THE TYPES IN GENERAL
“The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.” Such was the witness of one of old; and the saints of God can yet set their seal to it. Great, indeed, are the works of the Lord; sought out, and sought into, are they by His people: but how great, how exalted, how wondrous, none feel so deeply as those who have most considered them! Man's work, if we are continually poring over it, will soon weary us—a little attention will in time make us masters of it. God's work, the more we examine and look into it, will only attract us the more. The more it is studied, the more it opens out, at every step unfolding fresh and endless objects. Take any portion of it—the earth, the air, the sky; and the further we search, the deeper we examine, the more are we led to acknowledge that as yet we know next to nothing, and that the great ocean of truth of every kind lies before us, as yet all unfathomed and unfathomable.
The reasons for this are many. A very obvious one is that man is finite, God infinite; and the finite cannot measure the infinite. Another reason is, that God uses the same instrument for many and different ends. Thus, when we know one use or end of this or that part of creation, we may yet be ignorant of many other ends which God may be carrying out by the same means. Take, for example, the air. How many ends does God accomplish by this one simple element! Air supplies the lungs, supports fire, conveys sound, reflects light, diffuses scents, gives rain, wafts ships, evaporates fluids, and fulfils besides, I know not how many other purposes. Man, from his infirmity, makes a special tool for every special purpose. God uses one thing for many purposes. Man has often tried to make an instrument which will perfectly serve several different ends, and never entirely succeeded. In God's work, on the other hand, we constantly see many ends met, and met perfectly, by one and the same most simple arrangement.
The consequence of this is, that the difference is immense between looking upon God's work and looking into it. Merely to look upon His work in nature, shews, indeed, that the hand that made it is divine. The first glance, cursory as it may be, gives a satisfying impression, an impression of perfectness. But how much lies beyond this superficial glance! We look out on nature in any form—hills, dales, woods, rocks, trees, water; whatever it is we look on round us, the first glance is enough to give us the impression of perfectness. But in each part of that scene, so cursorily glanced at, every minutest portion will bear the strictest inspection, for every minutest part is perfect. Each blade of grass in all that wide-spread landscape, each worthless, perishing blade of grass, will bear the closest scrutiny; for it is finished by a master's hand. Look at the humblest plant; consider its wondrous mechanism; its vessels for imbibing nourishment from the earth, and nourishment from the air and light; its perfect and complete apparatus for preserving and increasing its allotted growth. Look at the vilest and most insignificant insect that creeps up that unthought-of stem, whose life is but a fleeting hour; for that hour finding all its wants supplied, and its powers, one and all, adapted and perfect to their appointed end. Think of these things, and then we shall be better able to enter somewhat into the perfectness of the work of God.
And God's Word, in all these particulars, is like God's work; yea, God's Word is His work as much as creation; and it is its infinite depth and breadth, and the diverse and manifold ends and aims of all we find in it, which make it what it is, inexhaustible. To look, therefore, on the mere surface of the Bible, is one thing; to look into it quite another; for each part may have many purposes. The very words which, in one dispensation and to one people, conveyed a literal command, to be obeyed literally, may, in another age and dispensation, supply a type of some part of God's work or purpose; while in the selfsame passage the humble believer of every age may find matter of comfort or warning, according to his need.
The microscope may be used here as well as in the physical world. And as in nature those wonders which the microscope presents to us, though it may be but in an insect's wing or a drop of water, give us at a glance a sense of the perfectness of God's work, such as we might not receive even from a view of the boundless heavens, testifying with a voice not to be misunderstood, how wondrous is the Hand that formed them, with whom nothing is too insignificant to be perfected: so His Word, in its more neglected portions, in those passages which we have perhaps thought of comparatively little value, shews the same perfectness. The finishing of the emblems in the Types is by the same hand that finished redemption; the one was, if you please, His great work, the other His small one; but both are His work, and both perfect.
And this His work in His Word has another striking resemblance to His work in creation. Just as in creation, one leading idea is presented throughout it, which testifies in everything we look upon, in every leaf, in every insect, in every blade of grass, to the wisdom, power, and goodness of the Creator,—a testimony which the partial and apparent contradictions of tempests and earthquakes does not alter or disannul; so has all Scripture one great thought stamped on it, which it is bringing out on every side continually,—every act, every history shews it,—that thought is the grace of the Redeemer. There is neither speech nor language, but in all we hear the wondrous tale. Christ is throughout the key to Scripture. He is the one great idea of the Bible. Know Christ, understand God's thoughts about Him, and then you will understand the Bible. We are in the dark because we know so little of Him.
I have commenced my inquiry into the Typical Offerings with these remarks, because I am disposed to think that there is with many a feeling,—not perhaps openly expressed, though not on that account the less acted on,—that some portions of the Scriptures, such as the Types, are less valuable and less instructive. But whence have we got this notion? Not from God. Were these typical parts of Scripture unimportant, God would not have given us so many chapters which really contain no meaning for us, except they have a typical import; respecting which He yet testifies that they are profitable to aid and instruct the man of God. “All Scripture is given by inspiration, and is profitable;” and this not to mere babes in Christ, but to the man of God,—“that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16, 17).
The Types are, in fact, a set of pictures or emblems, directly from the hand of God, by which He would teach His children things otherwise all but incomprehensible. In the Types, if I may be allowed the expression, God takes His Son to pieces. By them does He bring within the range of our capacity definite views of the details of Christ's work, which perhaps but for these pictures we should never fully, or at least so fully, apprehend. The realities which the Types represent are in themselves truths and facts the most elevated, facts which have taken place before God Himself, facts in which He has Himself been the actor. These vast and infinite objects He brings close before us in emblems, and presents them to our eyes in a series of pictures, with the accuracy of One who views these things as they are seen and understood by Himself, and in a way in which they may be seen and understood by us.
The real secret of the neglect of the Types, I cannot but think may in part be traced to this,—that they require more spiritual intelligence than many Christians can bring to them. To apprehend them requires a certain measure of spiritual capacity and habitual exercise in the things of God, which all do not possess, for want of abiding fellowship with Jesus. The mere superficial glance upon the Word in these parts brings no corresponding idea to the mind of the reader. The Types are, indeed, pictures, but to understand the picture it is necessary we should know something of the reality. The most perfect representation of a steam-engine to a South-sea savage would be wholly and hopelessly unintelligible to him, simply because the reality, the outline of which was presented to him, was something hitherto unknown. But let the same drawing be shewn to those who have seen the reality, such will have no difficulty in explaining the representation. And the greater the acquaintance with the reality, the greater will be the ability to explain the picture. The savage who had never seen the steam-engine would of course know nothing whatever about it. Those who had seen an engine but know nothing of its principles, though they might tell the general object of the drawing, could not explain the details. But the engineer, to whom every screw and bolt are familiar, to whom the use and object of each part is thoroughly known, would not only point out where each of these was to be found in the picture, but would shew, what others might overlook, how in different engines these might be made to differ.
It is just so in the Types. He who knows much of the reality will surely also know something of the type. The real secret of our difficulty is that we know so little, and, what is worse, we do not know our ignorance. And the natural pride of our hearts, which does not like to confess our ignorance, or to go through the deep searchings of soul which attend learning and abiding in God's presence, excuses itself under the plea that these things are not important, or, at least, non-essential. Paul had to meet the same spirit in several of the early churches. Thus, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, when about to prove from a type the doctrine of Christ's everlasting priesthood, he speaks of Him as “a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec,” he cannot go on with the proof without telling the Hebrews how much of the difficulty of the subject was to be traced not so much to its own abstruseness as to their spiritual childhood and ignorance. “Of whom,” says he, speaking of Melchisedec, “I have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” (Heb. 5:12, 13. See also 1 Cor. 3:1, 2.) It was their infancy in Christ, their lack of growth, which hindered their understanding the Scriptures. As in the natural world life and intelligence are different, just so is it in the spiritual. A man may be born of God, and as such, having the life of Christ, be an heir of heaven, sure of all that the love of God has laid up in store for the redeemed family in glory; and yet, like a child, know nothing of his inheritance, nothing of his Father's will, be a stranger to service and warfare, and ready to be deceived by any.
This is, I fear, the case with many believers now. The low standard of truth in the Church, making the possession of eternal life the end instead of the beginning of the Christian's course, has led many to think that if they have, or can at least obtain, this life, it is enough. But these are not God's thoughts. Birth, spiritual birth, is birth of God for ever,—a life once given never to be destroyed. Schooling, training, adorning, clothing, follow the possession of life, and even the knowledge of it. I own, indeed, that while the Christian is a babe, he needs milk, and ought never to be pressed to service: at such a time he does not need the deeper truths of Scripture; strong meat may choke the babe as much as poison. But milk, the simpler doctrines of the Word, will not support the man in active service. The man of God needs deeper truth: and it is, I believe, the lack of this deeper truth in the Church which so effectually leaves us without power or service, and brings it to pass that much of what is done is performed in the energy of the flesh rather than in the power of the Spirit.
I must add one word in connexion with the passage just alluded to, which, though beside our present object, may not really be beside the mark. It is written, “Strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:14). It is “by reason of use,” that is, by using the truth we already possess, that the senses are exercised to advance further. Let us act up faithfully to the light we have, use out fully the grace already given, then surely our spiritual strength will not only rapidly but wonderfully increase.
But it is time I should turn particularly to the object more immediately before us,—The Types in general; their characteristic differences in the different books of the Old Testament.
It is pretty generally known that in the Old Testament there are typical persons, things, times, and actions; but it is not, I believe, so generally known how remarkably these types vary in character, and how beautifully they have been divided and arranged by God himself under different classes, if I may so speak; each one distinct from the others, and each having something characteristic. The books of the Old Testament are God's divisions; each of them may be called one of God's chapters; and in each of these books we find something different as respects the character of the Types they contain. The general notion of the Types is that they are merely sketches. This is very far short of the truth. So far from being rough sketches, they are one and all most perfectly finished with a master's hand: and a tolerable acquaintance with the distinct character of the different books, and of their types, is enough at once to prove this. Christ is indeed the key to them all: He is the key of the Types, and the key to the Bible. Of Him God has given us more than sketches; the Word from end to end is full of Him. In the Word we have a whole Christ presented to us: Christ in His offices; in His character; in His person; Christ in His relations to God and man; Christ in His body the Church; Christ as giving to God all that God required from man; Christ as bringing to man all that man required from God; Christ as seen in this dispensation in suffering; Christ as seen in the next dispensation in glory; Christ as the first and the last; as “all and in all” to His people. The different books are but God's chapters in which He arranges and illustrates some one or more of these or other aspects of His Beloved.
Many are satisfied to see nothing of this: the sprinkled blood in Egypt is enough for them. And this, indeed, secures salvation: but, oh! how much lies beyond! Knowing only the blood in Egypt will never teach us our priestly office, nor the value and use of the offerings of the Lord, nor the will of the Lord respecting us. The blood, indeed, wherever seen, bespeaks our safety, and it is blessed even in Egypt to know God's claim is met; but ought we not also, as His redeemed and loved ones, to desire to know more also of His will and our portion?
We know but little of all this as yet, but we know enough to make us long for more. As an old writer has well said, contrasting the dispensations, God in the Types of the last dispensation was teaching His children their letters. In this dispensation He is teaching them to put these letters together, and they find that the letters, arrange them as we will, spell Christ, and nothing but Christ. In the next dispensation He will teach us what Christ means. This is most true. But the Church “as now risen with Christ,” as already “seated in heavenly places” (Eph. 2:6), and “in the kingdom,” ought even now in spirit to enter a little more into the truth of what Christ has been for us and to us. The Lord teach us all more of His infinite fulness.
I said there was a distinct difference in the Types of the Old Testament, and that this difference is apparently so arranged on purpose, the different classes of types for the most part being found in different books. For my own part I cannot doubt the fact, though I feel it will be quite another thing for me to commend it to others. Take, however, first my statement, and then I will endeavour, in dependence on the Lord, to give the proof which may be brought in support of it.
Those who are so far acquainted with the earlier books of the Bible as to be able to carry their general contents in their memories, will at once recollect how very different in character some of these books are from others; some, as for example Genesis, being throughout simple narratives; others, like Leviticus, being from first to last a series of ceremonial observances. Each of these books,—those which deal in narrative, as much as those which contain emblematic ordinances,—are, as we find from the New Testament, typical. There is, however, a great difference in the character of their types; and to this distinction I now direct attention.
Generally speaking the difference is this. The types of Genesis foreshadow God's great dispensational purposes respecting man's development; shewing in mystery His secret will and way respecting the different successive dispensations. The types of Exodus—I speak, of course, generally—bring out, as their characteristic, redemption and its consequences; a chosen people are here redeemed out of bondage, and brought into a place of nearness to God. Leviticus again differs from each of these, dealing, I think I may say solely, in types connected with access to God. Numbers and Joshua are again perfectly different, the one giving us types connected with our pilgrimage as in the wilderness; the other, types of our place as over Jordan, that is, as dead and risen with Christ. In speaking thus, I would by no means be understood to say that Genesis is the only book which contains dispensational types: I believe that there are many in the other books; but, wherever this is the case, the dispensational type is subservient to, or rather in connexion to with, the special subject of the book. Thus, if Numbers is the book of the wilderness, the dispensational types in it, if there are any, will bear on the wilderness. (Note: The history in the thirty-second chapter, I believe, supplies an instance.)
Nor are these the only books of the Old Testament in which a characteristic and typical thought may be easily traced. I feel satisfied that had we but sufficient intelligence, the remaining books might be viewed in the same manner. (Note: The history recorded in the books of Kings and Chronicles is a good illustration of this. The same persons come before us in both, but with a different object in each. The typical character of the respective books will supply the key to the points of difference.) But I take the opening ones as being generally more familiar to us, and sufficient to shew my meaning.
But it may be asked, what proof is there for these assertions? I answer, the New Testament itself seems to me to supply the proof in every case. Of course, as in every other study, a certain amount of apprehension is needed in those to whom the proof is submitted. All have not intelligence enough to grasp the proofs of astronomy, which, nevertheless, are proofs and unanswerable proofs to those whose senses are sufficiently exercised to discern them. So, I doubt not, will it be here. And I venture to say that those who know most of spiritual communion,—who, in God's presence, have entered the deepest into the value of Christ and God's thoughts about Him,—these will be the persons best qualified rightly to estimate the amount of proof contained in what I now suggest to them.
To return, then, to Genesis. I said that its types, for the most part, were of a dispensational character, shewing God's great dispensational purposes, and the course appointed for man's development. Perhaps it may be necessary for me to explain what I mean by “dispensational purposes.” God has, since the fall of man, at various periods dealt with man, in different degrees of intimacy, and, in a certain sense, also on different principles. Throughout all, He has had one purpose in view, to reveal what He is, and to shew what man is; but this one end has been brought out in different ways, and under various and repeated trials.
The sum is this. Man by disobedience fell, and thenceforth has, with all his progeny, been a sinner. The different dispensations, while, on the one hand, they were revelations of God, were also the trial whether, under any circumstances, man could recover himself. God first tried man without law; the end of that was the flood, “for the earth was filled with violence” (Gen. 6:11). God then committed power to Noah, trying man under the restraints of human authority,—saying, “He that sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed” (Gen 9:6), to see, if I may so speak, whether, with this help, man could in any measure recover himself. The end of that, and this within no long period, was open and wide-spread idolatry. God himself then came more manifestly forth as a giver. The other dispensations are specially His. He chose one family,—the family of Abraham,—and, to give man in the flesh every assistance in recovering himself, He gave him a perfect law, to see whether by this law he could improve or restore himself. This was the dispensation of the law. I need not tell you the end of this. God sent His servants seeking fruit of the husbandmen to whom He had let out His vineyard; and some they beat, and some they stoned, and all they treated shamefully. Last of all He sent His Son, and Him they cast out and crucified (Matt. 21:33-39). Such was the end of this first dispensation, and of the experiment whether man in the flesh could be amended by law. God then brought in a new thing, the dispensation of resurrection,—I mean the Christian dispensation,—differing from the preceding in this point, above all others, that it did not recognize man in the flesh at all, but only owned, as the subjects of a heavenly kingdom, such as were quickened by a new and heavenly life. Man in the flesh was now no more to be tried, for it was a settled thing that he was utterly lost and helpless,—and baptism sealed this. (Note: The contrast between baptism and circumcision is most characteristic of their respective dispensations. Circumcision, as we are told in Peter (1 Pet. 3:21), represented “the putting away the filth of the flesh.” This was all the old dispensation aimed at; for it assumed that the flesh could be improved. Man, therefore, the seed of Abraham according to the flesh, was in the flesh taken into covenant. Baptism, on the contrary, as we are repeatedly told (Rom. 6; Col. 2; 1 Pet. 3), represents the death and burial of the flesh: for this dispensation starts on the ground that the flesh is incurable, and that it is only as quickened by the Spirit that man can come to God; in a word, that except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. And the believer, having this new birth, is called to profess the worthlessness of the flesh, in an ordinance which, if rightly administered, is as strikingly representative of the design of this, as circumcision was of the design of the old covenant.) God would now Himself make a people, “begotten again by the resurrection of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:3), who through this dispensation of grace should be a witness, not of what they were, but of what He was. A dispensation, therefore, was begun, not owning man in the flesh in any way, in which God has been dealing almost in direct contrast to His dealings with man under the law. This is the present dispensation.
I have perhaps enlarged on this question more than my subject demands, but the importance of it may be my apology,—an importance, I grieve to say, but little recognized by the mass of Christians. What I have said, however, will shew how God has dealt with man dispensationally,—that is, how, in different ages and dispensations, His requirements and laws have varied. God's first dispensation was the law: His second is the gospel.
Now the types of Genesis, unlike those of some of the other books, are taken up, I may say almost exclusively, with foreshadowings of great truths or events connected with these dispensations. Two or three passages from the New Testament will supply a divinely-authorized proof of this statement. With these, as a starting-point, I trust I shall easily shew how full Genesis is of similar types.
Let us look, then, for a moment at Gen. 21, with St Paul's comment on it in Gal. 4:—“Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons; the one by a bond-maid, the other by a free-woman. Be he who was of the bond-woman was born after the flesh; but he of the free-woman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. ... But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the Scripture? Cast out the bond-woman and her son: for the son of the bond-woman shall not be heir with the son of the free-woman” (Gal. 4:21-31).
Now all this is dispensational. Hagar, the handmaid, and a bond-woman, stands the perfect type of the covenant of law: Sarah, the true wife, and a free-woman, the representative of the covenant of grace. The first son, Ishmael, born according to nature, a type of the Jew, who by natural birth came into covenant. The second son, Isaac, born contrary to nature, of parents who were “as good as dead” (Heb. 11:12; Rom. 4:19), a type of the resurrection life of this dispensation, the life from above springing out of death. I can but just touch the subject here; but enough perhaps has been said to shew my meaning. Christ, of course, is the key here as elsewhere; yet how different here from the types of Leviticus, which, instead of speaking of Him as connected with dispensations, shew His work as bearing on communion. And if the types of Genesis are unlike Leviticus, what shall we say of Numbers and Joshua, which in their types are full, as we shall see, of representations of the varied experience of the redeemed? The least measure of spiritual intelligence must, I think, at once apprehend a difference so striking as this.
I cannot leave the type of Hagar and Sarah without just noticing one other part in it, which may not be altogether thrown away. Observe, when Sarah died, Abraham took again another wife, Keturah (Gen. 25:1-4); and by her he had, not one son, as in the preceding types, (one son in each being the emblem of one family,) but many sons, the type of that which shall take place when the Sarah dispensation is ended: when not one nation only shall be the Lord's, but when “the kingdoms of the world” shall be His. Hitherto God has had but one nation: in the last dispensation a peculiar nation in the flesh; now a peculiar nation in the spirit, whose birth is not from Adam, but from Christ. But in the next dispensation it will be otherwise. The Sarah covenant will never embrace the nations, though it will “take out of them a people for His name” (Acts 15:14), for in it “there is neither Jew nor Greek;” the flesh, as I have said, in it being in no way recognized. It will be otherwise when the next dispensation comes, and “the earth is filled with the knowledge of the Lord.” But I am to speak of the characteristic difference of the Types, and not of all that is taught us in them.
A second passage from the book of Genesis, which is referred to in the New Testament as typical, is the history of Melchisedec. In the seventh of Hebrews the apostle is shewing the abrogation and disanulling of the Levitical priesthood, and how the dispensation of the law, with the things pertaining to it, was superseded by a new dispensation. In support of this, he refers to a fact recorded in Genesis, which he uses as his sufficient proof. The passage is very remarkable, not only as shewing the character of the types of Genesis, but as teaching us something of the nature of typical representations, and of the way in which they must be interpreted. But I here simply refer to it as an instance in point, to shew the general character of the types of Genesis. The history tells us that Abraham paid tithes to Melchisedec, one who in his own person was both king and priest. The apostle shews how every detail given of this person, yea, and how that also which is omitted respecting him, is all full of typical instruction. (Note: I refer here to the fact noticed by the apostle, that in Melchisedec's history there is no record either of his birth or death,—an omission very unusual in Scripture with those who take a prominent place; which omission, however, the apostle shews to be typical. Melchisedec, says Paul, was “without father or mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life.” He does not mean that Melchisedec really had none of these; but that none are recorded in his history, and that this omission is distinctly typical. We shall find, as we proceed, that the omissions in the types of Leviticus are as full of import as the facts recorded.) Levi paid tithes in Abraham to Melchisedec: that proves, says the apostle, how far Levi was below Melchisedec. It speaks, also, of a time when the priesthood of Levi will have to yield to another priesthood. I do not go into details: they are sufficiently familiar to those even moderately versed in Scripture. I only refer to it as another undoubted illustration of the dispensational character of the types of Genesis.
Take another of the types of Genesis,—I mean the history of Joseph. No one, I suppose, who has ever thought upon it, can doubt that this history is typical. But typical of what? Of dispensational truth. Joseph is the eldest son of the younger and best-loved wife. Here, again, we get the two wives, as in a former instance, bringing out the same truth, though with some additions. Leah, the elder wife, has all her children before Rachel, the younger, has any. The Jewish dispensation had all its children before the Christian dispensation had any. Christ, the first-born from the grave, was the first son of the Rachel dispensation. This son, the beloved of his father, is cast out by his brethren, the children of the elder wife, and cast into Egypt, the constant type of the Gentile world. There, after a season of suffering and shame, he is exalted to be head over the kingdom; his wife is given him from out of the Gentiles, and then his brethren, the children of the first wife, know him. This type, I think, needs no explanation: if explanation be needed, the eleventh of Romans will supply it. The sin of the Jews, the elder brethren, is made the riches of the Gentiles for a season, until the elder brethren in need are brought to know and worship their brother, and are reconciled to Him. But I wish merely to call attention to the fact, that here, as elsewhere in Genesis, the types are dispensational. Christ rejected by the Jewish family, and His history among the Gentiles, and again the restoration of His brethren to Him: this is the history of Joseph.
I will give but one more example, which must suffice for my proof as to the book of Genesis. Take, then, the ark of Noah. If there be a type in the Bible, the ark is surely a type,—of Christ without doubt,—but of Christ viewed dispensationally. Indeed, St Peter expressly refers to it in this light, as a type of the mystical death and resurrection of the Church in Christ (1 Pet. 3:21, ᾡ ἀντίτυπον, κ.τ.λ.). But to look at the history. We have first an old world to be destroyed, with one faithful family upon it, or rather one family who are saved for the faithfulness and piety of their head, as it is said,—“Come thou, and all thy house, into the ark: for thee have I seen righteous” (Gen. 7:1). Then we have a new world coming forth in beauty, after destruction has passed on the old; while the chosen family are brought from the one world to the other, in an ark, the only place of safety. Christ is the Ark, taking the chosen family from the world of judgment to the new heavens and the new earth. This is clear; but look at the details. May I not say, the microscope may be used here? The ark, with all its burden, rests on the mountains of the new world, months before any portion of that new world could be seen. Christ, as our Ark, has rested in resurrection, with all the redeemed family in Him; for in Him we are already “risen,” while as yet the waters of judgment (for “now is the judgment of this world,” John 12:31) are resting on the world. And mark the foreknowledge of God, the day the ark rested was the very day and the very month on which, ages afterwards, Christ, the true Ark, rested in resurrection. “The ark rested on the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month” (Gen. 8:4). On that day Christ rose from the dead. The fourteenth day of this seventh month (afterwards, by God's command, called the first month, Exod. 12:2) was the passover; the fifteenth, the feast of unleavened bread (Lev. 23:5,6; compare this with Matt. 26:17; Luke 22:7; and John 18:28); and the third day from that, “the seventeenth day,” was the day Christ rose from the dead.
But I have said enough to shew the character of the types of Genesis, and that they are all more or less dispensational. And let it be observed we have in them three dispensations,—the past, the present, and a future one.
I now pass on more briefly to speak of the general character of the types of Exodus. These, as I have already said, are chiefly connected with redemption and its consequences. In proof of this, as in the former case, I will begin with New Testament evidence.
Let us, then, begin with the Passover, the institution of which is recorded in the twelfth chapter. Is there a doubt on the mind of any whether or not this ordinance is to be regarded as typical? Then let us hear Paul's comment upon it: “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:7, 8). And what is this passover but redemption? The elect family, with shoes on their feet, and their loins girt ready for flight from Egypt, are standing by night (“the night is far spent,” Rom. 13:12) within the house whose door-posts are sprinkled with blood, while the destroying angel is abroad in judgment, in the death of their first-born judging the pride of Egypt.
And this is the one great truth in Egypt,—the sprinkled blood, and its value as delivering from judgment. In Egypt it is much to know that Israel is redeemed, and that there is safety in the blood of sprinkling. But the blood of Jesus has much more connected with it than mere deliverance from Egypt or salvation; yet this is the only use of it which is known by Israel in the house of bondage. For Israel in Egypt, for the Christian in the world, the one great truth is the Passover, redemption through the blood of the Lamb, salvation, not for our righteousness' sake, but because the blood is on the door-post. To learn anything further of the uses of that blood, Israel must be brought to know themselves out of Egypt, to see themselves as the redeemed of the Lord, and that God doth put a difference between them and the Egyptians. It is in the wilderness, in separation from Egypt, that God opens to His people all the value of the Offerings. There is no knowledge of the burnt-offering in Egypt, or of its difference from the meat-offering or the sin-offering; there is no knowledge of the laver or shew-bread there, or of the blessed work which the priest performs. All this is learnt when Israel is in truth a pilgrim, with the Red Sea and Egypt behind him.
How true is all this in our experience. Look at saints who do not fully know redemption; what is the only truth for them? Just this—the passover, the sprinkled blood; they have no heart or eyes to see any further. But I am again going into the type, rather than pointing out its general bearing, redemption.
And that this is the general character of the types of Exodus, will, I think, be apparent to such as endeavour, in dependence on the Lord, to read the book as a whole, and to grasp the one great thought which throughout is stamped on it. What is the exodus from Egypt but redemption? What is the march through the sea but redemption? This is the key-note of Israel's song when Pharaoh and his hosts are fallen:—“Thou in Thy mercy, O Lord, hast led forth Thy people which Thou hast redeemed: ... fear shall fall on the inhabitants of Canaan, till the people pass over, whom Thou hast purchased. Thou shalt bring them in” (Exod. 15:13, 16, 17). And in keeping with this commencement, the types in the latter part of the book are occupied with representations of the consequences of redemption,—a people brought near to God.
Leviticus differs from all this. That it is typical, I need hardly say: for unless we look at it as such, it has—I say it with reverence—for us no meaning. But the Epistles of the New Testament are full of direct references, which prove beyond a doubt the typical character of its ordinances (Heb. 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11; 1 Pet. 2, &c.). Of these references, there are not less than forty, every one of which speaks of the things referred to as typical. But typical of what? Of Christ, clearly. But of Christ under what aspect? Not as connected with dispensations, as we see Him in the types of Genesis; not as teaching redemption, as we see Him in the earlier types of Exodus. Leviticus begins after redemption is known, and speaks of things connected with the access of a chosen people to God. Thus, as the following pages I trust will shew, though Christ in His work is the sum and substance of these types, it is Christ as discerned by one who already knows the certainty of redemption: it is Christ as seen by one, who, possessing peace with God and deliverance, is able to look with joy at all that Christ has so fully been for him. Christ as the priest, the offerer, the offering; Christ as meeting all that a saved sinner needs to approach to God; Christ for the believer, and all that Christ is to the believer, as keeping up his communion with God; this is what we have distinctly set forth in the varied types of Leviticus. Exodus gives us the blood of the lamb, saving Israel in the land of Egypt. Leviticus gives us the priest and the offerings, meeting Israel's need in their access to Jehovah.
But I do not enter into details here, as the Offerings will supply a sufficient proof. I pass on therefore to the types of Numbers, to mark what appears to me to be their distinctive character.
Numbers,—giving the history of Israel in the wilderness, their services, their trials, and their failures there,—brings out, I cannot doubt, repeated types of the Christian's experience and pilgrimage in the world as in a wilderness. Israel's history, as well as Israel's ordinances, was typical; their coming out of Egypt was typical; their sojourn in the wilderness was typical; their entering the land was typical; and the details of each of these portions of their history, the typical character of which in general is granted by all, will shew how perfectly the pictures are finished by the hand of One who well knew what He was describing.
In Numbers, then, we get types connected with the wilderness. Here the world is viewed not as the house of bondage, but as the place of trial, the scene of pilgrimage, through which Israel must pass to Canaan. (Note: In Exodus we get just the reverse, the world viewed, not as our place of pilgrimage, but as the kingdom of Pharaoh and the house of bondage.) Thus, in those chapters in Numbers which are most allied in their character to the types of Leviticus, (where the offering of Christ, as in “the red heifer,” is without doubt the great end of the representation,) (Note: Numbers 19. The red heifer was the only sin-offering in which the fat of the inwards was not burnt on the altar. But this is in exact keeping with the character of the book of Numbers, giving us the offering only in its relation to the wilderness. The fat on the altar would have been God's part. In Numbers, therefore, this is unnoticed.) we have the sacrifice, not as in Leviticus, shewing some aspect of Christ's offering as bearing on communion, but as further coming in with particular application to the trials of a walk of faith in the wilderness; and meeting the cases of individual experience, such as contact with evil, or any other defilement.
I speak the less on this subject, because the whole character of the book is so obvious, (Note: See St Paul's application of the history in 1 Cor. 10:1-11.) and to enter into the particulars would fill a volume. Suffice it to say, throughout we have the elect in the wilderness, learning there what man is, and what God is; what the ransomed people ought to be, and what they really are. We have the Levites,—I take one undoubted type from the fourth chapter,—the picture of the Church in service, with garments unspotted from pollution, passing onwards through the desert land; each day dependent of God for everything, and following the guidance of the fire and cloud, while they bear the vessels of the sanctuary, and care for them in the dreary waste. Those vessels all typified something of Christ. And the spiritual Levites have now to bear Him through the wilderness.
And so throughout, Numbers gives us the wilderness. The pillar of cloud preceding them (Chapter 9); the blowing of the silver trumpets, and the alarm in the camp (Chapter 10); the murmuring after the flesh-pots of Egypt (Chapter 11); and the shrinking through unbelief from going up to Canaan (Chapters 13, 14);—fit representation of God's chosen people shrinking backward from the trials of their heavenly calling;—the want of water in the wilderness, and the stony rock opened to supply that need (Chapter 20); the whoredom with the daughters of Moab (Chapter 23), and the discouragement because of the way (Chapter 21); what are all these but living pictures of the Christian pilgrim's experience as in the wilderness?
How different is Joshua from all this; experience again, I doubt not, but what different experience. The one teaching us our way in the wilderness, the other as already beyond Jordan in the land. Into this I fear some may find it more difficult to enter, because the reality which is represented is a thing unknown to them. Joshua teaches us, in type, the Church already with Christ in heavenly places, and but few saints apprehend this experience, or know what resurrection means. Thus the book of Joshua, if viewed typically, answers very nearly to the Epistle to the Ephesians. In either book we see the elect standing in the place of promise, but finding it still a place of conflict. As Paul says, “We are raised up, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 2:6): but that place is not yet rest; for, as he proceeds in the same Epistle, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers in heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12, ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις, the same as in Eph. 1:6).
The book of Joshua is just this. It describes to us Israel passing from the wilderness over Jordan into the land of Canaan. All these are emblems familiar to us. Jordan, as we all know, is the type of death, dividing the wilderness, this world, from the land of promise, heaven. Israel passes through Jordan without feeling its waters, and comes with Joshua into the promised land. When he passes Jordan, all Israel passes. And thus it was in Christ. The Church is dead with Him, buried with Him, risen with Him; but there is still a conflict, for the Canaanite will dwell in that land. And so it will be till the true Solomon comes. Oh, may He hasten His coming!
But let us take an example or two as illustrating this. In the fourth chapter we read of Israel crossing Jordan dryshod: in the fifth we read of their circumcision. As soon as they are over Jordan, so soon are they all called to be circumcised. Though the seed of Abraham, there had been no circumcision for Israel in the wilderness; but as soon as they come into the land, circumcision begins at once. Need I explain what this is, or shew how exactly it answers to “the eighth day” of the original institution? Circumcision was to be “on the eighth day” (Gen. 17:8; Phil. 3:5). To those at all familiar with the types, I need not say that “the eighth day” is always typical of resurrection. The eighth day, the day after the seventh or Sabbath, answers to “the first day of the week” on which Christ rose: it is however “the first day” in reference to seven having gone before. Seven days include the periods proper to the first creation. The eighth day, as it takes us beyond and out of these,—that is, beyond the limits of the old creation,—brings us in type into a new order of things and times, in a word, into the new creation or resurrection. With regard to circumcision, we are taught in Peter, that it represented “the putting away the filth of the flesh.” To do this was the great attempt of the whole Jewish dispensation, and that attempt ended in failure; for resurrection, the place beyond Jordan, was not yet occupied by Israel. But since Christ, the true Joshua, has passed through Jordan, and since all the Church is in and with Him,—and because, as members of His body, the Church is dead and risen with Him,—therefore it is called to be circumcised, and to put away the filth of the flesh. “If ye be risen with Christ ... put off anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy” (Col. 3:1, 3, 5, 8). True circumcision of the heart is only known and attained to in proportion as we know the power of the resurrection.
But to speak of other parts; how different throughout is the experience of the books of Numbers and Joshua. Not that in fact the two can really be separated, for in Christ the Church is apprehended for everything: but it is one thing to be apprehended of Him, and another to apprehend that for which we are apprehended (Phil. 3:12). One portion of experience is often more apprehended that another. Indeed, our experience is but the measure of our individual attainment, the extent to which we have proved the truth, the apprehension in our own souls of that which is already true for us in Christ. The work of Christ for us has brought His members into every blessing, and faith at once rests on this; but experience only apprehends that amount of this which is realized in our souls by the Holy Ghost.
But to return to the difference of Numbers and Joshua. There was no difficulty in possessing the wilderness; but Israel had to fight for every step in the land. Instead of lusting for flesh as in the wilderness, in the land, in the knowledge of resurrection, the temptation is quite of another sort. We have confidence in strength, as before Ai (Joshua 7); confidence in knowledge, as in the case of the Gibeonites (Joshua 9); abusing grace, as in the case of Achan; understanding how it gives victory, but not seeing God's claims in it. As saints grow in grace and in the knowledge of their place as even now risen, they have another class of trials to meet in addition to the trials of the wilderness, “the wrestling, not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers in heavenly places.” And this is in fact the book of Joshua.
Such is a very brief and imperfect sketch of the different character of some of the typical parts of Scripture. I feel how little what I have said will convey to one who has not studied it, the exceeding depth and fulness of my subject.
Does anyone say that these are but points of knowledge, and as such of comparatively little value? I grant that they are points of knowledge, but I answer, we grow in grace through knowledge (2 Pet. 1:2). And one reason of the weakness of the Church is the shallowness of her knowledge on these points. To shew the use of this knowledge is not my present purpose. Suffice it to say, that were the types of Genesis understood, we should not see such grievous mistakes arising from confounding the dispensations, and mingling the things and hopes of one covenant with the things and hopes of another. And so of the rest. Know more of Exodus, that is, of redemption; know more of Leviticus, that is, of the ground of access to God; know more of Numbers, the experience of the wilderness; and of Joshua, the experience as even now beyond Jordan; and then see if you have not something more to use in service for Him who redeemed and loved you.
That thus it may be with us indeed, let us pray that the Lord will keep us near to Himself, in abiding communion with Him. Amen.
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