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C.H. Spurgeon on Typology

As a follow up on our brief series on typology (part 1, part 2, part 3), I wanted to share a favorite passage from Charles Spurgeon, who addresses here the seemingly impossible complexity of “anticipations” that are perfectly and wonderfully realized in the person and work of Christ. His text is John 19:30, which relate our Lord’s dying words from the cross:  “It is finished.” At this point in the sermon Spurgeon is surveying the many types and shadows that were brought to realization in our Jesus’ death. Enjoy!

This leads us to see his meaning very clearly, that all the Scripture was now fulfilled, that when he said, “It is finished,” the whole book, from the first to the last, in both the law and the prophets, was finished in him. There is not a single jewel of promise, from that first emerald which fell on the threshold of Eden, to that last sapphire-stone of Malachi, which was not set in the breast-plate of the true High Priest. Nay, there is not a type, from the red heifer downward to the turtle-dove, from the hyssop upwards to Solomon’s temple itself, which was not fulfilled in him; and not a prophecy, whether spoken on Chebar’s bank, or on the shores of Jordan, not a dream of wise men, whether they had received it in Babylon, or in Samaria, or in Judea, which was not now fully wrought out in Christ Jesus. And, brethren, what a wonderful thing it is, that a mass of promises, and prophecies, and types, apparently so heterogeneous, should all be accomplished in one person! Take away Christ for one moment, and I will give the Old Testament to any wise man living, and say to him, “Take this; this is a problem, go home and construct in your imagination an ideal character who shall exactly fit all that which is herein foreshadowed; remember, he must be a prophet like unto Moses, and yet a champion like to Joshua; he must be an Aaron and a Melchisedek; he must be both David and Solomon, Noah and Jonah, Judah and Joseph. Nay, he must not only be the lamb that was slain, and the scape-goat that was not slain, the turtle-dove that was dipped in blood, and the priest who slew the bird, but he must be the altar, the tabernacle, the mercy-seat, and the shewbread.” Nay, to puzzle this wise man, further, we remind him of prophecies so apparently contradictory, that one would think they never could meet in one man such as these, “All kings shall fall down before him, and all nations shall serve him;” and yet, “He is despised and rejected of men.” He must begin by showing a man born of a virgin mother — “A virgin shall conceive and bear a son.” He must be a man without spot or blemish, but yet one upon whom the Lord doth cause to meet the iniquities of us all. He must be a glorious one, a Son of David, but yet a root out of a dry ground. Now, I say it boldly, if all the greatest intellects of all the ages could set themselves to work out this problem, to invent another key to the types and prophecies, they could not do it. I see you, ye wise men, ye are poring over these hieroglyphs, one suggests one key, and it opens two or three of the figures, but you cannot proceed, for the next one puts you at a nonplus. Another learned man suggests another clue, but that fails most where it is most needed, and another, and another, and thus these wondrous hieroglyphs traced of old by Moses in the wilderness, must be left unexplained, till one comes forward and proclaims, “The cross of Christ and the Son of God incarnate,” then the whole is clear, so that he that runs may read, and a child may understand. Blessed Savior! In thee we see everything fulfilled, which God spoke of old by the prophets; in thee we discover everything carried out in substance, which God had set forth us in the dim mist of sacrificial smoke. Glory be unto thy name! “It is finished” — everything is summed up in thee.

Fred G. Zaspel

Fred G. Zaspel (PhD, Free University of Amsterdam) is one of the pastors at Reformed Baptist Church in Franconia, PA. He is also the executive editor of Books At a Glance and Adjunct Professor of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of several books including The Theology of B. B. Warfield and Warfield on the Christian Life.

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