Category Archives: Types and Shadows

A series of posts based on my study of the unit titled “Types and Shadows” from the OBC.

The Feast of Tabernacles

This is a post in a series of posts titled Types and Shadows. You may want to start at the FIRST post of the series, or see the PREVIOUS post, before reading this one.

This post in this series-within-a-series is over the last major festival in the Jewish religious year – The Feast of Tabernacles. As we discuss in the first post, the Feast of Tabernacles was actually made up of 3 sub-feasts spread out over many days. These include:

The Feast of Trumpets (see Leviticus 23:23-25; Numbers 29:1-6)

The Feast of Trumpets was actually just one day, the first day of the seventh month of the Jewish religious calendar. It was a special Sabbath, where the Israelites were not allowed to do any work. They would come together in a “sacred assembly”, where a special burnt offering would be made, and trumpets would be sounded as a call to prepare for the upcoming Day of Atonement.  For those who might have heard of it before, this is the day known as Rosh Hashanah.

In Scripture, the sounding of trumpets represented the voice of prophets, calling out the Word of the Lord. In the case of the Feast of Trumpets, the trumpet blasts were used to call Israel to awaken, to repent, and to prepare for the Day of Atonement. In fact, the 10 days between this day and the Day of Atonement were often called “the ten days of awe,” and were intended for the Israelites to spend time in self-inspection and repentance.

The Day of Atonement (see Leviticus 23:26-32; Leviticus 16)

On the tenth day of the month the Israelites held their most holy day of the year – the Day of Atonement (also known as Yom Kippur). It was also a special Sabbath, and the Israelites were not allowed to work, but beyond that, they were also required to fast (“deny themselves”). On this day, special burnt offerings were made for the people, and even more intense rituals were carried out. For instance, part of the ceremony involved 2 goats. The priest would cast lots for the goats, and one goat would be sacrificed, while the other would be released into the wilderness. Prior to it’s release, the High Priest would lay his hands on the second goat – called the scapegoat, or Azezel (meaning “an entire removal”) – effectively transferring the sin of the nation of Israel to it. When the goat was released, it symbolized the total removal of sin from the nation. After this part of the ceremony, the High Priest would continue by cleansing the sanctuary by the sprinkling of blood, and would enter the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle (or later, the Temple). This was the only day of the year that anyone was allowed to enter this inner part, as God promised that any other time of the year, the person would die.

The Feast of Tabernacles (see Leviticus 23:33-44; Deuteronomy 16:13-17; Numbers 29:12-35)

During this time of year, the nation of Israel would begin it’s fruit harvest, reaping grapes and olives (except on the regular and special sabbath days). On the 15th day of the month, the actual Feast of Tabernacles would begin, as a celebration of the “gathering of the produce of [their] threshing floor and winepress.” The festival lasted 7 days, with the first day being a special Sabbath. No work was performed that day, and a “sacred assembly” came together make burnt offerings and to present the “choice fruit” before the Lord. For 7 days, the whole nation would live in booths (small tabernacles or tents), which is why the feast is also sometimes called the Feast of Booths.  On the last day, the day after the 7 day festival, another special Sabbath was held and no work was to be done.

New Testament Application

The Feast of Trumpets served as a heralding of the judgment of God. One source I read said,

The massive blowing of the shofar (trumpet) on the first day of the seventh month was understood by the Jews as the beginning of their trial before the heavenly court where books would be opened and the destiny of each individual would be decided. The trial lasted ten days until the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) when God would dispose of their sins in a permanent way.

In this perspective, it’s not hard to see the parallel between the trumpets sounding here and the trumpets mentioned in the book of Revelation 8. Here, in the last days, trumpets also sound as a heralding of the judgments of God. The final judgment is described in Revelation 11:18:

The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great—and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”

Interestingly, just like during this Feast, where the Day of Atonement followed the judgment of God, similar events are described in the end times. Right after describing the final trumpet judgment in Revelation 11, it says “Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm.”  Just as the Israelites had their sin removed on the Day of Atonement (the day the High Priest entered the Most Holy Place in the presence of the ark of the conventant), we too have had our sins removed by the sacrifice of Christ.

Finally, the Feast of Tabernacles commemorated for the nation of Israel how they lived in booths (tents) in the wilderness, and how God dwelt with them in the Tabernacle of Moses. It also reminds us of how God dwells with us through Jesus (“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. – John 1:14), and through the Holy Spirit within us.  Also, just as the Feast of Tabernacles was to be a time of joy, so shall we be joyful in the New Heaven, after the judgments and atonement has been realized at the end of the age.

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The Feast of Weeks

This is a post in a series of posts titled Types and Shadows. You may want to start at the FIRST post of the series, or see the PREVIOUS post, before reading this one.

In the past couple of posts, we’ve been looking at the Feasts of Israel and the Biblical typology that they represent. Yesterday we took a closer look at the Passover feast – today we are going to look at the Feast of Weeks.

Just as the Passover festival served as a commemoration of the Jewish exodus from Egypt, the Feast of Weeks served as a reminder of another important event that occurred not too long after that.  Exodus 19 describes the arrival of the Israelites at Mount Sinai:

In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on the very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai. After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

God then commanded the Israelites to celebrate this event with the Feast of Weeks (see Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10, 16).

As we talked about in the first post in this mini-series over the feasts, the Feast of Weeks got its name from the fact that it was celebrated 7 weeks after the waving of the Sheaf of Firstfruits, during the third month on the Jewish calendar. The day after these 7 weeks (the 50th day) was also known as Pentecost (which is the Greek word for fifty). Many Christians are familiar with Pentecost and the events that occurred on that day after Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension to Heaven.  That story is found in Acts 2, where we find the 120 Christ-followers were all together in one place, when “suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit…” (v. 2-4).  It was here that God released His Spirit and placed it inside the believers at that time, just like He does today when we confess Christ as our savior and are converted.

So how does the arrival of the Israelites at Sinai, which is celebrated by the Feast of Weeks, relate to the giving of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2? My lesson pointed out 3 ways that God revealed Himself at Mount Sinai, and explained how the day of Pentecost in the New Testament paralleled that:

The Power of God

Exodus 19:16-19 describes God’s power being displayed at Sinai:

On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder.

In much the same way, as He released His Holy Spirit on the believers at Pentecost, there was wind, fire, shaking, and miraculous signs (like new languages being spoken).

The Law of Moses

It was here at Sinai that God gave the Law to Moses, writing His holy standard in His own finger on tablets of stone. At Pentecost, the Spirit of God entered the hearts of the believers, and God wrote His only standard on the tablets of their hearts.

An interesting parallel that my lesson pointed out was the number of those affected by the giving of this Law in each situation. In the giving of the Law at Sinai the people were held to a high standard, so that in Exodus 32, when Moses came down the mountain and found them running wild and worshiping the golden calf, he ordered the Levites to “go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.” (v. 27)  The number that died that day was about 3000.  At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit went back and forth through those who were near, and as Peter preached, “those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” (Acts 2:41)

The apostle Paul discusses this Biblical type in 2 Corinthians 3, where he says

Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! (v. 7-9)

The Pattern of the Tabernacle

As we discussed in a previous post, the Lord gave the Israelites the instructions for building the Tabernacle of Moses along with the Law at Sinai. We concluded that the purpose of the Tabernacle was to provide a dwelling for God to be with His people.  At Pentecost, we see the birth of the Church, and as we discussed previously, this is now where God dwells, inside the hearts of His people by His Spirit.

In the end, the Feast of Weeks was a harvest festival just like the feast of Passover. Whereas Passover was celebrated at the harvest of barley, Pentecost was celebrated at the harvest of wheat. “And in this harvest,” my lesson pointed out, “we see a wonderful picture of the tremendous ingathering of redeemed lives that took place with the birth of the Church. Just as in the Sheaf of Firstfruits, [where] the firstfruits of the barley harvest was waved before the Lord, so on the…Day of Pentecost, the firstfruits of the wheat harvest was waved before the Lord. So the Church of Pentecost became a wave offering of firstfruits, representing the massive harvest of souls that was to come.”

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The Feast of Passover

This is a post in a series of posts titled Types and Shadows. You may want to start at the FIRST post of the series, or see the PREVIOUS post, before reading this one.

Yesterday I opened up this series-within-a-series by talking about the fact that God instituted 3 major festivals in the life of the nation of Israel. The first of these festivals was that of Passover. Today’s post attempts to look at what Passover was all about and how the feast itself relates to New Testament figures or events.

Deuteronomy 16 outlines exactly what this feast entails and also discusses why God wanted the Israelites to participate:

 Observe the month of Abib and celebrate the Passover of the LORD your God, because in the month of Abib he brought you out of Egypt by night. Sacrifice as the Passover to the LORD your God an animal from your flock or herd at the place the LORD will choose as a dwelling for his Name. Do not eat it with bread made with yeast, but for seven days eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, because you left Egypt in haste—so that all the days of your life you may remember the time of your departure from Egypt. Let no yeast be found in your possession in all your land for seven days. Do not let any of the meat you sacrifice on the evening of the first day remain until morning.You must not sacrifice the Passover in any town the LORD your God gives you except in the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name. There you must sacrifice the Passover in the evening, when the sun goes down, on the anniversaryof your departure from Egypt. Roast it and eat it at the place the LORD your God will choose. Then in the morning return to your tents.For six days eat unleavened bread and on the seventh day hold an assembly to the LORD your God and do no work. (v. 1-8)

As you can see, the purpose of the Feast in the lives of the Israelites at that time was to celebrate their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. When they were still in Egypt, the Lord had Moses go before Pharaoh and demand to release the Jewish people. When Pharaoh refused, God judged the Egyptians by sending several terrible plagues, the last of which was to send the angel of death over the land to kill the firstborn of every living thing. The Jews were protected from this judgment by following specific instructions:

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lambfor his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. Do not eat the meat raw or cooked in water, but roast it over the fire—head, legs and inner parts. Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’s Passover. On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn—both men and animals—and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. (Exodus 12:1-13)

As you can see, the Passover festival aligned almost exactly with the actual Passover that occurred as the Jews left Egypt. The order of events in the feast went like this (in the first month of the year):

Day 10 – Choose an animal for sacrifice
Day 14 – Animal is killed; Passover meal is eaten
Day 15 – Feast of Unleavened Bread begins (High Sabbath – do no work)
Day 17 – Sheaf of Firstfruits waved before the Lord
Day 21 – The feast ends (another High Sabbath – do no work)

Beyond just the major sacrifice made on the day of Passover, the feast included the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Sheaf of Firstfruits. The Feast of Unleavened Bread started on the 15th day, and lasted a full week. The Jews were commanded to bake bread without yeast (leaven), which served as a reminder of the quick departure they had to make out of Egypt (see Exodus 12:39). The first and last days of this week were special sabbaths, where no work was allowed. The Sheaf of Firstfruits was a separate celebration inside of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Passover marked the beginning of the barley harvest, and this celebration required the Jews to choose one sheaf of their harvest prior to reaping, and to lift it before God as a “wave-offering.”

The Passover, including the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Sheaf of Firstfruits, served as a beautiful picture of deliverance for the Jewish people, but interestingly, it serves as an even more beautiful picture of deliverance for us today. The Bible is clear that the Passover served as a rich prophetic picture of the sacrifice of Jesus upon the Cross (“Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” 1 Corinthians 5:7). Incredibly, Jesus was crucified on the literal day of Passover! As my lesson put it, “At the precise time that families all over Israel were slaying their Passover lamb, Jesus died on the Cross!”  If you look closely at the order of events in the last week of Jesus’ life, prior to His crucifixion, you’ll see several similarities (keep in mind that the Jewish day went from evening to evening):

Day 10 (Sunday) – Jesus enters Jerusalem on the back of a donkey (Palm Sunday)
Day 14 (Wednesday evening) – The Last Supper; Day 14 (Thursday) – Jesus is crucified
Day 15 (Friday) – High Sabbath
Day 17 (Sunday) – Jesus rises from the grave!

It’s not hard to see the similarities here. Jesus, our Passover lamb, entered Jerusalem on the same day that the Jews chose their Passover lambs. Jesus models the Passover meal with his disciples on the day of Passover, and is then killed on that same day. Again, recall that this is possible because the Jewish day starts the night before at sunset. Remember in the story of Jesus’ death, they were in a hurry to get him taken off the cross because the next day was the sabbath. This has caused a lot of people to think that He was killed on a Friday (since Saturday is the normal Jewish sabbath day) – and is probably what caused Good Friday to come about – but Jesus was actually killed on Thursday, the 14th day of the month. The sabbath they were worried about was not the normal sabbath, but the special sabbath that started on day 15, as prescribed by God as a part of the Passover feast.

Another interesting parallel between Jesus and this festival is the Sheaf of Firstfruits and Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus rose from the grave on the 17th day, the same day the Jews waved the Sheaf of Firstfruits before God. Paul wrote about this parallel in 1 Corinthians 15:

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.

As my lesson put it, “What an incredible picture of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ! And most incredible of all is how God timed everything. At the precise moment the high priest was standing in the court of the Temple, waving the sheaf of firstfruits before the Lord, this type was being fulfilled in Christ! The Lord Jesus was being raised from the dead!”

To conclude, the typology of the Passover feast as a whole and Jesus’ death and resurrection is rich, to say the least. In fact, there is much more that we could look at (for instance, the relationship of the absence of yeast in the unleavened bread to sin), but for the sake of keeping this below 2000 words, I’ll stop here.  In the end, though, what a great catalyst for our faith to see how God was working toward the fulfillment of all things in Christ when He put into place this festival in the life of the Jewish people many, many years beforehand. I’d like to leave you with a quote from my lesson that sums everything up quite nicely:

The Passover tradition was established as a point of remembrance for the people of Israel – that they would remember the great deliverance that took place in the original Passover of Exodus. When Jesus instituted the Communion, he said: “…do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). A new Passover celebration had been established – a new remembrance meal for a new deliverance. Christ was declaring that the Passover had found its complete fulfillment in him!

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The Feasts of Israel

This is a post in a series of posts titled Types and Shadows. You may want to start at the FIRST post of the series, or see the PREVIOUS post, before reading this one.

Today we will continue to look at Old Testament types, shadows, and illustrations by beginning to discuss the feasts/festivals celebrated by the nation of Israel. Because there is so much to talk about here (my lesson today was almost double the length of my usual lessons!), I’m going to break these up into separate posts for each major feast. Today, in this post, I’ll introduce the feasts and discuss how they fit in Israel’s history and on their calendar.  Tomorrow we’ll look at Passover, including the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Sheaf of Firstfruits. Then the following post will discuss the Feast of Weeks and Pentecost.  The final post in this little series-within-a-series will take a look at the Feast of Tabernacles, including the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the actual Feast of Tabernacles.

Before you can gain an understanding of how the Feasts of Israel foreshadowed and illustrate New Testament events, you have to understand how the feasts were structured and the role they played in the history of the nation.  The structure of the feasts themselves is not hard to understand – there were truly 3 major feasts that the people of Israel participated in, with some minor sub-feasts (so to speak) being a part of the major ones. These feasts were:

  1. The Feast of Passover
    The Passover feast was really made up of 3 feasts – Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Sheaf of Firstfruits.
  2. The Feast of Weeks
    The Feast of Weeks stood on it’s own, and was also called Pentecost.
  3. The Feast of Tabernacles
    The Feast of Tabernacles was made up of 3 feasts – the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles itself. This feast is also known as the Feast of Booths.

The formal worship of the nation of Israel revolved around these 3 major festivals. When the Israelites left the slavery of Egypt, the Lord gave them a new calendar. He then prescribed the feasts and set every detail in place in relation to this new calendar (see Leviticus 23). Check out the image below of the Jewish Calendar with the festivals listed (with Hanukkah added…).

As you can see, Passover occurred in the first month, actually starting on the 14th day of that month. We’ll see in tomorrow’s post that preparation for this feast began a few days prior to that.  The Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost, fell in the third month. God told the people, “From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the LORD” (Leviticus 23:15-16).  The word Pentecost means “fifty” in Greek, so it’s easy to see where it got this name.  The final feast we’ll look at is the feast of Tabernacles, which was celebrated in the 7th month.

Click HERE to see the next post in this series –>

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The Gates of Jerusalem

This is a post in a series of posts titled Types and Shadows. You may want to start at the FIRST post of the series, or see the PREVIOUS post, before reading this one.

In the previous post in this series, we looked at the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, as directed by the prophet Ezra and others.  Around this same time in history, the city of Jerusalem was ruins. The Babylonians had laid siege to the city when they attacked, and when they made their way in, they destroyed more than just the Temple. They also had demolished much of the city’s walls and gates. The man put in charge of rebuilding these walls and gates was none other than Nehemiah.

My lesson attempted to link the rebuilding of these gates and the city wall as a type of the restoration occurring today in God’s Church (which began with the Reformation). Since, as I mentioned before, I want to be sure to stick to using Scripture to interpret Scripture, I’m afraid I can’t agree that this Old Testament event is a Biblical type of a New Testament event. What we can use this lesson for is a very good illustration.  I’ve included the image below (borrowed from here) as a reference, so you will be able to see what I’m talking about as I discuss each gate in the city wall – click the image to view it full size.

The Levels Of Jerusalem

When the Bible talks about the city of Jerusalem, it can actually be talking about 1 of 3 different cities. These 3 levels that the “City of God” is described as are:

  1. The Natural Jerusalem – This is the natural, earthly city, which in some ways models the heavenly Jerusalem. (Perhaps structurally or functionally, more than righteously)
  2. The Heavenly Jerusalem – This is the original City, a spiritual location (but just as real), of which we become citizens at the point of our salvation.
  3. The New Jerusalem – In the future, God will re-create the heavens and the earth, and this new city will be at the center of everything.

These cities are compared and contrasted throughout the Bible. Often, the spiritual condition of the people in the natural Jerusalem is described by God using spiritual illustrations.  The walls and gates of the city seem to be especially important in this spiritual illustrations.  For example, in Ezekiel 13, God condemns false prophets by saying “You have not gone up to the breaks in the wall to repair it for the house of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the day of the LORD.” (v. 5)  What God is saying is that these so-called prophets are not helping Israel by their false prophecies…they’re trying to help themselves. This was written at a time when the walls of Jerusalem were standing strong, prior to the Babylonian invasion.  God continues by saying,

Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth. When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, “Where is the whitewash you covered it with?”  Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: In my wrath I will unleash a violent wind, and in my anger hailstones and torrents of rain will fall with destructive fury. I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. When itfalls, you will be destroyed in it; and you will know that I am the LORD.

Interestingly, these walls were torn down shortly thereafter by the armies of Babylon. But on a spiritual level, God also tore down the walls that the Israelites were building for themselves, which were making them feel secure. They had given up the relationship they had with God, who was their Defender, and secured for themselves new walls – spiritual walls – that were really nothing more than flimsy, broken walls covered in whitewash.

The Gates of the City

The natural Jerusalem was surrounded by thick walls, designed to protect it against the assault of its enemies. This was the norm at this time, as most major cities were protected in this way. With walls surrounding the city, it was important that there be gates to allow for movement into and out of the city at different points. The natural Jerusalem had 12 gates, most of which had been demolished during the Babylonian attack (along with the walls). The prophet Nehemiah was put in charge of rebuilding the city’s walls and gates, and the description of the rebuilding of the walls and gates are described in Chapter 3 of the book bearing his name. Each gate had a specific purpose, and each can serve as an illustration of a significant spiritual truth, even for us today.

  1. The Sheep Gate (3:1) – The first gate to be restored; Led to the sheep market where lambs were sold for Temple sacrifice. This was also the gate Jesus went through as He carried His cross to Golgotha to be crucified.
    Possible Illustration: The Sheep Gate represents the experience of salvation made available to the cross. The first gate to be restored is the first spiritual gate to be built in our lives – the blood of Christ on the cross is the perfect sacrifice for our sin.
  2. The Fish Gate (3:3) – One of the main entrances to Jerusalem; Where the fish merchants brought fish to market (often from other cities and territories)
    Possible Illustration: The Fish Gate can represent our witness, the Church reaching out to the world.
  3. The Jeshanah (Old) Gate (3:6) – The location where the elders of the city would discuss and issue judgment on disputes
    Possible Illustration: The Old Gate represents the eldership (leadership) of the Body of Christ, the Church.
  4. The Valley Gate (3:13) – This gate led to the Hinnom Valley, outside of the city walls. This valley is where Solomon erected high places for a foreign god (to whom children were sacrificed by fire). It was rendered ceremonially unclean by Josiah, who spread human bones over it (see 2 Kings 23). Because of this, it became the garbage dump of city. Because of its history of human sacrifice, it was given the name Gehenna, or Lake of Fire, and was used by Christ as an illustration for hell itself.
    Possible Illustration: The Valley Gate represents what we’ve been taken out of: the fires of hell, by the grace of God.
  5. The Dung Gate (3:14) – The path where garbage was removed from the city (out into the Hinnom Valley).
    Possible Illustration: The Dung Gate represents the removal of the spiritual dung in our lives – both the shame and the glory of the old life.
  6. The Fountain Gate (3:15-19) – The gate in most ruin; Associated with many locations inside the city (see map), but also the primary access point to the Gihon Spring, the city’s main water source.
    Possible Illustration: The Gihon Spring represented the life source of God Himself, and the Fountain Gate represents our access to that spiritual spring.
  7. The Water Gate (3:26) – Opened up to Solomon’s Temple; Location where the people gathered to hear the Word of God read to them by Ezra.
    Possible Illustration: Water often represents the Word of God. In this case, the Word of God was read at the Water Gate, and it represents the Word of God being restored and our lives being renewed by it.
  8. The Horse Gate (3:28) – The gate the king’s chariot passed through on its way into the city.
    Possible Illustration: Horses represent discipline and war in Scripture. This gate may represent the restoration of spiritual discipline in our lives.
  9. The Inspection (Muster) Gate (3:31) – The Hebrew word translated Inspection or Muster, miphkad, means “appointment, mandate, designated spot, mustering, the numbering in a census”
    Possible Illustration: The Miphkad was the Temple site itself – the designated spot for the Ark of the Covenant. This represents the physical church today – the appointed place of meeting together regularly.
  10. The Ephraim Gate – No repairs mentioned; Ephraim means “double fruitfulness.”
    Possible Illustration: We are to bear much fruit (see John 15) – this “gate” is not restored in the Church, but is fulfilled.
  11. The Gate of the Guard – No repairs mentioned; Where special guards were placed, who were not simply recruited, but appointed in a lineage, just like the priests
    Possible Illustration: The gatekeepers were those who devoted their lives to ushering others into the presence of God. Again, this isn’t a spiritual gate that needs restoration in our lives today, but that need fulfilling.
  12. The East Gate – No repairs mentioned; The gate that Jesus went through as he entered Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives (where He spent each night the week before His crucifixion)
    Possible Illustration: This gate represents both the coming of the Lord (as He will return to the Mount of Olives from where he ascended to Heaven)

As you can see, each gate illustrates a different aspect of the finished work of the Cross of Christ, outworked in our experience through the Holy Spirit.

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The Restoration of the Temple

This is a post in a series of posts titled Types and Shadows. You may want to start at the FIRST post of the series, or see the PREVIOUS post, before reading this one.

In the previous couple of posts, we’ve looked at the Tabernacle as an Old Testament type (for a definition of type, see the first post in this series). We discussed how the Tabernacle was a type of Jesus, in that just as the purpose of the Tabernacle was to serve as a dwelling place for God among His people, Jesus also had the fullness of God dwell in Him (see Colossians 1:19). We also discussed how the Tabernacle was a type of the Church – in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, Paul writes “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.”  Today’s lesson looked at the Temple(s), which were the permanent forms of the preceding tabernacles built by Moses and David. The Temple was a type of the same New Testament figures – Jesus and the Church – but the lesson elaborated on how the destruction and restoration of the Temple served as a shadow of the fate of the Church, even in today’s time.

A Snapshot of Church History

Today’s lesson pointed out that the history of the Church can be divided into 4 stages:

A Glorious Birth

The birth of the church is described at the beginning of Acts.  Acts 4:31-35 describes a lot of what made the birth of Church so glorious:

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

So we see that, as the lesson put it, “the Church of God was birthed in the power of the Holy Spirit and had a dynamic impact on the community of that day.”

A Period of Decline

Even during the first century, a great deal of doctrinal error had crept into the Church. The number of letters written by the apostles to correct these errors in the New Testament serve as proof of that. This period of decline continued to spread throughout the Church, reaching rock bottom during the Dark Ages. The lesson pointed out that, at this time in history, “the Church was hardly recognizable as the same holy, dynamic company birthed by God on the Day of Pentecost.”

A Period of Restoration

Even during the Dark Ages, there were individuals who were true believers, carrying the Church through that dismal time in history. God began to use some of these people to begin to rebuild the foundations of the Church. This time in history is known as the Reformation, and is hallmarked by men such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, and Ulrich Zwingli. The Church remains in this period of history, though most theologians believe we are nearing the end stages.

A Glorious Finale

In the (hopefully near) future, Christ will return in all His glory, bringing with Him a new time period for the Church.  Paul writes of this in Romans 8:18-23:I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.  We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

The lesson summarizes by saying that it will be at this time when “God will bring His plan for the Church to its climax. As the Church becomes the Temple God has designed her to be, the earth will indeed ‘be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea’ (Habakkuk 2:14)”.

The Restoration of the Temple

After putting the Ark in the new tabernacle, David had fully intended to build a permanent Temple for the Ark of God’s presence to reside.  Unfortunately for David, God would not allow it to happen. He instead chose David’s son, Solomon, to be the one who would have the Temple built. Solomon built the Temple and furnished it with many lavish fixtures, surely making it one of the great wonders among any building in the world at that time (see 1 Kings 6-7). The general structure of the Temple, though, was identical to the tabernacle(s) that preceded it – it contained an outer court with the brazen altar and laver, and an inner court, which was made up of the Most Holy Place (where the Ark was kept) and the Holy Place, which held the table of the bread of presence, the lamp stand, and the altar of incense.

Over the next couple hundred years, the nation of Israel went through many trials and periods of turning away from God. God allowed the Temple to be plundered and thrown into disarray by foreign nations, and each time it was repaired and brought back to service in periods of revival under Joash and Josiah.  Eventually, around 587 B.C., the Babylonians totally destroy the Temple and take all of its sacred furnishings to the temples of Nebuchadnezzar’s gods, and all of the people into exile in Babylon. Seventy years later, a remnant of about 50,000 people returned to Jerusalem, and under a decree of protection from King Cyrus of Persia, and they begin to rebuild the Temple.

New Testament Fulfillment

As it’s outlined in the book of Ezra, the Temple was rebuilt in 4 stages.  Today’s lesson attempted to link the 4 stages of the rebuilding of the Temple to the restoration of the Church (the Reformation and beyond). Whether this is a theologically and Biblically sound thing to do, I can’t say. I can say that I don’t find any New Testament references saying that the rebuilt Temple is typical of the current or future Church.  All the same, allow me to summarize the points of the lesson, and preface by saying that this may serve as a better illustration than a Biblical type.

The Altar of Sacrifice (Ezra 3:1-6)

The first part of the Temple to be rebuilt was the altar of sacrifice – the brazen altar in the Temple’s outer court. The altar of sacrifice represented the people’s relationship with God, so by building it first, it demonstrated the need for a restored relationship before all else.  In the restoration of the Church, the first thing to be restored was the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Interestingly, this is the very essence of the spiritual meaning of the guilt and sin offerings that were given upon the altar of sacrifice. So we can see that the budding Reformation began the same way the new Temple did – through restored relationship.

The Foundation of the Temple (Ezra 3:7-13)

In the restoration of the natural Temple, after rebuilding the altar of sacrifice, the Israelites laid the foundation for the new Temple. The lesson attempted to link this foundation to the foundation mentioned in Ephesians 2:20: “…you are…fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” (emphasis added)  It says that the “modern ministries of apostle and prophet” are this foundation, in that “the prophets spoke and stirred the people, and the apostles acted on the word of the Lord and directed the work.”  I immediately wanted to know exactly what these ministries might look like today, so I referred to my trusty old Got Questions site for answers. While the office of apostleship is closed (those hand-picked by Christ), the gift of apostleship lives on (though it’s best to NOT use the term apostle, to avoid confusion).  The gift of apostleship describes those who are enabled by God to carry the Gospel message with God’s authority.  Therefore we could say that the original Apostles (represented today by the Bible, maybe?), as well as those who continue to work today to spread the Gospel throughout the world (missionaries, perhaps?) are this foundation.  I don’t find this to be a strong argument, but at least it makes sense. In the end, the best connection I can think of is that, with the Reformation, came a returning to the true foundation of our faith – Jesus Christ.

The Rebuilding of the Temple (Ezra 6:14-16)

After the foundation was laid, the natural Temple itself was rebuilt. According to the lesson, this corresponds to the Church today: “…you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5). The Church is being built slowly, as person after person comes to faith in Christ and becomes a living stone in this, the spiritual Temple of God. This Temple has yet to be finished, but the construction continues.

The Worship in the Temple (Ezra 7:1-20)

After the Temple was fully restored, worship was re-instituted according to the original plan outlined in the Law. Likewise, in the future, after Christ’s return and after the Temple that is the Church is complete, we will worship God as we were originally intended, offering all the spiritual sacrifices that please the Lord, as the Israelites offered the physical sacrifices listed in Ezra 6.

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The Sacrificial System

This is a post in a series of posts titled Types and Shadows. You may want to start at the FIRST post of the series, or see the PREVIOUS post, before reading this one.

When I was in college I worked part-time for an attorney’s office. One of my various tasks was to take the law book updates that came in daily and to insert them into the books. It wasn’t a hard task – the pages were numbered systematically, so it was usually as simple as finding the pages by page number, pulling out the old ones, and inserting the new ones.  The hard part came when you had to actually read through a part of a page for some reason. It turns out that law books can be extremely boring reading (at least, for a non-lawyer).   Unfortunately, when it comes to reading the Bible, the Old Testament Law is sometimes the same way. We decide we’re going to read the Bible, we start in Genesis, we do well until the end of Exodus, then we call it off 1 or 2 chapters into Leviticus. Number and Deuteronomy never really had a chance.  Even so, there is a lot of benefit to understanding the Old Testament Law, and by skipping through these few books, we miss out of some of the richest Biblical typology to be found.

Today’s lesson from the Online Bible College was over the Biblical typology of the sacrificial system instituted in the Law of Moses. The lesson starts out by making the point that, regardless of whether you are reading the Old Testament or the New Testament, you will find one common question being answered: How can a sinner live in fellowship with a holy God?  In the very beginning of Genesis, with Adam and Eve, we see sin and death enter the world and the huge divide arise between God and humanity. And from that time, the greatest need of humanity is to find a way back across that divide. But humanity couldn’t ever bridge the gap – only God could do that, and the way He demonstrated is “bridge” was through blood sacrifice.

We see the recurring redemptive act of blood sacrifice throughout Scripture, even before the Mosaic law was put into place. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, God clothed them with the skins of animals (requiring the animals’ deaths). When Cain and Abel offered sacrifices to the Lord, Abel’s blood sacrifice of an animal was accepted, while Cain’s offering of “fruits of the soil” were not. When Noah left the ark after the Flood, he built an altar and offered burnt offerings to the Lord. Altars were built and animal sacrifices were offered by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And my lesson points out that, though it is clear that sacrifices “were understood to be required by the Lord, Israel is later explicitly instructed by God to offer blood sacrifices, firstly as a part of the Passover ceremony, and then secondly as part of the code of Mosaic Law.”

Once the Law was handed down from God to Moses, a system was put in place to ensure proper sacrifices were made. There were 5 main sacrifices listed in the Law:

  1. Guilt offering (Leviticus 5:14-19) – a mandatory animal sacrifice to atone for the acts of sin committed by a person
  2. Sin offering (Leviticus 4:1 – 5:13) – a mandatory animal sacrifice to atone for the sinner (the internal, sinful nature of a person)
  3. Fellowship offering (Leviticus 3; 7:11-21) – a voluntary animal sacrifice offered as an expression of thanksgiving to God
  4. Grain offering (Leviticus 2; 6:14-23) – a voluntary offering of the first-fruits of one’s possessions or wealth (not animals)
  5. Burnt offering (Leviticus 1) – a voluntary animal (or grain) sacrifice, as an offering of worship to the Lord

Notice that some of the sacrifices were mandatory, while others were voluntary. The guilt and sin offerings were compulsory because they deal with the sin barrier between a person and God.  Interestingly, these two are not described as producing an “aroma pleasing to the Lord.”  The other 3 sacrifices are all described as “pleasing to the Lord,” and were more positive in nature.

New Testament Fulfillment

As you become more familiar with the sacrifices listed in the Law, it’s not hard to start putting the puzzles pieces together as to how the sacrificial system serves as a Biblical type of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, as well as the daily offerings and sacrifices we are called to give to this day.

The mandatory sacrifices of the guilt offering and the sin offering dealt with sin and sinners. The reason blood sacrifice was required was that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22).  Jesus’ death on the cross also dealt with sin and sinners – his shed blood was better than the shed blood of animals, in that He was a perfect sacrifice, totally without the blemish of sin. “By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:14). Because of the perfection of Jesus’ sacrifice, it was a once-for-all sacrifice – we no longer need to make this sacrifice for the atonement of our sin.

The voluntary sacrifices are repeated continuously under the New Covenant. Today, these would include:

  • Praise and thanksgiving (the fellowship offering) – “let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.” (Hebrews 13:15)
  • Tithing and give money (the grain offering) – Paul speaks of this kind of offering when he said “I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” (Philippians 4:18)
  • Our whole lives (the burnt offering) – Paul tells us what this looks like in Ephesians 5:1-2: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

As you can see, the New Testament does not do away with the need for the Old Testament. Jesus did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. In Christ, the sacrifices required to be made have already been made. And in Him, we can continue to live in a way that offers the sacrifices God truly wants from us even today.

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