Types and shadows in the Old Testament

Session 2 – God’s Grand Design Seminar

Types and shadows pointing to spiritual realities are found throughout the Old Testament. This seminar looks at examples of types and shadows as interpreted in the New Testament.

Download accompanying notes:

Examples of seven Examples of forty

After viewing, your next session is: Session 3 – Design in the Torah »

Transcript of “Types and Shadows” (Session 2)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

God created things we can see, and things we cannot see. Things material, and things spiritual. What we can see is temporary, and what we cannot see is eternal.

We have a principle on view. In the Old Testament, God gave the Law through Moses to the people of Israel. It was a Law that had to be fulfilled literally. In the New Testament, we learn that the Law was a shadow of the good things that were to come in Christ.

The tabernacle in the wilderness was a copy and shadow of heavenly things.

In the book of Colossians we are told that the religious festivals and celebrations were a shadow of the things that were to come. But the reality is in Christ.

The Old Testament doesn’t speak of types and shadows. We learn about this in the New Testament, with fulfillment in Christ. However, in the Old Testament, there were hints of what was to come. The Hebrew word for hint is “remez”. Jewish scholars teach that there are many things in their Scriptures pointing to the coming Messiah ... hints about who He is and what He would do.

The New Testament gives a few specific interpretations, or ways of understanding, the Old Testament “shadows”. For example:

The Israelites had to make an altar for burning incense, in the tabernacle in the wilderness. In the New Testament, in the book of Revelation, we learn that incense is a type of the prayers of God’s people.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites were told to make sacred garments for Aaron, the High Priest, and for his sons, the priests. And for these garments, they had to use fine linen. In the New Testament we learn, in the book of Revelation, that fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites were told that the priests had to come to the entrance of the tent of meeting, and there they had to be washed with water before they came into the presence of God.

In the New Testament, we are told that God’s people are made holy and cleansed by washing with water through the Word of God. We have our righteousness, in Christ Jesus. But we have an experiential outworking of this, through washing with water through the Word of God. It is not a physical washing, it is a spiritual washing.

In the Old Testament, the grain offerings had to be seasoned with salt. In the New Testament, Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth.” His people are the salt of the earth. And in the book of Colossians we are told, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt.” So we can say that salt is a type of the grace of God.

We find these pointers with certain numbers.

  • There were seven days of creation, including the Sabbath, the seventh day.
  • When Joseph was in Egypt, there were seven good years and seven years of famine.
  • In the Law, the Israelites were told that Hebrew slaves were to be set free in the seventh year.
  • In the Law, Israel was given seven feasts to observe.
  • The main feasts were to be observed for seven days each

And when we come to the book of Revelation in the New Testament, we find sevens everywhere.

  • Seven churches
  • Seven spirits
  • Seven gold lampstands
  • Seven stars
  • Seven torches of fire
  • Seven seals
  • Seven trumpets
  • Seven thunders
  • Seven golden bowls
  • Seven plagues

The highlighting of seven in the Bible is not an accident.

Another example is the number forty ... a period of forty.

  • At the time of the flood, it rained for forty days and forty nights.
  • Moses was forty years in Egypt, forty years in Midian, and forty years with the Iraelites in the wilderness.
  • Moses was on Mt Sinai for forty days and forty nights, receiving the Law.
  • The spies went into Canaan for forty days
  • David ruled over Israel for forty years
  • Solomon ruled over Israel for forty years

These were literal periods of time. They are specific. But they also “point to something”.

  • Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights
  • There were forty days from Jesus’ resurrection to His ascension.

So we see that this number forty is not random. It points to a period of testing or probation. A “God ordained” time period.

And so we have a principle ... types and shadows on view ... literal matters that were observed, but then a spiritual lesson comes out of them.

And the great type in the Old Testament, was the lamb.

The Israelites had to take a lamb at Passover, and slaughter it at twilight, and put some of the blood on the doorframes of the houses. And God said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no destructive plague will touch you.”

In the New Testament, John the Baptist, when he saw Jesus coming toward him said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

Christ Jesus, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. He fulfilled the types and shadows, the atonement has been made. Through the blood of the sinless Lamb of God, through Jesus Christ.

No matter how many promises God has made, they are “ yes” and “amen” in Christ Jesus. Things in the Old Testament pointed to the Messiah. Thing in the New Testament tell of the fulfillment in Christ Jesus.

The lessons that we are to draw in the sessions ahead all point to Jesus. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law. Where we see significance in numbers in the Bible ... where we see significance in events, in names ... they all point to Jesus.