Is It Valid to Use Old Testament Commands as Types?

A correspondant responded to the article on using Old Testament commands as types:
I guess it is fun to speculate, but you don’t teach this as doctrine, do you?

You can never be positive with types, but I believe what I wrote is true. Like anything else, everybody has to make up their own mind. What I said about Adam is demonstrably true. The link between that and the impurities of the Law is not definite, as types are seldom explained.

The part about Jesus in Hades is also demonstrable. He now has the keys of death and Hades (Rev 1:18). Before Christ’s resurrection, the Devil had them (Heb 2:14). Jesus went to Hades when He died (Acts 2:27). When He came out, He had all power in heaven and IN EARTH (Mt 28:18). He got the power of death and Hades, the souls of the righteous and title to the earth from the Devil when He spoiled the Devil of His armour and plundered the Devil’s goods (Lk 11:22, Mt 12:29, Mk 3:27)

What I have found in studying the scriptures is that if you take the Bible literally, it makes a whole lot more sense than the metaphysical mumbo jumbo that we sometimes hear. The point of this imperfect earth is straightforward–God is taking care of the problem of free will. He created the present earth as a solution for sin. He has accomplished that solution and is waiting now for the complete number of souls that He wants to harvest from this earth (Rev 6:10). They will be the firstfruits (Rev 14:4), the new “Adams”, of the world to come (Isa 60:22) as God repays them for the suffering He has imposed on them in carrying out His plan.

It is obvious that death was pronounced upon Adam, but as long as his descendants live, part of Adam lives. The curse of God (“dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return”) will not be satisfied until all of Adam is dead (Heb 9:27). The curse of God on Adam’s seed is why all in Adam die (I Cor 15:22). That is why our death is not propitiation for our sin and we can’t even offer an innocent baby in our stead. Otherwise, we would pay our debt to God when we experience the wages of sin (Rom 6:23).

Studying about parables and types is different from reasoning about the plan of salvation and from trying to understand symbols such as Rev 1:20. Doctrine is understood by reading the text and reasoning from it. We understand the Bible in same way we would understand Darwin’s Origin of the Species–we read the words and take them for what they mean. Symbols can only be understood when God explains them. Otherwise, we would not have a clue, and we would have the situation that brethren create when they read a passage of plain text and proclaim “It is figurative!”. We would basically be rewriting the Bible to suit ourselves. It is an awful way to treat scripture. It is founded upon unbelief.

Parables are indicated by a specific introductory phrase such as “And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables” (Mk 3:23). With these key introductory phrases, you know you have to interpret these stories. Their meaning is not their surface meaning. For example, I struggled a long time with the parables about the pearl of great price and the merchant seeking the goodly pearl. Why did Jesus tell the same story twice? It seemed pointless till somebody pointed out to me that that in one case the guy was just going about his business when he fell over the treasure. The second guy was making a diligent search and found it. Both of them recognized its value, but one was looking and the other was not. People find the kingdom of heaven in the same way. Some people are diligently looking for it. Others just fall over by accident. The Bible never explains that. You can see that it is true because it matches in every point, but you can’t insist that someone believes it. You put it out as an explanation for the parable and people can take it or leave it. God will not send you to hell for either one.

Types are the same way as parables, except God seldom says, “Here is a type”. He does in couple of places, but in general, He simply tells us that Israel, its law and its service were types of things of God. Like parables, you can draw lessons from types, but you cannot insist that you have to believe the explanation. The expositor has to draw the types from the literal history of what Israel did. The difference between types and symbols is that interpreting types does not destroy the literal meaning of the historical account. Taking Joseph to be a type of Christ who went into heaven to prepare a place for us does not discount the literal account of Joseph that God sent into Egypt to prepare a place for his brothers so that they would not die.

When brethren say “It is figurative”, they destroy the literal meaning of the text. With such an approach, the heavens no longer are literally rolled up as a scroll (Isa 34:4, Rev 6:14), but this is merely a “figure of speech” for the judgment of God. Such is an abhorrent approach to scripture. Those that employ such an approach take away from God’s word and add to God’s word. There is curse pronounced on such people (Rev 22:18).

When I teach something, I believe that it is true, or I wouldn’t say it. I am more confident of some things than I am of others. However, telling someone that New Jerusalem floats in the sky does not have the same consequences as telling someone they must be baptized for remission of sins. Knowing about New Jerusalem may give hope, but knowing about baptism gives access to everlasting life. Telling someone about New Jerusalem’s gates of pearl does not affect whether they go to heaven or not and does not require any action on their part. Baptism is a decision doctrine. It is something you must do. There are no similar consequences for believing or not believing in a city in the sky.

I am convinced that our unbelief has led us to discount as fables some literal things that God has planned because they seem too fantastic to believe. They are not our mundane experience. Therefore, they cannot be true. I don’t believe that. Look at what God has done already. Creating the universe was stupendous, and God says He is going to do it again. I believe Him. The new creation has continuity with the old such that we will feel right at home. Theologians have made our future existence into some metaphysical fog completely alien from the present experience, much like Hinduism or Zoroastrianism. That is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible is plain about what we can expect, if we are willing to accept it. Most are not, because the stars falling from the sky is just too much to believe, so we make up stories about it to suit ourselves. God is not pleased with such. The literal truth of what God has planned defies comprehension, but we owe it to honesty and to trust in God to give belief in it our best shot.

About James Johnson

Bible student for 60 years. Preacher of the gospel for over 40 years. Author of commentary on Revelation, All Power to the Lamb. Married with children. Worked in aerospace and computer engineering for over 40 years.
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