It's difficult to overstate just how profound the Bible is. Obscure texts within the sacred record have been regarded as mere poetry, or even superfluous information, only to take on pivotal significance when someone realises its importance. There was no greater period of this happening than when the New Testament was being written. Seemingly insignificant passages were suddenly revealed by the Holy Spirit to hold the most profound insights into God and His plan. Many of these Holy Spirit inspired revelations fall into the categories of "types". The study of Biblical 'types' is known as "typology".
Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
Even the very first man, Adam, was a type. He was a type of Christ. When Adam sinned and the Lord slew animals to provide coverings for the first couple. These animal sacrifices were also a type of Christ who would one day become the covering for all sinners.
Abraham's wives are also to be regarded as types. Paul explains that Hagar represents the flesh (human efforts and desires) while Sarah represents the hope of the New Covenant ("the Promise") to be made possible through Christ. Some of the most profound typology occurs in some of the most - what appears to be boring, tedious, irrelevant - passages. Most especially are the feasts of Israel described in Leviticus 23 (how many people cite Leviticus as their favourite or 'goto' Biblical book?).For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar.
There are seven 'festivals' (some translations render these as 'feasts') referred to in Leviticus 23 (plus the weekly Sabbath). Consider that this set of instructions was given around fifteen hundred years before the first Christmas. Each of these festivals are a type of Christ and His work of salvation. Here's how -
* The Sabbath (Lev. 23:3) - Christ is our Sabbath; in Him we rest; all the work of salvation has been done.
1. The Passover (Lev. 23:5) - Christ is our Passover Lamb; in Him God passes over our sins; The Passover Lamb had to eaten quickly - there is no time to waste in turning to the Lord.
2. Unleavened Bread (Lev. 23:6) - Christ died for our sins and was buried (this was a time to eat unleavened bread and bitter herbs); in Him we have died to sin; our pilgrimage (journey with Christ in this life) will be a time of dying to self and frequent disappointments.
3. Firstfruits (Lev. 23:10) - Christ rose from the dead - never to die again, and He is firstfruits of all who will one day be resurrected to eternal life; in Him we rest; all the work of salvation has been done.
4. Pentecost (Lev. 23:16) - Christ is has poured out the latter rain to make the harvest possible; in Him we are baptised with the Holy Spirit so that we can bring in His harvest of souls (Acts 2:4ff).
5. Trumpets (Lev. 23:24) - Christ will return with the blast of an Arch Angel's trumpet (1Cor. 15:52; 1Thess. 4:16); we are to live knowing that our time is short and our life could be over at any moment.
6. Atonement (Lev. 23:27) - Christ bears our divine wrath before the Judgment Seat of God; one day we will all stand before the Righteous Judge and give an account of our lives - and only those who in Christ will be admitted the freedom to enjoy the full benefits of Christ and His Righteousness for eternity.
7. Tabernacles (Lev. 23:34) - Christ will clothe His redeemed in His righteousness and we shall receive a resurrected body like His; this earth is not our home - this body is not our ultimate body! One day we shall all be resurrected to enjoy Christ all that Christ enjoys. This is our inheritance.
having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints
There are many more types in the Old Testament that point to the work of Christ. But recently, there has been some discussion about a field of typology that has been largely overlooked in much of Christian thought. It is the field of typology that illustrates the mission of the redeemed. In a day when some people are trying to 'tame' God (á la Rob Bell and co.) by claiming that God will actually redeem everyone and not send anyone to eternal damnation. But Biblical Typology throws down an enormous challenge to this cute idea. In fact, it's not a chivilrous glove-type-challenge being thrown down to rebut this very appealing idea, it's a mountain of granite-type-challenge! For example, consider the typology of Noah and his mission.
because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.
First Peter 3:20
The list goes on from the conquest of Canaan, the reign of the Judges, the message and ministry of the Prophets, God's preservation of the 'remnant' (Ezra 9:8; Isa. 28:5; Rom. 9:27), to name a few. Perhaps more importantly, this Old Testament Typology reveals a mission for the Redeemed that shows we are to witness, plead, preach, and live righteously in the processwith a tremendous sense of urgency. There is not one redemptive Old Testament type where the messenger's demeaner was one of 'take it or leave it', 'think it over', 'explore your options', 'you've got plenty of time to make a decision, no rush'. On the contrary! And this is a dire warning to God's people today to reprioritse their lives and witness and live for the mission of knowing Christ and making Him known. This is why we might also also regard certain types as types of time for eternity, because they reveal both the urgency and the consequences of our mission.
As you read through the Bible, as I hope you do daily, take note of the urgency of those serving the Lord, and how eternally dire they understood their mission to be. And while you're at it, pray that God would give me a clearer of revelation of this well - and add to that prayer one of my most urgent needs: that I won't be duped by the mundane, the urgent trivialities of life, and the things that just don't matter.
The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity.