Shadow to Substance – Part 1

“Therefore let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come but the substance is of Christ” (Col. Ch. 2:17)

Before God wrote the law and gave them to Moses, He spoke His law and allowed man’s conscience to be his guide.  God’s first law to Adam was be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.  His second law was for man to have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves on the earth (Gen. Ch. 1 v. 28); and finally, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die, He cautioned him (vv. 16&17).  Let us, for a moment, analyze the fruit of the tree mentioned above.

First, knowledge: Hebrew da´ath which means cunning/crafty or the Greek word ya´da´, which means to ascertain by seeing.

Second, good: Hebrew ytab which means seem good.

Third, evil: Hebrew ra´ meaning adversity, affliction, calamity, mischief, misery, distress, sorrow, trouble, wickedness, wretchedness, wrong.  All the preceding summed up in a word —Sin.  Adam disobeyed and ate anyway, allowing sin to reign over and within man from conception.  To understand the severity of the problem it can be read like the following:

Adam and his wife being crafty in their thinking decided to ascertain by seeing, that which seemed good but was actually adversity, affliction, calamity, mischief, misery, distress, sorrow, trouble, wickedness, wretchedness and wrong.  All of which were in the tree of which the fruit was sin.

Incidentally, Adam’s choice was put in writing by the very finger of Almighty God centuries later at the induction of The Law, as referenced in Romans Chap. 3 v 20; “…the law is the knowledge of sin;” a list of ‘eight do nots’ and two ‘dos,’ as opposed to the two ‘dos’ and one ‘do not’ in the Garden of Eden, along with the consequence of disobedience, that is sure death (physical as well as spiritual death).

Adam’s act of disobedience propelled God’s redemption plan into motion.  Here, the law of sacrifice was demonstrated as one of God’s created beasts had to die when, “the LORD God made tunics of skin and clothed them,” in order to cover man’s nakedness.  Initially, man attempted to cover his self with fig leaves.  How long would their coverings of fig leaves have lasted?  Of course, not very long as their do-it-themselves covering would have failed them every time.  Almighty God was demonstrating to Adam what had to be done to make atonement for the sins of mankind.

Concerning that fateful day, let us keep in mind that Adam had never seen death before.  He named every one of those animals with the wisdom Almighty God had given to him and had to see one of them sacrificed to cover his and his wife’s sin.  Their blatant act of disobedience and insubordination to the LORD of the universe has since been a recurring theme in the lives of all born from Adam—All of mankind.

As the vicarious sacrifice was slain—whose death was to provide a covering for the guilty ones—The First Gospel Sermon was preached by God Himself, both in symbol and in action.  The Gospel of Substitution—an innocent victim offered in the stead of the guilty was thus made real and understandable when the serpent of Sin first lifted its ugly head in the garden, bringing the penalty of Death upon all of Adam’s race.  Even before the sentence of punishment was pronounced upon the deceived Woman and the guilty Adam, a Revelation, a Prophecy, a Promise of a Redeemer was given them— “the seed of a woman,” although Himself bruised in the conflict, would utterly destroy the Adversary and restore to penitent Man all that was lost by the ravages of Sin (pg. 49).

In his book, The Expanded Panorama Bible Study Course, Alfred Thompson Eade described the preceding rather poetically.  He wrote,

I suspect that many believe that the ceremonial law of sacrifice, enacted by Almighty God was first introduced to Moses and not from within the garden of Eden.  Even Cain and Abel knew what type of offering would have been pleasing to Almighty God.  Yet, Cain decided to offer the pride of his heart nurtured by the works of his hands.  It was clear from the beginning that God required a living sacrifice which he provided himself.  Ever wonder what happened to the sheep Abel offered?  The bible does not say.  However, I allude to the Amplified Bible Version of Leviticus chapter 27 vv. 28 & 29 which state, 28“But nothing that a man shall devote to the LORD of all that he has, whether of man or beast or of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed; every devoted thing is most holy to the LORD.”

29No one doomed to death {under the claim of divine justice}, who is to be completely destroyed from among men, shall be ransomed {from suffering and death penalty}; he shall surely be put to death.  The lambs or goats used in the shadow of the Old Testament were sacrificed as substitutes and once offered or devoted to the LORD, had to die.

The events written in Exodus chapter 12 is the beginning of a more detailed description of the requirements of the law of sacrifice.  The children of Israel were about to be rescued from under the ‘oppressive thumb’ of the Pharaoh, by the hand of Almighty God himself.

The leader of each household was required to “take a lamb, one without blemish, a male of the first year, kill it at twilight, take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.”  First thing to note about the preceding is that neither of the Israelites could guarantee his herd would produce a sheep without blemish, that is a perfect sheep, one without any flaws. Almighty God would have had to provide such; and so, He did, for every household.  The second thing is that they had to eat the lamb; all of it and apply its blood onto their door posts and the lintel of the door in preparation for the Passover.  Who passed over the households with the blood of the sacrificial lambs?  Almighty God with the Destroyer.

Some may wonder, concerning it all:  Why not just apply the blood, if the blood is the sign for the LORD to pass over the house?  Why eat the lamb as well?  Well, for one thing, they had a long journey ahead of them and needed sustenance to keep up their energy.  The other and more spiritually guided reason for eating the lamb is that it represented the Christ, the living sacrifice, the Lamb without blemish, God’s perfect Man, who would have been ultimately sacrificed once and for all.  Whose body and blood we partake of during our communion services in memory of Him.

In fact, all the dramatic splendour of the Exodus from Egypt is filled with symbolism about the Christ and His role in sanctification, salvation and redemption.  After crossing the Red Sea on dry ground, Moses sang, “You in Your mercy have led forth the people whom You have redeemed; You have guided them in Your strength to Your holy habitation” Ex. Ch 15 v 13.

In connection to the preceding, Colossians Ch. 1 vv. 13-14 state, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and carried us away into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

The crossing of the Red Sea would have been a spectacular phenomenon.  I marvel at the fact that they crossed during the night as recorded in Ex. Ch. 14 v. 21, “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night…”  Having no other choice but to depend on the light provided by Almighty God through His Angel, the substance of whom was Christ, who in the New Testament/Covenant, openly declared, “…I am the light of the world” (John Ch. 9 v. 5).

In the shadow of the Old Testament/Covenant, the Israelites, the set apart ones, had to do quite a lot of work in preparation for their departure from one habitation into another.  However, we, the New Testament/Covenant redeemed ones did not have to do a thing because Christ, the substance, has done it all for us.  Hence the declaration that, “…we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” Rom. Ch. 8 v. 37.

The law of sacrifice was not a stand-alone law.  It was completely tied to the Ten Commandments, which supplied man with the knowledge of sin (or the knowledge of good and evil), as mentioned above.  In the shadow of the Old Testament, a lamb without blemish had to be provided every day to be sacrificed just to cover the sins of the Israelites.  However, the crucifixion of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ completely blotted out our sins.  It did not merely cover sins as in the old model; no, it completely erased them.  Hence, the better covenant, where we, the redeemed ones, are not only set apart, saved and redeemed but also justified.

Be blessed!

By Gail Reid

All scripture taken from New King James Version and New King James Version Amplified.






Print your tickets