.
11. Eternal life and the eternal inheritance could only come in through Christ Himself and His work.
12. Aaron could only go into the earthly sanctuary, but Christ has gone into heaven itself, and appears before God for us ; thus, too, shewing the heavenly character of this present dispensation.
These contrasts, however, only shew out more clearly the glories of Christ and the blessings of the gospel.