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The people spoke against God and against Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food." Then the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you. Pray to the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us." So Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live." So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. (ESV)




Great Types

Wednesday after the Baptism of our Lord

14 January 2015

Our old Lutheran theologians taught that there were many types of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. What is a type? A type points forward to that which fulfills the promise contained in the type itself. There are words of promise in the Old Testament and these are the clearest and most powerful signs of the coming Messiah. For example we can think of Isaiah 7:14, in which Isaiah, speaking for God, promises that the virgin would conceive and bear a Son, and that His name would be God-with-us. This is a clear messianic prophecy which was fulfilled in the New Testament as Matthew specifically points out in Matthew 1:23.


However, beyond these specific promises in words there were events in the Old Testament which pointed forward to the coming of the Messiah and the meaning of His advent. The most clearly typical events in the Old Testament are those alluded to by the New Testament. For example, when Moses struck the rock and water flowed out is typical of Christ. We know this with certainty because Paul tells us that the rock was Christ (1Co 10:4). But were there any other typical events or actions in the Old Testament beyond those to which the New Testament makes direct reference? John Chrysostom and the ancient church fathers certainly thought so. Our Lutheran theologians shared that view with them, even though they certainly debated about the specific types which ought to be identified as typical of Christ and His life. There is a delightful richness in these Old Testament pictures of Christ and the salvation which He gives to us.


In this sermon, John identified Abraham and Isaac, the brazen serpent, the battle with Amalek, and the Passover Lamb as typical of the Messiah or the messianic ministry. We might very well debate somewhat about who or what is typical of Christ in the story of the attempted sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham. Is Isaac a type of Christ? Perhaps, but it might be better to see the ram caught in the thicket as the sacrificial substitute for Isaac. Isaac then would be typical of the church, the ram typical of Christ the Lamb, who was slain for the sins of the world. This richness all points to Christ who is the reason the Old Testament was written. What great types there
 are in Scripture.


John Chrysostom


"'In the holy Scriptures.' (Rm 1:2). The prophets not only spoke, but also wrote what they spoke. However, they did not only write, but also foreshadowed them by actions, for example: Abraham when he led up Isaac (Gn 22), and Moses when he lifted up the Serpent (Num 21:6-9), when he spread out his hands against Amalek (Ex 17:8-16), and when he offered the Passover Lamb (Ex 12:21)."

John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 1




Lord Christ, You have revealed Yourself in words and actions throughout the Old Testament, show us the richness of Your divine word that we might see You wherever You are to be found. Amen.


For the family of Juanita Duffala, whom our Lord Jesus gathered to Himself, that they would rejoice in the power of the life of Christ and confess the resurrected life for those who die in the Lord


For Hilary Murray, who is celebrating her birthday today, that the Lord would continue to shower blessings upon her


For the work of Pastor Sagar Pilli, who is reaching out to the Telugu population of Houston with the gospel of Jesus, that the Lord would grant success


For God's abundant grace, that Christ would keep us steadfast in His care 
Art: RENI, Guido Baptism of Christ (c. 1623)


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