Shadows and their Reality – Did all Types or Shadows End at the Cross?

biblical shadows and their realities
The shadow demonstrate that the substance or body exists. In order for a shadow to be cast, there Dimust be an already present reality.

Did all types or shadows end at the cross? Did all realities or the substance of those types begin at the cross? 9 biblical examples are listed below. The bible seems to teach something different than the common assumptions.

A cloud in the sky casts a shadow. But the cloud in the sky testifies to the reality of a light needed to cast that shadow. The sun is the light, the cloud casts the shadow. The fact that a shadow exists, demonstrates that the reality is already existing before the shadow was given. This is a short study examining biblical shadows. If we stand only in the shadow and not in the light we stand in the darkness, we must have the reality. Many today teach that a reality does not exist until the type is gone. Let’s look at some types and shadows to see if this is true.

Some Shadows and their reality. Please notice

  1. That the reality has to exist at the same time as a type in order to cast a shadow:
  2. That the shadow is meaningless unless we see the reality.

1. God had said, “If ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then . . . ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests.” But they never became a kingdom of priests. Only one tribe, the tribe of Levi, could have anything whatever to do with the sanctuary, and of that tribe only one family, that of Aaron, could be priests. It was certain death for any one not of the family of Aaron to presume to serve as priest in any way. Yet all who are really the children of God through faith in Christ Jesus are “a royal priesthood,” even “an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2.5. This was what God promised to the nation of the Jews, at Sinai; but they never attained to it, because they did not keep His covenant of faith, but trusted in their own strength.

Levitical Priesthood – Shadow – Type
Melchisidec Priesthood – Reality – Substance

2. Instead of being brought to the heavenly sanctuary which God’s hands established, and being planted in it, they had a worldly sanctuary made by man, and were not allowed to go into even that.

Worldly Sanctuary – Shadow – Type
Heavenly Sanctuary – Reality – Substance

3. The throne of God, in the sanctuary above, is a living throne, self-moving, coming and going like a flash of lightning, in immediate response to the thought of the Spirit. Ezekiel 1. On the contrary, they had in the earthly sanctuary but a feeble representation of that throne in the shape of an ark of wood and gold, which had to be carried about on the shoulders of men.

Ark of the Covenant – Shadow – Type
Throne of God in heaven -Reality – Substance

4. The promise in the covenant with Abraham, which God’s people were to keep, was that the law should be put into the heart. The children of Israel got it on tables of stone. Instead of by faith receiving “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 8.2), that is, upon “the living stone” in the midst of the throne of God (See I Peter 2.3, 4; Revelation 5.6), which would impart life to them, making them also living stones, they received the law only on cold, lifeless stones, which could give them nothing but death.

Law Written on Stones – Shadow – Type
Law Written on the Heart – Reality – Substance

5. Abraham and his seed were to be circumcised from birth. But Abraham was circumcised in the heart before receiving this shadow implying that the reality does not alway follow the shadow, as in every instance above the reality was had at the same time as the shadow.

Circumcision of flesh – Shadow – Type
Circumcision of heart – Reality – Substance

6. Eating bread and wine is but a mere representation of the life of Christ in the soul. (John 6:53-55) The communion service therefore is not a reality, but a type of reality, a shadow.

Communion Supper – Shadow – Type
Christ in you, The Spirit of God – Reality – Substance

7. Baptism into water is not a reality. It is only a symbol of that reality, it is a type, a shadow. If we are only baptized in the water, and the flesh has not been put off and we haven’t been truly born of spirit, baptized by one spirit into one body, then we have but the shadow which leaves a man in perfect darkness without the shining reality.

Baptism in Water – Shadow – Type
Baptism in Spirit – Reality – Substance.

8. Having merely the blood of an animal sacrifice was never enough. We need the reality of the blood of Christ, since it is only the blood of Christ that can cleans of all sin. (1 John 1:7). The blood of bulls and goats could never purge the conscience of sin. (Heb 10:4). Therefore Abel had to have had the reality of the blood of Christ in order to be made righteous. (Heb 11:4). The reality of that blood was as good for them as it is for us. (Rev 13:8)

Blood of Bulls and Goats – Shadow – Type
Blood of Jesus – Reality – Substance

9. The Tree of life is but a small picture of the the life of Christ in the soul. The tree of life is only a type or shadow of the reality of the very same thing the blood of goats is, and of what the bread and wine are, and that is the life of Christ in the soul, the Holy Spirit.

Fruit of tree – Shadow -Type
Life of Christ in the Soul – Reality

To be perfectly honest types are not enough. They are not always a bad thing to do. In fact, they can be done in good faith, just as Abel who offered a more excellent sacrifice by faith. (Heb 11:4) But a failure to understand the reality of what these types represent, is as good as seeing a persons shadow, but not knowing the person, speaking to a persons shadow, but not speaking to a person, and done without faith in the reality, they become vain offerings to God.

Did all Types Pass at the Cross

I understand the bible says “shadow of things to come” when referring to the ceremonial types that pointed to the sacrificial offering. Just a brief side note. I know that some of my brethren have used Ellen White to prove that all types and shadows were only given in the sacrificial system and passed away at the cross. I don’t believe she said “all shadows” unless it was referring to the ones that pointed to the cross. Many of the feast days point past the cross to things that will happen in the future. And I also realize that some have said you can’t keep a type or shadow after you have the reality. Let me quote sister White:

“The tree of life was a type of the one great Source of immortality.” (Ellen White 17MR 352.3}

The words “type” and “shadow” are synonomous. We read in Hebrews 8:5

Heb 8:5 Who serve unto the example (Gk Typos) and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.


There is more to understand regarding “Types” and “Shadows” than the system of types that passed away at the cross. The fact that Ellen White says that the tree of life is a type implies that some types can be kept at the same time as having the antitype, since the antitype of the tree of life is a symbol of having Christ within.

So therefore to keep the typical day of atonement at the same time as being in the antitypical day of atonement is no different than having the typical tree of life at the same time as partaking of the antitypical spirit of life. It is possible to observe both type and antitype at the same time and not have an issue just as Abraham who was circumcised in the heart (antitype) before he received the type. However, those types that pointed to the cross were shadows only for the Jewish Nation. And they were given to point out the reality of being a true Jew.

She also likened the tree of life to the communion in the context of the quote.

“The tree of life was ***a type*** of the one great Source of immortality. Of Christ it is written, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” He is the fountain of life. Obedience to Him is the life-giving, vivifying power that gladdens the soul. Through sin man shut himself off from access to the tree of life. Now, life and immortality are brought to light through Jesus Christ. {17MR 352.1}

Christ declares, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.” “Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; …For My flesh is meat indeed, My blood is drink indeed…. .As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me. . . .The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” “To him that overcometh will I grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” (Ellen White 17MR 352.3}

Leave a comment