Imagine a cloudless, sunny day and you’re on a quest for some shade to escape the heat and find rest. You come across a patch of shade, lay down to rest, and you look up and see the very tree that casts the shadow. We should direct our attention to the giver of the shadow, not the shadow itself. For the giver is the provider of our rest.
“Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.” – Colossians 2:16-19 ESV
Verse 16 begins with therefore, referring to Colossians 2:8-14 ESV and summed up by verse 14, “by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”
The law, a shadow of things to come required repeated sacrifices. Christ, our substance of life, offered a single sacrifice for all time.
If that truth doesn’t bring rest, I don’t know what truth will.
“And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” – Hebrews 10:10-11
There is no Old Testament food or drink or Sabbath law to maintain. Those laws are simply a shadow of things to come. However, the substance belongs to Christ. He is the very One that casts the shadow. The law points us to our sinfulness and our need of grace and sacrifice that we are unable to carry out apart from Him.
In verse 18, believers are not to be disqualified by asceticism (self-discipline and abstention from indulgence), worship of angels, going on about visions, and puffed up without reason by a sensuous mind.
Our faith is not tied to our level of self-discipline or our ability to steer clear of worldly indulgences. Our faith is not to be self-reliant on our visions and own mind. We are to come under the discipline of our substance, Christ. It is His love and discipline that will cast us as a light to the world. There is no shadow of the Christ that can replace His sacrifice.
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Verse 19, offers a great hope! We must hold fast to the Head. From whom the whole body is nourished and knit together. A growth from God, and God alone.
Fellow believers, don’t give into worldly deception.
We submit to no shadow but rather to the substance that provides the shadow. The shadow should always point us to the substance. May the sweet aroma and nourishment of food and drink direct our attention to the provider. May the Sabbath direct our attention to the day in which we will fully rest and be completely restored in the new earth.
And may we never rest in the shadows, but use them as a reflection to our greatest treasure.