Types and Shadows
Elder Keith Ellis
"For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect." Hebrews 10:1
Again I find it necessary to remind you that I am not attempting to completely explain these great subjects which I bring to your attention. Hopefully I will be able to stir up your pure minds.
As I mentioned in the last chapter, the Old Testament contains writings concerning Jesus. It is important to understand in what manner these writings refer to Christ. As mentioned in the title text, and in others found throughout the Bible, the law of Moses, or the law of sacrifices, was written in a language that foreshadowed Christ. It is like an object which cast a shadow. By looking at the shadow you can only see the outline of the object which cast the shadow. In other words, you know something is there, but you cannot make out the details. Not until the time Jesus came are we able to behold the "very image" which was casting the shadows in the Old Testament. Under the law of Moses they saw Christ "darkly," as it were.
Another way of looking at it is to think of the difference between the moonlight and the sunlight. Of course the moon is the lesser of the two lights. The feast celebration calendar of the Jews was governed by the position of the moon, since the Jews go by a moon calendar rather than a sun calendar as we do in this modern time. Worshipping according to moonlight was a difficult thing to do. When Christ came, the bright morning star, the light of the world, the types and shadows which the Old Testament depicts are fulfilled in Christ. We are now able to worship according to sun (SON) light.
Not only shadows, but the scripture also uses many other styles to convey its message. One of these is "types." For example, the Passover lamb that was ordained to be slain to commemorate the children of Israel being delivered from Egyptian bondage is a "type" of Christ, the "lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." If we study this subject carefully we will see that Christ perfectly fulfilled this Old Testament type when He died on Calvary's cross to pay for our deliverance from sin.
Moses was instructed to make sure he made everything in the tabernacle exactly according to the pattern God showed him in the mount. The reason for this is the tabernacle was a "type" or "figure" of the true things in heaven. God wanted Moses to do it right because He did not want anything in heaven to be mis- represented (see Hebrews 8:5 & 9:1-10).
In the tabernacle the high priest was also a type of Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest. The high priest was the only one who was allowed to enter into the holy of holies. He went in once a year to offer for the sins of the people. Now the holy of holies is a figure of the throne of God in heaven, as the fact that the high priest only could enter into the holy of holies is a figure that Christ was the only one who was fit to enter into heaven for us in the presence of God before His throne.
You will find the Old Testament is rich in this style of language and can really be uplifting when it is discovered, but we have to offer a word of caution. Some may want to use the language style to launch off on his own interpretations. This is certainly done time and again. We must remember that whatever conclusion we come to must agree with the rest of the Bible.
Hopefully we can see the importance of types and shadows as taught in the Old Testament and that they are still profitable to us for learning.
The Bible also teaches using symbolic language or "symbols." If we are not careful we can become tripped up when looking at this language. I offer these as examples. The first refers to Joseph and one of his dreams:
"And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the SUN and the MOON and the eleven STARS made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?" (caps mine) Genesis 37:9-10
"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the SUN be darkened, and the MOON shall not give her light, and the STARS shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken." (caps mine) Matthew 24:29
In these two examples we see similar language. Jacob immediately recognized the sun, moon and stars in Joseph's dream meant himself, his wife and Joseph's brothers. The sun and moon and stars are symbolic of power or authority. The same is true in the Matthew text. However it has direct reference to the corrupt priesthood, the scribes, the Doctors of the law, the Sanhedrin, the Pharisees, etc., who were, until A.D.70, representative of the authority of God in heaven.
Think about it. I do not believe it is talking about the end of time as many do. In context, it is referring to the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70.
Another example will be found in the book of Revelation;
"The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John." Revelation 1:1
Notice first of all the time context, or the "when" of the things that are to follow. This will give us a clue that this book is not future to us, but has already seen its fulfillment (see verse 3 also).
Next notice the style of language indicated in verse one. "He sent and signified" the language. It is written in sign language. If you will keep this in mind as you read you will find it will help you greatly. So if we know from the beginning that this book has seen the majority of its fulfillment and its style is sign language, you can approach this book with the same confidence as any other. Read carefully and prayerfully.