The Bible Has More than One Level of Meaning
Thus ÿfar in our study, ÿin brief fashion, ÿwe have discovered
two ÿvery important principles we must keep in mind as ÿwe ÿstudy
the Bi- ble. These are:
1) ÿÿThe Bible alone and in its entirety is the ÿWord ÿof
2) We are to interpret Scripture with Scripture.
Only ÿas we keep these principles in mind are we going to find
truth from the Bible.
But ÿnow we want to look at a third principle that is of ÿvery
great ÿimportance if we are to realize most fully ÿthe ÿspiritual
riches hidden within the Bible.
In ÿChapter ÿI ÿthe ÿprinciple was set forth ÿthat ÿthe ÿBible
ordinarily has more than one level of meaning. ÿWe saw that there
1) the historical setting
2) the moral or spiritual teaching
3) the salvation account
We ÿwill ÿnow ÿexamine these three levels in ÿgreater ÿdetail,
beginning with the historical setting.
The ÿBible ÿis Absolutely Accurate in Its ÿRecord ÿof ÿHistorical
Many ÿpeople ÿhave ÿthe notion that because the Bible ÿis ÿthe
revelation ÿof God’s Word concerning salvation, ÿit is ÿtherefore
not ÿnecessarily ÿtrustworthy or accurate when it speaks ÿin ÿthe
area ÿof history or science or any other field of ÿlearning. ÿÿWe
immediately sense the wrongness of this idea. ÿSince the Bible is
a ÿrevelation ÿfrom God Himself as He spoke through holy ÿmen ÿof
old, ÿÿwe ÿknow ÿthat whatever He has given us must be ÿtrue ÿand
A favorite target of attack in this area concerns the creation
of the earth. The Bible declares that God created the universe in
six ÿdays. ÿIf we search the Bible, ÿwe will find this ÿstatement
abundantly ÿsupported, ÿwith no encouragement for the theory that
more than six 24-hour days were required.
Modern ÿscience ÿhas concluded that the world is ÿbillions ÿof
years ÿold. ÿBut how valid is this conclusion? ÿWe must ÿremember
that ÿscientists who are arriving at conclusions ÿconcerning ÿthe
origins ÿof ÿthe ÿuniverse are dealing ÿwith ÿexceedingly ÿscarce
evidence. ÿÿMoreover, ÿsince no present day scientist was ÿliving
back then, and since the written record goes back only about five
thousand years, ÿthe modern day scientist must view the available
evidence, ÿÿas ÿmeager as it might be, ÿin the light ÿof ÿcertain
assumptions he is forced to make. ÿObviously, ÿthe conclusions at
which he arrives will be no more accurate than the assumptions or
“educated guesses’ on which he has based his view of the limited
evidence available to him. ÿObviously then, ÿit is impossible for
the ÿconclusions of the scientists to be even a tiny fraction ÿas
accurate ÿas the majestic statement of the Bible describing God’s
act of creating the heavens and the earth.
The ÿBible ÿalso ÿrecords ÿthe ÿoccurrence ÿof ÿa ÿflood ÿthat
destroyed ÿeverything having the breath of life from off the face
of ÿthe ÿearth. ÿÿThis flood also covered ÿthe ÿhighest ÿmountain
(Genesis ÿ6 ÿto 9). ÿIf we suggest that this might ÿhave ÿbeen ÿa
localized flood of some kind, we are denying the authority of the
The ÿBible ÿsays ÿthat in Peleg’s day the ÿearth ÿwas ÿdivided
(Genesis 10). This historical statement is abundantly seen in the
scientific ÿevidence ÿindicating ÿthat ÿat one ÿtime ÿthis ÿearth
consisted of one huge continent which subsequently broke up ÿinto
the smaller continents that exist today.
Unless ÿthe Bible itself shows us that an account of an ÿevent
or conversation is to be understood as being non-historical, ÿÿwe
can depend absolutely on the fact that every conversation, ÿevery
historical ÿincident ÿrecorded ÿin the Bible ÿactually ÿdid ÿtake
place. ÿÿBecause ÿthe ÿarcheological evidence may ÿnot ÿshow ÿthe
existence of a particular nation named in the Bible, ÿor ÿbecause
the ÿincident may appear unusual, ÿwe nevertheless have no ÿright
whatsoever ÿto ÿsuggest ÿthat ÿwhat the ÿBible ÿhas ÿrecorded ÿis
anything but authoritative.
When the Bible speaks, ÿfor example, ÿof the nation of ÿIsrael
passing ÿthrough the Red Sea so that the “waters were a wall unto
them on their right hand, and on their left’ (Exodus 14:22), ÿwe
would ÿbe denying the truth of God to suggest that anything but a
miracle occurred. ÿObviously God altered the normal physical laws
in order that these waters might stand as a wall. ÿWhen the Bible
speaks of a prophet by the name of Jonah being cast into the ÿsea
and being swallowed by a fish, ÿwe are repudiating God Himself to
suggest ÿthat this was not a true historical event that ÿoccurred
about ÿ800 ÿÿyears before Christ. ÿWhen the Bible speaks ÿof ÿthe
bodily ÿresurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, ÿwe can be assured
that this event actually occurred in history.
Because the Bible is impeccably accurate in whatever facts God
gives ÿus concerning past historical events, ÿbeing the facts ÿHe
wants ÿto ÿbring to our attention, ÿwe can rest assured that ÿthe
Bible ÿis also equally accurate when it speaks about ÿthe ÿfuture
events which concern this world and its inhabitants. ÿThe ÿfuture
physical return of Lord Jesus Christ in glory, the rapture of the
believers ÿon the last day to go to be with Him, ÿthe destruction
of this present universe by fire, the creation of New Heavens and
a ÿNew ÿEarth ÿas ÿthe ÿeternal ÿdwelling ÿplace ÿfor ÿborn-again
believers, ÿÿand ÿthe removal of the unsaved into a place ÿcalled
Hell, where they will suffer eternally as payment for their sins,
are ÿall ÿto be understood as future historical events ÿthat ÿare
certain ÿand ÿsure to take place, ÿjust as ÿthe ÿpast ÿhistorical
events recorded in the Bible actually took place.
It ÿmight ÿbe ÿemphasized ÿthat a ÿdenial ÿof ÿthe ÿhistorical
accuracy ÿof the Bible as it speaks to such questions as creation
and the flood will also lead to serious questions regarding ÿsuch
events ÿas the destruction of this world by fire and the ÿremoval
of the unsaved into eternal damnation. ÿGod warns concerning this
in II Peter 3:3-7,10,13:
Knowing ÿthis ÿfirst, ÿthat there shall come in the ÿlast
scoffers, walking after their own lusts.
And saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since
the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were
from the beginning of the creation.
For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word
of ÿGod the heavens were of old, ÿand the earth ÿstanding
of the water and in the water:
Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with
But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by
the same word kept in store, reserved into fire against
the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men….
But ÿthe ÿday ÿof the Lord will come as a ÿthief ÿin ÿthe
in ÿthe ÿwhich ÿthe heavens shall pass ÿaway ÿwith ÿgreat
and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth
also ÿand ÿthe ÿworks that are therein ÿshall ÿbe ÿburned
Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new
heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
God’s ÿpurpose in writing the Bible was not to give us a ÿbook
on ÿhistory or science. ÿIn revealing His salvation plan ÿto ÿus,
however, ÿGod did so within an historical context. That is, God’s
plan comes to fruition in history. ÿTherefore, ÿwhen God ÿselects
certain historical events or conversations as the context through
which ÿthe ÿsalvation program will shine, ÿwe can ÿbe ÿabsolutely
certain that those historical events and conversations which have
been ÿÿchosen ÿto ÿbe ÿrecorded ÿare ÿaltogether ÿÿaccurate ÿÿand
We see, therefore, that the Bible is a book that is absolutely
dependable in its presentation of historical facts.
But ÿthe ÿBible ÿis much more than an ÿaccount ÿof ÿhistorical
events. ÿIt also has a second level of meaning which is concerned
with teaching moral and spiritual values. Let us now examine this
characteristic of the Bible.
The Bible Teaches Moral and Spiritual Values
We ÿread ÿin ÿII ÿTimothy 3:16, ÿ”All scripture ÿis ÿgiven ÿby
inspira- ÿÿtion ÿof ÿGod, ÿand is profitable for ÿdoctrine, ÿÿfor
reproof, for correction, ÿfor instruction in righteousness:….’
The ÿBible ÿtherefore is the account wherein God sets ÿforth ÿthe
moral ÿand spiritual principles and guidelines that man ought ÿto
live by, ÿthat man might know the more abundant life. God, in His
condescending ÿlove ÿand ÿmercy, ÿhas given us ÿa ÿrevelation ÿin
written ÿform whereby the human race, ÿwhich was created ÿin ÿHis
image, can live most happily and effectively in this world.
Only ÿthe ÿbeliever ÿin ÿChrist, ÿÿwho ÿreceived ÿhis ÿeternal
resurrected ÿsoul ÿ(also called “spirit’) ÿat the moment of ÿhis
salvation, will have an ongoing desire to be obedient to God. ÿHe
will ÿcarefully listen to the admonitions and exhortations of the
Bible because he loves God who is doing the admonishing. In fact,
when he sins, the believer will be deeply troubled because within
his ÿown ÿpersonality he will feel violated. ÿEven though in ÿhis
body ÿhe still lusts after sin, ÿin his soul wherein he has ÿbeen
born ÿfrom above, ÿhe never wants to sin again. ÿÿMoreover, ÿÿGod
Himself in the Person of the Holy Spirit indwells him. Indeed, he
has become a child of God and the Holy Spirit will soon bring him
under conviction if he does not confess and turn from that sin.
This ÿprocess ÿis ÿsometimes called “growing ÿin ÿgrace’ ÿÿor
growing in “sanctification.’ It is the experience of every child
of ÿGod. ÿIt is the process whereby he will be doing good ÿworks.
That is, he will be doing works pleasing to God. ÿThese works are
never ÿa ÿcause ÿor basis for salvation. ÿRather, ÿÿthey ÿare ÿan
expected ÿresult of our salvation. ÿEphesians 2:8-10 ÿsets ÿforth
this principle so beautifully.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto
good works, which God hath before ordained that we should
walk in them.
In ÿorder to receive maximum value from God’s Word as it ÿsets
forth the guidelines for our life, ÿthree principles must ÿalways
be kept in view:
1. The Bible is the final authority.
2. ÿThe Bible must be read with a view to being ÿobedient
what is found therein.
3. ÿÿThe Bible itself interprets and explains ÿthe ÿrules
has laid down.
As ÿwe read the Bible, ÿwe discover many rules for man’s ÿcon-
duct. For example, the Bible says that we should seek the kingdom
of ÿGod and His righteousness. ÿIt declares we are not to ÿcommit
adultery. ÿÿIt ÿemphasizes ÿthat we are to be holy ÿjust ÿas ÿour
heavenly ÿFather ÿis ÿholy. ÿThese rules ÿof ÿconduct ÿare ÿfound
throughout the Bible so that the whole Bible becomes the standard
which God has established for the well-being of mankind.
To ÿencourage us and help us avoid the consequences of ÿliving
in ÿviolation ÿof ÿthese rules, ÿthe Bible ÿrecords ÿhundreds ÿof
historical situations which can be examined in the light of these
rules to discover the blessings that come with obedience and ÿthe
curse that comes with disobedience. ÿThus we have the accounts of
individuals such as Joseph and Daniel and the blessings that came
into their lives as they obeyed God; ÿand we have the accounts of
Israel ÿand ÿJudah, ÿÿwho came under God’s ÿjudgment ÿbecause ÿof
disobedience. Therefore, God declares in I Corinthians 10:11:
Now ÿall ÿthese things happened unto them for ÿensamples;
they ÿare written for our admonition, ÿupon whom the ends
the world are come.
But ÿall ÿthis information will be valueless to us ÿunless ÿwe
recognize that the Bible is the Word of God. ÿThere is no higher
authority which abrogates, ÿinvalidates or explains the ÿbiblical
statement. It is altogether trustworthy and dependable.
More ÿthan that, ÿwe must also look upon the examples and ÿthe
declarations of the Bible with a view to being obedient to ÿthem.
We can know in our hearts that the Bible is authoritative, ÿÿthat
it is the Word of God. Only by surrendering to all we find in the
Bible ÿwill we really begin to see the implications and ÿultimate
values ÿof ÿthe truths that are set forth. ÿThis is ÿbecause ÿthe
Bible ÿis more than just a rule book. ÿIt is the living ÿWord ÿof
God. ÿAs we humbly and obediently approach it as the Word of God,
it ÿbecomes the Sword of the Spirit as God Himself ÿapplies ÿthat
Word to our lives. ÿWe will never be able to interpret the ÿBible
properly, we will never see the riches of the Word of God, unless
we ÿcome to it with an earnest desire to be obedient to ÿanything
and everything we find therein.
Because the Bible is the complete written revelation of God to
man, ÿit is its own interpreter. We will understand it only as we
compare Scripture with Scripture. ÿWe looked at this principle in
greater ÿdetail ÿin ÿour last chapter. ÿIt is ÿa ÿprinciple ÿthat
becomes ÿvery ÿimportant if we are to ÿcorrectly ÿunderstand ÿthe
moral and spiritual truths of the Bible.
For example, ÿwhen God declares, ÿ”Thou shalt not kill,’ ÿÿwe
cannot know fully what He means unless we examine everything else
in the Bible that relates to the matter of killing. Only then can
we ÿbe sure that God does not mean that we may not kill ÿanimals.
Indeed, ÿÿthere are even times when the Bible insists that ÿhuman
life must be taken.
Thus ÿit is imperative that the whole Bible be read. ÿOnly ÿby
careful ÿinvestigation of the entire Bible can we understand most
clearly the moral and spiritual laws which God has set forth.
It must be added, ÿof course, ÿthat when we as unsaved sinners
go ÿto ÿthe Bible ready to be obedient to all we find there, ÿÿwe
will discover that we do not measure up to the standards God ÿhas
set forth. This should serve to bring us to our knees, crying out
for deliverance from our sins through the Lord Jesus Christ, ÿwho
has ÿbeen presented to us in the Bible in a marvelous fashion ÿas
the Redeemer. ÿTo whatever extent man lives in conformity to ÿthe
laws of the Bible, ÿhe will enjoy to some degree the blessings of
God, ÿÿbut he will never know the highest blessing and happiness,
that of eternal life, until he has become obedient to the command
to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thus ÿfar ÿwe have seen that not only is the Bible ÿimpeccably
ac- curate as it speaks historically, ÿbut through the historical
events recorded, as well as through the direct commands set forth
in the Scriptures, God gives to us moral and spiritual values and
precepts whereby man is to live.
The Bible is the Gospel of Grace
There ÿis ÿa third level of meaning that ÿpersistently ÿshines
through all of the Scriptures. ÿIt is the fact that the Bible ÿis
the presentation of the Gospel of grace. Without question this is
the most important purpose of the Bible. The Bible was written so
that mankind might know of their need of a Savior. ÿGod ÿdeclared
in John 20:31 concerning the signs which Jesus did:
But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus
is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye
might have life through his name.
It ÿis ÿthrough God’s salvation program that He tells ÿmankind
about ÿour terrible predicament. ÿHe discloses to us that without
Christ we are condemned to eternal damnation because of our sins.
But wonderfully, ÿGod also shows us the marvelous escape that ÿHe
has provided through the Lord Jesus Christ.
The ÿpresentation of the Gospel message is given to us in ÿtwo
basic ways: ÿ(1) ÿby means of statements speaking directly to the
question of salvation, ÿand (2) by means of historical events and
phrases ÿwhich are actually types or figures of ÿGod’s ÿsalvation
program. In our study we will examine these two methods of Gospel
God Speaks Directly to the Matter of Salvation
Almost ÿfrom the very beginning of the Bible, ÿstatements ÿare
made ÿthat ÿspeak ÿdirectly to the question ÿof ÿsalvation. ÿÿFor
example, in Genesis 3:15 ÿGod declares that there would be enmity
between Satan and the woman, ÿand between his seed and her ÿseed,
so that Satan’s head would be bruised. ÿThis points to the enmity
that exists between the kingdom of Satan on the one hand and ÿthe
kingdom of Christ on the other. ÿChrist is the seed of the ÿwoman
who, by going to the Cross, would vanquish Satan.
In ÿGenesis, ÿÿGod ÿgives additional ÿinsight ÿconcerning ÿHis
salvation ÿprogram ÿas ÿHe declares that the ÿscepter ÿwould ÿnot
depart ÿfrom Judah. ÿBy means of this language, ÿthe Bible ÿshows
that a King would come from Judah. ÿThis King would be intimately
related to salvation.
Step ÿby ÿstep God gives more and more information ÿconcerning
His salvation program. ÿIn Psalm 103, ÿfor example, ÿHe speaks of
Himself as the Savior who “forgiveth all thine iniquities’ ÿÿand
“redeemeth thy life from destruction.’ ÿIn Isaiah 53 God becomes
even ÿmore specific as He describes the coming Savior as One ÿwho
would become a Man of Sorrows upon whom God would lay our sins.
However, ÿÿit is in the New Testament that the proclamation of
the salvation program comes to its most complete revelation. ÿThe
first ÿfour ÿbooks of the New Testament clearly present the ÿLord
Jesus ÿChrist ÿto us as our Savior. ÿRemember John the ÿBaptist’s
introduction ÿof Him as he declared, ÿ”Behold the Lamb of God who
taketh ÿaway ÿthe ÿsin of the world.’ ÿRemember, ÿtoo, ÿÿsuch ÿa
beautiful ÿand specific promise as John 3:16 ÿwhere God promises,
“For God so loved the world, ÿthat he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have ever-
God ÿcontinues ÿHis revelation of His Gospel ÿprogram ÿin ÿthe
epistles. ÿThere, ÿunder the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, ÿthe
Apostle ÿPaul and others wrote to various churches, ÿrevealing in
clear detail the grand, wonderful declaration of salvation.
Thus ÿthe ÿwhole Bible is a book that ÿpresents ÿthe ÿglorious
Gospel ÿof salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. ÿÿAnyone ÿwho
reads ÿit ÿwith a humble attitude and realizes that this ÿis ÿthe
Word of God has the needed information to convict him of his sin.
By this Word, God will draw him into the kingdom of Christ.
The Gospel of Grace Is Frequently Hidden
While ÿthe Bible makes many statements that bear ÿdirectly ÿon
the glorious message of salvation, this message is not always im-
mediately ÿapparent. ÿSometimes it is hidden within the ÿbiblical
language. ÿÿWe must realize that the message of salvation is ÿthe
most important message of the Bible. We would expect, ÿtherefore,
that it would shine clearly through on every page of the Bible.
Earlier ÿin our study we saw that the Bible can be trusted im-
plicitly ÿeven when it speaks from the historical standpoint. ÿWe
also ÿdiscovered that frequently the Bible sets forth ÿmoral ÿand
spiritual values, ÿwhich are to be observed by the human race ÿin
order ÿÿto ÿassure ÿhappiness ÿon ÿthis ÿearth. ÿÿBut ÿthe ÿmajor
presentation ÿof ÿthe ÿBible ÿis the Gospel ÿof ÿGod’s ÿgrace ÿas
revealed through the Lord Jesus Christ, ÿour Savior. ÿAs we ÿhave
just discovered, it is this level of meaning which frequently can
be found in very clear language.
But ÿwe are going to find that very frequently the message ÿof
salvation ÿcan ÿalso ÿbe ÿfound ÿhidden ÿwithin ÿthe ÿÿhistorical
conversa- ÿÿtions ÿand incidents recorded within the Bible. ÿÿThe
hidden ÿaspects of this third level of meaning are what ÿmust ÿbe
looked ÿat ÿin ÿaddition ÿto the first ÿlevel ÿof ÿmeaning, ÿÿthe
historical aspects, ÿand the second level of meaning, ÿthe ÿmoral
and spiritual teachings.
Frequently ÿwe ÿfind recorded in the Bible historical ÿevents,
words, phrases, and concepts which in themselves do not appear to
speak to the message of salvation. ÿNevertheless, because we know
that the Bible is the Word of God, and we know that the intent of
the ÿBible ÿis ÿto bring men face to face with their ÿneed ÿof ÿa
Savior, ÿÿwe realize that God did not put anything in ÿthe ÿBible
incidentally or coincidentally or casually. We sense very quickly
that it wasn’t God’s purpose to write the Bible simply to give us
a history lesson, ÿeven though every event recorded in the ÿBible
is perfect in its historical accuracy. We also sense that God did
not write the Bible simply to give us moral and spiritual lessons
so that mankind might live more comfortably upon this earth, even
though those moral and spiritual lessons are seen throughout ÿthe
Scriptures. ÿIndeed the great predicament facing mankind is ÿthat
he is going to hell because of his sins. This is a major facet of
the most important message of the Bible. Wonderfully, the rest of
the ÿmessage ÿis ÿthe truth that by believing in ÿChrist ÿwe ÿcan
escape this most terrible predicament.
The problem we face, however, is that so much of the Bible ap-
pears ÿon ÿthe surface to have no direct ÿrelationship ÿto ÿGod’s
salvation plan. As we have already noted, there is ample evidence
in the Bible that its central purpose is to bring God’s salvation
plan to the attention of the human race. Is it possible that only
those ÿdirect ÿstatements that speak clearly to ÿthe ÿmessage ÿof
salvation ÿare ÿto ÿbe ÿconsidered relevant in ÿrelation ÿto ÿthe
salvation message? Are we to consider the balance of the Bible to
be ÿsimply ÿthe historical framework, ÿthe historical ÿmilieu ÿin
which the Gospel message is cast?
The ÿBible ÿprovides answers to these questions, ÿand this ÿis
what we want to develop as we go on in this study. We should note
that ÿGod ÿcarefully ÿguides ÿus ÿin ÿour ÿunderstanding ÿof ÿthe
Scriptures as to how to handle the words, ÿphrases, ÿand concepts
which ÿat ÿfirst blush appear to have no direct ÿrelationship ÿto
God’s salvation program.
The ÿCeremonial Laws Pointed to Aspects of God’s ÿSalvation ÿPro-
Let us look first at the record of the ceremonial laws. ÿThese
are one major way God has hidden the salvation message. For exam-
ple, in the Old Testament God instituted the Passover Feast. This
was ÿfirst ÿobserved at the time that Israel went out ÿof ÿEgypt,
when ÿthe angel of death killed the firstborn in the ÿhomes ÿthat
did not have the lamb’s blood placed on the doorpost. ÿThe ÿblood
of ÿthat ÿlamb ÿprovided salvation from physical ÿdeath ÿfor ÿthe
firstborn of that home. ÿThe Bible teaches very clearly that that
historical event was a picture of the salvation which is provided
through ÿJesus Christ. ÿHe is our Passover. ÿHe is the Lamb which
was slain so that we would not come into eternal damnation.
Besides the observance of feast days which anticipated the com-
ing of the Lord Jesus Christ, ÿthe ceremonial laws also ÿincluded
offerings, sacrifices, food laws, planting laws, and a whole host
of ÿregulations which the Bible presents as types or ÿfigures ÿor
representations ÿof spiritual truths which relate to some ÿaspect
of the salvation message. We see, therefore, that by means of the
ceremonial ÿlaws God has hidden the salvation message within ÿthe
Scriptures. ÿÿAs we begin to understand the spiritual meaning ÿof
each ÿaspect ÿof the ceremonial laws, ÿour understanding ÿof ÿthe
salvation message is enhanced.
But now let us look at another biblical means of understanding
the salvation message. ÿWhen Christ was on earth He declared from
time ÿto time that He was about to speak a parable. ÿHe then pro-
ceeded to give the parable, ÿconcluding His presentation with the
spiritual meaning. ÿBy means of these parables Christ was presen-
ting an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. The fact is, these
parables ÿparalleled the ceremonial observances of the Old Testa-
ment, ÿÿwhich themselves were earthly observances with a heavenly
meaning. The ceremonial laws, therefore, were actually historical
parables. ÿÿThat is, ÿthey were actual earthly experiences of the
Israelites, ÿÿeach ÿpointing to a heavenly or ÿspiritual ÿmeaning
relating to some aspect of salvation.
In addition to the ceremonial laws and the parables, ÿGod also
used a third method to teach heavenly lessons by means of earthly
events. ÿÿThis was by the use of historical events. ÿGod shows us
very ÿcarefully in the Scriptures that certain historical ÿevents
were ÿrecorded in the Bible so that we might ÿunderstand ÿthrough
them spiritual truth relating to salvation.
For example, ÿin Genesis we read of Abraham bearing Ishmael by
Hagar and the subsequent expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael from ÿthe
home of Abraham and Sarah. In Galatians 4, God calls attention to
this historical event in order to teach the spiritual truth ÿthat
we ÿeither ÿhave ÿa ÿsalvation that leads ÿto ÿspiritual ÿbondage
(typified ÿby ÿHagar and Ishmael), ÿor a salvation ÿprogram ÿthat
leads ÿto ÿspiritual freedom (typified by Sarah and ÿIsaac). ÿÿIt
isn’t ÿÿour ÿpurpose ÿin ÿthis ÿpresent ÿstudy ÿto ÿdevelop ÿthis
particular ÿtruth, ÿbut you can read about it in Genesis ÿ21:9-14
and Galatians 4:21-31.
Likewise, ÿÿin Malachi 4 God calls attention to the coming ÿof
Elijah, and in Matthew 11:11-14 our Lord shows us that the Elijah
He was referring to was actually John the Baptist. Therefore, God
is indicating that Elijah typified John the Baptist.
By ÿmeans ÿof these very pertinent biblical ÿillustrations ÿwe
should ÿbe able to see that God Himself teaches that the ÿmessage
of salvation is greatly expanded throughout the Scriptures, ÿÿfar
beyond ÿsuch ÿclear declarations of salvation as those ÿfound ÿin
John 3:16, Isaiah 53, and the epistles.
But now we must face a very serious question. ÿWhen God clear-
ly indicates that He is speaking in parables, ÿor when He clearly
indicates ÿthat this or that historical event or person is a type
of ÿsome ÿaspect of the salvation message, ÿor when He ÿindicates
that the ceremonial law is pointing to the Lord Jesus Christ, ÿwe
know ÿthat ÿwe ÿare on very safe ground in ÿdeveloping ÿspiritual
salvation ÿtruth from these specific accounts of the ÿScriptures.
But ÿdo ÿwe ÿdare ÿto ÿgo beyond ÿthis ÿand ÿsurmise ÿthat ÿother
historical events and personalities and concepts might also ÿhave
spiritual dimension to them? ÿIn other words, are they also types
and figures of some aspect of the salvation proclamation? Let the
Bible guide us to an answer on this.
In ÿMark 4 God informs us that “without a parable spake He not
unto ÿthem….’ ÿÿThe ÿusage of parables was a ÿcommon ÿteaching
method of the Lord Jesus. Indeed, when we study the four Gospels,
we ÿfind that sometimes Jesus made a point of indicating that ÿHe
was ÿspeaking ÿin ÿa parable. ÿHe did ÿthis, ÿÿfor ÿexample, ÿÿin
presenting the parable of the sower in Luke 8.
But ÿmany ÿother times He made statements ÿwithout ÿespecially
emphasizing ÿthat these were parables. ÿRepeatedly He ÿwould ÿsay
“The Kingdom of Heaven is…’ ÿand then proceed to give a story.
When ÿwe look at such a statement, ÿwe know that it was a parable
even though Jesus did not specifically call it that.
Another ÿexample ÿis ÿthe story He told of the ÿrich ÿman ÿand
Lazarus ÿin Luke 16. ÿIt isn’t pointed out as being a parable ÿin
the Bible. ÿYet, when we study it carefully, ÿwe discover that it
must ÿbe ÿa parable. ÿIf it were merely an historical event, ÿÿit
would be full of contradictions. For example, we’re told that the
rich ÿman dies and is buried, ÿand yet in the next few verses ÿwe
find ÿthat ÿin ÿhell he is described as having both ÿeyes ÿand ÿa
tongue. However, when his body was buried, he was buried with his
eyes and tongue. How then did his eyes and tongue get into Hell?
Likewise, ÿÿthere are many other such contradictions ÿin ÿthis
story if we assume it was an actual historical event. But once we
begin ÿlooking ÿat ÿit ÿas a parable (an ÿearthly ÿstory ÿwith ÿa
heavenly ÿmeaning), ÿÿthen ÿall these ÿcontradictions ÿdisappear.
Through this story, we begin to realize that Christ is not giving
us a chronological outline of what happens when we die. ÿÿRather,
He ÿis ÿbringing ÿout ÿsome ÿvery ÿimportant ÿspiritual ÿconcepts
concerning what happens when someone dies without Christ.
From ÿÿthese ÿexamples ÿwe ÿsee ÿthat ÿthere ÿare ÿÿadditional
statements in the Bible that definitely show us that God does not
necessarily ÿtell ÿus ÿin ÿa specific way ÿthat ÿthe ÿpassage ÿin
question ÿis ÿa parable or is meant to indicate ÿspiritual ÿtruth
relating to salvation.
As ÿwe ÿhave ÿseen, ÿGod has given pertinent examples ÿof ÿthe
Bible’s teaching methods by specifically indicating that either a
parable ÿis ÿin ÿview ÿor that a ÿhistorical ÿevent ÿis ÿactually
pointing to spiritual truth. ÿThese examples show us the path ÿwe
ought ÿto ÿfollow. ÿÿThey direct us to see ÿthat ÿthis ÿis ÿGod’s
teaching method. And it is up to us to apply this teaching method
to our continuing study of the Bible.
But ÿdo ÿwe ÿreally have ÿadditional ÿbiblical ÿvalidation ÿto
proceed in this fashion? ÿCan we really search for the ÿsalvation
message in passages that appear to be historical in nature only?
We ÿmight approach these questions in this way: ÿin ÿJohn ÿ20,
Jesus ÿspeaks ÿof the miracles He did, ÿand then He ÿdeclares ÿin
But ÿthese are written, ÿthat ye might believe that Jesus
the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might
have life through his name.
Notice that Jesus is specifying that these miracles were ÿdone
in ÿorder ÿthat ÿthrough ÿthe record of them ÿwe ÿmight ÿcome ÿto
salvation. But when Jesus actually performed these miracles, they
were in themselves just historical events that appeared unrelated
to the salvation program.
The healing of a sick man in itself has nothing to do with the
salvation program. But, ÿbased on the principle set forth in John
20:31, ÿÿChrist ÿis insisting that He performed this ÿmiracle ÿin
order ÿthat ÿwe might know about salvation. ÿIn view of the ÿfact
that ÿthe ÿBible declares that without a parable ÿJesus ÿdid ÿnot
speak ÿto them (Mark 4:34), ÿwe can see that these miracles ÿwere
actually historical parables. They are earthly stories, ÿthat is,
actual historical events with a heavenly or spiritual meaning, in
the ÿsame way that the parable of the sower is an ÿearthly ÿstory
with a heavenly meaning. ÿThis conclusion agrees altogether ÿwith
the ÿprinciple set forth in Mark 4:34, ÿthat “without ÿa ÿparable
spake He not unto them….’
But ÿa question still persists. ÿTrue, ÿJesus did miracles and
now we can see that they can be regarded as historical ÿparables;
but ÿwhat ÿabout the Old Testament? ÿWe have looked at ÿthe ÿLord
Jesus Christ, seeing that He always taught with parables. We know
from Scripture that this was His teaching method. ÿBut we have ÿa
whole ÿBible filled with records of historical events, ÿÿphrases,
and concepts. What about all these?
As we seek for an answer to this question, let me draw our at-
tention to I Peter 1:11 ÿwhere we read that the Spirit of ÿChrist
spoke through the Old Testament prophets.
Searching ÿwhat, ÿÿor what manner of time the ÿSpirit ÿof
which ÿwas ÿin ÿthem ÿdid ÿsignify, ÿÿwhen ÿit ÿtestified
the ÿsufferings ÿof Christ, ÿand the ÿglory ÿthat ÿshould
In other words, this verse is saying that the Old Testament is
just ÿas ÿmuch ÿthe Word of Christ as is the New ÿTestament. ÿÿWe
aren’t ÿsurprised ÿat this because John 1 ÿopenly ÿdeclares ÿthat
Christ is the Word. ÿWhile Jesus spoke very directly when He ÿwas
on earth, ÿHe also spoke very directly throughout the whole Bible
because He is the very Word of God. ÿThus the declaration of Mark
4:34 ÿÿthat “without a parable spake He not unto them’ ÿin truth
applies to the whole Bible.
To reinforce this God declares, for example, in Psalm 78:1-3:
Give ear, ÿO my people, ÿto my law: ÿincline your ears to
words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark
sayings of old:
Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told
And in Proverbs 1:5-6 God furthermore informs us:
A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a
man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:
To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the
words of the wise, and their dark sayings.
These ÿsayings ÿare ÿparallel to what we have ÿread ÿconcerning
Jesus’ ÿteaching method being the usage of parables, ÿso that ÿwe
can ÿnow ÿbegin to understand somewhat of how God ÿhas ÿpresented
truth to us in the Bible.
On ÿevery ÿpage ÿof the entire Bible God declares ÿto ÿus ÿthe
Gospel of salvation. ÿAt times the presentation of the ÿsalvation
message ÿis ÿvery clear. ÿBut at other times (and ÿthis ÿis ÿvery
frequent) ÿGod has hidden the salvation message within the record
of ÿÿthe ÿhistorical ÿevents ÿand ÿconcepts ÿpresented ÿÿin ÿÿthe
Scriptures. ÿÿGod teaches through the usage of parables. ÿThus we
must ÿunderstand that even the historical events are ÿeffectively
We ÿmust ÿremember ÿthat ÿGod had ÿat ÿHis ÿcommand ÿliterally
millions ÿof historical events and concepts which He ÿcould ÿhave
chosen to write about. But out of all that He could have written,
these particular events are written that we might know that Jesus
is the Christ, and that through Him we might have salvation.
To assist us in understanding God’s teaching method, the Bible
gives us examples. For instance, at times Jesus would say, ÿ”This
is ÿa ÿparable.’ ÿAt times the Bible actually ÿdeclares ÿthat ÿa
particular historical event has deeper spiritual meaning. ÿBut we
must ÿremember ÿthat these are only examples. ÿGod is ÿintimating
that ÿin similar fashion we are to attempt to find the ÿsalvation
message in all the Scriptures.
I ÿam ÿaware ÿthat ÿmany pastors have ÿbeen ÿtaught ÿin ÿtheir
seminaries that we should never look for deeper spiritual meaning
unless the Bible expressly indicates that we may do so. ÿHowever,
without ÿrealizing ÿit, ÿthese pastors to some degree ÿinevitably
find that God’s teaching method employs the usage of parables far
beyond what He expressly has declared to be parables.
For ÿexample, ÿÿmany do not hesitate to acknowledge ÿthat ÿNew
Testament ÿstatements such as “the Kingdom of Heaven is…’ ÿare
parabolic ÿstatements, ÿÿeven ÿthough the Bible itself ÿdoes ÿnot
expressly call them parables. Neither do they hesitate to look at
Boaz ÿin the story of Ruth as a figure of Christ, ÿthe ÿRedeemer.
This ÿis ÿso ÿeven ÿthough ÿnowhere ÿin ÿthe ÿBible ÿis ÿthere ÿa
declaration that Boaz is to be considered as a figure of Christ.
They ÿmay ÿalso see in Joseph, ÿwho became prime ÿminister ÿof
Egypt, ÿmany reasons for considering him to be a type of the Lord
Jesus ÿChrist. ÿThey do this even though nowhere in the Bible ÿis
Joseph ÿexpressly declared to be a type or figure of our ÿSavior.
Likewise, ÿÿthey ÿmay see in the leprosy of Naaman the ÿSyrian ÿa
figure or type of sin, ÿetc. Without realizing it, ÿthese pastors
are moving in the direction of correct biblical interpretation.
But if Boaz is a representation of Christ, ÿthen we must ÿalso
decide ÿwho ÿRuth ÿand ÿNaomi represent, ÿÿand ÿwho ÿor ÿwhat ÿis
represented by the other kinsmen, ÿthe cities, ÿand all the other
historical elements contained in the written account. ÿIf ÿJoseph
is ÿa figure of the Lord Jesus Christ, ÿwhat about all the ÿother
elements that are interwoven in the historical account of ÿJoseph
as ÿrecorded ÿin the Old Testament? ÿWhat do ÿthey ÿrepresent ÿin
Scripture? ÿÿIndeed ÿthe ÿanswer to such questions ÿmust ÿbe ÿthe
pursuit of each believer as he attempts to unravel the ÿsalvation
story from these historical events.
Indeed, ÿwe can begin to see that whenever we find a statement
of ÿthe ÿBible ÿthat ÿat face value ÿhas ÿno ÿdirect ÿbearing ÿon
salvation teaching, we should look for a deeper spiritual meaning
that ÿrelates ÿto salvation. ÿMany times we may not be ÿable ÿto
discover what the salvation teaching is, ÿbut that does not ÿmean
that it is not hidden within the account of the historical event.
I ÿtruly ÿbelieve ÿthat ÿthroughout the ÿBible ÿwe ÿwill ÿfind
numerous historical conversations, events, and personalities that
were ÿactully types or figures pointing to the Lord Jesus ÿChrist
or ÿto ÿsome ÿother aspect of ÿGod’s ÿsalvation ÿprogram. ÿÿThese
historical personalities and events are like parables. ÿÿMillions
and ÿmillions ÿof conversations and historical events could ÿhave
been ÿincorporated ÿin ÿthe ÿBible account that ÿwere ÿnot. ÿÿGod
specifically chose the ones that are written in the Bible because
they ÿare ÿrelated ÿto ÿand teach some aspect ÿof ÿHis ÿsalvation
We must realize, ÿof course, ÿthat many passages do not easily
reveal ÿthe ÿwealth ÿof truth hidden within them. ÿÿThe ÿdiligent
student ÿof ÿthe ÿBible may spend many hours with ÿone ÿverse ÿor
passage suspecting that there is deeper spiritual meaning ÿhidden
within ÿit but still not discovering what it might be. ÿÿThis ÿis
God’s way of keeping us very humble as we study the Bible. ÿÿMany
times we will have to admit that we do not know the full teaching
of ÿa particular passage. ÿBut perhaps another student at another
time ÿwill ÿreceive ÿthe insights we ÿsought ÿin ÿthat ÿdifficult
passage. ÿBut like the Bereans, the child of God will continue to
search ÿthe Scriptures in order to find the nuggets of truth ÿGod
in His grace might reveal to him.
The Bible is God’s message of salvation to the human race. The
golden ÿthread ÿthat runs through every page of the Bible is ÿthe
wonderful ÿdeclaration ÿthat ÿthere ÿis ÿa ÿway ÿof ÿescape ÿfrom
damnation. ÿÿGod ÿhas selected each conversation ÿand ÿhistorical
event recorded in the Bible for the purpose of setting forth some
aspect ÿof this marvelous redemption plan. ÿBut many times, ÿÿthe
message ÿof ÿsalvation ÿis ÿhidden ÿdeeply ÿwithin ÿthe ÿbiblical
language. ÿÿIt is the task and joy of the believer to search ÿout
Generally ÿspeaking, ÿif a Bible statement relates directly to
some aspect of the message of salvation, ÿmost likely there is no
deeper ÿspiritual ÿmeaning to be sought. ÿFor example, ÿwhen ÿthe
Bible ÿspeaks ÿdirectly of salvation, ÿthe spiritual rule in ÿthe
church, ÿÿthe ÿobedience of believers to Christ, ÿthe ÿreturn ÿof
Christ, ÿÿor ÿJudgment Day etc., ÿwe are not to look ÿfor ÿdeeper
meaning. ÿÿThese subjects are in themselves the basic message ÿof
But when the Bible gives us information like Abraham seeking a
wife for Isaac, or David fleeing from Saul, ÿor Jesus healing the
sick, ÿÿor the shipwreck of the Apostle Paul, ÿwe can be ÿcertain
that ÿsuch messages were included in the Bible for the purpose of
teaching us about some aspect of salvation. ÿWe can discover this
by ÿregarding ÿthese ÿaccounts ÿas ÿhistorical ÿparables–earthly
stories with a hidden spiritual or heavenly meaning.
The ÿmore ÿdiligently ÿwe study the Bible ÿto ÿunderstand ÿthe
fundamental ÿdoctrines ÿof ÿGod’s ÿsalvation ÿplan, ÿÿthe ÿbetter
equipped ÿwe ÿwill ÿbecome ÿto search out ÿthe ÿdeeper ÿspiritual
meanings hidden within the historical events.
Wonderfully, we will find a beautiful harmony existing between
the deeper spiritual meaning of a passage on the one hand and the
message ÿof ÿsalvation ÿon the other. ÿThis will ÿappear ÿin ÿthe
measure ÿthat our interpretation harmonizes with the truth of the
Unfortunately, ÿÿmany theologians and pastors have ÿinadequate
knowledge ÿof the message of salvation. ÿThus they ÿhave ÿextreme
difficulty ÿin ÿfinding ÿthe heavenly meaning hidden ÿwithin ÿthe
earthly stories. Consequently many of them ridicule the principle
that ÿGod has hidden the salvation message within the ÿhistorical
Such ÿcriticism, ÿhowever, ÿdoes not invalidate the ÿprinciple
that ÿthe salvation message can be found in the deeper ÿspiritual
meaning of an event.
But isn’t it dangerous to attempt to discover deeper spiritual
meaning ÿwithin ÿthe ÿBible? ÿÿWon’t this lead to ÿall ÿkinds ÿof
fanciful interpretations? Wouldn’t it be far better to leave this
whole ÿidea ÿalone and cease from any attempt to find the ÿGospel
declaration on every page of the Scriptures?
These ÿare serious questions. ÿIndeed, ÿwe never want to ÿread
anything ÿinto the Scriptures which God never put there ÿHimself.
That ÿis why it is so important to remember, ÿas we seek out this
third ÿlevel of meaning within the biblical account, ÿthat ÿthree
rules must always be kept clearly in mind:
1. ÿÿThe ÿspiritual ÿmeaning ÿmust relate ÿto ÿthe ÿGospel ÿof
Salvation. ÿSalvation is the message of the Bible. ÿIt won’t work
to ÿlook ÿat ÿa historical account and try to ÿidentify ÿit ÿwith
certain political nations or some contemporary phenomenon ÿtaking
place in the world. ÿThe spiritual meaning always relates to ÿthe
Gospel program. We can see this both in the parables of Jesus and
in the Old Testament presentation of the ceremonial laws.
While many theologians realize that the 10 horns of the dragon
of Revelation 13 ÿor Revelation 17 must represent something, they
have ÿdecided that they represent the 10 ÿnations of the European
Common Market. Are they on the right path in their understanding?
We ÿcan ÿknow immediately that their conclusion is ÿquite ÿer-
roneous. ÿPolitical nations of Europe and the economic factors in
our ÿworld ÿhave nothing to do with salvation. ÿÿIf ÿnations ÿare
involved in God’s salvation plan, there are only two nations that
can ÿbe ÿin ÿview. ÿOn the one hand there is the nation ÿthat ÿis
called ÿthe ÿkingdom of God, ÿand on the other hand there is ÿthe
kingdom of Satan, ÿwhich includes all of the political nations of
Since we know that the 10 horns of the dragon in Revelation 13
and 17 cannot be referring to the kingdom of Christ, they must be
referring ÿto the dominion of Satan. ÿThe number ten ÿspiritually
signifies ÿcompleteness. ÿÿSo in this instance it ÿsignifies ÿthe
completeness ÿof Satan’s rule in the world just prior to Judgment
Once ÿthis ÿis understood, ÿall of the biblical passages ÿcon-
cerning the ten horns can be harmonized.
2. ÿÿTo ÿidentify words or concepts found within a ÿhistorical
situation ÿwith ÿspiritual truth, ÿwe must have biblical ÿvalida-
tion. ÿÿFor ÿexample, ÿwe frequently find the words “stone’ ÿÿor
“rock’ in the Bible. Due to the fact that in many verses a stone
or rock is identified with the Lord Jesus Christ, ÿwe can attempt
to make this application in a historical situation. Likewise, ÿwe
have seen in the Bible that a “sower’ can be identified with one
who ÿbrings the Gospel, ÿand “seed’ ÿcan be identified with ÿthe
Word of God.
3. ÿÿIf we have good reason to believe we see this third level
of meaning within a particular historical statement, such that it
can ÿapply spiritually to the Gospel, ÿthe conclusions we ÿderive
from ÿour ÿanalysis ÿof ÿthat historical ÿsituation ÿmust ÿbe ÿin
agreement ÿwith everything else the Bible teaches concerning ÿthe
nature ÿof ÿsalvation. ÿIf, ÿin our analysis, ÿwe have come to ÿa
conclusion ÿcontrary ÿto the teaching of the rest ÿof ÿthe ÿBible
concerning salvation, ÿwe immediately would know that we have not
correctly ÿunderstood ÿthe spiritual meaning of ÿthe ÿpassage ÿin
I believe If the above three rules are observed carefully, ÿwe
will ÿbe ÿon safe ground as we study the Bible ÿto ÿdiscover ÿits
deeper spiritual meaning.
But ÿquestions ÿlike ÿthese still must be ÿfaced: ÿÿAren’t ÿwe
running grave risks in attempting to spiritualize the ÿstatements
of the Bible? Haven’t there been those who have done this and who
have ÿended ÿup with wrong teachings ÿaltogether ÿconcerning ÿthe
message ÿof ÿsalvation? ÿÿThese are fair questions. ÿWe ÿmust ÿbe
exceedingly careful in how we deal with the Holy Scriptures. They
are ÿthe ÿWord ÿof God and are never to be ÿconsidered ÿthe ÿmere
playthings of men.
Many have expressed the fear that “spiritualizing’ ÿthe Bible
will ÿlead people away from the true Gospel. ÿBut this can happen
only ÿwhen ÿwe violate the three rules outlined above. ÿIf ÿthese
rules ÿare ÿfollowed ÿstrictly, ÿÿthere is no way ÿin ÿwhich ÿthe
understanding ÿof ÿthe Gospel of salvation can ÿbe ÿchanged ÿinto
something other than what the Bible teaches.
Moreover, as we have already noted, we must realize that not a
single theologian or Bible teacher or preacher living today ÿdoes
not ÿlook for the deeper spiritual meaning whenever he is able to
do ÿso. ÿÿAnyone, ÿÿfor ÿexample, ÿwho attempts ÿto ÿanalyze ÿthe
ceremonial ÿlaws ÿin ÿorder to understand the ÿcharacter ÿof ÿthe
coming ÿMessiah ÿand ÿHis salvation program is ÿdoing ÿthis ÿvery
thing. ÿÿAnyone ÿwho ÿsuggests that Joseph (who was sold ÿby ÿhis
brothers into Egypt and who eventually become the prime ÿminister
of Egypt and saved his family from starvation) ÿwas a great ÿtype
of ÿChrist has begun to find the deeper spiritual meaning ÿwithin
the ÿhistorical context. ÿI ÿreally do not think that anyone ÿcan
biblically ÿfault ÿthe ÿidea that we are to look for ÿthe ÿdeeper
spiritual meaning within the historical context.
There are those who say they accept the Bible literally as ÿit
stands and thus would not dare to spiritualize (that is, look for
a ÿdeeper spiritual meaning relating to salvation). ÿBut, ÿas ÿwe
have ÿalready ÿseen, ÿÿthey actually do spiritualize when ÿit ÿis
convenient. ÿÿIt is my belief that we have no other choice but to
examine every passage of the Bible to discover a deeper spiritual
truth. ÿÿThis ÿrequires long hours of exceedingly ÿdiligent ÿwork
because ÿGod ÿhas ÿwritten the Bible in such a way ÿthat ÿwe ÿare
encouraged ÿto ÿsearch the Scriptures. ÿWe receive our ÿwonderful
reward, ÿÿhowever, ÿÿwhen we find that ÿa ÿparticular ÿhistorical
account ÿÿunfolds ÿinto ÿa ÿdramatic ÿand ÿbeautiful ÿpicture ÿof
Sometimes ÿwe find this third, ÿspiritual level of meaning set
forth clearly in passages such as Isaiah 53, ÿthe Gospel of John,
or the Epistles. ÿSometimes it is hidden within parables, such as
those ÿset forth by our Lord in Matthew 13. ÿSometimes we find it
hidden ÿin ÿthe ceremonial laws of the Old Testament. ÿAnd ÿother
times it is buried more deeply in the historical accounts of ÿthe
events ÿand ÿconversations of the Bible. ÿWe must ÿremember ÿthat
these ÿhistorical events were chosen by God for inclusion ÿwithin
the ÿBible ÿbecause ÿof the deeper ÿspiritual ÿtruths ÿconcerning
salvation which are hidden within them.
Clearly, ÿthe dominant message of the Bible is salvation. ÿBut
sometimes ÿwe ÿfind ÿthat ÿthe biblical ÿwriting ÿappears ÿto ÿbe
awkward. ÿThat is, ÿthe record of the earthly story appears to be
awkward ÿwhen ÿin ÿfact ÿthis ÿparticular ÿlanguage ÿis ÿactually
necessary in order to reveal the beautiful truth of the ÿheavenly
For example, ÿwe read in Deuteronomy 34 ÿthat God buried Moses
and no one ever discovered his sepulcher. ÿBut no one else in the
entire ÿBible ÿwas treated in this peculiar fashion. ÿAnd we ÿare
puzzled by the fact that, ÿbecause Moses struck the rock when God
had ÿcommanded him to speak to it, ÿhe would not be permitted ÿto
enter ÿinto ÿthe land of Canaan. ÿDoesn’t this seem like ÿa ÿvery
cruel punishment for such a faithful leader as Moses? But both of
these ÿevents ÿcan be clearly understood once we grasp ÿthe ÿfact
that ÿin ÿthese passages God is presenting Moses as a ÿfigure ÿor
representative of the Law. On the other hand, the land of Canaan
is ÿa ÿpicture of salvation. ÿJoshua, ÿwho led the ÿchildren ÿof
Israel into the land of Canaan, ÿis presented as a figure of ÿthe
Lord ÿJesus Christ, ÿwho brings us into salvation. ÿThe Law ends
when salvation begins. ÿEven as Moses, ÿwho typified the Law ÿin
this ÿcontext, ÿdied without entering into the Promised Land, ÿso
the keeping of the Law can not bring us into salvation. ÿThe end
of the Law (the death of Moses) ÿwas handled altogether by God in
Christ. ÿÿThis is picutred by the fact that God buried Moses ÿ(a
figure of the law).
Likewise, ÿÿthe ÿaccount of Moses striking the rock ÿ(so ÿthat
water came forth to satisfy the thirst of the Israelites) ÿcan be
understood if we see Moses as a figure of the Law. The rock is a
figure ÿof ÿChrist. ÿÿThe water is the Gospel ÿthat ÿflows ÿfrom
Christ. ÿBecause Moses (the Law) ÿstruck the rock (that is, ÿthe
Law brought judgment on Christ), therefore, ÿwater (the Gospel of
salvation) ÿcould flow from the rock (from Christ) to satisfy the
thirst (the spiritual thirst) of those who drank the water.
Another example concerns Ruth and Orpah, ÿthe daughters-in-law
of ÿNaomi. ÿÿThey said to Naomi in Ruth 1:10, ÿ”surely ÿwe ÿwill
return ÿwith thee unto thy people.” ÿIn the ÿhistorical ÿcontext
they ÿordinarily would not have used the word “return,” ÿÿbecause
this word implies that they had been there before. However, ÿGod
used ÿthis ÿword ÿbecause ÿin this story these two ÿwomen ÿare ÿa
picture of the human race. ÿThey began with God in the Garden of
Eden and through the Lord Jesus Christ, returned to God.
An ÿawareness ÿof ÿthe principle that ÿwithin ÿthe ÿhistorical
record God has hidden deep spiritual truths concerning the nature
of ÿsalvation ÿshould ÿcause ÿa translator of ÿthe ÿBible ÿto ÿbe
exceedingly ÿcareful ÿabout the words he uses. ÿHe should ÿnever
substitute a word used in the original with some other word ÿthat
appears to him to be more convenient or salutory. ÿFor ÿexample,
in the original language God frequently used the word “blood” ÿin
phrases ÿsuch as “the shedding of blood.” ÿBut some translations
have ÿactually ÿsubstitued ÿthe ÿword ÿ”death” ÿÿfor ÿthe ÿphrase
“shedding ÿof ÿblood.” ÿWhile shedding of ÿblood ÿdoes ÿemphasize
death, ÿnevertheless the word “blood” has implications beyond the
word ÿ”death,” ÿand therefore no translator should make this kind
of a substitution.
We ÿshould ÿexpect ÿthroughout ÿthe ÿBible ÿto ÿfind ÿnumerous
historical ÿconversations, ÿevents, ÿand personalities ÿthat ÿare
types or figures pointing to the Lord Jesus Christ or some aspect
of ÿthe salvation program. ÿIn other words, ÿwe should ÿlook ÿat
these ÿhistorical ÿpersonalities and events as we would ÿlook ÿat
Since the Bible’s historical events were chosen by God to hide
within ÿthem deeper spiritual truths concerning salvation, ÿit is
quite ÿunderstandable that the biblical account frequently ÿseems
awkward. But through this awkwardness, ÿGod provides the message
of ÿsalvation. ÿÿSince historical events are actually ÿtypes ÿor
shadows ÿof God’s salvation program, ÿthese historical events are
in effect historical parables.
Let ÿus ÿcontinue ÿour ÿstudy ÿby ÿactually ÿexamining ÿa ÿfew
historical ÿpersonalities and events that have hidden within them
this ÿthird ÿlevel ÿof meaning which relates ÿto ÿthe ÿGospel ÿof
Some of the events and personalities which point to Christ and
the salvation message are very obvious. Moses, who in some parts
of ÿthe Bible is presented as a figure of the Law (“Moses and the
prophets”), ÿis also presented in other places as a figure of our
Saviour. When he led the children of Israel out of Egypt, he was
shown to be a type of Christ, ÿwho leads us out of the bondage of
sin into the security of salvation. ÿIn Deuteronomy 18:15 Moses,
uder the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, declared, “The Lord thy
God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, ÿof
thy ÿbrethren, ÿlike unto me; ÿunto Him ye shall hearken.” ÿThat
Prophet ÿwas ÿthe ÿLord Jesus Christ, ÿwho was ÿ”like ÿunto” ÿÿor
typified by Moses.
David is another type of Christ. Both as shepherd and as king,
he was a figure of Christ, ÿwho is the Good Shepherd, ÿas well as
the ÿKing who rules over the Kingdom we enter when we are ÿsaved.
Similarly, ÿÿwhen ÿDavid ÿpenned the words of Psalm 69, ÿÿhe ÿwas
speaking of his own personal experiences, ÿbut by the inspiration
of ÿthe Holy Spirit he was anticipating the sufferings of Christ,
who ÿspiritually and to a much greater degree, ÿwould go ÿthrough
the same experiences.
Joshua, ÿwho led the children of Israel out of the ÿwilderness
and ÿinto the land of Canaan, ÿis another type of the Lord ÿJesus
Christ. This is shown to us particularly in Hebrews 4. Canaan was
the land of physical rest for the nation of Israel who were those
who followed Joshua. ÿJust so, ÿcitizenship in heaven (salvation)
is the land of spiritual rest for those who follow the Lord Jesus
Christ. ÿÿEven the name Joshua (Hebrew) ÿis identical to the name
Jesus (Greek) in the New Testament.
The ÿnation ÿof Israel is frequently presented to ÿus ÿin ÿthe
Bible ÿas ÿa type of those who were to believe in the Lord ÿJesus
Christ. This is clearly seen in the language of Galatians 3 where
God delares in verse 7, “Know ye therefore that they which are of
faith, ÿÿthe same are the children of Abraham,’ ÿand again, ÿÿin
verse 29, “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and
heirs ÿaccording ÿto the promise.’ ÿIsrael in the ÿflesh, ÿÿalso
called national Israel, ÿis the physical seed of Abraham. ÿBut in
Galatians 3 God is indicating that the eternal Israel consists of
those who are in Christ, ÿregardless of their nationality in ÿthe
The ÿlist ÿof types and shadows displayed throughout ÿthe ÿOld
Testament is a very long one. Egypt, for example, is presented as
a figure of being in bondage to sin, the way we are before we are
saved. ÿÿThe ÿpassage ÿof Israel through the Red ÿSea ÿunder ÿthe
leadership of Moses is a beautiful picture of the redemption that
is provided for us through the Lord Jesus Christ.
The ÿwilderness sojourn of Israel is a dramatic picture of the
sojourn ÿof ÿbelievers in the wilderness of this ÿworld ÿas ÿthey
travel towards the completion of salvation – the return of Christ
on ÿthe last day. ÿThe entrance of Israel into the land of Canaan
is ÿa ÿmarvelous ÿpicture of our entrance ÿinto ÿthe ÿfulness ÿof
salvation when we receive our resurrected bodies on the last day.
In ÿthe New Testament God continues to provide numerous ÿtypes
and ÿfigures ÿthat appeared throughout history which ÿpointed ÿto
aspects ÿof ÿthe salvation program. ÿThe Bible declares ÿin ÿJohn
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of
His disciples, which are not written in this book:
But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus
is the Christ, the Son of God;….
Here ÿGod is declaring that certain miracles were recorded ÿin
the ÿBible ÿin ÿorder that we might believe ÿthat ÿJesus ÿis ÿthe
Christ, ÿÿthe Son of God. ÿThey provide us with insights into the
nature ÿof ÿsalvation. ÿJesus’ ÿhealing of the blind ÿis ÿa ÿgood
example. ÿThis information conveyed the fact that, ÿeven as Jesus
brought physical eyesight to the physically blind, ÿso He came to
give spiritual eyesight to the spiritually blind.
The Gospel in the Raising of Lazarus
One ÿof the most significant and marvelous miracles Jesus ÿdid
was to raise Lazarus from the dead. ÿIn this miracle, ÿÿrecorded
for ÿus in John 11, ÿthe Bible tells us that Jesus stood ÿoutside
the tomb of Lazarus and “cried with a loud voice, ÿLazarus, ÿcome
forth.” Lazarus, who had been dead for four days, whose body had
no ÿÿwill ÿor ÿlife ÿof ÿits ÿown, ÿÿmysteriously, ÿÿmarvelously,
incomprehensibly ÿresponded ÿto ÿthe command ÿto ÿcome ÿforth ÿto
In like manner, ÿJesus commands us to be saved, ÿto come forth
into spiritual, ÿeternal life. ÿWhen we are unsaved, ÿwe are ÿas
spiritually dead as Lazarus was physically dead. And, as Lazarus
had no will or capability of his own to respond to the command of
Jesus, ÿÿso ÿwe have no desire or will within our lost ÿsouls ÿto
respond to His command to be saved.
The ÿBible ÿteaches us in Romans 3:11 ÿthat “…there is ÿnone
that seeketh after God.” Ephesians 2:1 indicates that we”…were
dead ÿin ÿtrepasses and sins.” ÿSo how can ÿa ÿspiritual ÿcorpse
respond to the Gospel call?
Mysteriously, ÿmarvelously, ÿand incomprehensibly, ÿthere ÿare
those who hear the Gospel and do respond, ÿwho do believe. ÿEven
as Lazarus was raised from physical death, ÿso we are “risen with
Christ” ÿÿ(Colossians 3:1). ÿIn Christ we have been raised ÿfrom
spiritual death into spiritual life.
The Gospel in the Book of Ruth
The Book of Ruth gives us an accurate record of events as they
happened in history. ÿHowever, the book itself is written in the
genre of a parable in which God gives us insights concerning ÿthe
marvelous salvation provided through the Lord Jesus Christ.
The cursed Moabitish woman, Ruth, represents all who by nature
are under the curse of sin, but who respond to the Gospel. Boaz,
the ÿkinsman-redeemer ÿwho ÿbought Ruth and married ÿher, ÿÿis ÿa
beautiful ÿpicture of the Lord Jesus Christ, ÿwho purchased us so
that we migjt become His bride. Orpah, ÿRuth’s sister-in-law who
decided to stay in Moab, ÿtypifies those who hear the Gospel ÿand
are ÿattracted to it, ÿbut who finally decide to stay with ÿtheir
old lives rather than follow the Lord Jesus Christ.
Naomi represents national Israel. ÿDuring a famine, ÿshe ÿand
her ÿfamily ÿleft ÿBethlehem to live for a while in the ÿland ÿof
Moab. As a result, her husband and her sons died, ÿleaving her a
widow. ÿÿIn similar fashion, ÿnational Israel repeatedly ÿturned
away from God, ÿand as a final result was cut off from being ÿthe
wife of God. ÿBut wonderfully, ÿeven as a seed was raised up for
the ÿfamily of Naomi through the marriage of Boaz and ÿRuth, ÿÿso
Christ, ÿour Redeemer, ÿcame forth from the race of Israel. ÿÿTo
point ÿus to this similarity, ÿthe son born to Boaz and Ruth ÿwas
also ÿcalled ÿa kinsman-redeemer (Ruth 4:14). ÿHe, ÿtoo, ÿwas ÿa
figure of Christ.
Nehemiah, the Cupbearer of the King
Another ÿexample of an Old Testament historical parable ÿwhich
teaches the Gospel is the record of Nehemiah. Nehemiah, ÿwho was
the ÿcupbearer of King Artaxerxes, ÿwent to Jerusalem to ÿrebuild
the ÿwall. ÿÿHe is a dramatic picture of the Lord Jesus ÿChrist.
Even ÿas the cupbearer would die if the king’s cup was ÿpoisoned,
so ÿChrist died as the result of drinking the cup of God’s ÿwrath
in ÿorder to save the sinners who were to become children of ÿthe
King. ÿÿAnd, ÿeven as Nehemiah’s work was to build the ÿwall ÿof
Jerusalem, ÿÿso Christ’s work at the cross builds the Holy ÿCity,
the New Jerusalem, which is made up of all who believe in Christ.
Abram, a Figure of Christ
In ÿGenesis 12 ÿwe have the interesting account of Abram going
to Egypt because of a famine in t