If you have followed my work for any amount of time you know that I absolutely LOVE typology in Scripture. I wish I was smarter because I would love to write a book on my favorite types in Salvation History. The CCC, in paragraph 128, states “The Church, as early as apostolic times, and then constantly in her Tradition, has illuminated the unity of the divine plan in the two Testaments through typology, which discerns in God’s works of the Old Covenant prefigurations of what he accomplished in the fullness of time in the person of His incarnate Son (emphasis added).” For me, typology makes Scripture come alive as if the story was dancing on the page in front of me, moving the narrative along… a real page-turner. Its the design built into the love story of our groom, our Father in heaven, who eagerly desires for us to come back to him!
Let me show you an example. On the sixth day of creation, God made man & women, then He blessed them, provided them sustenance, and sent them on their mission to “fill the face of the earth”. This passage sets Adam up as the “first-born” son of God’s covenant family, a King with dominion over creation who is also the Priest serving in the garden sanctuary (Gen. 2).
Genesis 1:26–31 (RSVCE) :
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.
If we were to look closer into Genesis 2 we would see that that sustenance included the mysterious tree of life, the fruit hung on a tree which gives life. Too bad Adam didn’t cry out to the one who was able to save him, God; not to mention giving up his flesh in order to save their souls while having recourse to this “manna” (literally means: what is it?). So here, at the dawn of man’s journey, God the Father sets important precedence of blessing, provision, and mission. Let’s see how it plays out in Salvation History.
Not many chapters later, in Genesis 14, the Father of Faith, Abraham, after defeating the local Kings of Canaan and rescuing his nephew Lot, pays a special visit to a mysterious character. Abraham travels to the city of Salem to see King Mel-chizedek and pay him homage. According to rabbinical tradition, not only was Mel-chizedek the King of Righteousness (what his name literally means), and the King of peace (the meaning of Salem) but, also, Shem Bar Noah (c.f. The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan Ben Uzziel. – Chapter 14 – HERE). In other words… this is Noah’s first-born son Shem in the flesh! Check out what Shem does…
Genesis 14:17–21 (RSVCE):
17 After his return from the defeat of Ched-or-laomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18 And Mel-chizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. 19 And he blessed him and said,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
maker of heaven and earth; 20 and blessed be God Most High,
who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything. 21 And the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.”
Interesting… what a coincidence that Shem, the Priest of God Most High, the Royal Priest-King, the First-Born son of God’s covenant family is taking the same actions as God did in Genesis 1&2. By blessing Abraham, giving him a mysterious sacrificial offering of bread and wine, and receiving homage from him, Mel-chizedek is passing on the blessing of the “first-born”. In Genesis 15 God entered into a grant covenant with Abram, promising him land and nation. in Genesis 17 God set his stumbling son back on track, to walk in righteousness again, through circumcision and the renewed promise of a son through Sarah, from whom would come the promised “seed” of the royal Messiah (Gen. 3:15); Sarah would be the mother of Kings! In Genesis 22, God would test Abraham by asking him to offer his only son on Moriah, the same mountain where one day the Temple would be built by Solomon (c.f. 1 Kings 8). What should impress you more than Abraham’s faith, his son Isaac’s willingness to trust himself to his father Abraham and his Father God… being bound by an old man to the wood and submitting his life to death without so much as a complaint or grumble. The Ancients refer to this episode as the Akedah, or the binding of Isaac. If only Adam had this much faith, I wonder where we would be now? Needless to say, God will provide Himself, the lamb for the sacrifice… so a lamb is what we are looking for!
Let’s fast forward to the Exodus and Moses. God called to Moses from the burning bush in Exodus 3, commanding him to go and tell Pharaoh to let His “first-born” son go to worship him. You know the story… Pharaoh refused and God went to war with the false gods of Egypt slaying 9 of them in order to punish his wayward son Egypt, while at the same time convert the hearts, away from the false worship of idols, of His “first-born” son Israel. To cap that off, God sends the most devastating plague of all upon Egypt… the death of the “first-born”! As we’ve already seen, the role of the “first-born” played a critical part in the family of mankind. Not only did this leave a HUGE power vacuum in Egypt, but, also, it was the death of the deity Pharaoh itself. Pharaoh’s eldest son was divinized as a part of the process for dynastic succession, therefore this would have been the worse possible outcome for Pharaoh personally, professionally, and religiously.
When Israel makes it to the Mountain of Siani, God has Moses prepare the people by spending 3 days cleansing themselves and abstaining from sexual intercourse (c.f. Ex 19). “On the third day” God comes down to meet with His people. He has set them apart, as His “first-born”, to be a royal priesthood in order to go out and bring ALL of God’s children BACK home to true worship, communion with Him… back to life in the garden. Exodus 24 tells us how God sealed the deal with his people by sharing in the same blood! Moses took the twelve “first-born” Princes of the people to offer sacrifices on twelve pillars. Moses then sprinkles the blood on the altar, representing God, and then on the people saying, “8 … ‘Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.'(emphasis added).” Keep that in the back of your head, we’ll come back to it in a moment. Notice what happens next…
Exodus 24:9–12 (RSVCE):
9 Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, 10 and they saw the God of Israel; and there was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. 11 And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.
12 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tables of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.”
Ah, shucks… once again, we see this pattern of a blessing of the “first-born”, who is to act as a royal (kingly) priest, who is fed with mysterious food and sent out on a mission! The blessing was back in verse 8, the food is in verse 11 and the mission to be a kingdom of priests is in verse 6. You know, “they say”, Like Adam, like son! The “first-born” of God fall from grace in pretty short order in Exodus 32 with the worship of the golden calf. They lived so long in Egypt that they allowed themselves to be assimilated into the pagan practices of the culture around them rather than converting the culture around them to the true worship of the one true God. I’m sure we can not relate hu? Anyway, God brought them out with great pomp and circumstance, miracles, and majesty and still they turned back to the worship of Egypt’s gods. Notice which god they chose? Apes. Why is that important? Well, they chose the young, strong, fertility god to fashion out of gold… its the one you give your wealth over to in a feast followed by an orgy (c.f. Ex. 32:6). Money, sex, and power… the more things change, the more they stay the same! Long story short, you can take the “first-born” out of Egypt, but, you can’t take Egypt out of the “first-born”. When Moses comes down the mountain to confront them, only the Levites stand with God and cut out the wicked faction from the family. Where were the “first-born” princes who offered sacrifice back in chapter 24? Nowhere to be seen, they have forfeited their royal priestly status. From this day on, the Israelites would have to choose, worship of the true God, or worship of the false gods. They would now be required to bring these so-called “gods” to the “tent” and spill their blood just so they would know who is real and who is not. Unfortunately for Israel, they didn’t seem to get the message. So now we have a “first-born” who has given up its status as the “first-born” of all gods children (the nations); what is God to do? Raise up another!
Moving forward again several generations, the Israelites have come into the promised land, and after an unhealthy cycle of disobedience, defeat, and deliverance under the judges, they begged Samuel for a King in order to be just like all the other nations. Question; weren’t they supposed to be “Set apart”, unlike all the other nations? Oh, I’m digressing again. God gives them a warning… be careful what you ask for because you just might get it! They get a King alright, they get Saul, a tall good looking man who turns out to be wicked and haunted by a demon. Fear not… God sends Samuel to anoint the least likely person to replace him, the 8th son of Jesse, the little shepherd boy. Unlike Saul and his evil spirit, David is filled with the Spirit of God, defeating giants (unlike Adam), winning the favor of all, and walking in the righteousness of God; so David is the only man to be called a man after God’s own heart in all of scripture (c.f. 1 Sam. 13:14). Upon the death of Saul David, after a brief civil war, is made King over all of Israel. No sooner than David takes possession of the last remaining Canaanite stronghold in the land, Jerusalem, he goes about bringing up the Ark of God and the Tabernacle to set it in his newfound capital. Notice what David does…
2 Samuel 6:18–19(RSVCE)
18 And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts, 19 and distributed among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to each a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins. Then all the people departed, each to his house.
Was David a Levite? No, he was a Judahite (from the tribe of Benjamin). So what business did he have in acting as a priest? Great question, I’m so glad you asked! If you look back to 1 Samuel 13 you will see how much trouble Saul got himself in for acting like a priest, it cost him his dynasty. So what’s the difference? Saul took for himself what was not his, namely the priesthood of the “first-born”, whereas David was given the primogeniture upon his conquest of Jerusalem. David was now King of the very same city that Mel-chizedek was back in Genesis 14. Just as Mel-chizedek offered a sacrifice as Priest of God most high, so now would David. Where the Israelites forfeited their royal priestly status as God’s “first-born” in the wilderness, now, David himself serves in that role, as a Priest-King who leads all other nations back to the true worship of God most high. This becomes clear when you notice just how many Gentiles serve in David’s court, O’bed-e’dom the Gittite in 2 Sam 6 & Uri’ah in @ Sam. 11 are a few examples. Nations come and pay him homage (not to mention how they will come to hear the wisdom of his son Solomon). Echoing the promises of Genesis 12 to Abraham, the people of God are now an Empire called to evangelize the world for God. Only through a covenant relationship with David are they now able to participate in the royal priesthood fo the “first-born”… it was meant to be theirs but, they gave it up for a golden idol! Unlike his fellow Israelites, who are too easily swayed by their pagan neighbors, David is not influenced by his Gentile friends nearly as much as they are of him! This is what God had in mind for Israel all along.
Notice the section I underlined, “a portion of meat”, there in 2 Sam 6:19? The Hebrew is uncertain and many scholars, like Dr. Scott Hahn for instance, translate this not as meat, but rather, wine (“A Father Who Keeps His Promises” by Dr. Scott Hahn, Page 209)! So David truly does see himself as a new Mel-chizedek, King of Righteousness, King of Peace, Priest of God Most High… blessing the people and offering them bread and wine. No sooner than David gets the Ark and Tabernacle set up in Jerusalem, and he has peace on all sides, does he petition God to build the Temple, the ultimate expression of his priesthood… its time to make Deuteronomy 12 a reality! In 2 Samuel 7 God swears a grant covenant with David, declaring that his son would be God’s son and a son of David would sit on the throne forever. Solomon, like his father David, would also act a Priest, offering sacrifices, interceding for the people, blessing the people, feeding them, and then sending them out on a mission (c.f. 1 Kings 8). Unfortunately, Solomon’s wisdom didn’t save him from his pride! Solomon broke the 3 rules Moses laid out for the Israelite King back in Deuteronomy 17, you can not multiply weapons, wives, or gold… Solomon broke all 3 in grand fashion. Like Adam, this King too fell from grace and would suffer the consequences, namely his house would be devastated with personal sin and the kingdom would be torn in two never to unified again; or would they?
After 400 years of an empty throne of David, one would begin to wonder if God really meant what he said to David in 2 Samuel 7:16 “…your throne shall be established forever.” If it hadn’t been for the prophets, Escens and others promising that God would raise up a son of David again, you could imagine how one would be ready to give up on the whole thing and move on to something else! But then, when all seemed lost, “…when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4&5)” The angel Gabriel visits a young girl and proclaims good news, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David (Luke 1:32).” I’ve written an article on the significance of this passage, you can read it HERE. In a nutshell, this verse takes us right back to 2 Samuel 7:14… this child to be born is to be the long-awaited Messiah, the anointed King over Israel (not just the Jews), “first-born” and royal priest who will bring all nations back to God. Don’t forget, ever since Genesis 22 we’ve been looking for God to provide Himself, the lamb of God that would bless all nations through the “seed” of the woman, mother of Kings (Gen. 3:15). Let’s quickly see how Jesus stacks up against all of these elements from the Covenant mediators of the Old Testament.
The Lamb of God?
 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples;
 and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!“
 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.
 For to what angel did God ever say, “Thou art my Son,
today I have begotten thee“?
Or again, “I will be to him a father,
and he shall be to me a son”?
 And again, when he brings the first-born into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”
Royal High Priest?
 So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “Thou art my Son,
today I have begotten thee”;
 as he says also in another place, “Thou art a priest for ever,
after the order of Melchiz’edek.”
 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear.
 Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered;
 and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,
 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchiz’edek.
King of Israel, not just the Jews?
 So he came to a city of Samar’ia, called Sy’char, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
 Jacob’s well was there, and so Jesus, wearied as he was with his journey, sat down beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
 There came a woman of Samar’ia to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”
 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.
 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him.
 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.“
 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things.”
 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
King of Jerusalem?
 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,
 and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel.
King of Kings and Lord of Lords, leadings all nations to God?
 Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out;
 and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.“
 He said this to show by what death he was to die.
 “You are those who have continued with me in my trials;
 and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom,
 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
feeding them with bread & wine?
 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
 And likewise the cup after supper, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”
Sending them out?
 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
I hope you can see it now… how Jesus the Messiah, the anointed one, truly perfects all the foreshadowing of salvation history. He really is the the “first-born” son, the royal high priest, a new Mel-chizedek, a new David, who is King of Righteousness, King of Peace (Jeru-Salem), who feeds His house with the true “Manna” come down from heaven, his body and blood under the appearance of simple bread & wine. This is the true thanksgiving given to God in sacrifice, the Lamb of God, the Eucharist, which is the fruit of the virginal womb of Mary, the woman, hung on the tree of life that we should eat and not die, as Adam failed to do, but rather, we have life, and have it to the fullest! Now that’s a run-on sentence! There are no mistakes in salvation history, no mistakes in scripture, there is a design and that’s why I love typology so much… it makes the story come alive!
Unlike the failings of David (1 Sam. 11) or those of his sons, Jesus is the perfect “first-born” of God. Through his royal priestly ministry, his twelve were given a “share”, participation in the role of the one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ. Through Apostolic succession, the Apostles live on today, fulfilling the mission Christ has sent them on, to evangelize the world. The rest of us are not off the hook, rather by virtue of our baptism and confirmation, we too have a share in the priesthood of Christ, just not always a ministerial one. However, we are all called to offer up our sacrifices for the benefit of the Church (Colossians 1:24). Let us never forget that we are travelers in the wilderness seeking the promised land, feasting on the Manna come down from heaven (John 6). Remember we are to “… not be conformed to this world … Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord (Romans 12:2&11).”
About the Author:
Joe McClane – The Catholic Hack! – director of mission development at the Guadalupe Radio Network, as well as a Catholic New Media producer & Evangelist. He is married to his lovely wife Michelle and they have five children. The Catholic Hack | Catholic Apologetics, Theology & More!