The Hidden Meaning of Types and Shadows
We read about “types and shadows” as we study Bible related material, but what exactly is meant by these mysterious terms? The Greek word “type” (tupos) found in the New Testament means “a sampler, resemblance, model (for imitation), figure, form, pattern.” A “type” refers to that which prefigures something greater than itself, something that appears at a future date. Biblical types, which may be a person, event, object, or ritual, are generally found in the Hebrew Scriptures, particularly in the Torah. The vastly superior “antitype” or “archtype” (typical fulfillment) appears often in the New Testament. For example, the apostle Paul acknowledged Adam as a type of Yeshua, the inferior preceding the superior:
Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. Rom 5:14
A “type” is a kind of shadow. Webster defines “shadow” as “an imperfect mirrored image, a reflection, something without reality or substance, a vague indication, an omen, prefiguration, a faint suggestion or appearance, that which is vaguely mystical or prophetic.” Types and shadows point to something of greater significance. In the Hebrew Scriptures, types and shadows point to the reality of Yeshua and some wondrous aspect of His redemptive work. A shadow is two dimensional, but reality is three dimensional, meaning it has depth and substance. It is important to note that shadows flee when dawn breaks forth and morning light reveals the previously hidden substance.
For example, a study of Moses’ Tabernacle is replete with types and shadows, all of which point to some aspect of Yeshua’s redemptive plan for humanity. The substance is Yeshua, the perfect, blameless Lamb of God who suffered, died, and was resurrected to become the Savior of the World. We see the use of the term “shadow” in the following passage from the book of Hebrews:
For the Law, since it has only a shadow (Gr. skia,: skia) of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Heb 10:1
I am thankful to God for the eternal, universal symbolism of types and shadows that paint a vivid picture of the prophetic message of Scripture. Types and shadows help prepare believers for the reality we will experience one day when we meet the Lord face to face in all of His majestic glory!
If you would like to discover the hidden meaning of the types and shadows of Moses’ Tabernacle, check out my new series: “The Gospel According To Moses,” a 12 part DVD series from BibleInteract that also features a 180 page Bible study that is designed to take the message of the Tabernacle from your head to your heart.