This article is a continuation of From Tradition to Reality.
The Passover – A Type and Picture of Christ
As mentioned previously, according the principle of typology, the Passover is a “picture” of the Messiah, Jesus. The lamb without spot or blemish that is required for the Passover in Exodus 12:5 prefigures Christ. Just as the lamb has to be without blemish, Jesus Christ, the real Lamb of God, was without sin. And just as God does not allow any bone of the Passover lamb to be broken (see Exodus 12:46), none of Christ’s bones were broken when He was crucified on the cross (see John 19:36). The Roman soldiers broke the legs of the other men who were crucified with Jesus, in order to hasten their death. However, when they approached Jesus, they realized He had already died and refrained from breaking His legs. This was in perfect fulfillment of what was written in Exodus 12 concerning the Passover lamb. Also, King David of Israel prophesied in Psalm 34:20, approximately one thousand years before Christ’s death, concerning the coming Christ: “He keeps all his bones; Not one of them is broken” (Psalm 34:20, 21 in Hebrew text).
Another instance of Christ’s fulfilling the Scriptures—one that leaves a deep impression on me—is the fact that the timing of Christ’s death fulfilled in exact detail the sacrifice of the Passover lamb. First, Jesus was crucified on the very day on which the Passover lamb was to be killed. In Exodus, God ordains the day on which the lamb is to be slaughtered unequivocally: “This month will be the beginning of months for you; it shall be the first of the months of the year to you. Speak to all the assembly of Israel, saying, On the tenth of this month each man shall take a lamb according to his father’s house, a lamb for a household… And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole congregation of the assembly of Israel shall kill it at twilight” (Exodus 12:2-3, 6). The historical record concerning Christ identifies this very day—the fourteenth day of the first month—as the day on which Christ was put to death (see John 18:28). Of all the days on which He could have been crucified, Jesus died on the day of Passover. Do you think that Christ dying on this day, the day of the Passover was a coincidence? The timing of His death along with the details mentioned, fulfilled the Scriptures concerning the Passover lamb in exact detail.
Another ordinance of the Passover is that the lamb has to be roasted. Likewise, while Jesus was being crucified, He was enduring the fire of God’s judgment on our behalf and in our place. Psalm 22 details some of His pain and suffering, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; it is melted within me. My strength is dried up like a shard, and my tongue is stuck to my jaws; They pierced my hands and feet. I can count all my bones, they look, they stare at me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots” (Psalm 22:14-15b, 16b -18 RcV, emphasis mine).
There are other aspects of the Passover that Christ fulfilled. We know, for example, that the blood of the Passover lamb had to be put on the outside doorpost. God commanded His people to do this so that when the angel of death came, all within the house would be safe. When God saw the blood, He would pass over the people in the house and judgment would not fall on them. Today, the fulfillment of the type of the Passover Lamb of God, Jesus, has come and shed His blood for us. When we accept His redemptive work, His blood will be applied to us; God will “pass over” us, and we will be free from eternal judgment and condemnation.
The Sacrifices (Kodashim) – A Type of Christ
Recently, I spoke to a fellow Jewish man, and he was quite intrigued with the matter of truths revealed in typology, yet he wanted more discussion concerning the matter of sacrifices. I found it surprising that there was a need to expound this matter to him in great detail, since this subject is critically related to our redemption and is clearly revealed in the Torah (Pentateuch). Since there may be others with questions regarding the sacrifices, it is important to spend some time on this topic.
From the beginning, God deeply impressed even the first man, Adam, with the need for sacrifices. God’s original desire was for Adam and Eve to eat the fruit of the Tree of Life, which would result in their receiving the eternal life of God (see Genesis 3:22). However, Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate fruit from the tree that was forbidden to them, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Afterwards, they realized they were naked and put on fig leaves to cover themselves. God then slew an animal (most likely a lamb) and clothed Adam and Eve with animal skins (see Gen. 3:21). Why would God do this? What was the significance of this act? Let us follow the account further.
The Lord’s act made a deep impression on Adam and Eve; because of the great lesson they learned, Adam and Eve related this matter to their children, Cain and Abel. Although they taught both children that God was pleased with animal sacrifices, Abel took this way but Cain did not. Abel offered an animal sacrifice to God, while Cain offered fruits and vegetables from the labor of his own hands. How did God react to their offerings? He reacted to Cain as He had reacted to Adam when Adam put on fig leaves, only perhaps more strongly because Cain knew better. It is written, “But for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. And Cain became very angry, and his countenance fell” (Gen. 4:5). However, with Abel’s offering, God was well pleased!
Why was God pleased with Abel’s offering? From God’s point of view, an animal, when sacrificed, takes on the sins of the person offering the sacrifice. The animal becomes a substitute for the person offering the sacrifice, so that the person can be free from that sin, along with the guilt and penalty it carries. Thus, the animal is slain in that person’s place! In this, we see that Abel followed God’s ordination regarding animal sacrifices and was considered righteous according to God’s way. In contrast, Cain tried to establish his own righteousness by his own effort. Today, how many millions of people are trying to do the same? Yet, according to God’s way, according to the way of satisfying God’s righteous requirement, we need to realize that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (Heb. 9:22b, emphasis mine).
Animal sacrifices continued to be used throughout the days of Moses and Aaron in Egypt, when the blood of the Passover lamb was placed on the doorposts. Then, after the children of Israel left Egypt and traveled in the wilderness for almost 40 years, we still see them offering sacrifices in the book of Leviticus.
Later, Solomon, the king of Israel who built the magnificent temple for God, still continued to offer sacrifices (see I Kings 8:63-64). All these sacrifices are pre-figures of the coming One, the Christ.
In summary, in the time of the Tanakh (the law and the prophets), the sacrifices that the Jewish priests offered only covered, or atoned for, the sins of the people. Today, since Christ is the reality of these offerings, only He can remove sins! As we know, today the temple in Jerusalem no longer stands. Consequently, there are currently no on-going sacrifices for sins, nor should there be! Why? Because Christ, the unique sacrifice, has already been offered for you, for me, and for the whole world, regardless of our religious background, race, color, language, or status. “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for those of the whole world” (I John 2:2).
Isaac – A Type of Christ
Another type of Christ is Isaac, the beloved son of Abraham. When going to Mount Moriah, Isaac carried the wood for the sacrifice on his back. In so doing, he is a type of Christ. This type was fulfilled when Jesus carried the wooden cross on His back to the place of His crucifixion. Also, Isaac walked to Mount Moriah on the very path that the Lord Jesus later walked on His way to be crucified. Jesus was crucified on Mount Moriah, at the very place where Abraham offered up Isaac to God. Also, Isaac was in essence “given back” to his father, Abraham, after the Angel of Jehovah intervened and prevented him from slaying his son. This type was fulfilled when Christ resurrected from the dead and ascended to His Father (see Genesis 22:10-12 and Hebrews 11:19).
Through this picture we can see Isaac as the type, and Christ as the fulfillment of the type. Both were their father’s beloved son (see Genesis 22:2; Matthew 3:16). Both took his father’s will as his own, both were obedient unto death (see Genesis 22:9-10; Luke 22:42), and neither opened up his mouth in protest (see Genesis 22:9-10; Acts 8:32; Isaiah 53:7-8). Moreover, Abraham received Isaac back as Christ was received back by His Father (see Genesis 22:12; Philippians 2:9). In both cases we observe a substitute: a ram in place of Isaac, and Christ in place of us (see Genesis 22:13; Isaiah 53:6-7). Although we all deserve to die for our sins, Christ in His love took our place (see 1 Peter 3:18).
Jonah – A Type of Christ
The story of Jonah and the great fish is also a type. Jonah was in the great fish for three days and three nights (Jonah 2:1). This typifies Christ, who was in the heart of the earth after His death for the same period of time that Jonah was in the great fish. Jesus Himself said as much: “For just as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man [Jesus] be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights” (Matthew 12:40). Thus, Jonah typifies Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.
The Temple, the House of God – A Type of Christ
Let us now look at another very important type, that of the temple, the House of God. In order to understand this critical point of revelation, we need to be reminded that God provides pictures or types first, and then follows with the reality. This principle is evident when we consider the matter of the dwelling place of God.
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all lived in tents. As sojourners Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob along with the children of Israel all followed God from one place to another. Their tents were a miniature of God’s dwelling with men; we remember this by setting up booths, or tents, in our yards for Succoth.
Later, Moses received the revelation on the mountain regarding God’s dwelling place. The tabernacle in the wilderness was built on the basis of this revelation. Then, approximately 500 years later, Solomon built a more permanent structure, the temple in Jerusalem. What were the tabernacle and the temple? They were the very dwelling place of God! God actually lived first in the tabernacle, then in the temple. Specifically, He lived in the most holy place of each, which was called the Holy of Holies.
Do you think, however, that God could be satisfied to live in a physical tent, tabernacle, or temple? Even during the same time period, (approximately 750 BC), that the temple stood in Jerusalem, Isaiah wrote, “The Heaven is my throne and the earth a footstool for my feet. Where then is the house that you will build for Me, and where is the place of My rest? But to this kind of man will I look, to him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word”(Isaiah 66:1,2b). God cannot have permanent rest in a physical building.
While the Lord was on the earth, a very interesting conversation occurred between Himself and some Jewish people at the temple. They asked Him for a sign that would demonstrate who He was. “Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then the Jews said, This temple was built in forty-six years, and You will raise it up in three days? But He spoke of the temple of His body (John 2:19-21).” At this point, there occurred a transition from types and pictures to the reality, who was Jesus, standing in their midst as the real temple. God dwelt in Jesus Christ! He was the dwelling place of God standing in front of them. The Lord Jesus “tabernacled” among men (see John 1:14).
Moreover, those who receive the forgiveness of sins and receive the indwelling Spirit of God can also be the dwelling place of God. God desires to dwell in us! Did you ever consider that God desires to live in you, to make His home in your heart? I Corinthians 6:19 states, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” Other similar verses are Ephesians 2:19b, “You are members of the household of God” and Ephesians 2:22, “In whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit.” Man’s human spirit is the very place that God created for His dwelling. When we truly become God’s dwelling place, He finds His rest in us, and we find our rest in Him!
Continue reading From Tradition to Reality – Part 3.