Understanding Bible Types
From chapter one, At His Feet...
Understanding Bible Types
When the Holy Spirit desires to emphasize a truth in His word (after all, He wrote it - II Peter 1:21), many times He will underscore that truth by the use of a type. Types are pictures or similitudes that help us see the deeper meaning of Scripture. It is like reading a map of secret underground tunnels that are all interconnected - each tunnel serving a purpose; each tunnel revealing more truth. Once uncovered, one discovers an underground super-highway of spiritual truth that is not seen on its surface.
Though studying types is not necessary to learn basic Bible truth, since some truths are concealed - Proverbs 25:2, it is certainly profitable and recommended.
One does not have to read very far in Scripture to realize that types makes up an integral part of its framework. Acquaintance with those types equips us with perception and definition which are essential to finding truth and deciphering God’s word. These in hand, intimacy with the Scripture can now begin.
Beginning in Matthew thirteen, Jesus spoke to the Jews in parables. He did this because they wouldn’t hear what he was trying to teach them in plain language. According to our Lord, they had eyes to see, but saw not, and ears to hear, but heard not. Jesus continued reprimanding these Jews, by saying, “For this peoples heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed”. Since these men refused to listen to God’s word, Jesus does the next best thing. He speaks to them in parables. For that reason, parables have a negative connotation. God purposely shrouds or conceals the surface message that would otherwise be transparent. Parables are a little different than types. Parable means, “hidden or enigmatic - not clearly seen.
Similitudes (Hosea 12:10) can be defined, simply, as things that are SIMILAR TO something else. A resemblance is seen, and a comparison is made. Jesus took one look at Herod and said to the Pharisees, “Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.” Surely Herod was not a fox, but in Jesus’ eyes, he resembled one, trying to kill him. (Luke 13:31, 32) In Matthew six, Jesus saw “the lilies of the field” and compared them to Solomon, arrayed in all his glory. Again, they were similar to, but not exactly the same.
Can doctrine be taught by…?
At this point, someone may be asking, “Can DOCTRINE be taught by, parables, similitudes, and types?” To answer this question properly, we will take the advice of our Spiritual Head to “search the scriptures….” (John 5:39) Jesus, our example, will show us how to use these spiritual tools.
First of all, Jesus used PARABLES to teach doctrine. “And he taught them many things by PARABLES and said unto them in His DOCTRINE….” (Mark 4:2)
Secondly, Jesus used SIMILITUDES to teach doctrine. “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will LIKEN him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be LIKENED unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his DOCTRINE….” (Matthew 7:24-28)
Last of all, Jesus used TYPES to teach DOCTRINE…
John 1:29 - John the Baptist presents Jesus as “the lamb of God”, to which title He assented. (See Exodus 12 - The Passover Lamb, and Genesis 22)
John 2:19 - Jesus stood in the Temple, and used the Temple as a picture, or type of His body that would be destroyed and rebuilt in three days.
John 3:14 - “And AS Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, EVEN SO must the Son of man be lifted up….” Jesus compared himself, IN TYPE, to the brazen serpent Moses lifted up in the wilderness. (Numbers 21:5-9) Brass, by the way, is a picture, or type of judgment. (See, Exodus 38:1-7. The brazen altar is where sin was judged!)
John 4:12-14 - Jesus likened Himself to water that came out of Jacob’s well. Verse 14 says, “A WELL of water”.
John 5:46 - “For he [Moses] wrote of me.” How did Moses write about Jesus in the Old Testament? IN TYPE! From Exodus to Deuteronomy, most of the Old Testament sacrifices, the tabernacle, and tabernacle furniture present Jesus, in type, as a picture of His life and ministry.
John 6:31-32 - Jesus presents himself as a TYPE of Old Testament manna which fell from heaven. Then in verses 48-51, Jesus continues... “I am the bread of life. Your Fathers did EAT MANNA in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread WHICH COMETH DOWN FROM HEAVEN…” (Jesus came down from Heaven like manna did) “...that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am THE LIVING BREAD WHICH CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN….” (If you had any question whether Jesus was referring to Himself as a type of manna, it should be dispelled here!) “If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” He picks it up again in verse 58… “This is THAT bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did EAT MANNA, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live forever.”
John 7:37 - “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying if any man thirst, let him come unto ME and DRINK.” “How could that be accomplished”, you ask? I’ll be glad to tell you! IN TYPE! Make no mistake about it; Jesus was comparing himself to THE ROCK IN THE WILDERNESS, in type. Exodus 17:6 says, “Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.” The Apostle Paul refers to this TYPE, when he writes I Corinthians 10:4, “And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and THAT ROCK WAS CHRIST.”
AREN’T TYPES WONDERFUL?! Are you beginning to see how The Lord uses them to give us the EXACT spiritual picture He wants us to see? Notice that the Rock was smitten only one time, just like Jesus was crucified only one time for our sins, Hebrews 9:25-28.
In Numbers 21, God tells Moses to speak to the Rock. Instead, he strikes it twice. For this act of disobedience, The Lord punished him by denying him entrance into the Promised Land. God punished Moses, because he broke the type. The Saviour would be smitten one time - once, not twice.
In John 8:12 and 9:5, Jesus said that HE was the “light of the world”! In the Old Testament tabernacle, the only light that was allowed to burn in the Holy Place was the golden candlestick - using precious oil for that purpose. That light continually shined. Again, Jesus was using this Old Testament TYPE to reveal His ROLE or purpose. John so eloquently picks up on this, when he said, “That [JESUS] was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (John 1:9)
Finally, my last example is John 10. Here, Jesus is presented as “the good shepherd”. In I Samuel 17, David was presented as a shepherd boy who led and cared for his father’s sheep. Then, later in his life, he was God’s choice as Israel’s King. At His first advent, Jesus came as a SHEPHERD to Israel, to give His life for the sheep, John 10:11. At His Second Advent, He will be Israel’s KING. If types are not taught as doctrine (as our Lord showed us), then much of the Bible’s power and strength, is at once removed, leaving it a weak and anemic book, indeed.
One of the duties of the Holy Spirit, as Jesus stated in John 16:13, is to “guide you into ALL TRUTH”. As we read and study THE VERY WORDS OF GOD, He is able to accomplish that task for us. The more one acquaints themselves with types, the stronger their ability will be to see deeper into the Scripture. These types will unfold into a glorious river, flowing with revelation and verity.
In order to get the true and accurate picture that the Holy Spirit wants us to see; these types should be carefully identified and assigned. Even though a type is a picture, it is not an EXACT rendering of that picture in EVERY detail. Someone has aptly said that, “types break down along the way.” For that reason, it is difficult, but not impossible, to teach DOCTRINE using types. Once a type has been properly identified and established (Scripture with Scripture - according to Isaiah 28:9-10), then truth from that type can CONFIDENTLY be taught. There are SO MANY similarities in the three main characters of the Book of Ruth to their New Testament counterparts; that it is difficult to deem them otherwise! These similarities warrant my conclusions as set forth in this book. Boaz resembles Jesus, Ruth - Jesus’ bride. And, Naomi clearly resembles the local church and Pastor.
In Exodus 25:40 The Lord commands Moses to make the tabernacle “after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.” The writer of the Book of Hebrews repeated these words, when he said in chapter eight, verse five, “see saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed thee in the mount”. Moses was instructed to use an exact pattern from Heaven to build God’s tabernacle on Earth. When completed, the earthly tabernacle mirrored the one in Heaven. This reproduction was as close as could be to the original one, but was NOT “the true tabernacle, which The Lord pitched, and not man.” (Hebrews 8:2) Men took natural materials and formed them to look like a supernatural structure. That is how we are to view types. God uses a natural picture to show us a supernatural thing.
From our vantage point - Earth, it is impossible to see the supernatural. God and His Throne are on the other side of the looking glass - “the sea of glass” that divides the second and third heavens. (Revelation 4:6; II Corinthians 12:2) A man cannot see heavenly things with natural eyes, any more than you can pick up a mirror and see your reflection from the back of it. That’s what the Apostle Paul meant, when he said; “Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face….” (I Corinthians 13:12) One day we will see spiritual things from a different vantage point. We will see God and Heaven in person; right before our eyes. Our perspective will be different, because of our glorified minds and bodies. Then will we “know as we are known”. Today though, on this side of the looking glass, “we see darkly”. That is why we need types. In a spiritually darkened world, types help us see! They give us vision and revelation.
Two millennia ago, when The Holy Spirit descended from Heaven upon our Saviour, the Scripture says, it descended “like a dove”. The Holy Spirit LOOKED LIKE a dove. When The Lord wants to give us a picture of something that is NOT visible to the human eye (like the Holy Spirit), He uses a visible picture to do it. Clearly the dove has been a picture of the Holy Spirit ever since Noah sent one out of the ark to find land. The first bird sent out by Noah was a black raven. The raven is a type of unclean bird. (See, Matthew 13:32, and Revelation 18:2) The raven flew away, never to return. The dove (which is said to be a type of The Holy Spirit - compare Exodus 27:20, John 3:34 and 8:12 and Hebrews 1:9), faithfully returns with an olive branch in its mouth. The first was NATURAL, but the second, SPIRITUAL. I Corinthians 15:46 says, “Howbeit, that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.”
Do you see how The Lord uses types to help us understand His ways and lead us into more truth?! Like the time He illustrated Israel’s spiritual condition, by telling the prophet Hosea to marry Gomer – a “wife of whoredoms”. Not only did The Lord illustrate Israel’s departure (Hosea 1:2), taking unto herself other “lovers” (Hosea 2:5-7), but He used Hosea’s children too. For example, Hosea’s third child was called “Lo-ammi”, which means, “not my people”! The Lord gave Israel a FLESH AND BLOOD type, commanding Hosea to marry Gomer, and flesh and blood types, by the names he gave his children. Years later, He instructed Jeremiah to go down to the potter’s house to hear His word. (Jeremiah 18:1) Upon arrival, Jeremiah witnessed the potter with a lump of clay spinning on the wheel. The clay “was marred in the hand of the potter.” The potter wouldn’t accept the vessel with the blemish in it, so he decided to rework the original vessel into “another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter”. (Vs. 4) Then, and only then, did the word of The Lord come unto Jeremiah. (Vs. 5) Jeremiah saw first hand, the potter, the clay, and what the potter did with the clay. It wasn’t UNTIL Jeremiah saw these types that the word of The Lord came unto him.
When we speak about types or similitudes, we are not taking a shot in the dark. This is not guesswork! The Lord was not obscure, when identifying each component of this earthly picture, and neither should we be. Every part had an exact interpretation. The potter was a picture of God. The potter’s hands were a picture of God’s hands. And the clay was a picture of Israel!
The Christian who does not use types to transpose the earthly picture into the heavenly revelation reduces The Bible to little more than a book of historical facts. Until we submit to what God is trying to reveal to us through that type, The Lord is not obligated to convey to us any more truth.
When The Lord talks about His Son in His word, He presents Him, in type, as BOTH a Lion (Revelation 5:5, Genesis 49:9,10), AND a Lamb. (Revelation 5:6) As I pointed out earlier, just before Jesus went to Calvary to die for our sins, He compared Himself to another type. He likened Himself to the SERPENT that Moses lifted up, fifteen hundred years earlier, in the wilderness. (John 3:14) God not only used animals, and things, as types of The Lord Jesus in the Old Testament, but He also used MEN. Isaac, Joseph, and David are just a few characters that mirrored His life and work. During the time of the Judges, along comes Boaz. He too, as we shall see, is a type of Jesus Christ - a powerful landowner, near kinsman-redeemer, who has many virgin maidens working in his field.
In Matthew 25:1-13, Jesus tells a parable about a Bridegroom and virgin maidens who are called to His wedding. When a comparison is done of these personages, the Bridegroom is defined as Christ, and His Bride, the Church. The virgin maidens (collectively), are Israel, who will witness the marriage. When this parable is superimposed over The Book of Ruth; Christ (The Bridegroom), is typified by Boaz. The virgin maidens (Israel) are typified by the maidens of Boaz - who will witness the wedding. And, the Bride (the Church), is typified by Ruth - who married this kind, older gentleman; for redemption, relationship and reward (children).
The Book of Ruth begins with the main character of Naomi. Unlike her husband and sons who die in the first chapter, Naomi is present in all four chapters of the book. Naomi accomplishes an important duty that is germane to her character. She teaches, leads, and directs Ruth into a relationship, first with Jehovah God, and then with Boaz. If Naomi is truly a type of the local church and Pastor, then it would be wise for a Pastor and Church to follow her example. Sad to say, but some Pastors take on the role of Boaz (Christ), when they ought to assume the role of Naomi. Instead of being an ensample to the flock (I Peter 5:3); these Pastors lord it over them. An ensample is like a big bar of chocolate candy that someone comes along to taste, breaking off a small piece to sample it. The broken off piece should taste exactly like the rest of the bar. A pastor is supposed to “taste like” the rest of the church. He should be a sample of the flock, and to the flock. He is a sheep chosen to lead the other sheep. A Pastor is to follow Christ, but is NOT Christ. Nor is he in the place of Christ. This leader’s office is Bishop. His qualification is Elder. His calling is UNDER Shepherd. And, his character is Pastor. Pastor (Ephesians 4:11), does not describe the office held, as much as the manner in which it is held. This is the heart, soul, and affection of that office. Again, we turn to Jesus; seeking THE example of the heart of a Pastor. After preaching a scathing dissertation to the Scribes and Pharisees concerning their wicked heart and hypocrisy, Jesus shows his maternal side for just a moment. Out of a broken heart, this Pastor of Israel cries out, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen” [not a rooster, a hen - female - maternal] “gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37) Along those same lines, St. Paul showed his maternal affection for the Church at Thessalonica, when he wrote, “But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth HER children: So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.” (I Thessalonians 2:7-8) A Pastor is supposed to nurture the flock like a mother nurtures a child. Not baby it; nurture it!
Other Pastors act like they are only Ruth (only a sheep), to the detriment of the local assembly. These Pastors won’t take a stand, and as my wife, Terry, describes them, “are jellyfish, because they have no backbone!” Just like Naomi assumed her role as wife to Elimelech, AND as mother to her sons and daughters-in-law, a God-called Pastor is not just a sheep out of the congregation. His role is BOTH a sheep AND an Under Shepherd. He is to lead the flock as God leads him.
Even though I believe in Biblical Authority, that is NOT the theme, NOR the topic of this book. The theme of this book is Biblical PLACEMENT. In other words where does a New Testament pastor and local assembly fit into God’s scheme of things? Where does Naomi fit? What’s her place? THE BOOK OF RUTH HAS THAT ANSWER! If someone gets their placement WRONG in mathematics, the result will ALWAYS be the same: the wrong answer. The same holds true in Biblical Placement. If someone incorrectly gets the placement - or role a Bible character represents - wrong, THEY WILL ALWAYS COME UP WITH THE WRONG TYPE!
When a study in Scripture is done of the term, “church”, it is always presented as being FEMALE. “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, EVEN AS Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, EVEN AS Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. …So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, EVEN AS the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning CHRIST and THE CHURCH.” (Ephesians 5:22-32) We know that the Church is female, because it is MADE UP of Christ’s bride. Ruth clearly fits this type. She winds up marrying Boaz, who in type is our Redeemer - The Lord Jesus Christ. She typifies The Church (the body of Christ), but Naomi, who is also FEMALE, (typifies) the LOCAL church. Therefore, Naomi’s Biblical Placement is the local church and Pastor!
Where do we find Ruth when she approaches Boaz? “AT HIS FEET”, (just like our book title suggests). That was her TRUE Biblical Placement. Where do we first find this Gentile maiden who is looking for marriage? We find her at the feet of her Mother-in-law’s dead husband’s near kinsman. (Ruth 2:20) In The New Testament, we find a similar story, in Matthew fifteen. A Gentile woman of Canaan comes to Jesus to get help for her daughter who is vexed with a devil. In verse 24 Jesus makes the statement, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL”. Then, while asking Jesus for help, the woman came and worshipped Him, lying prostrate AT HIS FEET. If you don’t believe this, read the next two verses. “But he answered and said, It is not meet [equal or right] to take the children’s [Israel’s] bread, and cast it to the dogs [the Gentiles]. And she said, Truth Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table [ONTO THE FLOOR].” (Matthew 15:26-27) Then in verse 28 Jesus rewards her by healing her daughter. WHY did he reward her? BECAUSE SHE KNEW HER BIBLICAL PLACEMENT! She understood that she had NO claim to this Jewish Messiah (John 1:11), and by worshipping Him, as low as a dog can get (under the table) - AT HIS FEET, she showed that she UNDERSTOOD her Biblical Placement!
As you read the last few paragraphs, you might be saying to yourself... “I wasn’t taught that a woman should bow down at a man’s feet. I was taught that a man and his wife are equal!” In one sense, that is true, and in one sense, it is not. I Peter 3:7 says that husbands should dwell with the wife... “as being HEIRS TOGETHER of the grace of life.…” To prove their point, many quote the hackneyed anecdote… “The woman was not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.” That may be PARTIALLY true, a man is NOT BETTER than a woman - “For as the woman is of the man EVEN SO is the man also by the woman” (I Corinthians 11:12) - but to find the role of each, you have to go back to verse three. Here we find a man and woman’s Biblical Placement. “But I would have you know, that THE HEAD of every man is Christ; and THE HEAD of the woman is the man; and THE HEAD of Christ is God.” In the above verse, we discover that a man might not be BETTER than a woman, but positionally, a man is GREATER than a woman in the same way that God is GREATER than Christ. Jesus cleared all this up, when He said, “I go unto the Father: for my Father is GREATER than I.” (John 14:28) Jesus was not saying that His Father was better, only GREATER. Remember; the second member of the Trinity was COEQUAL to His Father, the first member of the Trinity! The Father was greater, because The Son’s position for that time on earth was INCARNATE. Therefore, the Son was submissive to The Father’s will.
Some might still object to Biblical Submission; quoting the Apostle Paul, who said in Galatians 3:28, “...There is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ.” Anyone in Christ is one spirit with Christ. They are connected to Christ through the selfsame Spirit. When someone is “born again”, they still retain the same physical characteristics they were born with. Born again male, or born again female; anyone in Christ does not become “gender neutral”! That is why their role as a male or female is so important. And, that is why The Lord put such a weighty emphasis on roles. Is God, Christ, or The Holy Spirit “gender neutral”? Doesn’t the Bible present them (all) as being male?! “No man hath seen God at any time” (John 1:18), yet we refer to Him as “Our Father”. When Israel needed a Saviour, the angel Gabriel came to Mary and said, “...Thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.” (Luke 1:31) And, if you think that the Holy Spirit is gender neutral; please read John 14:16-17. “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever: Even the Spirit of Truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”
Stating one’s Biblical Placement doesn’t mean that one person is SUPERIOR to another (inferior) one. Biblical Placement is just that. A PLACEMENT or position! It is one’s function; one’s part, one’s character, and one’s role. A president is no better than the people that elect him to office. He might be better off financially, live in a bigger home (The White House), and have 24-hour security and domestic help. Those things might be so, but he is no better than you and me. He just has a different role and responsibility than you and I do - a GREATER one. Joseph, in prison, was no better than the other prisoners. He wasn’t pardoned, and then given a leadership position. He was over them, remaining a prisoner himself! (Genesis 39:20-23) A Pastor of a church is a sheep, taken by God from the sheepfold, entrusted with a greater role than the average Christian has been given, to lead it. Surely a sheep is not better than a sheep, but a sheep that is leading is GREATER than the second sheep.
In summation, each of the characters mentioned in The Book of Ruth represents something to those of us living today, in this dispensation - the Church Age. Each fits an exact type. If we accept the picture that the Holy Spirit has painted for us regarding each character, we will come to the unequivocal conclusion that The Lord desires submission from His people. We are to submit to Christ, who is portrayed by Boaz, and submit to a Pastor of a local church, who is portrayed by Naomi. When The Lord gave us this picture, He knew full well what he was asking us to do. He was asking the Christian (man or woman) to be submissive to A MAN - a Pastor (represented by Naomi). Most Christians have no problem with the idea of submitting to The Lord. After all He is God. His Character and Being call for worship. A man though is one of God’s creatures. It is a little harder to do, when God asks us to submit to a man. Please understand that it is not this author who is asking you to submit to a man. It is The One who drew these pictures in His Book. He, asks us to be like Ruth who submitted to Naomi. Today, her character would relate to a God called Under Shepherd, who He has placed in a Bible Believing Church.
As I close this first chapter, I’ve tried my best to give you some idea of what types are like. I’ve also tried to show you how The Lord uses types to help us see truth. Please now come with me to the field of “truth and understanding.” Boaz invites us to come and labor for Him along side His maidens; witnessing firsthand tender seedlings growing and boundless crops becoming ripe. At harvest time, He bids us to reap and glean a wealth of sheaves from His Book - Ruth’s book, growing richer in delight of The One who authored it so many years ago, “…in the days when the judges ruled….” (Ruth 1:1)