Understanding Types and Shadows

What are “Types & Shadows”?  Sometimes for those who have been around church circles for a long time, we speak in Christianese – that’s to say we use terms that aren’t readily apparent in the Bible.

The whole point of this blog and the reason why I write these posts is to make God real.  So terms like “Types and Shadows” which are understood by people who grew up in church aren’t really of much benefit to that goal.

In this post I want to “demystify” what a type and shadow is.  It really isn’t that complex, but it just takes someone explaining it if you’ve never heard of it before.

Our Series Text

Now the Lord had said to Abram:

“Get out of your country,

From your family

And from your father’s house,

To a land that I will show you.

Genesis 12:1 NKJV

In our text for this post, God speaks to Abraham and tells him to leave his family, his country and everything else he knew to go to a place that God would show Him.  This place was The Promise Land. 

Why is it so important that you understand types and shadows?  Because this is the first post in a series of posts talking about Entering into the Promise Land.  The very TITLE is a type and shadow.  

We’ll get more into what the promise land represents in coming posts, but for now let’s take a look at what a type and shadow is.  

Types & Shadows are events, people or circumstances in the natural that represent something spiritual.

Now with a definition like that you might feel a bit confused, but as we continue in our future posts, our examples will start to make sense. 

For now, think of Jesus.  He spoke in parables.  He talked about farmers and servants and nature and used all of it to depict spiritual things.  These parables are comparable to types and shadows. 

Some of them commented on current spiritual events or principles (types) and others foreshadowed (shadows) the future events of history. 

Why are they called Types & Shadows?

One of the reasons why we call these “types and shadows” is because of these verses here in Colossians.

16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

Colossians 2:16-17 KJV

So from this verse we can see a few things.

#1 – We call these events “shadows” because they foreshadow coming events.

Colossians is saying that all of these events like festivals or sabbaths all reflect something that is to come. Throughout the Jewish culture from the way the temple is built to the way they offer sacrifices or even get married, all of these things have meanings.  

They are types and shadows.

#2 – Festivals, Sabbaths, and Natural Events are all examples of “shadows”

If you remember back to a post I wrote a year or so ago, I wrote a poem about the Sun, Moon and Stars.  There is a reason that the world and many of the nations in the world worship nature.  It is because it reflects God.  

These nations just haven’t been taught to look a little further than the created for the creator

If you did miss that poem, you can check it out here.

What this verse is saying is that these events that the Jews celebrate and observe and take note of (blood moons, rest days or passover).  They all represent something spiritual.

#3 – All things point to Jesus

Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith.  He is the first and the last.  That means everything in this entire book – the Bible – points to Him because it is Him.  

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:1 KJV

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

John 1:14 KJV

Jesus became the Word. He came to earth from heaven to pay for the sins of the whole world.  That is the true power of types and shadows.  The Old Testament foretold of the coming of a Messiah – King Jesus, but He didn’t come as we would have expected. 

Not in power or in might but in humility Jesus came to save you and me.  

The prophecies, the festivals, sabbaths, and even nature all tell of Jesus. He is the way, the truth and the life. 

What are some examples of Types & Shadows?

So you might be asking yourself, “Well great but what are some actual examples of types and shadows?”  There are so many different examples, but there is one particular resource that does a great job explaining just a few types and shadows in the Bible.

Chapter 28. Types And Antitypes – Dispensational Truth – Study Resources 

This is by no means anywhere near exhaustive.  The entire Bible is really one huge reflection of Jesus (John 1:1). 

Entering into the Promise Land

Throughout this whole series we will be talking about entering into the promised land.  We will be analyzing the old testament to see how we can apply it to our lives today.  There are a lot of parallels that we can draw between the children of Israel and us as sons and daughters of God in Christ Jesus.

Throughout the process we will be looking really at who we are in Christ and how we can walk successfully in this life.  It’s great that we are going to heaven, but what about here on earth? 

Do we have to live like hell here?  NO!  God wants us to live prosperous lives and enter into the promised land He predestined for us.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath beforehand ordained, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10 KJV

God has predestined us to walk in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  He has a plan for us to live in health, overflow with wealth and live life abundantly above all we could ever ask or think. 

And in the posts ahead we will dissect everything that entails.