The Old Testament is filled with types, shadows, and patterns of things to come. Types and shadows are taught in Christian theology as a form of biblical exegesis that reveals the amazing parallels between people, things, events, and the mystery of redemption concealed in the Old Testament. One way a Christian can prove the divine inspiration of Scripture is through understanding the amazing types and shadows, such as the prophecies of the Messiah and the plan of redemption revealed in the ceremonies, sacrifices, and ministry at the tabernacle. The writer of Hebrews does a masterful job comparing the first covenant and the sacrificial and ceremonial portions of the Law of Moses being fulfilled and complete in Christ’s earthly and heavenly ministry as High Priest.
The revelation of the tabernacle was given for people to apprehend God
The revelation of the tabernacle offerings was given for people to appease God
The revelation of the tabernacle ministry was given for people to approach God
What is a Type?
The word type is derived from the Greek word tupos and is found sixteen times in the New Testament. It is translated in the King James Version of the Bible as print (John 20:25), figure (Rom. 5:14), pattern (Heb. 8:5), manner (Acts 23:25), form (Rom. 6:17), and example (1 Cor. 10:6, 11). An Old Testament type is a person, place, thing, or event that resembles a person, place, thing, or event in the New Testament.
What is a Shadow?
The word shadow is from the Greek word skia (see Col. 2:17). A shadow is an imperfect image or copy that is a reflection of a true substance. A shadow prefigures the anti-type. Paul used the word shadow in Hebrews 10:1: “For the law having a shadow of good things to come . . .” A shadow implies that a reality is yet to come, but a reflection of what is to come is found in the past, or in the shadow. A shadow is a reflection of light cast upon an actual object. Concealed within the Law was the reality of the coming Messiah. The Old Testament holds the shadow and the New Testament brings forth the light.
What is a Pattern?
The term copy or pattern is the Greek word hupodeigma, a word that refers to a sketch of something in the future. The tabernacle furniture and services were a “pattern” of things to come and were patterned after the heavenly temple. Not everything in the Old Testament is a type, shadow, or pattern of things to come. However, there are many types and shadows found in the tabernacle, the priesthood, the sacrifices, and the priestly ministry.
What is an Anti-type?
An anti-type is the fulfillment of a type. From a biblical standpoint, the type is found in the Old Testament and the anti-type is revealed in the New Testament. Before His final act of redemption on the cross, Christ compared His future suffering to the story of Jonah in the belly of the fish for three days and nights: “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12:40). In some of the catacombs of Rome, large whales are carved above many of the tombs as a sign of the promise of the resurrection. Another type fulfilled in Christ was the sacrifice of Isaac, which was a foreshadowing of the crucifixion of Christ (see Gen. 22). God provided a lamb for Abraham and He provided a Lamb for the world (see Gen. 22:13-14; John 1:29). Also, the story of Joseph and how he provided salvation for his brothers through his own season of “suffering” (see Gen. 37—47) was a picture of Christ suffering to redeem His own people from sin (see Heb. 2:9-10).
COMMONLY TAUGHT TYPES
People Who Are Types of Christ
The first Adam is a type of Christ, the “last Adam,” as Paul mentions in Romans 5:14 and 1 Corinthians 15:22, 45.
Melchizedek was a king and priest of Jerusalem, a type of Christ, a priest after Melchizedek (see Heb. 5:5-10; 7:1-17).
Places That Are Spiritual Types
Egypt represents the world system and spiritual bondage before conversion (see Gal. 4:1-25; Rom. 6:17).
Jerusalem or Zion typifies the heavenly Mount Zion and Jerusalem (see Gal. 4:25-26; Heb. 12:22; Rev. 21:2).
Babylon, in the New Testament, represents an apostate church system (see Rev. 14:8; 17:5).
Things That Are Spiritual Types
The tabernacle’s three chambers are a type of the tri-part of human beings: body, soul, and spirit (see 1 Cor. 3:16; 1 Thess. 5:23).
Water from the rock and manna in the wilderness are types of Christ, the bread and water of life (see John 6:32-35; 1 Cor. 10:4).
The brass serpent on the pole was a type of Christ’s death on the cross, bearing our sins (see Num. 21:8; John 3:14).
Throughout the notes in this Bible, I will point out various types and shadows in the ceremonial, sacrificial, and ministry services at the tabernacle and temple.