Typology (the study of pattern, or types) is a way to enrich Bible study by appreciating the forest as a whole for a moment before focusing on individual trees, or their leaves. It takes our eye off the microscope, looking across all 66 books at once to appreciate the power and grandeur of the vista spread out before us. The view of the forest often catches me by surprise to take my breath away.
By contrast, serious Bible readers are usually well-trained in the study of the individual leaves, the words and facts of the text. One chooses a passage, looks up the meaning of the words, reads it in other versions, and does comparisons with other passages that amplify it. Pastors read commentary from various viewpoints in preparation for giving sermons. I’ve done this kind of microscopic tree-and-leaf study all my life, and have to admit that it seldom catches me utterly by surprise.
I remember spending a year reading everything the Bible had to say about divorce, reading Christian books by experts on the subject, and still it left me feeling empty in my loss.
Then one day I read Ezekiel chapters 8-10 and It broke me, as I found God’s peace in my divorce. I saw how the Lord lingered three times as his glory lifted from his beloved temple and city before it departed. I understood why he had to divorce his wife, and it was for the same reason that I lost mine – adultery. It was a pattern and type that set me free – giving me a deeper understanding of all the passages I studied before.
Typological study is not an either/or proposition. Do the detail work, then come back and let’s have an adult conversation about the types woven into it, and what they expressly imply for us, His bride.