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Types reveal Jesus throughout the Old Testament

The Old Testament reveals Jesus through types and shadows
The bronze serpent: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (John 3:14).

Jesus is revealed throughout the Old Testament two ways. First, there were hundreds of prophecies looking forward to Him. Second, He’s revealed through types and shadows. This is why Jesus could say the Old Testament is about Him:

  • “The Scriptures testify of Me (John 5:39b).
  • “[Moses] wrote about Me (John 5:46b).
  • “All things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me (Luke 24:44).
  • “Behold, I have come—in the volume of the book it is written of Me (Hebrews 10:7).

The New Testament records:

  • And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself (Luke 24:27).
  • Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45).

The New Testament says Jesus is the substance and reality of Old Testament types and shadows

  • For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities (Hebrews 10:1a ESV).
  • A festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ (Colossians 2:16b-17).

A shadow is a perfect way to describe Old Testament types of Jesus:

  1. Shadows provide an outline without completely revealing the object. The Old Testament gives an idea what to expect in Jesus, but He isn’t fully revealed until the New Testament.
  2. Shadows point to something else. Seeing a shadow means there must be something casting it. That’s Jesus!
  3. People don’t look at shadows and think they’re “the real thing.” Nobody sees the shadow of a tree or car and thinks it’s a tree or car. Shadows have no substance or material themselves. They’re not the reality. But in the language of Hebrews 10:1 and Colossians 2:17 the “reality” and “substance” is found in Christ.

Many types and shadows are identified in the New Testament

Jesus compared Himself with:

  • The Bronze Serpent. John 3:14 As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.
  • The manna. John 6:32-33 “Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

Paul said Jesus is the:

  • Second Adam (Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:21-22).
  • True and greater Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7).
  • Rock in the wilderness that provided Israel with water (1 Corinthians 10:4).
  • Provider of the true and greater circumcision, not of putting off physical flesh, but sinful flesh: In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ (Colossians 2:11).

Hebrews says:

  • The Sabbath is only a picture of the true and greater rest found in Christ (3:7-4:11).
  • The veil in the temple revealed access to God when it was torn. In that sense, it is a picture of Christ in that His body was “torn” on the cross, and we were given access to God: Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh (10:19-21).

Discuss

Do you have any questions about types and shadows? What are your favorite examples? Share below!

Here’s a sermon I preached on Abraham and Isaac, and it begins with a discussion of types.

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  4. […] in Luke, i.e. 2 Kings 5 about Naaman a few Sundays ago), I haven’t thought as much about types of Christ like I used to when I was in the Samuels. Colossians 2:17 says all the types in the Old Testament […]

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  6. […] The Old Testament is about Jesus. There were prophecies He would fulfill, as well as pictures and types of Him: the manna, the rock in the wilderness, the bronze serpent, etc. The three miracle workers in the Old Testament (Moses, Elijah and Elisha) even performed miracles that prefigured some of the miracles Jesus would perform…miracles He’d often perform in a greater way. Here are a few examples: […]

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