About Biblical Types and Symbols

Symbolic Language

The Bible contains many types and figures, that picture the plan of God for man. These are present even in the opening chapters of Genesis. The serpent in the Garden of Eden, pictures Satan, the devil or adversary. Eve was called the mother of all, and her seed was to bruise the head of the serpent, picturing Christ overcoming the power of sin and death [Genesis 3:15]. 

Numbers can be symbols too; the significance of the number seven, for example, as the number of days in which the whole of God's creative work is accomplished, is established in the creation account in the first two chapters of Genesis. The Bible uses numbers symbolically in several prophecies. 

Paul shows in 1 Corinthians 10:11 that all the things which came upon the Israelites of old were examples for the Church in this age. 

The affliction of Israel in Egypt, the judgment of the land, and of Pharaoh, and the miraculous deliverance of the Israelites, were also types for our instruction. Pharaoh, who resisted Moses and Aaron, was a symbol of Satan; the land of Egypt represented the world where men are in bondage to sin and darkness, from which believers are called out and delivered. 

The total time Israel wandered in the wilderness was 42 years from the date of the Exodus. The number 42 appears as a symbol, in the prophecy of Revelation 11:2, but with different units; as 42 months. The holy city which is trodden under foot 42 months is the Church. In Daniel 7:25, the saints are given into the hand of a little horn, having "eyes like the eyes of a man," until "a time, and times, and the dividing of time." Interpreting this, the saints are dominated by those having a human view and outlook on things, rather than a divine one, unto the end of the age. The 42 months or three and a half years of Revelation 11:2 is a variation on the "time, and times, and the dividing of time" of Daniel 7:25. 

In the prophecies of Daniel the exploits of Antiochus IV are foretold in detail. What purpose was there in it? The apostasy of some of the Jews in the second century BC during the reign of Antiochus seems to have little significance today, yet Daniel indicates these prophecies about Antiochus and Jerusalem were to be significant at the end time. Perhaps the condition in which those Jews found themselves was comparable to, and provides a type of the state of the Church in the modern age. Antiochus IV represents the spirit of antiChrist in the world. 

In the days of Antiochus IV some of the leaders of the Jews abandoned their ancient traditions and adopted Greek customs and beliefs. The high priests appointed by Antiochus were leaders who initiated the hellenistic reforms. There was a conflict between these apostates and the conservative "Hasidim" or "Godly Ones." The prophetic chapters in Daniel describe the apostasy and the actions of Antiochus against the Jews, but the story seems to abruptly skip over the centuries to the time of the end. The last chapter of Daniel describes the climax of the end, a time of trouble for the world, and the deliverance and resurrection of the saints. 

The story of the events in the time of Antiochus IV is presented in detail, but the interpretaion of the significance of the historical events of the period pictured in the prophecy is up to us to discover. There are many parallels between events of those days, and our own time. 

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Copyright © 1998 by Douglas E. Cox
The Creation Concept | Daniel's 70 Weeks