This is perhaps a good point at which to include three forms, kinds, or applications of typology; the tabernacle, for example, is obviously a picture of Christ. At the same time, it certainly is an apt picture of the three-fold nature of man (body, soul, spirit), which in turn reflects the trinitarian nature of God. Isaac is one of many Old Testament persons who pre-figured Christ. At the same time he typifies some aspects of the New Testament believer and his passive obedience to God; he also typifies the “self” (good enough; not something bad, any more than our Lord’s “self”-will) which has to be sacrificed (Rms 12:1) as certainly as Ishmael, symbolizing the believer’s old nature which has to be expelled. (Ishmael is at the same time a symbol of unbelieving man. All the while, of course, countless sermons can be and have been preached about Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, et al from such purely historical perspectives as parental responsibilities versus favoritism, etc. Joseph especially has “suffered” from such “Bible-story” treatment versus his reel role in Scripture (and history) as Israel’s redeemer and a type of the Redeemer himself.) (For the following, confer Andrew Jukes: Types in Genesis, p. xxviii
- Inward application; what we might call the “spiritual” significance; apart from the historical story, Adam on this score is the “spiritual” father of the race, for ill. (Rms 5)
- Outward (Jukes calls this allegoric.) Adam symbolizes the “old man” in the unregenerate (who is nothing more) and the same in the Christian, which has to die. (Rms 6)
- “Dispensational”, future, anagogic, what we usually think of as “typological”; in Adam’s case, of course, he typifies (despite 1 and 2, above) the Lord Jesus (I Cor. 15).
It is obvious from these examples, a preacher can never “do justice” to Adam from a purely historical point of view (as preoccupies so many Bible students and critics) or Abraham, Moses, etc. apart from their typological significance. The “moralizing” approach simply holds up Enoch for our example of piety; systematic theology struggles with (or ignores) the question of where he went, before Christ died for sin. Typology sees in Enoch a picture of the “translation” of the living believers at end of world.
Similarly, in addition to all its wonder-working, and as a picture of it, Christ’s crucifixion is a symbol, a type of our own. The New Testament uses the term “cross” as often in reference to the one you and I must die upon, than it does the historical one of Calvary. (More of this, later, under the study of the Lord’s Supper, in which we remember our death with Christ as certainly as the Lord’s, at least we ought to.)
As regards the resurrection of our Lord, it was a sign of ours. But when we say that, are we thinking of our resurrection to new life at regeneration? That the new creation began on Easter morning (and hence Sunday, the first day of the week was chosen for that history-changing, “eternity” beginning event,) just as the first creation began on Sunday? (More about this later under baptism.) Limiting our resurrection (on account of Jesus’) to our future one, after the death of our physical bodies, how much attention is paid to the fact that the bodies, manifestations that Jesus made of himself on Easter day and afterward, were not his glorified body, but types, signs? Easter sermons expatiate on the fact that Jesus passed through closed doors after Easter (forgetting he ate and drank with them as he had done before, and that he walked on water before Easter). Are we to assume that his glorified body has scars in hands and side, and if so, which ones of ours will we retain in glory?