Shadowy Things


“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” (Colossians 2:16-17)

The closing verses of Colossians 2 contain a litany of holidays and regulations that were plaguing the newly formed New Testament church. Essentially, any other regulatory system is not a God-ordained means to evaluate spiritual purity.

Dietary and man-made holidays can be carried out by a total unbeliever and can be easily faked. “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17).

Paul told the Galatians these things were “weak and beggarly elements” that enslaved them to the observations of “days, and months, and times, and years” (Galatians 4:9-10). Even the Old Testament Law was merely a “shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things” (Hebrews 10:1).

Even more dangerous, however, was the worship of natural, “unseen” things that would plunder the Christian of eternal reward (Colossians 2:18). Worshiping angels (messengers) is simply wrong. Worshiping fleshly intellectualism (the rudiments of the world) leads to error. Worshiping asceticism (voluntary humility) is foolish.

These phrases in Colossians are unique to Scripture. The emphasis seems to be on a natural mysticism—using physical or naturalistic imagery to find spiritual meaning. All of the form and imagery of the flesh and the man-made rules and regulations made “after the commandments and doctrines of men” (Colossians 2:22) do not honor God—they merely satisfy the flesh.

The “joints and bands” of the body (church) bring about a godly increase. “Holding the Head” ministers and nourishes the twice-born (Colossians 2:19-23). HMM III