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Shadows, Patterns, Figures

By studying Types of Christ for an upcoming Youtube series, I realized the word types isn’t actually a bible word. Much like the word missionary, the reader is at liberty (or in jeopardy in some cases), to self-define the word.


However, there are words that are used to paint an image in our mind’s eye: similitude, likeness, allegory, shadows, examples, figures are commonly used. For now, we define examples, figures, patterns, and shadows and gain some depth in our understanding of God’s word.

  • An Example is a past (recent past or far past) event or thing displayed for us in the present.

    • “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done” - John 13:15.


  • A Figure is an image or type, with feeling, with emotion. A figure can be based on a present condition with a future hope or expectation.

    • “Which was a figure for the time then present…until the time of reformation. But Christ being come…” - Hebrews 9:9,10.

Certainly there was emotion and future expectation when Abraham and Isaac went yonder to worship, “…whence also he received him in a figure”

- Hebrews 11:19.


  • A Pattern is the original made for the purpose of duplicating. It allows for the exact replication or multiplication of the original (the pattern) in the future.

    • “…make all things according to the pattern shewed thee in the mount” - Hebrews 8:5.


- This is the foundation of most Biblical counseling; find the design according to God’s word, and then follow it in principle and practice.


  • A Shadow is a present silhouette formed by the blocking of light. The blocking object’s detail isn’t revealed, just the outline. When the object ceases to block the light, the shadow is gone; it has no history and it has no future - it’s just something vague, for now.

    • “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things…”- Hebrews 10:1.


More on shadows: “And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercy seat; of which we cannot now speak particularly” (Hebrews 9:5). Why couldn’t he be specific about the mercy seat? He spoke in detail about the ark and the items within the ark: the golden pot, Aaron’s rod, and the tables, so what detail about the mercy seat was lacking? (It was being shadowed, and as such, apparently some details weren’t revealed.)


Perhaps I’m just preaching (!), for practically this question is answered in the next few verses, (all was a shadow, for the Holy Ghost had not yet made manifest… made it clear, provided the perfect answer).


But the mercy seat was, in fact, shadowed — why? God is light — any shadows would have been cast away from him, not on his seat.


I‘d suggest that the mercy seat, which pictures Christ’s mercy, is indeed missing a detail. (It always has.) It is best described as shadowed for there is something vague about it. The ark had three dimensions (Exodus 25:10); so also the mercy seat was exactly the same as the ark in width and length; it fit perfectly on the ark, no overhang or mismatch.


But, unlike the ark, there is no depth dimension for the mercy seat (Exodus 25:17). There is no measuring, no bounds for the depth of Christ’s mercy!


Just a little vocabulary bunny trail! It’s all good!



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