A great number of righteous men and women from the Old Testament and Book of Mormon, including prophets, priests, kings, and others, served as types and shadows of Jesus Christ. Their personal purity and righteousness, as well as events in their lives, foreshadowed Jesus’ righteousness and his works. The parallels between these individuals and Christ are so striking that these persons “were types and shadows of our Lord’s coming; they were living, walking, breathing Messianic prophecies.”1 Elder Jeffrey R. Holland wrote: “Jehovah used an abundance of archetypes and symbols. Indeed, these have always been a conspicuous characteristic of the Lord’s instruction to his children. Examples of those figures—especially prefigurations of Christ—are present throughout the pre-Messianic record. . . .
“. . . Moses (like Isaac, Joseph, and so many others in the Old Testament) was himself a prophetic symbol of the Christ who was to come.”2 And according to LDS scholar Andrew C. Skinner, “The very lives of Old Testament personalities—prophets, priests, and kings—are similitudes of the life of the great Prophet, Priest, and King, the Anointed One of the Father, the Holy One of Israel.”3
For instance, consider these brief examples:
Melchizedek, whose name means “my king is righteous” or “king of righteousness,” was a type of Jesus Christ, the righteous “King of kings” (Rev. 19:16; see Heb. 7:15; JST Gen. 14:17). Melchizedek was the king of Salem (or king of Peace); Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace. Melchizedek’s priesthood, faith, and power (JST Gen. 14:25–31) anticipated Christ’s priesthood, faith, and power.
Abinadi’s life foreshadowed Jesus’ ministry and sacrifice in a number of ways. Both Abinadi and Jesus were bound and judged by rulers and priests, both were imprisoned for three days, both were innocent of any crimes, both were protected until their mission was complete, and both suffered humiliating deaths.4
Gardeners can be types of Jesus Christ. “On that first Resurrection Sunday, Mary Magdalene first thought she saw a gardener. Well, she did—the Gardener who cultivated Eden and who endured Gethsemane. The Gardener who gave us the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valley, the cedars of Lebanon, the tree of life.”5
Jesus is the Physician who took “upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people” (Matt. 9:12; Alma 7:11–12), and “with his stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:5).
Worthy high priests can symbolize Jesus. Christ is the “faithful high priest” (Heb. 2:17; 5:10); like the high priests of the Mosaic order who were required to be holy and undefiled (Lev. 21:1), Christ was “an high priest . . . who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Heb. 7:26).
Eve, a Type of Christ
From the Garden of Eden to their exaltation, and beyond, Adam and Eve share equal status. God created both Adam and Eve, he made both of them in his image, both partook of the fruit, and both were exiled from the garden. Christ’s atonement covered both equally, and he made garments of skin for both of them. Together, as mortals, they multiplied and replenished the earth. As exalted personages, Eve and Adam share a “golden throne” that is set on a “circular foundation.” They, equally and without variation, are described by Joseph Smith as being “clothed in white garments . . . and their faces shone with immortal youth. They were the two most beautiful and perfect specimens of mankind I ever saw.”6 Eve, like Adam, is a type and shadow of Jesus Christ; but Eve typifies the Lord differently, reflecting her different and unique callings.
Eve is named Life; Jesus is Life.
The name Eve signifies life and refers to Eve as a bringer of life to her great posterity. “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve.” Genesis gives an explanation of Eve’s name, noting, “Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living” (Gen. 3:20). Although non-English words are used elsewhere in the story (Adam, cherubim, Eden, Pison, Havilah, and so forth), only with Eve’s name is an explanation attached—an emphasis on Eve’s significance in the story. Moses 4:26 provides additional information regarding Eve’s name: “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living; for thus have I, the Lord God, called the first of all women, which are many.”
In Genesis 4:1–2 the author shows the appropriateness of Eve’s name by recounting that Eve gave birth: “Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain. . . . And she again bare his brother Abel” (Gen. 4:1–2). These verses show that Eve, in accordance with her name, is a life-giving entity. But Eve as life is not limited merely to biological considerations. God’s cursing of the serpent includes the promise that Eve’s seed would crush the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15); this seed is none other than Jesus (Rom. 16:20; Heb. 2:14), who will destroy both the serpent and death. In other words, Eve the life brought forth Jesus the Life, and it is Jesus who brings spiritual life to humankind and who subdues Satan.
Eve's life is a type of Christ.
Eve as life is a type of Jesus Christ, who is the “light and life of the world” (D&C 12:9; 10:70; 3 Ne. 11:11), the “Word of life” (1 John 1:1), and the “Prince of Life” (Acts 3:15). He is the “light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things” (D&C 88:13). He “giveth life unto the world” (John 6:33). Jesus through his atoning sacrifice provides eternal life to those who repent and keep the commandments. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life” (John 3:36). Stated differently, “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12). Jesus taught Martha, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). Then, as proof of his great power to restore life, Jesus Christ raised Martha’s brother, Lazarus, from the dead. As Paul stated, “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Just as Eve has given physical life to all God’s children on this earth, Christ both extends eternal life to the obedient and faithful and gives immortality through the resurrection to all of earth’s inhabitants.
Eve is a help; the Lord is a help.
Only two individuals in the Bible are explicitly identified as help (Hebrew ‘ezer): Eve (twice) and God (sixteen times).7 No others—including kings, queens, ranking military officers, prophets, or priests—are presented as help.8 Moreover, the vastly powerful and commanding pharaoh of Egypt, together with his officials and representatives, is specifically depicted as not being a help (Isa. 30:1–5). The fact that God is called a help provides insights into why Eve is called a help. In what manner is God a help? The prophets reveal that God is a help because he sustains and preserves the lives of all his people. The following five examples (out of the sixteen passages that identify God as help) demonstrate this idea.
1. God is first called help in Exodus 18, where an explanation is provided for the naming of Eliezer, Moses and Zipporah’s son. Eliezer, meaning God Is a Help (or My God Is a Help), was so named because God “was mine help [‘ezer], and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh” (Ex. 18:4). In this passage God is a help by preserving the life of Moses from his archenemy, the pharaoh.
2. Deuteronomy 33 consists of the words that Moses spoke as he blessed the tribes of Israel shortly before his death. At the conclusion of these blessings, Moses praised God with praises set forth in poetic verse (Deut. 33:26–29). Twice he referred to God as a help who would “thrust out the enemy from before [Israel].” The three occasions in Deuteronomy 33 when God is called a help (see also verse 7) are associated with Israel’s enemies because God helps his people by saving them from destruction by their enemies.
3. In Psalm 33 the Lord is called a help who delivers humans from death and preserves them during famine. “The eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help [‘ezer] and our shield.” (Ps. 33:18–20).
4. Psalm 121 opens with, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help [‘ezer]. My help [‘ezer] cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth” (vv. 1–2). In the succeeding six verses, the author emphasizes the Lord’s preservation of life. Six times the Psalmist uses the Hebrew root shmr, which has the sense of to keep or preserve. The Lord “shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore” (vv. 7–8).
5. A passage in Hosea identifies the Lord’s kingship and redemptive powers and establishes him as a help. The Lord addresses members of the house of Israel: “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help. I will be thy king: where is any other that may save thee. . . . I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death” (Hosea 13:9–10, 14). How is God a help to the house of Israel? He ransoms them from the grave’s control and redeems them from death.
All sixteen scriptural passages that establish that the Lord is a help are connected, implicitly or explicitly, to God’s sustaining the life of his human creations. He is a help because he protects his creative works from mortal destruction, death, and the grave. He preserves them during periods of trouble and keeps them alive during famines. He crushes their foes and strikes down their adversaries. He increases them and their children. Unlike mortals “in whom there is no help” (Ps. 146:3), the Lord is a help who preserves needy mortals, the bowed-down old man, the stranger, the widow, and the fatherless. The Lord is a help who ransoms his mortals from the power of the grave and redeems them from death.
In sum, twice Eve is called a help (Gen. 2:18, 20), and as such she, like the Lord himself, served to sustain life. She was no more a subordinate to Adam than the Lord is a subordinate to the mortals for whom he is a help.
Lead image from lds.org.
This singular volume presents a tapestry of symbols and foreshadowings of the Atonement. And as we study the symbols, we can learn deep truths about Jesus Christ and his mission and increase our desire to become like God. Symbols and Shadows is a unique book that:
1. Analyzes the many symbols of the Atonement — some familiar, some unexpected — and encourages us to look deeper into the scriptures.
2. Discusses why Jesus Christ was uniquely qualified to be the Atoner.
3. Examines the fulfillment of the Atonement in Christ's mortal life and sacrifice.
4. Details the multitude of symbols and shadows in the scriptures that testify of the infinite atonement and the blessings of God's grace.
^1. McConkie, Promised Messiah, 451. Although in this passage Elder McConkie referred to “high priests of the Melchizedek Priesthood,” his statement regarding “living, walking, breathing Messianic prophecies” could just as easily refer to all those who were types and shadows.
^2. Holland, Christ and the New Covenant, 137.
^3. Skinner, Prophets, Priests, and Kings, 8. In this excellent work, Skinner provides an in-depth treatment of Adam, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac, Samuel, David, Elijah, and others who were types of Jesus Christ.
^4. Holland, Christ and the New Covenant, 171–73. Elder Holland lists several ways that Abinadi served as a type and shadow of Jesus Christ.
^5. Holland, Trusting Jesus, 58.
^6. Joseph Smith, as quoted by Zebedee Coltrin in Smith, Encyclopedia of Joseph Smith’s Teachings, 18.
^7. For God as a help, see Ex. 18:2–4; Deut. 33:7, 26, 29; Ps. 20:1–2; 33:19–20; 70:1–2, 5; 89:19; 115:9–11; 121:1–2; 124:8; Hosea 13:9.