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The Catholic Church has long recognized the use of typology in the Old Testament as foreshadowing the New; in the Catholic Catechism, typology is called allegorical interpretation. This is a bit misleading because allegory is more different than the same to typology. I want to just comment a bit on how we can practically use typology today and why it is important to understand it for this very reason. An example of typology is the serpent (snake) plague that descended on the Israelites during the Exodus because of their evil. God instructs Moses to hold a representation of a serpent up on a pole and any who look to it would live even though they had been bitten. Jesus later refers Nicodemus to this event, noting that the Son of man must be hung similarly (John 3). Jesus is using typology; Jesus represents humanity and then crucified for humanity’s rightful death. Any who look to this symbol of death — Jesus in the Gospels and the serpent in Exodus — will live. The imagery from the OT is of death hung on a pole meaning life for those who looked to it; so it is with Jesus in the NT. How can we use this today? There seems to be two major issues in the way. First, we need to know what the typologies in the Bible are designed to present. In the example above, Jesus is showing us not only that God will later use Jesus’ death to mean life for others but also that God favors this type of typology, as illustrated earlier in the Exodus. Second, once we have a handle on how a typology represents God, we need to know when and how to apply it. We can become this “symbol of death leading to others’ life” that Jesus so richly exemplified. We can become typologies of both the Exodus account and of Jesus’ crucifixion. It is not easy, but we may become the embodiment of death leading to life in the way Mother Teresa did. She put herself in a context of death, endangering her own, so as to pass life-giving care to others. We could be utterly harmed for the sake of others good, with perhaps unbelieving friends or family watching. If we do, we have become a typology of what Jesus represented: namely, being victimized, harmed, taken advantage of for others’ good. We cannot guarantee how others will view our “dramatization,” but we can lift a prayer to God to make it typological of Him, His Son, and His life-giving characters, even when it costs Him (Romans 8:32). God is the God of over pouring love who did spare even His own Son, but gave Him up for us. This is radically shocking. Can I, can we, be the sacrifice (death) for enriching others (bringing life). A stout person this takes, as the Lord prepares every person for such courageous service.

Dr. Scalise