TYPES OF CHRIST IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2001 James Melough
chapter 15 records the ritual by which God guaranteed Abraham possession of
Canaan, and it is suggested that the reader review that chapter before
studying this article which discusses that ritual as a type of the death and
resurrection of Christ
"And He said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of
three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtle dove, and a young
response to Abraham’s question was to provide a symbolic revelation of how He
would fulfill His promises, not only to Abraham, but to every believer.
Chaldean custom for the confirmation of a covenant or contract was for the
covenanting parties to slay an animal, split it, and then walk between the two
halves. The thought behind the custom seems to have been that the fate of the
slain animal should be also the fate of the one who would break the covenant
or contract. Since Abraham was from Chaldea, and therefore, familiar with the
custom, God condescended to employ a contract ritual familiar to His servant,
one that would assure him of the immutability of the Divine promise. (For
another reference to this custom, see Jer 34:18-19).
was doing much more than employing a Chaldean custom. He was demonstrating
symbolically that His promises, not just to Abraham, but to all who are of the
family of faith, would be made good through the finished work of the Lord
Jesus Christ, for it is He Who is portrayed in the animals and birds.
bullock and the heifer both speak of Christ as the willing Servant of God and
man, the bullock portraying Him serving by the activity of His Own will; the
heifer portraying Him serving in total submission to the Father's will.
animal frequently used for the Sin offering, the goat represents Christ as the
believer's Sin offering; and its being a female emphasizes the submission of
His Own will to that of the Father, which led Him to submit to being made sin
so that we might be made righteous.
was the animal used in connection with the consecration of the priests,
(Exodus chapter 29), and it speaks of Christ as the One Who was completely
consecrated to God. Its being a male points to that activity of His will
which was totally consecrated to doing the Father's will, and which would
permit nothing to hinder His pursuit of that objective.
turtle dove and pigeon, being creatures of the air, portray Christ as the One
Who was heavenly. He never ceased to be God the Son even while He walked the
earth as Son of man.
requirement that the animals be three years old may have been designed to
point to the approximate three decades of His public ministry; but it is more
likely that it was meant to foreshadow His resurrection, since three is the
number of resurrection.
"And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each
piece one against another: but the birds divided he not."
are at least three spiritual lessons connected with the splitting of the
animals. First, the animals must die, reminding us that before men could
receive eternal life, Christ must die.
the exposure of the inward parts is the symbolic declaration of the truth that
God's eye beheld the inward life of Christ, and saw in His thoughts and
motives the same sinless perfection that met the eye of man in His outward
third, the placing of the halves in two rows portrays the fact that the
sacrifice of Christ was for God as well as man. His death glorified the
Father, and met all the claims of His holiness. For man, His death made full
atonement for sin, so that the believer stands before God having imputed to
him all the righteousness of Christ.
death of the animals is implied in the words, "He divided them in the midst."
The animals represent Christ as man, and it was only by becoming man that He
could die. The birds, however, represent Him as the heavenly One, God the
Son; and though it is clear that they also died, their death is not directly
stated, and as has been noted already, the silences of Scripture have as much
to teach us as its direct statements. In this case, the lesson of the
undivided birds is that the One Who took man's guilty place was none other
than God the Son, Who as such, could not die. The whole bird placed
with each row of split animal carcasses, declares that it was God the Son Who
acted for God as well as for man, laying down His life, not because death had
a claim upon Him, but submitting voluntarily to death so that man might be
delivered from death's power.
fact that the birds were not opened would remind us that in the life and death
of Christ there was that which the eye of man didn't see, for the simple
reason that there is in His sacrifice that which is beyond man's ability to
comprehend. Only God could fully understand all that is involved in Christ's
incarnation, death, and resurrection.
being three of the animals, each one three years old, points to the truth that
though the One they symbolized would die, He would also rise again. Since the
death of the birds isn't directly stated, though they did die, it is
unnecessary to indicate resurrection in their case.
idea of resurrection, however, goes beyond application to Christ: it declares
that the inheritance for Abraham and for every believer will be entered into
only by resurrection. It is only as we know ourselves crucified to the world
by the cross of Christ that we become heirs and joint heirs with Him. The
lesson God would teach is that those who make themselves joint heirs with
Christ are those who stand on resurrection ground in association with a
crucified and resurrected Savior.
"And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abraham: and, lo, an
horror of great darkness fell upon him."
"And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a
smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces."
when the covenant was sealed was a day of darkness and a smoking furnace,
reminding us that when the better new covenant of grace was sealed, it
was, for Christ, a day of darkness and a smoking furnace: not just the literal
darkness from the sixth to the ninth hour, but the awful spiritual darkness
that enveloped his soul like a shroud when the light of the Father's face was
hidden from Him, causing Him to utter that desolate cry of anguish, “My God,
my God, why has thou forsaken me?” Mt 27:46. The type of the smoking furnace
(symbol of suffering) of Abraham's dream had its fulfillment also at Calvary.
There the Lord endured the outpouring of Divine wrath against sin, and endured
an agony only faintly portrayed in the words of the prophet, "... my bones are
burned as an hearth," Ps 102:3.
burning lamp had also its part at Calvary, for it is not only the symbol of
God, but also of His Word; and every word must be fulfilled if sinners were to
be saved. Everything said and done by Christ was to fulfill what was written
in the Scriptures, even down to the words spoken just before He dismissed His
spirit, "After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that
the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst," Jn 19:28.