Introduction to Types & Shadows

Updated 04/08/16

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"And he looked up, and said, I see men AS trees, walking." Mark 8:24


"I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself LIKE a green bay tree." Psalm 37:35


  What Are Types & Shadows & Why Should we Learn Them?

     Types and Shadows are a means by which God speaks to us through the things He has created. This is done by substituting spiritual realities which are hid from the natural senses, with the natural things we are more familiar with. Basically, a type is nothing more than a substitute for something else that helps to bring forth the meaning of the latter (see example). It is like this; we are told in the Bible of the fallen creature called "Heylel," this is Satan's true name in the original Hebrew text not "Lucifer," which of course is a Latin name:

(Strong's) heylel: hay-lale'; From H1984 (in the sense of brightness); the morning star: - lucifer.


This creature dwells in a realm that is totally different and separated from our natural realm and thus we know very little of him. Therefore, God has chosen to use allegoric type references to give us a greater understanding of this creature. Thus, the Bible says "Satan is as a roaring lion"; he is "a serpent"; he is "as an angel of light," etc. In essence the Bible tells us the natural environment and all things in it were created not only for human existence and interaction, but to increase our understanding of that which is spiritual and hidden from our human senses.


"For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: Who serve unto the example [type] and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount." Hebrews 8:4-5

"Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:" Romans 1:19-20



  Shadow Types & Their Usages 

     I like to use the word shadow to describe certain types because its modern day definition seems to carry more meaning for our day and age. Although keep in mind, a shadow type is nothing more than a prophetic type used by God to foreshadow that which is to come. Shadow types express the "Thus saith the Lord...," and the "It shall come to pass..." statements that we find in the Bible. Now we know there are prophetic pronouncements in the Bible for all to see, but there are just as many—more—that the Father has hid from the wise and learned. In fact, one will never understand the Bible as one should without first being able to utilize the types for guidance, insight, and the God inspired doctrinal checks and balances that they were meant to be used for. Therefore, one might as well determine to learn the types and to learn them well. 



  Did GOD Really Intend to Hide Messages in His Word? 

"And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel." Isaiah 45:3


"I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:" Psalms 78:2


"To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings." Proverbs 1:6


"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it." Revelation 2:17


"But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:" 1 Corinthians 2:7



     You may still be asking yourself why God would need to hide "hidden" meanings in His Word. Isaiah 45:3 which we just read told us one of those reasons. It shows that men could not have authored the books of the Bible even though mere men were used to write and compile them. I've heard it explained this way once. "Have some people write sixty-six different books. Have them write these books over the span of some one thousand five hundred years. There must be at least forty different authors and some need to be ethnically diverse. These people cannot compare or correspond in their writings either. The contents of each book must contain things like historic accounts, poetry, autobiographies, personal letters, etc. Finally, all the books must mention the other books by direct quote, allegoric reference, or prophetic proclamation." You see this is how God compiled the Bible to show us it was not inspired by the mind of man.


     God used typologies to further show that He and He alone authored the books of the Bible. Of course the carnal mind will never perceive the works of God no matter how well one explains it. Yet once the underlying links, principles, and dominate themes within the books of the Bible are revealed by the Spirit, the person of faith cannot help but to marvel and rejoice at GOD'S magnificence. This understanding alone has brought many reasonable people to the inevitable conclusion that the Bible (though they still do not understand it all) is the inspired Word of GOD. Parables are the most obvious way that hidden meanings were put into the Word. Types are also used in conjunction with parables as they test not only the natural understanding but the reader's heart as well. In the Bible it is called "deep calling unto deep." Jesus made it very clear during His earthly ministry that His Father's desire is that our responses to His Word would first come from the heart and not from some religious reaction of the mind. In other words the mind may be fruitless to God's message within the message, but once the types are revealed with understanding, they greatly help to confirm and bring the fullness of that understanding to many other verses that were previously obscured through the lack of this knowledge.



     I believe there is an absolute need for us to understand the typologies of the Bible. First of all to read the Bible and only see its written content would severely limit the Holy Spirit's ability (especially on a personal level) to express the deeper truths within the Word. So then you would only know to believe God for that which is written on the pages when the Spirit would have otherwise expressed a multitude of deeper truths into the soul. It would be like feeling your way around in a dark room: you would eventually become very familiar with everything in that room, but it is not until the lights are turned on that you would be able to see the depth, width, and height of that room all at the same time.


     Knowing the different types, symbols, or figures (similitude as some prefer to use) of the Bible can help one to accurately understand the many hidden revelations in God's Word. Whereas shadows are nothing more than types that point to futuristic things or events; a foreshadowing as it were. One example of a normal type would be a tree; a (green) tree is a type for a Christian and it remains that type all throughout the Word—past, present, and future. An example of a shadow type would be "Adam," because Adam was a shadow, or foreshadowed the Christ to come. Furthermore, one should also possess the understanding as to where the Bible mentions such things as types & shadows ("similitudes," "examples," "parable," "proverb," "dark saying," "hidden wisdom," "figure," etc. ). In this way you will be able to recognize them whenever the Bible says things like, "...and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands," or when you read verses like "so and so is as a…," like in 1-Peter 5:8: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." This "as a..." prompt, is one obvious clue that a type is about to be established or further built upon, but one should find at least two or more verses pertaining to whatever is being typed–out before it is taught or established as one of, or God's primary type for that particular word. I will let you in on a little secret, for the most part types just do not jump out and introduce themselves to you; you need to possess a chronic awareness that they are present as you diligently search the Bible. Now let us go to Hosea 12 where it says straight–out that God Himself has ordained this substitutionary word principle as a means to communicate truth to us.


"I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets." Hosea 12:10


"And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life." Hebrews 7:15


"Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ." Colossians 2:16-17


"For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect." Hebrews 10:1


"Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come." Romans 5:14


"The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience." Hebrews 9:8-9



     One can find many more examples in the Bible where this type & shadow principle is found. Like when Yeshua used parables that illustrated the use of natural elements to project spiritual truths. Essentially you are going to find that by definition a shadow-type will always point towards a prophetic person, place, thing, or event to come. Whereas a type can be something in the future, but for the most part types are usually shown as generic preexisting items. As previously stated, these preexisting types will remain locked-in as that particular symbol all throughout the Bible. However, they usually change to become the fullness of a thing or situation. You will see this increase principle the closer you get to the book of Revelation. Some basic types can be seen as "trees," "dogs," "rocks," "waves," a "woman," "clouds," "stars," etc.


     I pray this short study has given you enough of an understanding for now so that we can go on to look at four basic guidelines that can be used when interpreting God's Word through types. Although, we must also look at one last matter concerning what is called an "anti type." Anti anything can actually mean just like, only the opposite of (a type of antonym). This means that anything that is considered anti can be in the place of or trying to replace something in opposition to it. Thus Satan "as a roaring lion," is trying to replace Jesus "the lion of the tribe of Judah."


  Guidlines for Interpreting the Types & Shadows in the Word:

RULE #1: Types & Shadows will almost always have their interpretations brought forth in the Bible.

     However, some can be interpreted through their natural characteristic. Animals and insects are just a few of the groups that usually fall into this category. As mentioned earlier you will see this biblical defining taking place whenever the Bible says, "so and so is as a…" This then is God's way of showing us how He sees a thing from the spiritual side of the matter. For example, in Job 25:6 man is first labeled as a "worm," and in Isaiah 41:14 God confirms this thought. So you look up what a worm is in the natural and you find it is defined as a "maggot!" Strong's also defines the biblical definition for a worm as a "rising up," a breeding [like how maggots consume a dead body and multiply their numbers] and mounting up [on high as it were]," which speaks of pride. In another place the worm is described as a "voracious consumer," assimilating everything in its path by feeding on death down in the dirt. As you see some types have multiple characteristics attributed to them, this will be discussed in rule #3. Furthermore, when first establishing the typed meaning for a word one should lean heavily toward its first usage as found in the scriptures. Although confirmation should always include the continued usage of an attributed meaning in some form or fashion throughout the Word.


RULE #2: Types & Shadows usually grow in meaning once established in the Bible.

     This means once a type first appears—let's say in Genesis—you may see a progressive change taking place in that type by the time you get to the book of Revelation. This change usually manifests in stature and nature; meaning it will grow and or mature to a fullness of the intended type. Like in Ezekiel 1:10; we see that the "ox face" of this symbolic creature in fact changes back as it were into a "calf's face" by the time you get to Revelation 4:7. This change symbolizes a change for the better towards submission and humility by the calf (child) like nature. Thus the fighting, resistant, stubborn nature that was once an old ox (a nature that God attributes to man) has been changed back into the submissive tender nature of a calf. Jesus said me must become like little children. In other words, God wants us to know there is a tendency for Christians to stubbornly hold on to that which God wants us to surrender. Yet we are told symbolically that there will be some who will learn to submit back onto God through their struggles and trials and become like little submissive children once again.


RULE #3:  A Type may have more than one interpretation applied to it.

     Types may take on different meanings for different situations, but context and or the Spirit will always quicken you as to which meaning should be applied. Another way a type takes on a different meaning is by becoming an anti-type. This is best illustrated using the dualistic types given for a lion. Jesus is typed-out as the "Lion of the tribe of Judah": Revelation 5:5, but then the Bible also says Satan is as a roaring lion: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour": 1-Peter 5:8. Rulers and leaders are also seen as (young) lions. As you can see one just cannot apply the types like they are set in stone; you still have to hear by the Spirit as to the proper application or anti type for any given verse or passage. Actually you will find out this just happens; it will become a second nature when you read your Bible. This is one of the marvelous things about the types, the more you look for them the more you will start to see them!


RULE #4:  Types & Shadows confirm doctrine by exposing the tares of the enemy.

     God hid meaning in His Word to protect the Truth seekers from Satan's foreseen attack against His Word. As you will hopefully learn, some of the most faith anchoring revelations you will ever come to know in the Bible will come through the types. One need not even fear deception in this matter because type revealed truths would have (or should have been) already revealed to you through the logos of the Word. That means any interpretation brought forth using types should also be found plainly spelled out in the Bible. This might appear to you as some natural story or situation in the Word that you previously thought carried little or no significance for the modern day Christian. Case in point, the story of Lazarus. The types show why Lazarus was raised on the fourth day. (see link)


     NOTE: because of space the interpreted meanings of the types and shadow-types in this website may not contain all the different examples for each. Keep in mind though that some types and shadows-types will have more than one meaning as with the word Christian. This one word can be seen typed-out in the Bible as a rock, a tree, a bride, a harlot, a virgin, a cloud(s), etc. Thus, the condensed interpretations that follow will be those most typically used for that word. This means you still have the responsibility as always to hear by the Spirit as to which type should be used for any particular passage. Especially if that type is going to set forth the interpretation for a word. Additionally, the Holy Spirit might be speaking more meanings to you at different times for the same word; add those to your list of types or compile additional sheets to your study book. As always the best place to put them would be in your heart.


      Finally, the listing of the types and shadows will be in alphabetical order. The words, interpretations, and verses marked in blue represent the shadow-types having futuristic prophetic meanings. Likewise words, interpretations, and verses marked in red will represent the types having the dual anti-type meanings. I suggest you down load this resource to have on hand as you study the Bible: Type & Shadow Intro.