Typology, Providence, Sovereignty

The New Testament teaches that there are types and shadows in the Old Testament (Rom 5:14, Heb 8:5).  A 1:64 model car is a type of a real, full size car.  The shadow of a house is an image of the actual house itself.  We can learn things from the model car and the shadow of the house, but there’s something beyond them, something more.  So in the OT there are types and shadows that find their fulfillment in Jesus and the Christian faith.  I appreciate how Richard Lints explains typology in relation to God’s sovereign providence:

“Typology is founded on the notions of providence and prophecy.  While the type does have significance for its own time, its greater significance is directed toward the future.  It testifies to something greater than itself that is yet to come.  The future antitype will surely come, because God will providentially bring it to pass.  It is God’s ability to hold history together that serves as the foundation of typology.”

“The prophetic fulfillment of the original type is as certain as the God who providentially orders that fulfillment.  As typology is the foundation of the theological interpretation of redemptive revelation, so divine providence is the foundation of the theological interpretation of typology.”

“Adam was a type of Christ in his federal representation of humankind.  As Paul is quick to remind his readers in Romans 5, the link is not simply one of similarity.  There are significant and important differences, all the more important because of the similarities.  Both Adam and Christ act on behalf of those whom they represent.  Through Adam, condemnation and death spread to all people, whereas through Christ, justification and life spread to many.”

Lints also explains how Moses was a type of Christ (cf. Heb 3:5-6) and comments:

“It is the unmistakeable conviction of the New Testament that Moses prepared the way for Christ.  Moses pointed to Christ.  This was no mere accident of history, but was the outworking of the providential plan by which God brought redemption to his people.  The concept of providence is what lies behind the New Testament connection of Moses and Christ, and providence ought therefore to be foundational in our theological framework as well.”

Richard Lints, The Fabric of Theology, p. 306-7.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI


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