TYPES OF CHRIST IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2000 James Melough
Genesis chapter 15, the Lord, responding to Abraham’s question as to how the divine
promises would be fulfilled, replied, “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 pigeon.” In this response God
was using a Chaldean covenant form familiar to Abraham, who had come from Chaldea.
The custom was that the covenanting parties took a calf, split it in two, and
stood between the two halves while they declared the terms of the covenant or
contract, thus binding themselves by those terms just as firmly as do those who enter
into a legal agreement today. In this
ritual the covenanting parties were calling upon their gods to inflict upon the
violator the fate of the slain calf.
God was going far beyond binding Himself by the terms of an earthly contract.
He was showing Abraham that all the promised blessings were being guaranteed
by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, for it is He Who is
represented by the five creatures mentioned.
heifer (a young cow that has not produced a calf) is a biblical symbol of Christ as
the willing Servant of God and man, that service extending all the way to death, even
the death of the cross. As the male
animal portrays the activity of Christ’s will in carrying out the will of the
Father, the female portrays the Lord’s will in perfect submission to the Father’s
will, as expressed, for example, in His prayer in Gethsemane, “Father, if thou be
willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done,” Lk
animal’s virginity represents the moral purity of Christ.
is the biblical number of resurrection, so that the ages of the animals are the
symbolic revelation of the truth that the Lord, after dying to make atonement for our
sins, would rise again as the mighty Conqueror of death.
goat, the animal most frequently used for the sin offering, portrays Christ made sin
for us, as it is written in 2 Cor 5:21, “For he (God) hath made him (Christ) who
knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in
him.” Its being a three-year old
female has the same spiritual significance as in the case of the heifer.
three-year old ram (a male), the leader of the flock, portrays Christ exercising His
Own will to overcome every obstacle that Satan or men might use to prevent Him
carrying out His Father’s will. It
points to Him also as the Leader of men, God’s anointed, King of kings, and Lord of
lords, the One to Whom every knee will yet bow.
turtle-dove and the pigeon, creatures of heaven, represent Him as the heavenly One
Who left the glory of heaven and came to earth as Man yet without ceasing to be also
they were all slain, the lesson being taught is that all the blessings promised to
Abraham, and to every believer, are guaranteed by the death and resurrection of the
Lord Jesus Christ.
a more detailed exposition of these verses, please see the comments on Genesis
chapter 15 in BIBLE STUDIES