TYPES OF CHRIST IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2000 James Melough
At first glance it may not
be apparent that Abel is a type of Christ, but closer examination of the Scriptural
record makes it clear that he is.
First, he was a secondborn,
Cain being the first man born into this world; and as to His humanity, the
Lord Jesus Christ was also a secondborn, for in Ex 4:22 it is written, “Thus saith
the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn.”
Christ, as Son of Man came into the world after Israel the firstborn.
(This doesn’t contradict what is written in Col 1:15-18, “Who (Christ) is
the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature ... and he is the
head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that
in all things he might have the preeminence”).
In connection with His being
a second born, it is instructive to note that a principle to be clearly traced
throughout Scripture is that the firstborn is always rejected in favor of the
secondborn whom God uses as the channel of blessing, e.g., Adam, the first man, was
rejected in favor of Christ the second Man, see 1 Cor 15:47; Cain was rejected in
favor of Abel; Ishmael, in favor of Isaac; Esau, in favor of Jacob-Israel; Reuben, in
favor of Joseph; Manasseh, in favor of Ephraim; Saul, Israel’s first king, in favor
of David, etc. The lesson being taught
in this is that the firstborn always represents what we are by natural birth; the
secondborn, what we become by the new birth, hence the imperative announced by the
Lord in Jn 3:3-7, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God....
Ye must be born again.” The principle
is stated explicitly in Heb 10:9, “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.
He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.”
Abel was a shepherd, “Cain
was a tiller of the ground,” Ge 4:3. Christ,
the second Man, is the good Shepherd Who gave his life for the sheep; Adam, the first
man, was “of the earth, earthy: the second man (Christ) is the Lord from heaven,”
1 Cor 15:47.
Cain brought an offering of
the fruit of the ground (which God had cursed Ge 3:17, so that his offering was also
cursed), but Abel brought a lamb, the tacit acknowledgment that he was a sinner whose
sin could be atoned for only through the death of an innocent substitute, his lamb
being another type of Christ. (Abel’s
being a sinner confirms that he is a type of Christ.
He portrays the Lord as described in 2 Cor 5:21, “He (God) hath Him (Christ)
Who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in
“... and it came to pass,
when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew
him,” Ge 4:8. Cain is not only a type
of the natural man, but also of the apostate nation of Israel who fulfilled the type
when they slew Christ.
Abel’s murder is the
first, but by no means the last attempt of Satan to cut off the godly line through
which Christ would eventually come, the failure of his attempt being demonstrated in
that God simply replaced the slain Abel with Seth, in whom He bids us see another
typological picture: Christ in resurrection. Note
that when Cain was born Eve said, “I have gotten a man from the Lord,” Ge 4:1,
but when Seth was born, she said, “God hath appointed me another seed
instead of Abel,” Ge 4:25. His being
described as a “seed” marks him as a link in that line which would eventually
produce Christ, the One referred to in Ge 3:15, where God, addressing Satan, said,
“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her
seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
That type was fulfilled at Calvary where the bruised heel points to Christ’s
sufferings, but where the bruised head points to Satan’s having received a mortal
wound, his present activity being that of a dying creature.