“For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.”
The Law was and is the foundation of Jewish culture. Rabbi Simlai preached a sermon during the 3rd century that said there are 613 laws in the Old Testament. There is the moral Law, the sacrificial Law and dietary Laws. Some theologians speak of the entirety of the Old Testament as the Law. The Holy Spirit inspired writer of Hebrews says that the Law is only a shadow of things to come.
Galatians 3:24 say the Law is a tutor to lead us to Christ. Matthew 5:17 records Jesus saying that He did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill them. When Jesus said this He was preaching the Sermon on the Mount. In the Old Testament they had the letter of the Law they followed. The Sermon on the Mount is an exposition of the deeper meanings of the Law. Matthew 5:21 and 22 is a good example of how deep the Law must penetrate into the human soul. Jesus says, “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court.” There is more to the Law then just letters. It’s about how one thinks.
Then there are the sacrifices. The Jews had a different sacrifice for different types of sin. “Sins of the high priest required the offering of a bull and the blood was not poured on the altar but sprinkled from the finger of the high priest 7 times on the altar. Then the fat was burnt, and the remainder was burned (never eaten) outside the camp “unto a clean place” where the sacrifice was made and the ashes were poured out. Sins of the leaders required the offering of a male goat. The blood was sprinkled only once and the remainder was poured around the altar as with the burnt offering. Sins of the common Israelites required female animals, goats, lambs, turtledoves, or pigeons and in the case of the very poor an offering of grain were acceptable just like a meal offering – www.bible-history.com/tabernacle.” There were even sacrifices made for unintentional sins. There was an offering for every type of sin.
For roughly 1,400 hundred years the Jews would offer these sacrifices over and over for the atonement of their sinning against God and His Law. What the writer of Hebrews says is that the Law was just a shadow of good things to come. We know that a shadow is produced by the sun shining it’s brightness onto an object making a silhouette on the ground behind the object. A shadow has no life. A shadow cannot speak, think, or do any actions but lay on the ground. A shadow is not sufficient in atoning for sin. Jesus is that object that God is shining His brightness on and the Law and sacrifices are shadows of Christ. Jesus is the form of things that the writer is speaking about.
The Law was a shadow of the mind of Christ while the sacrifices point to Jesus and what He accomplished on the cross. Every sacrifice offered by the nation of Israel was pointing to Jesus. The sacrifices could never make them clean as they were constant reminders Jesus. The sacrifice of Jesus was sufficient for all sin for all mankind because it is the blood of a man that is needed to cleanse sin. Not just only a man but the God-man was needed to cleanse the sins of repentant sinners throughout all mankind.
What God accomplished through Jesus Christ in His life, death, resurrection and ascension was far more radical and awesome than following the letter of the Law and offering sacrifices continually. Galatians 2:20 reads, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
We should have the same faith as Paul. We should say the same thing as Paul, when Christ died we died. We were the ones that were actually getting crucified. Christ performed the crucifixion but it was us that the Father saw on the cross. This is why there was so much fury towards Jesus. Jesus did nothing wrong. We did. He took the punishment in our place.
Paul says Christ lives in Him by faith. Think about this statement a bit. Christ lives in Paul. By faith Christ can also live in us. People are happy giving Jesus their sin but they are indifferent about giving their life to Him. Jesus may be their Savior but is He their Lord? Is He your Lord? True Christianity is about dying. It is about dying on the cross with Christ and dying to our way of thinking, living and acting to allow for the way Christ thinks, lives and acts to live through us.
How does this happen? If you love Jesus and His ways then you have been born again – John 3. You have been born of His Spirit. His Spirit now lives in you! We see Jesus on the pages of the Bible and we desire to imitate how He thinks and acts because He is in us. This is awesome. If you are a believer I hope this truth encourages you! It is nothing that we could have done. It is all of God. I hope it inspires you to dig deeper into your faith and realize that every moment of every day is spent with Jesus living in you – John 16. If this truth does not encourage you please ask the Lord to help you.
Being a Christian is so much more than following rules and regulations. It is the Spirit of Christ taking up residence within you. We do not follow Laws and offer Sacrifices because Jesus did it for us. The war is over. The work has been completed. The work now is to rest in Jesus and allow Him to live in and through us by His Spirit and His word. We are His hands and feet. We are His body. We are now one with God in human flesh. We can now enjoy constant fellowship with Jesus!