Church of God, Carmichael, CA

Shadows of Good Things

Or the Gospel in Type

Russell R. Byrum, 1922

[Original Page Numbers]


  The gladdest message ever proclaimed to a world of sinners, w a s t h e angel's announcement on Bethlehem's plains that a Savior is born. But the angel's proclamation on that wonderful night was not the first time the glad tidings of salvation had been preached. Centuries before God's holy seers with prophetic eye had foreseen in the dim future, beyond the miseries of many generations, the coming of Christ and his great salvation. Not the least of these was Moses.

  We often speak of the gospel according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, and sometimes we call Isaiah the "evangelical prophet," but too often we pass by the "gospel according to Moses." Yet according to the true meaning of the term "gospel," Moses wrote it as truly as did any of the four evangelists of our New Testament. The gospel is the proclamation of a way of salvation for sinners, the announcement of grace to the guilty, of Christ's love for the lost. Matthew wrote the gospel by relating the life story of Jesus. But Moses wrote it at greater length, more systematically and in greater detail in types and shadows. Moses' writings are as much about Jesus and his salvation as are those of the four New Testament evangelists.

  Moses sets forth the same great fundamental facts of true religion as are given in the New Testament. He continually holds before us under various symbols—by veils that bar the sinner from God's holy presence, by the sprinklings of blood for cleansing, and by different representations of ceremonial uncleanness—the awful fact of man's [7] sinfulness and depravity. He also vividly sets forth the glorious truth of salvation by God's free favor through the vicarious death of Christ, under the type of the sprinkling of the blood of animals on God's altars.

Mosaic Rites Were Typical

  Those who see nothing more in the elaborate ceremonies at the tabernacle of ancient Israel than an expression of natural religion or meaningless forms with no significance for us today, will doubtless find but little interest in reading that portion of Scripture which so minutely describes them. Alone it will be dull and uninteresting. But when it is read in the light of the Epistle to the Hebrews, in the New Testament, it sparkles throughout with dazzling gems of truth.

  Our authority for believing in the typical element of the Pentateuch is no less than Jesus and Paul, the Son of God and his greatest apostle. Jesus himself said: "Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me" (John 5:46); "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill" (Matt. 5:17). And to the two sorrowful disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus, "beginning at Moses and all the prophets, . . . expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself" (Luke 24:27). And shortly after, when he appeared to the disciples in Jerusalem, Jesus said, "All things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me" (Luke 24:44). Jesus was able to preach the gospel from the writings of Moses. He positively stated that he is the center of all the Scriptures, including those of Moses. He is their alpha and omega— their beginning and end. Paul also commonly taught the gospel according to Moses. When he arrived at Rome and the Jews came to him, he "expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the Prophets, from morning till evening" (Acts 28 :23).


  We may get a good idea of what these great exponents of Christianity taught from the law of Moses in the interpretation placed upon it by the inspired writer to the Hebrews, and in other more specific statements of Paul. The great apostle says, "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ" (Col. 2:16, 17). This important statement is very definite and clear, and is conclusive proof that the Mosaic rites, those outward forms of religion, were typical. They were a shadow, or, as the original word, skia, implies, an adumbration, a faint sketch, a dim transitory outline of a real substance to come, which is said to be Christ.

  Fully as definite and in much greater measure are the many positive statements in the Hebrew letter. The priests of the tabernacle are said to "serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern  shown to thee in the mount" (Heb. 8:5). Here the tabernacle and all connected with its worship are said to be an "example," or, according to the American Revised reading, a "copy," a "shadow," and a "pattern" or type. The inspired writer is here definitely arguing to convince his Jewish brethren that all that ancient worship of theirs was typical and that Jesus is the great Priest "of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man" (Heb. 8:2).

  In the ninth verse of the ninth chapter it is said of the first tabernacle, "Which was a figure  for the time then present.... But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building." The original word here, parabole, from which we translate "figure,' is that from which we commonly get "parable." The twenty third and twenty fourth verses are especially definite in showing that ancient worship was typical. "It was therefore necessary that the patterns [ copies. A. S. V ] [9] of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures [pattern, A. S. V.] of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." And again this same writer reiterates in the beginning of the tenth chapter, "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."

  Doubtless the texts already cited sufficiently p r o v e the typical element in the Mosaic institutions; but a good foundation is important, and inasmuch as our future argument is to rest largely upon these Bible statements of this fact and for the sake of cautious or skeptical persons we shall call attention to one other Biblical proof. The first given and one of the greatest of all the Mosaic institutions was the Passover. Paul plainly shows the typical nature of this in these words, "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us" (1 Cor. 5:7).

  If it were necessary, many other proofs of this point could be given; but these are evidence that the good things of Christ's salvation were portrayed in the Old Testament types. These types all pointed forward to Christ and his salvation, to the Priest greater than Aaron, the Prophet like unto Moses, the true King of Israel.

Types Deserve Our Study

  A considerable portion of the Bible, especially Exodus, Leviticus, and Hebrews, is devoted to the subject of types. This is just as much a part of God's Word as is any other part of the Bible. But this, and especially the books of Leviticus, is about as little read as any part of the Bible. The grand truths taught there deserve more earnest attention than most Christians give them. God doubtless means that we should explore its deep truth that we may the [10] better understand the way of salvation. Probably in no part of the Bible is the method of salvation so systematically and vividly set forth as here.

  God has been pleased to reveal his salvation in various forms: John presents it in letters of love; while Paul sets it forth in profoundest logic. The evangelists describe it in historical form by simply relating the facts of that greatest life earth has ever known. Prophets tell it in poetry; and the Psalmist utters it in song. The Revelator takes us up into heaven and pictures mysterious visional symbols; and Moses by an extensive series of material symbols or practical hieroglyphs depicts the same great truths.

  But why study types and shadows when we have the substance? Were not these things written for generations long dead, and not for us? A New Testament writer answers, "Whatsoever things were written aforetime w e r e written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope." The implication here is clear that these things were not only intended for us, but that we can understand and learn from them. Also types give a more vivid presentation of truth very much as do the parables of Jesus. Illustrations are important in God's message to give interest and force to it. The human mind is so constituted that it gets a clearer understanding of truth if presented in a concrete rather than in an abstract form. For this reason Bunyan's allegory, Pilgrim's Progress, is one of the most enlightening and useful religious books that have ever been published.

  Another very important reason for our being familiar with Old Testament types is that they furnish us much of the background of the New Testament phraseology, expressions so familiar to us but which would be quite unintelligible except for their Old Testament usage in connection with the types. Examples of these are "the Lamb of God," "washed us in his own blood," "the blood of sprinkling," "the washing of regeneration."



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