On Sunday the Sunset pastor continued our “Raised with Christ” series with a message, “Shadows and Reality.” The text was from Colossians 2:17: “These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”
Have you ever been fooled? Ever seen a rabbit come out of an empty hat? Or a woman apparently sawn in two in a box, who wasn’t?
Paul wanted to talk with the Colossians about being fooled by some religious people.
What was Paul talking about in v16? “Do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.”
Moses’ law had a moral aspect to it, codified in the Ten Commandments (do not kill, steal, lie, honor your father and mother). These laws remain: God’s moral character has not changed.
The law also had a ceremonial aspect, which was an elaborate sacrificial system of rituals and offerings.
The things Paul mentions here were part of the ceremonial law, with its animal sacrifices, rituals and feast day observances, and they were given by God to point to the coming of Jesus the sinless Lamb of God.
At the first Passover in the Jewish Exodus from Egypt, each family slaughtered a lamb, roasted and ate it on the night before they left Egypt. They took the blood of the lamb and put it on the doorposts of their houses, so that when the angel of the Lord went through the land with the tenth plague, and the firstborn in each household died, the angel passed over the houses where the doorposts were covered with the blood. Every Passover in the years that followed, more lambs were sacrificed.
Hebrews 9:1 explains: “Now the first covenant had regulations for worship…Only the high priest entered the Most Holy Place in the Temple, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins of the people….”
That was an Old Testament shadow of the coming reality of Christ: V11, “When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here,… he did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.”
Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament shadows. We no longer need the rituals and ceremonies of the sacrificial system; Jesus is the Lamb of God sacrifice—the reality who was to come.
What shadows are in the modern world?
(a) Paul says to us, Keep it simple, and focus on Jesus.
Many communities of faith have extra-biblical rules and regulations. Paul says (v23) “These regulations have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.”
The word of God gives us only two ordinances to practice:
(i) Baptism, in which we identify with Jesus in death, burial and resurrection; and
(ii) the Lord’s Supper, in which we remember the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the Savior.
(b) Be aware that some with no good intentions act in a humble manner. Paul says they have an “appearance of wisdom” and a “false humility.” The put on airs. They have long stories about what they’ve “seen”—going into (v18) “great detail…” about their visions. Sometimes they’ll talk about “worshipping angels” (v18), but in fact they have “lost connection with the Head,” Jesus, and so become “puffed up” (v18), arrogant. Watch out for fake humility.
(c) Sometimes religious people use God language but do not mean what the Bible says about it. Many modern theologians use spiritual language but do not much believe in the virgin birth, the miracles, the resurrection, or the second coming of Christ.
May the reality of the risen Christ be strong in your heart today!
“The King is mighty, he loves justice… Exalt the Lord our God…; he is holy.” [Psalm 99:4-5]
May the Almighty be lifted up in your life this week—our prayer for you from your friends at Sunset Christian Church.