A Key Interpretive Paradigm – Part 2

We will now begin to look at several texts which validate each of the three assumptions listed above (in part 1). If the above assumptions prove true, then the “transitional paradigm” also holds true as a sound interpretive paradigm which does in fact hold the power to unlock truth in the sacred writings. In Part 2 of this study, we will seek to validate assumption #1.

In assumption #1 we said, “the entire “old covenant world” – temple, priesthood, sacrificial system etc., and even the land of Israel and the ethnic seed of Abraham – were but types and shadows of the better and spiritual realities of the “new covenant world” in Jesus Christ”.

Let’s validate this assumption.

Colossians 2:16-17
Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day, things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.

Notice that that the “feasts of Israel” were at that time still servings as “mere shadows” of what was still to come (verse 17 being in the present tense). Also, the phrase “what is to come” is a translation of the Greek word “mello”, which means “about to be, on the point of”. Paul is telling the Colossian Christians to pay no attention to those who would judge them on things that were only serving as mere shadows of the new covenant world that was “about to come”. The reason being was that the “substance” (the embodiment) of those things was is found in Christ and they were not to be judged based on observances of the “shadow world”.

Hebrews 8:4-5
Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law; who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “See” He says, “that you make all things according to the patter which was shown you on the mountain.”

Hebrews 8 teaches that the “earthly” high priests, the “gifts” they offered, and the “wilderness-tabernacle” were still serving as a copy and shadow, and were patterns (types) of the “heavenly things” (the Melchizedek high-priesthood, spiritual sacrifices, and the body of Christ). If the new covenant realities constitute “heavenly things”, then by contrast the old covenant shadows constitute “worldly things”. (Perhaps we should consider this in our interpretation of what John meant by “in the world” in 1 John 2).

Hebrews 10:1
For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.

Hebrews 10 tells us that the entire old covenant corpus, “the law”, had only a “shadow” (an outline) of the “good things” that were to come. The good things that were to come were the elements of the new covenant “world”. The entire old covenant world foreshadowed all “spiritual things” of the new covenant world in Jesus Christ. This leaves nothing out, it all pointed to the new covenant realities we now experience in Christ.

Also, notice again the present tense in this verse and the use of the word “mello” as in Colossians 2 above. At the time Hebrews was written, the law still possessed the shadow (the outline) of the good (new covenant) things that were “about to” come. The new covenant “things” had clearly not yet been consummated.

1 Corinthians 10:1-6,11 (YLT)
And I do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all to Moses were baptized in the cloud, and in the sea; and all the same spiritual food did eat, and all the same spiritual drink did drink, for they were drinking of a spiritual rock following them, and the rock was the Christ; but in the most of them God was not well pleased, for they were strewn in the wilderness, and those things became types of us, for our not passionately desiring evil things, as also these did desire… And all these things as types did happen to those persons, and they were written for our admonition, to whom the end of the ages did come.  

In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians he says that “those things” (the events of the wilderness exodus), became types (figures or images) of them (Paul’s first century generation). Their fathers’ experience of “baptism into Moses” and partaking of “spiritual meat and drink” under the old covenant prefigured and foreshadowed their own generation’s baptism into Christ, and their “tasting of the heavenly gift and powers of the age to come” (Hebrews 6:4-5) under the new covenant.

For Paul, the “type” was found not only in the event but also in the people, “those things became types of us…. all these things as types did happen to those persons…”. Paul brings this out in greater focus in his epistle to the Galatians.

Galatians 4:22-24,28,31
For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. This is allegorically speaking, for these (women) are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar.. And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. … So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman.

Paul makes it clear that Abraham’s two sons (who represent two seeds – sons of the flesh and sons of the Spirit) and their mothers (Sarah and Hagar) represent two covenants (the old covenant and the new covenant).

However, since Paul and the writer of Hebrews have taught elsewhere that the elements of the old covenant (the Law) were a “shadow” and “copy” of the elements of the new covenant, this proves that the “sons of the flesh” (old covenant ethnic-Israel) were but a type and a shadow of the “sons of the Spirit” (new covenant spiritual-Israel), the body of Christ.

Let’s look at one more text.

Hebrews 4:1-9
Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, “As I swore in my wrath, they shall not enter my rest,” although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day, “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works”; and again in this passage, “They shall not enter my rest.” Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts”. For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.

The Hebrew writer parallels the “rest” of Canaan with the “rest” in Christ, which those who had believed had begun to enter. Therefore, the land of Canaan and its rest (its blessings and promises) which Joshua had given the exodus generation, were but a type and shadow of the true and heavenly Sabbath-rest in Christ and his kingdom, which at that time remained available (and yet to be consummated) for the people of God. In other words, the new covenant exodus (new covenant redemption) wasn’t “finished”.

As we have seen, the the entire “old covenant world” – temple, priesthood, sacrificial system etc., and even the land of Israel and the ethnic seed of Abraham – were but types and shadows of the better and spiritual realities of the “new covenant world” in Jesus Christ”.

As it was written….

Exodus 25:8-9,40
Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it…. See that you make them after the pattern for them, which was shown to you on the mountain.

1 Chronicles 28:11-12,19
Then David gave to his son Solomon the plan (pattern) of the porch of the temple its buildings, its storehouses, its upper rooms, its inner rooms and the room for the mercy seat; and the plan (pattern) of all that he had in mind, for the courts of the house of the Lord, and for all the surrounding rooms, for the storehouses of the house of God and for the storehouses of the dedicated things… All this said David, “the Lord made me understand in writing by His hand upon me, all the details of this pattern.”

Thus, assumption #1 has been validated.

(See Part 3)

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