Another selection from ‘Whole Bible Christianity’
Because a shadow is insubstantial, and Paul mentions that parts of the Law are a shadow, some conclude we don’t have to follow the Law.
16Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— 17things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17 NASB95)
Trouble is, this conclusion is false. There are many uses of the word ‘shadow’ in the Word, but the shadows are real. For instance, in Matthew 4:16 people are said to be under the shadow of death, and death is very real. Isaiah speaks of another type of shadow.
16“I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand, to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’ ” (Isaiah 51:16 NASB95)
The “shadow of (God’s) hand” is obviously real too, and has a very real effect on us. Just because Paul used the concept of a shadow does not mean that the Law isn’t real and isn’t to be followed. A shadow can only be cast by the real thing. If you have the shadow, you have the reality too. We’ll cover more of Colossians 2 a little later in the book.
The life that we live here and now is a shadow of the next one, but that doesn’t mean it is any less substantial or real. What we do in this ‘shadow’ life will determine substance in the next life. What we do with the ‘shadows’ God gives us in His Law will be part. If we are faithful with very little ‘shadows’ it means we are faithful also in much bigger things, shadows or not.
10“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. (Luke 16:10 NASB95)
If it is true that God gave a “mere shadow” of things in the Law, then why give them in the first place? Why not just say (at Mount Sinai) “Oh, just do what you want because My Anointed will make everything cool in a thousand years or so?” What kind of sense does that make? The answer is it doesn’t make any sense. Yes, some of the things God gave at Sinai could be termed ‘shadows’ of things to come. But that does not mean they are not worth doing.