In part 1 of “Figures of Speech” (LINK), we technically defined what “Figures of Speech” are and provided a few dozen examples of the different categories in regards to Figures of Speech.
In part 2, we will give you specific examples of Figures of Speech, however we will start off with a very basic introduction displaying why God would choose to use words in an unusual manner – which is to draw attention to itself in order to emphasize the literal text.
What we must always remember is that Figures of Speech do not make the literal text mean something it does not say.
Figures of Speech are meant to be utilized on top of the literal meaning, and are used to create emphasis and understanding concerning the shades of color that the text wishes to provide.
It has been stated that Figures of Speech are like adding color to a black and white photo, in that it creates emphasis and shades of deeper meaning without changing the literal textual understanding of the passage.
These type of rhetorical (“The art of speaking or writing effectively”) tools are part of the human experience.
God has created the human mind in such a manner that it is the greatest computer within creation in that it understands not only on the literal plain, but also within the nuances of meaning, as well as the larger picture of how one word relates to another.
The ability to learn on a multiplicity of levels is common to the human experience.
We will start with the most basic of teaching and understanding, that of “Object Lessons.”
Object lessons are so essential to our experience in life that we usually never think about them as distinct tools.
It has been said that the brain of a newborn child functions at a rate that far exceeds that of its adult human equivalent in it’s ability to interact within its new environment. While a babies reasoning seems primitive, it is very effective.
If they are hungry, they cry; if their uncomfortable because they’ve soiled themselves, they cry; if their board and want stimulation, they cry.
While this is primitive, it is also completely effective, yet as they grow and seek to expand within this new environment, so too does their ability to communicate.
Normally the first object lesson that a child learns is the understanding of the word “no”.
It is when we utilize this word, “no”, coupled with the tones of reinforced reflection in saying the word itself, the volume of our speech, the expressions on her face, as well as the physical reinforcers that we use to communicate this most important of all words to learn.
Without an understanding of the word, “no,” a human being is destined for failure, they will not be able to function adequately within their environment, and therefore will cease to exist at a young age.
Those that do poorly in understanding or accepting the word “no” fill our prisons and our graveyards.
It is the reinforcers that are used with the word “no” that makes this type of object lesson important.
It is when a child risk harming itself by sticking it’s hand into a fire, and the parent says “no” while slapping the child’s hand, that the training in object lessons becomes crucial.
A reinforcer is created when negative conclusions are coupled with negative behavior. Plainly stated, when it hurts to do something; that is how we learn not to do it.
Object lessons are normally quite simple ways of digesting meaning. Jesus used them quite often in telling stories.
A story is an excellent tool to present object lessons in a memorable way.
In the Bible, God’s wisdom is manifested in that He not only used language to communicate with man; but He continually utilized object lessons as well.
When God created physical existence, what we refer to as creation; God did nothing by chance, everything has a purpose within God’s realm.
Nothing is random within God’s world, everything was made based upon meaning that could and would be discovered as chronological time determined; all based upon God’s will.
When God made man, He made us in His own image (though technically, you and I are made in Adam’s image after the fall, you and I are not made in the same image as sinless man, we are a hybrid because of our capacity to sin which Adam was void of when he was created. The similarities may seem subtle, but in reality they are immense), for a reason, so that we could function and understand our Creator.
God even ordered creation in such a way that it resembles (which the Bible refers to as “types,” or “shadows”) things in the spiritual (heavenly) realm (diminution) as seen in Hebrews 8:5; 10:1.
Examples of Object Lessons
General Examples of these object lessons are:
Names (such as: Abraham [meaning: “father of a multitude,” from Abram, meaning “father”], Isaac [meaning: “laughter”], Jacob [meaning: “supplanter,” ~ all the before mentioned name translations are according to Dr. William Smith]…).
Relationships (like fathers and sons as an insight into the relationship of God the Father and Jesus. Husbands & wives, concerning the relationship of Jesus Christ and the Church).
Roles (such as: Kings, priests, servants, and slaves as representatives displaying the roles of Jesus, believers, and fallen man’s natural state).
The natural laws and sciences of limitation (exhibiting deterioration, decay, commonly referred to as the “Laws of Nature,” wherein the entropy laws portray how sin functions within God’s creation).
Utilizing seasons; growth, sowing & reaping concerning reciprocity and the demand of justice (wherein sin cannot simply be forgiven, but must be atoned for).
Things (such as: the materials of the tabernacle – colors, skins, metallurgy, wood, numbers, dates).
The design of the animals (illustrated by people seen as sheep, the lion of the tribe of Judah, wolves as false prophets, and goats for unbelievers).
Events (as seen in the crossing of the Red Sea, the Jordan, the order of the rebuilding of the Temple).
Situations (wherein Moses strikes the rock, a lack of faith that Israel displayed in murmuring, and the Son of man lifted up like the brazen serpent).
These, along with rhetorical devices (like: language, grammar, & Figures of Speech), and many other types of object lessons are all meant to be tools for our learning (1 Cor. 10:6, 11; Heb. 8:5).
Object lessons take many forms beyond these general examples, even to the extent that God used men’s lives to play out meaning that He wished to convey to man.
Men’s Lives as Object Lessons
God habitually used object lessons by orchestrating men’s lives to play out and illustrate His message, hence they are living object lessons.
Living object lessons go beyond words, beyond language, beyond perception, beyond culture, beyond time, beyond the limitations of audio-visual experience; to impact people in a deeply spiritual manner.
Time does not permit for a competent examination of all of the Biblical characters whose lives played out the realities which God wished to display in order to teach truth.
Everyone from Joseph, who displayed attributes, lived out events, concerning a type of Messiah; to the wandering of Israel concerning believers pilgrimage in this world, concerning the trials and tribulations encountered in the desert as well as the Promised Land in reference to faith.
The lives and events of the prophets which serve to be a prophetic play depicting God’s relationship with Israel (Isaiah, Ezekiel [Eze. 4:1, 4, 9, 5:1], Hosea [Hos. 1:2, 4, 6-9], just to name a few), as well as the lives of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz, displaying Christ as the Redeemer of mankind as seen in the Kinsman-Redeemer (1st coming as the Lamb of God), as well as the Avenger Blood, the Goel and Savior of Israel (as seen in His 2nd coming, to save Israel and to extract judgment upon His enemies), while also displaying His relationship with the church (Ruth a Gentile bride, and His relationship with Israel, as seen in Naomi for whom Boaz [a type of the redeemer of Israel] redeems the land).
There are many other examples ranging from the Feasts of Israel, to the dreams of Daniel; to symbols of gold, silver, brass, blood, wine, water, fire, thorns, and much more.
One very large display of object lessons is referred to as “Expositional Constancy.”
Expositional Constancy is a term that theologians use in regards to idioms in the Bible which consistently display repetitive meanings and patterns.
Expositional Constancy is the recurring use of uniform idioms (either symbols or rhetoric) throughout Scripture, both in Hebrew and Greek; in symbolizing something in order to create an object lesson, which enhances details in producing clarity.
The website, “All About God,” states:
“A type (an example), or Biblically speaking a “shadow;” is meant to generate greater detail and precision in identifying something or someone in the future (Heb. 8:5; 1 Cor. 10:11; Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:6).”
Hebrews 3:1-6 ~ Illustrates that God created the role of the earthly priest as an object lesson to later help identify Jesus’ role as the intercessor and Redeemer of mankind.
Hebrews 8:4-5 ~ Describes how God caused the tabernacle to be fashioned specifically concerning its materials and construction in order to convey greater details in describing Jesus Christ as our substitutionary sacrifice, advocate, and the perpetuation to God in providing salvation to humanity (also see: 1 Cor. 10:4; Heb. 4:11; Heb. 10:1; & Col. 2:17).
Hebrews 8:4-6 states:
“For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: Who serve unto the example 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. But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.”
A substance, principle or reality may have more than one typological symbol or idiom used as a model or illustration which God wishes to communicate, yet there is never an inconsistency in using the same typological idiom in representing something else, that would create confusion concerning the symbolic representation.
These symbols utilized within Expositional Constancy are a form of what is commonly referred to as a “Figure of Speech,” where language is utilized in a diverse sense to convey more than the simple direct meaning.
There are many different types of rhetorical devices, the Romans and Greeks listed over 217 different forms of these rhetorical devices, which we covered in Part 1 of this article.
A few very well-known examples of biblical Figures of Speech are types and “shadows.”
Bible Concordance – The Principle of Expositional Constancy
One of the most important uses for a Bible Concordance is the study of Bible structure and integration.
The entire Bible (66 books written by 40 authors over a period of approximately 1,600 years) tells the story of the world’s Redeemer – the Word of God is about Jesus – John 5:39 is where Jesus states:
“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”
Every story, every genealogy, every number, every page, every detail speaks of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
One of the compelling evidences for the Divine authorship of the Bible is the principle of Expositional Constancy.
You can get a good understanding regarding the exhaustive nature of Expositional Constancy by using an exhaustive Bible concordance.
For example, using a concordance, take the term “rock” or “stone” and search for every usage of the word from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22.
We discover that many of the uses of this word ties together, the climax being 1 Corinthians 10:1-4, where the Apostle Paul elaborates:
“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ“
We may never truly comprehend the depths of God’s Word this side of heaven, but with a good Bible Concordance we can at least take our Bible study to a whole new level.
God’s use of typology, which is a symbol, sometimes referred to as a model or transform is a common biblical tool which is one of the Figures of Speech used to teach insights on another level.
Common Biblical Examples of Typology
Moses Deliverer (Heb. 3:5-6)
Red Sea Baptism
Pillar – Cloud / Fire Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 10:2)
Manna Bread of Life (Rev. 2:17)
Water from Smitten Rock Living Water (1 Cor. 10:4)
Rock/Stone Jesus Christ (Dan. 2:34-35, 45;
Rom. 9:32-33; 1 Cor. 10:4;
Eph. 2:20; 1 Pet. 2:8)
Animals/Beasts Kingdoms of the World
…………………………………..(Dan. 7:3, 5-7, 11-12,
……………………………………17, 19, 23; 8:4)
Purple / Blue Affluence / Royalty (Est. 8:15;
Jer. 10:9; Mar. 15:17; Joh. 19:2)
Red / Blood Redemption (Exo. 26:14;
. Num. 19:2)
Gold Kingship (Rev. 4:4)
Silver Redemption (Lev. 27:3, 6)
Brass Judgment (Exo. 38:2; Num. 21:9)
A Biblical Example Concerning Christ
A good example of typology is the reference to “The Lion concerning the tribe of Judah“ (Gen. 49:9).
The lion was used emblematically of a King in general, yet of a particular King concerning the tribe of Judah when the definite article, “THE” was used.
The Jews understood that Jacobs prophecy (Gen. 49:8-12) concerning his 4th son, Judah was a prophecy that the kingship of Israel would always come from the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10 ~ “the scepter shall not depart from Judah”), until the ultimate savior, the Messiah of Israel would arrive (Gen. 49:10b ~ “nor a lawgiver from between his feet, and tell Shiloh [“the peaceful one” ~ always understood to be the Messiah] come”).
We know that every passage which specifically refers to the King, the Messiah; which utilizes the definite article “THE,” (Rev. 5:5) holding Him distinct as from any other King of Judah.
This symbol was to be ultimately fulfilled in the personage of Jesus Christ, “THE Lion of the Tribe of Judah.”
However, how does this symbol reflect upon 1 Peter 5:8, which refers to the Devil, using what seems to be the same type of symbol; which states:
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”
An allegory is specifically drawn in the Bible when figurative language is used, such words as: “like,” and “as,” wherein this context tells us that Satan is acting like he is a lion.
Satan attempts to act like Christ in order to usurp Him, this is yet another example of a Figure of Speech, an allegory – wherein Satin is only acting like…
It does not say the devil is a lion, but that he is roaring “as” a lion.
As stated, there are over 300 of these illusions, titles, and object lessons singularly to do with Christ, they are meant to be descriptions in order that the Messiah would be recognizable when He arrived (the author’s favorite title used for the Messiah is “the rock,” found both the Old and New Testaments ~ Dan. 2:45 ~ Rom. 9:33).
The use of the definite article, “THE,” identifies the Messiah as singular, having no equal or substitute.
In those passages where “a” is used, God does so in order to indicate that there was no appearance in Him that would identify Him physically [Isa. 53:2], yet, it also mysteriously eludes to His humanity, yet to say that He was “a stone… cut without hands,” is yet another hallmark that this is the Messiah.
Men cut and shape stones, a stone that is cut without human hands refers to His Divinity and is an indication of the Messiah’s supernatural origin, and indicates the preeminence of the Messiah as distinct from humanity, wherein the definite article is redundant).
Albert Barnes states concerning the Holy Spirit descending like a dove, as recorded in Luke 3:22:
“And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.”
In a bodily shape-
“This was a real visible appearance, and was doubtless seen by the people.
The dove is an emblem of purity and harmlessness, and the form of the dove was assumed on this occasion to signify, probably, that the spirit with which Jesus would be endowed would be one of purity and innocence.
The “Holy Spirit,” when he assumes a visible form, assumes that which will be emblematic of the thing to be represented.
Thus he assumed the form of “tongues,” to signify the miraculous powers of language with which the apostles would be endowed; the appearance of fire, to denote their power, etc., Acts 2:3.”
One last example of an allegory can be seen in understanding the meaning behind the expression “whitened sepulchers” used by Jesus in Matthew 23:27, which states:
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”
What is insightful (note the figurative language: “like.” This will be cover later under the heading: “Allegorical Interpretation”) about this expression, “whitened sepulchers,” is that it referenced the time of the mandatory attendance to 3 of the feasts of Israel by every able-bodied male, from all over the known world to congregate at Jerusalem in order to give sacrifices.
The law had mandated that any one that touched a dead body or the tomb of a dead body was unclean and could not come into the city or Temple for a week.
And with certain sepulchers being part of a rock formation which was unknown by a visitor, the priest would make sure that bright whitewash was used on all the sepulchers just before the feast so they would be easily identified and no one would come in contact of them and not be able to fulfill the requirements of the feast.
Therefore, when Jesus referred to the Pharisees as hypocrites, as whitened sepulchers.
He was referring to the fact that contact with them by way of following their behavior would pollute the individual (see Luk. 11:44), while the Pharisees appeared to be righteous on the outside; they were full of falsehood on the inside – thus hypocrites.
The point was for those Pharisees that taught the Law, Jesus said follow what they said, but do not follow their behavior (Matt. 23:3); for a person to be in close contact with a Pharisee, and start to mimic those behaviors of hypocrisy, this is the pollution that Jesus warned people to avoid.
Why Aren’t Their Specific Passages Defining Typology
Many times concerning the subject of typology (wherein it concerns the future), where things are utilized as symbols of yet other things, there is always a point of singularity, or else it would make no sense.
Yet, it is common that the reference is not made according to verbiage, but is seen in application.
There is no text that states that silver is representative of redemption, yet we see that God utilizes the Temple’s Silver shackle as the only monies utilized in redemption of males and females (Lev. 5:15; 27:3, 6; Deut. 22:19;) from the slave market.
We also see that Silver is utilized in the construction of the tabernacle without reference to why silver, or why gold, or certain colors or materials were used. However, there was a specific design that God demanded that Moses follow which indicated a particular purpose for everything that was used (Heb. 8:4-6).
The words: approximate, somewhat, and almost, are not words that God utilizes. God corners Himself (in order to prove Himself as God, for it is God only who knows the ending from the beginning ~ Isa. 46:10) concerning His prophecies, it is by His specificity and the exactness of His pronouncements that displays that it is He alone that is God.
When God is vague it is to hide something on purpose so that at a later point identification can be made, yet it is mysterious at the point it is uttered, and until it is meant to be understood.
Typology, as it is referred to has been known and taught to the Hebrews (as well as every civilization since the time of the garden), and found in many of their teachings for thousands of years, yet God has felt no compulsion to define these in His Word; any more than God feels any compulsion to define Himself or defend Himself.
Many times we must take things at face value, because God is the potter and we are the clay, and how fortunate that many of these object lessons He takes the time to explain to us, while we are still on the potter’s wheel (Romans 9:21).
An excellent example of the specificity and exactness of God is seen in the typology (symbolism) built-in to the tabernacle.
Every piece of the tabernacle had a symbolic meaning that God built into the design (Exo. 25:9), wherein He didn’t feel the obligation to explain it to us, yet upon close examination these meanings become obvious.
Even with the things that God left out of the tabernacle, which is evidence of His use of object lessons as tools for our learning.
There is no flooring in the tabernacle, only God’s earth to walk upon. This is symbolic of the fact that before God we cannot stand upon our own creation, we stand upon the grace of God on the earth that He made.
We also should notice that there are no windows in the tabernacle.
The reason for this is the only light is that of the light stand which is symbolic of righteousness connotatively, and denotatively of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The only righteousness; is the righteousness of Christ.
The only perception, is according to God’s law, His righteousness; as the compared to man’s attempt at righteousness, of producing his own type of light.
This attempt is indicative of religion where man attempts to bring God down to his level, as opposed to Christianity where God stoops down to man.
Another small example concerning the tabernacle, can be seen in the wooden planks that are utilized in the structure and the wall surrounding it, which are made of Acacia (Hebrew: “shittim“) wood according to Exodus 26:15 (“the thorn-bush of the desert,” is a thorn-bush which can grow into a tree, and was the thorn-bush of the curse in Gen. 3:18, and the burning bush for Moses Exo. 3:2. it is used to construct the tabernacle altar of burnt offerings, Exo. 38:1,6; was used to build the Ark of the covenant [the bottom part only, not the top – the Mercy Seat which was pure gold], Exo. 25:10; and it was used as the crown of thorns placed upon Christ’s head, Matt. 27:29) that is then covered in silver, symbolic of Christ living as a man, being cut down in His prime, killed, yet covered in silver as in the boards used to construct the tabernacle, depicting His atoning death for mankind; and gold depicting His Kingship when covered with gold concerning the construction of the Ark of the Covenant.
The top piece that is placed on the Ark (which is always listed as a separate piece of furniture of the tabernacle), and is called the Mercy Seat, which is made of pure gold, wherein Christ sits as a pure king, complete as the King of Kings, Lord of Lords.
To reiterate, the Ark of the Covenant (the bottom piece only) is wood covered in gold, and is the bottom part of a sarcophagus which was built without a cover, because the occupant would not be housed there, but freed (Christ).
The top piece is temporarily placed over it, the “Mercy Seat,” which is an actual seat made of pure gold symbolizing Christ divinity and ruler-ship as King, a seat to rule from.
The Mercy Seat is placed on top of the Ark of the covenant in the same way that Christ divinity is above his atoning death as a God/man (man in attributes, God in essence).
To reiterate, the Acacia wood is the same wood that is the thorn-bush which is a symbol of the curse; hence it was the curse that was placed on Christ’s head at His crucifixion.
And concerning Moses and the burning acacia bush, that was common in the desert, due to lightning strikes; but what attracted Moses was a burning bush that was not consumed by the fire.
A picture of the atonement made possible by Christ’s taking our judgment (the wood on fire) upon Himself; yet, not consumed.
Lastly, “the serpent on the pole“ (Num. 21:8-9) which Christ spoke about in John 3:14, and was symbolic of Him as a snake is also symbolic of sin, and the snake was made of brass which is symbolic of judgment, and the snake was lifted up on a cross, where it was seen of all those that would look in faith, in the same way that Christ was lifted up as the atonement of mankind, bearing the sins of the world, yet resurrected 3 days later, not consumed.
It is in understanding that there may be many different types or symbols, yet none of these symbols will represent anything else; displaying that God may use many different types of metaphors for a given representation, but never in concert with others, or in conflict of itself.
Many Types – Only One Meaning
There may be many different substances used to convey or symbolize one particular thing or person, yet the diversity is due to what God is attempting to convey in that particular typology, wherein the typology shares a symbolism which can be understood; and therefore expand the meaning.
God may, and does use many different symbols for a single object, principal, or situation; yet these symbols will not be used for any other thing in regards to typology.
God uses many different symbols because He is displaying many diverse aspects or perspectives of meanings concerning the subject.
An example can be seen in the Holy Spirit, as follows:
During the crossing of the wilderness, the Holy Spirit was represented by the “fire at night,” and a “cloud during the day” concerning the Israelites in the wilderness.
The fire was representative of God’s (pure) protection during the night and illumination during darkness (sight), and the cloud was reminiscent of His loftiness above and beyond them, and of God’s care in providing shade during the heat of the day.
In the Old Testament, “oil” was a symbol of the Holy Spirit concerning the anointing of God upon people and things (Exo. 29:7, 21; 30:25, 31).
Oil was used as a medicinal salve for healing (Luk. 10:34), as well as a fuel in lamps (Exo. 27:20) for seeing during darkness (in spite of an incorrect translation, candles were never used in the lamp stands; only oil).
The Holy Spirit can be represented by a “dove,” when God wants to make a connection with Noah and the ark, and His providential care for man (Gen. 8:9) and by extending this typology to display His providential care of His Son when Jesus was baptized (Matt. 3:16; Mar. 1:10; Luk. 3:22; Joh. 1:32 ~ you notice the usage of the word: “like” in all 4 accounts, indicating that there was an outward appearance as a dove, yet something that indicated that this was far more than an animal, perhaps analogous to the way angels looked whenever they could be mistaken as man by unbelievers [in Sodom ~ Gen. 19:1-5], yet affirmed as Angels by believers [Abraham in the plains of Mamre ~ Gen. 18:1-3] – they appeared to have the ability to hide who they are or present who they are. How God does this is up to Him, yet confusing to us).
The Holy Spirit is also symbolized by “cloven tongues” of fire (symbolized as a purifying agent) during the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:3); displaying God’s involvement in the articulation that is seen (this wasn’t an indisputable miracle), proving beyond a shadow of a doubt concerning God’s involvement in the act (individuals who spoke in the dialect of Galilee, in the area of Judea; were speaking foreign languages. This is somewhat analogous to hearing a Texan speak French, no matter how well he spoke French you know that he wasn’t from Paris by the dialect that he displayed), and also seen in a representation of the power of God witnessed as fire.
A Few More Examples of Typology
Is Symbolic of the temporary dwelling place of the Soul – Tabernacle (tent) ~ Concerning the word “tabernacle,” which was used concerning Jesus’ life on earth, as found in John 1:14; there are within the grammar valuable insight which aid us in understanding other Scriptures. (also see: Joh. 2:21; 1 Cor. 6:19-20; 2 Cor. 5:1, 4; concerning our physical [temporary] bodies being the Temple, or dwelling place of the Holy Spirit).
Bosom / Breast
Is Symbolic of the place of Love – Affection – Intimacy ~ The bosom refers to the chest between the arms, hence the breast; idiomatically this was a place of intimacy where people would hold their babies and loved ones close to their breast, this is where the idea of the “heart” being the seat of emotions originated, wherein the Bible the “heart” is never in reference to the emotions singularly (please see our article entitled: “Heart & Mind” ~ Link), but the heart in both Hebrew and Greek refers to the inner man, always the mind first, then the emotions, then the “seat of the will” where discretion occurs between the reason of the mind, and the feelings / emotions (Gen. 16:5; 2 Sam. 12:8; Isa. 40:11; Luk. 16:22; Joh. 1:18; 13:23).
Is Symbolic of Life – Especially Concerning Man’s Creation (Gen. 2:7) ~ The word is related to the Spirit (Gen. 2:7; 7:15; Eze. 37:9; Joh. 20:22; 2 Tim. 3:16).
Are Symbolic of the Main Channel God Uses ~ “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God“ (Romans 10:17), also see (Matt. 13:9,15,16,43; Joh. 5:24; Rom. 10:14, 17; 2 Tim. 4:16, 17; Heb. 3:7-8; 3:15; 4:7 [Psa. 95:7]; Jam. 1:19; Rev. 1:3; Rev. 3:20; Rev. 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22; 13:9).
Are Symbolic of the Main Channel Satan Uses ~ Which explains the strength of pornography (Gen. 3:6,7; 9:22, 23; 12:15; 16:4,5; 21:9 Num. 32:9; Josh. 7:21; Judg. 11:35; 14:1; 16:1; 2 Sam. 6:16; Acts 12:3; 16:19).
Is Symbolic of Kingship ~ (Rev. 1:13; 4:4; 14:4).
Is Symbolic of Redemption ~ (Exo. 30:11-16; 21:32; 26:19; 27:17; Num. 10:2; Matt. 27:3-9).
Is Symbolic of Judgment ~ Because brass was the only metal that didn’t melt from fire and was therefore used for holding fire for sacrifices and judgment. Since the first creation of cities, walls were used to protect the inhabitants, with the great men of the city meeting in the gates of the city, its most vulnerable part.
Hence, the gates of the city was a reference to the meeting place of the rulers of that city, it should be noted that the gates of the city were made of brass, which symbolized that the gates of the city were where judgment was rendered, according to the strength of the leaders of the city (Exo. 27:2,3; 39:39; Psa. 107:16; Isa. 45:2; 2 Chron. 12:10; 4:16; 4:9; Rev. 1:15).
Is Symbolic of Death ~ Myrrh is a bitter gum and costly perfume which had to be crushed (which is what myrrh means: “to crush”) to obtain it’s sent and potency. It exudes from a certain tree or shrub in Arabia and Ethiopia, or is obtained by incisions made in the bark: as an antiseptic it was used for embalming.
It was also an ingredient in perfume (Psa. 45:8), prominent in Song of Solomon, etc.
It was also an ingredient in holy anointing oil for priests (Exo. 30:23) and the purification of women (Esth. 2:12). Because it was used in embalming (Joh. 19:39) and was a gift of the Magi at Christ’s birth (Matt. 2:11); this explains why the 3 gifts given to Christ at His birth are myrrh, frankincense, and gold.
Gold spoke about His kingship and power, frankincense was used by priest and spoke of His priesthood and intercession, myrrh was derived from being crushed, and primarily used in burial, and spoke of His death and humility. Jesus is a King and a Priest, who died for the sins of the world.
Is Symbolic of the anointing of God ~ Specifically the anointing of the Holy Spirit (1 Sam. 16:13; 16:1; 2 Kings 9:6; Heb. 1:9; 1 Joh. 2:27).
Is Symbolic of that which Purifies – It Preserves (and by extension, it judges) ~ One insight concerning salt which is sometimes overlooked concerns Lot’s wife, who looked back at Sodom after fleeing, displaying a special regard for it.
Concerning this event, the Hebrew phrase for “looked back behind,” indicates that she held high regard for Sodom and regretted having left it.
Essentially, her heart was still in Sodom, this is why she was preserved in salt (judgment), in the state of looking back at the object of her love, the sinful city of Sodom.
Due to the purity issue concerning the symbolism of salt, there is also the idea of judgment, both of Lots wife, and concerning Christ’s use of the word regarding what the church was meant to be, a pure example, displaying judgment (please see “Judging / Discernment” ~ Link).
Also see: (Matt. 5:13; Mar. 9:50; Luk. 14:34; Col. 4:6. Gen. 19:26).
Is Symbolic of Righteousness – Which gives Sight ~ It must also be remembered concerning Expositional Constancy that as light symbolizes righteousness, those does those symbols which work in unison with it, such as lamp stands, which are containers of oil which fuel the production of light (biblically speaking, lamps were not candle stands in that wax was not utilized. Actually, lamps stands were vessels that held oil with the wick that was lit and produced the light. The light was produced by the fire that consumed the wick because the wick was saturated with oil, the stand it’s self was a vessel which contained the oil [a type of the Holy Spirit] which in essence produced light), as seen in Revelation 1:20, where we are told that churches are symbolized as lamp stands, and churches are made of individual believers which hold the light in them, the oil / symbolic of the Holy Spirit, displays righteousness.
The idea is there is a consistency within this idiom, which is yet another internal proof of the divine consistency concerning God’s authorship of the Bible.
In John 15:1-7, Jesus speaks about God the Father being the husbandman, Himself being the vine, and believers being the branches in Him.
What is amazing about this symbolism is how it is also seen concerning the Menorah (oil light stand) of the Tabernacle (God’s instructions concerning its production mandated that the artistry displayed a single vine in the center, with 3 branches on each side attached at the base yet separating up at the top, displaying that the branches were a part of the vine, yet independent), which was to be made out of pure gold (displaying its kingship), which according to God’s instruction was to be beaten out of one piece of gold, when there were actually 7 sections (if we remember that symbolically the number of man is 6, and that symbolically the number of God, where He is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ is 1, which would explain why there is 1 vine, and 6 branches; which combined is seen in the number 7 which symbolizes completeness, which is what we are in Christ as the church).
We know according to Hebrews 8:5, that the design and every detail of the Tabernacle were made to be examples, examples of what? (see our essay concerning “The Tabernacle,” and how that every part of its construction held a symbolism concerning Jesus Christ ~ When Jesus said in John 5:39, “you search the Scriptures for in them ye seek life, it is these that speak about me,” He really wasn’t kidding, everything in the Bible speaks of Him, either directly or symbolically, and the Tabernacle is a good example).
The Menorah of the Tabernacle fits precisely into Jesus’ teaching in John chapter 15 concerning Himself in the church, with the lamp stands symbolizing being containers of righteousness, holding light and reflecting the light (light, which symbolizes righteousness also is alluded to in giving spiritual sight, which is what God’s Word does [Psa. 119:105] with the illumination of the Holy Spirit [John 16:13; 14:6]. See Psa. 97:11, which states: “light is sown for the righteous.” See Joh. 1:9, Matt. 4:16; 5:14, 16; Luk. 2:32; 16:8; Joh. 5:35; Rev. 21:23).
Is Symbolic of Sin ~ On two occasions Jesus and Paul both alluded to sin as leaven. Jesus warned (Matt. 16:11-12; Mar. 8:15 & Luk. 12:1, 13:21) about the leaven of the Pharisees; and Paul referred to leaven as sin directly (1 Cor. 5:6-9; Gal. 5:9).
According to these 6 passages which refer to 4 different events, both Jesus and Paul exhibit the symbolism of leaven as sin.
Also, among the Feasts of Israel, leaven was not allowed (except for the middle Feast, the Feast of Pentecost; which was done as a foreshadowing of sin ~ see our essays on the “Feast of Israel” to gain greater perspective) as it was symbolic of sin as well, which is why during Passover they were not allowed to bake with it, but why; what are the common denominators between sin and leaven, that aids in creating a pictorial that it is easy to understand.
Leaven corrodes (brings decay and death) from the inside of whatever it possesses (it works from the inside, out; hidden – only seen in the change displayed of the object), completely changing it, and filling it with air (In the Hebrew, the chief word translated “vanity,” “vanities” is “hebhel,” and means: “breath of air, or of the mouth.” It simply means void of substance, filled with air, we get our expression “filled with hot air,” from this as leaven creates heat as it creates a void of air), making it void, or vain. It makes whatever it possesses fill up to appear to be much bigger than it is in reality – it is an illusion.
Yet, it does so by corrupting, utilizing the process of dying to do so. It takes very little to affect a substance that is much larger.
And it cannot be taken out once it has infected its host. For these reasons leaven was understood by the Hebrews to be symbolic of sin, and you will notice that it symbolizes pride better than any other idiom.
To the Hebrew, pride was synonymous with sin.
Another form of these object lessons, which is also a Figures of Speech, are “shadows,” which are representations of something yet future (as well as representations of things in heaven, which is beyond time), which are current objects or events similar in some manner; which serve as an example so that identification can be made with something that will occur yet to come.
As the name implies, a shadow is vague concerning the thing that it represents, and is seen prior to the arrival of the object it represents (much like a shadow on the ground reaches a destination before the subject is represents).
The following Scriptures address shadows in the Scripture.
“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday [The Feast of Israel], or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” (Col. 2:16-17)
“Who serve unto the example 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.” (Heb. 8:5)
“For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.” (Heb. 10:1)
It is in understanding the greatness of our God that we allow Him out of the box that many denominations, teachers and teachings attempt to place Him.
It is the greatness of God to be who He is and to communicate in a multiplicity of insights wherein we can come to understand subjects that are so complicated and vast in their scope that the use of figures of speech and other attempts of communicating truth are utilized.
It has been wisely said that the Bible can be simple enough for a child to grasp the concept of salvation and become a child of God, yet at the same time is so immense and complicated that a believer can spend his whole life and barely plum below the surface.
If we could come to an understanding which is complete concerning God, then we have become God our self.
However, the God of the Bible is beyond comprehension, therefore it is in the use of these types of rhetoric and object lessons that we attempt to grasp even the smallest glimpse of the reality of who He is.
This is the reason that Jesus came to reveal the Father to us, and in so doing also make a way that we can return to Him.