Church of God, Carmichael, CA

Shadows of Good Things

Or the Gospel in Type

Russell R. Byrum, 1922

[Original Page Numbers]



  A type, as already shown, may be either an institution or an action. Types are of two classes—ritual and historical. Thus far in our consideration of types we have dealt almost exclusively with the former class. Now we shall undertake a brief discussion of historical types. It is not unreasonable that God should choose to order events in such a manner that they as well as the institutions which he ordained should foreshadow the grand truths of true religion.

  But let us remember that a real type must not only resemble a particular Christian truth, but must have been designed to resemble it at the time of its institution or occurrence. He whose controlling hand governs all things is well able to so order events of history that they will typify great truths of the gospel. That he has done so is clear from the plain statements of Scripture and also from the nature of certain historical facts that bear all the marks of types. But caution is needed in determining which of these events are typical and which merely possess a superficial resemblance. Because of lack of clearness on this point some of these events have more value as illustrations of Christian truths than as proofs of them. But the opposite danger must also be avoided of laying down a rule for determining types, as did Bishop Marsh, that excludes many of the real types that God gave. The reason many historical happenings are so remarkably parallel with Christian truth is because God caused them to occur as they did with that very Christian truth in view when they took place. They are parallel because designed to be parallel.

Examples of Historical Types

The brazen serpent as a means of salvation for the Israelites was a most remarkable type of Christ as a [135] means of our salvation through him. The Israelites murmured against Moses and God, and as a punishment God sent fiery serpents among them to bite them, so that many of the people died. When, at the request of the people, Moses prayed for their deliverance, he was told to make a brazen serpent and place it upon a pole so that those looking upon it might live and not die. Jesus said, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up" (John 3 :14). Jesus did not here merely find an apt illustration of his means of saving men by dying on the cross; it was a remarkable divinely ordained type of salvation from death and the punishment for sin by a God appointed means. As they looked at that serpent and lived, so we believe on Christ and live. It very beautifully set forth salvation through Christ. We need not suppose that God ordained that the Israelites should sin that he might present a type of New Testament salvation; but when they did sin he took advantage of the occasion to give this type. So usually the historical types seem to be incidental; but that is God's ordinary method of doing things. The institution of the Lord's Supper seemed at the time to be incidental.

  The salvation of Noah and his family in the ark at the time of the deluge was another remarkable type of our salvation through Christ. Of course there was a more immediate and practical purpose in the preservation of Noah and his family from drowning; but that was true in the case of the brazen serpent, and practically every other typical institution or event. The flood was a divine judgment on sinners. As Noah, a just man, accepted the divinely appointed means of salvation by entering the ark, so we who are in Christ are saved from the penalty of sin. In 1 Pet. 3:21 the apostle describes that salvation of Noah as well as Christian baptism as being a figure of the salvation we have in Christ. Other historical types, such as the offering of Isaac, the suffering of Joseph in Egypt that his people might be saved, cannot be described for lack of space.

  But probably the most important point to be noticed in this class of types is that the people of Israel themselves were a type. We have already shown that their worship in its various aspects was typical. It is just as clear that the nation itself as God's special people was typical of the true people of God. It was literal Israel, but Paul describes Christian believers as spiritual Israel. Except for the spiritual Israel which was to be and whom God foreknew there had been no literal Israel. Literal Israel was divinely ordained to resemble spiritual Israel. The literal seed of Abraham typified the spiritual seed of Abraham, and some of the promises made to his seed were not fulfilled at all to his literal seed, but, as Paul teaches in Romans 4, only to his spiritual children. Literal Israel as a type of spiritual Israel is constantly set forth by Paul in the Roman and Galatian letters. And with the fact before us of the nation of Israel as a type we need not be surprised to find that some of the great facts of the history of literal Israel also had typical significance.

Journey from Egypt to Canaan

  Typologists commonly allow that Israel's extraordinary, divinely directed journey from Egypt to Canaan, full of miraculous dealings, during which God led them by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, was typical of Christian experiences. Egypt, the land of oppression, well typified the state of sin. The bitter bondage was like the slavery of sin, in which sinners are held and compelled by sinful tendencies within to serve sin and bear the consequences even though they should like to do otherwise. Pharaoh was like Satan, who strives so hard to keep people in bondage and from obeying God. Moses was like Christ, who through the Holy Spirit leads men out of sin.

  The crossing of the Red Sea was a beautiful type of salvation from sin. Deliverance from sin's bondage, like theirs, is not possible by human means. Like them, the sinner trying to get out of sin finds himself helpless [137] and hopeless except as God is pleased to aid him. As the crossing of the Red Sea was by a miracle of God's power, so the conversion of every sinner who is saved is a miracle. When the Red Sea was crossed, and the people found themselves free, they sang the "Song of Moses," a song of praise for salvation and deliverance. Even this seems to typify the joy which, times without number, has come to the newly converted soul with the first realization of freedom from the bondage of sin.

  The Israelites seemed to think, when once out of Egypt, as some newly converted Christians think today— that it will be all singing, and no trouble or trials. But their very next move brought them to the bitter waters of Marah, of which they could not drink. The circumstance discouraged them greatly. They doubtless felt much as does the new convert when he meets his first adversity in the service of God. But He who made the waters of Marah sweet for Israel through Moses' faith and obedience to God's command makes the bitter sweet for us.

  The next important type was the manna. God sent the people food from heaven. This was a remarkable miracle. It meets every requirement of a true type. Jesus makes it to represent the "true bread from heaven" (John 6:31 51), which is himself. "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever." As God gave Christ for the life of the soul, so he gave the manna for the life of the body. As the manna was given daily, and could not be kept until the morrow, so we must continually partake of the life of Christ. Our souls must be divinely fed daily with food fresh from God. The manna was enough for every man. If one gathered much, he had but an omer full when measured. If he gathered little, he had the same amount. It was enough for all and alike to all, as God's gracious provision for the sustenance of our souls.

  Shortly after the manna was given, the people found themselves without water, at Rephidim. Again through [138]


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Justification, Sanctification, Unity
Carmichael, California USA

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