One of the most interesting ways to read the Bible is through the lens of typology. Typology is where a person or event in the Old Testament foreshadows a greater person or event in the New Testament. The word “typology” comes to us from St. Paul himself, in Romans 5:14, where he referred to Adam as a “type” of Christ. So let’s get started on this most interesting study.
Remember the story about the Israelites coming up out of the water of the Red Sea and wandering in the desert for 40 years? They came upon bitter water in a pool at Marah, and Moses threw some wood in the pool to make the water drinkable. During the 40 year sojourn in the desert, they managed to worship a false idol, put God to the test, and demanded bread to eat. Now fast forward to the New Testament. Jesus Christ came up out of the water of the Jordan River to go into the desert for 40 days. During this time, he was also tempted to worship a false idol (Satan), but refused. Satan tempted Jesus to put God to the test as well, by throwing Himself off of a tower and allowing God to catch him. Jesus, unlike his ancestors in the desert, refused to do this. Likewise, satan tempted Jesus to command the stones to be turned into bread, but Jesus refused, instead saying that man does not live by bread alone, but on every Word that comes out of the mouth of God (FYI, bread and the Word of God are the two components of the liturgy of the Mass!). In short, Jesus passed the three tests that the Israelites failed under Moses. And what about the wood that Moses threw into the bitter water to make it drinkable? This is a type of the Cross making the sacrament of baptism holy!
And while the above parallels are insightful, the larger question is how do we in the 21st Century apply these lessons to our own lives? Well, we also wander around in a very dry desert of secularism and anti-Christian values. We are constantly being bombarded with suggestive advertising and near-porn on billboards, TV, and the movies. Satan would love it if we would give in and worship these pornographic images as false idols. We are also constantly putting God to the test through our sins and with the presumption that since God is love, we don’t have to stop sinning. Additionally, a lot of us are always stuffing our faces with too much food, instead of filling our hearts and minds with the Word of God.
Moses spoke in Deuteronomy 18:15 and said that God would raise up a “prophet like me” from among his brethren, and to heed Him when he comes along. That, of course is a reference to Jesus Christ. Let’s see how Moses and Jesus are alike:
Moses and Jesus
- Both Moses and Jesus fasted for 40 days;
- Both of their lives as infants were threatened by powerful rulers (Pharaoh and Herod).
- Both of their lives as infants were saved by family members.
- Both were in Egypt for a time as youths.
- Both left Egypt later on and returned to Israel.
- Both were commissioned by God to give the law.
- Both had faces that shone like the sun (Moses after talking to God, and Jesus at the Transfiguration).
- Both were lawgivers on a mountain (Moses on Mount Sinai, and Jesus giving the Sermon on the Mount).
- Moses’ sister was named Miriam; Jesus’ mother was Mary.
- Moses met Jesus at the Transfiguration of Jesus to discuss Jesus’ “exodus” from this life.
- Moses changed water into blood; Jesus changed water into wine, and then wine into His Precious Blood.
- Moses led his people out of the slavery of Pharaoh; Jesus led his people out of the slavery of Satan.
- Moses helped to bring down Pharaoh; Jesus helped to bring down the Roman Empire (eventually setting up his Church Headquarters in Rome.
- When the woman was caught in adultery, the Pharisees questioned Jesus about the Law of Moses, which was written by the finger of God in the 10 Commandments. As if to shout to them that He was indeed God, Jesus started writing with His finger in the dirt (what, we don’t know, but it’s the writing with His finger that is important).
Other interesting types are as follows:
Joseph in the Old Testament; Joseph in the New Testament
- Both had fathers named Jacob.
- Both received messages in dreams.
- Both went to Egypt under duress.
- Joseph in the Old Testament saved Israel by giving them bread to eat; Joseph in the New Testament saved Jesus, who saves us by giving us the Eucharist to eat.
Joseph in the Old Testament and Jesus
- Both were stripped of their bloody garments.
- Both were sold to unbelievers -Joseph for 20 pieces of silver, Jesus for 30.
- Both were unjustly incarcerated.
- Both suffered for the sake of Israel’s benefit.
- Both gave bread to save Israel (Joseph gave regular bread; Jesus gives us the Eucharist).
- Both came back to greatness after being down and out.
- Joseph was set over all the land of Egypt by becoming Pharaoh’s right hand man (a prefigurement of the papacy); Jesus is seated at the right hand of God our loving Father and has all authority over heaven and earth.
The Old Testament Ark of the Covenant and Mary
- Both were created from the purest elements.
- The Ark’s mercy seat was overshadowed by the cherubim. Mary was overshadowed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Both carried the Word of God (in stone/in the flesh) and The Bread from Heaven (manna/Eucharist) inside them.
- David danced in front of the Ark; the unborn John the Baptist leaped for joy at the sound of Mary’s voice (quite a feat for what is referred to as an unviable tissue mass by Planned Parenthood!)
- Both stayed away for 3 months (the Ark in the house of Obed-edom, Mary at the house of Elizabeth).
Elijah and John the Baptist
- Both wore hairy garments.
- Elijah left in a whirlwind by the Jordan River; John started his preaching near that spot.
- Elijah decreased while Elisha increased (with a double portion of Elijah’s spirit), John decreased while Jesus increased.
- Jesus said that John the Baptist was the prophesied Elijah who was to come before the Messiah.
King David and Jesus
- Both were shepherds (David a shepherd in the field; Jesus the Good Shepherd).
- Both were born in Bethlehem.
- Both were 30 when they started their public life.
- Both were King of Israel.
King Solomon and Jesus
- Both rode donkeys while being hailed as King of Israel and the Son of David.
- Both had Queen Mothers who interceded for others – Solomon had Bathsheba, Jesus has Mary at the Wedding Feast of Cana.
- Both were known as the son of David.
- Both were King of Israel.
- Solomon built the Jewish temple that was destroyed and then rebuilt. Jesus’ body is His Temple which was killed, and then came back to life.
- The Holy Spirit moved over the waters of the earth in Genesis 1:2 (a new creation).
- Noah and his family were saved by floating on the water.
- Moses is saved by floating on the water of the Nile, as an infant (a prefigurement of infant baptism!).
- Moses and the Israelites are saved by going through the waters of the Red Sea, with the Lord in a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night (pillar = The Holy Spirit).
- Moses struck the rock in the desert, and saving water poured out. Jesus is our Rock, and he saves us through the waters of Baptism.
- Naaman the Syrian has his leprosy (in the Old Testament, leprosy was a biblical prefigurement of sin) washed away by bathing in the Jordan River.
- The Holy Spirit descended over the waters when Jesus was baptized (we are a new creation in Christ after Baptism).
- Jesus tells Nicodemus that “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
There are many others, like Jesus being killed with the tools of his own trade as a carpenter, namely, a hammer, wood, and nails; Genesis 3:15 saying that she will crush the head of the serpent, which was accomplished at Golgotha, the place of the skull; but hopefully this short article will give you an idea of just how rich the Bible is when it comes to truly understanding God’s Holy Word!