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Types And Shadows In The Old Testament

Letís look at what Bible students call "types and shadows". Donít worry, this isnít controversial, but does have some problems when taken to an extreme. When speaking of types and shadows, weíre speaking about things in the Old Testament being a mere shadow of its reality that is found in New Testament times or in Heaven.

As you walk down the street on a sunny day your shadow appears on the sidewalk. Whatís more important, you or your shadow? Well, in most cases youíre more important than your shadow. The same with shadows in the Old Testament. The reality they represent are more important.

One example of a shadow is the tabernacle, or tent God told Moses to construct to exact measurements. Heb. 8:5 reads, "they (priests) serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and a shadow of what is in Heaven". So itís clear. The tent is a shadow of a heavenly temple. We also learn later in Hebrews that the priest is a shadow of Jesus.

The Bible clearly tells us what some shadows represent, but in other cases it doesnít tell us and so weíre left to guess, and guess we do. For example some say that Godís exact measurements of the tent are significant. If they werenít, He wouldnít have cared about their exactness. So some people derive all sorts of realities from these shadowy measurement and come up with weird doctrines. When it comes to these measurements, your guess is as good as mine as to what they represent, unless the Holy Spirit leads you in your guessing, and of course everyone claims His leading.

One group in the 1970ís believed in a doctrine called "the manifestation of the sons of God". They claimed that they wouldnít die but would reach total perfection including having their glorified bodies. Their state of perfection would then usher in the return of Jesus. To make a long story short, much of their teaching came from their personal interpretations of these Old Testament shadows, including the measurements of the tabernacle. Ironically enough, the leader of this group was killed in a plane crash.

The tabernacle was instituted as part of the Law of Moses, so we conclude that the Law was more than a list of rules and regulations. It was a shadow of something better to come. So when studying the Law, as New Testament Christians we must understand that it represents a reality to us that the Jews of old never experienced and probably didnít understand. Thus we view the Law of Moses in a different light than Old Testament Jews . We understand it being more than a list of rules to live by. We see it as a shadow of a reality we are now beginning to experience. You might even call the Law prophetic, and maybe we should because Jesus did.

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