For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. (Hebrews 10:1)
Only A Shadow
There is no book in the New Testament that more clearly defines the failings of the Law of Moses than Hebrews and its message of better things. The author skillfully crafts an argument of the imperfections of the Law against the perfections of the New Covenant established by the blood of Jesus Christ. No comparison can be made between the better sacrifices given in better hope through the blood of God’s Son rather than the offerings of bulls and goats. Jesus is of a greater priesthood as in the order of Melchizedek instead of the failed priesthood of Aaron. Nearing the end of his dissertation of the superiority of the law of Christ, the writer unfolds a secret about the revelation of the Old Testament. At the time of the writing of Hebrews, the Old Testament had been firmly established for many centuries containing the same books as found in the modern Bible (with a different organization). Jesus read from the same material and the early disciples taught a risen Christ from the text of the Old Testament. The old Law was written as a shadow of things that were coming in the time of Jesus Christ. A shadow is not something that is real but a figure of that which is real. The shadow of a glass of water will never give nourishment but the real glass filled with water will save a life. Hebrews opens the minds of the early Jewish Christians to understand the failure of going back to the Law would only take them to something created by God as only a shadow. The Old Law was not the real intention of the wisdom of God. Trying to keep the Law of Moses proved to be futile until Jesus came and lived a perfect life under its rule. The Gentiles proved they could not save themselves as a law to themselves. Salvation for the Jew and Gentile would only come through the blood of Jesus Christ. The best promises are found in the new covenant of Christ as the law was only a shadow of the good things to come in Jesus.
The Law of Moses was not the image of the final will of God. Paul explained in his letter to the churches of Galatia the Law of Moses was given because of sin or transgression. Without the Law of Moses being in place the Seed promise would not have been fulfilled and the world would have returned to the state of depravity as it was in the days of Noah. Everything in the Law of Moses was only a shadow of the real promises of God found in Christ. With all the thousands upon thousands of animals sacrificed under the Law, the perfection of the joy of heaven could never be complete until the coming of the Son of God. The Law could never make its subjects perfectly with the blood of bulls and goats. Moses constructed the Tabernacle as the shadow of what is found in the New Covenant in Christ. The Holy of Holies was a fearful place to be under the Law of Moses where only the High priest entered once a year for the atonement of the people. Jesus entered the Holy of Holies once and delivered men from the wrath of God. Now all the children of God can boldly enter into the Holiest to commune with the Father through the veil, that is, the flesh of Jesus. Throughout the teachings of the Law of Moses God shows His power and glory through the types and anti-types with shadows of the real. One of the clearest doctrines found in the book of Hebrews is the annulment and removal of the Law of Moses. As a shadow, the Law was not designed to remain and purposed to be taken out of the way through the death of Jesus. Embracing the Law of Moses in any form is to accept a shadow of a failed system done away by the will of God through His Son Jesus Christ.
A further study of the Old Testament will show many shadows of the real in the New Testament. The story of Noah and the flood is a wonderful story of the saving grace of God. When God told Abraham to offer his only son as a sacrifice in the land of Moriah it would find its fulfillment in the death of God’s only Son in the same land. Mount Sinai would prefigure the image of the mountain called Zion and the heavenly Jerusalem with Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant. Moses would lift up the brazen serpent in the wilderness to heal the people from the serpent’s sting and Jesus would declare to Nicodemus many centuries later how the Son of God would be lifted up that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. Jonah’s refusal to obey the voice of God brought the wrath of the Divine upon him and was swallowed by a giant fish where he remained three days and nights. This would be the shadow of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in the burial of the tomb. Naaman the commander of the army of Syria would find relief from the disease of leprosy in the waters of the Jordan in a like figure where baptism removes the disease of sin. Stories upon stories fill the Old Testament testifying as shadows of the better things to come in Jesus Christ. All that is found in the story of the Christ is the real message of hope and truth for no man will come to the Father but through the blood of Jesus Christ. He is the real, the true and the perfect.