Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Out of the Shadows

So 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. (Colossians 2:16-17)

“So” — that is conclusion, the therefore that follows from the preceding verses (and some versions do translate it as “therefore”). It reaches back as far as verse 8, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”

Dietary rules and the calendar of festivals were important in the Law of Moses. The dietary laws were one way of setting apart the people of Israel as the people of God. The festivals reminded them of past deliverance and how God had created them as His covenant people, but they also pointed forward to the final deliverance God had for them when He would set the world right through Messiah.

However, these things were all “shadows.” Their significance was not in themselves but in what they pointed to — that which cast those shadows. Once the substance comes, the shadow is no longer the focus. The substance, Paul says, is Jesus the Messiah, and He has now come, bringing God’s redemption into the world. He not only brought forgiveness for all our “side slips” (transgressions), He also wiped out the indictment that accused us — the Law! He took it and nailed it to the cross (v. 14). What is more, He disarmed all the principalities and powers — the demonic entities behind the human rulers and systems that crucified Him — and made a “public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (v. 15).

“Therefore,” Paul says, “Let no one judge you.” Do not let anyone condemn you or look down on you because of what you do or do not eat or drink, or whether or not you join in the traditional festivals or celebrations. To follow his analogy, do not let anyone drag you away from Jesus the Messiah back into the shadows that pointed to Him in the first place. That is exactly what the false teachers, with their blend of Jewish folk religion and ideas of the occult, were trying to do. It was a misuse, by the principalities and powers, of the Law of Moses and brought only condemnation and bondage.

But Jesus the Messiah has delivered us from all that, and our focus, like that of the Law and the prophets of the Old Testament, is to be set firmly on Him.

The Focus of Our Faith
The Focus of Our Faith
Paul’s Letters to the Jesus Believers at Colosse
Bite-Size Studies Through Colossians
by Jeff Doles

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Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.

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