For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.Hebrews 10:1
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 ChristColossians 2:16-17
The shadow of an object gives the basic outline of the object but absolutely no internal detail of look or content.
In scripture, the law served as a shadow of things to come later. It gave the people of God an idea of the nature and character of God and salvation. It was our “schoolmaster” that taught us what we needed to know until the Messiah came.
One of the most easy to understand “shadow” concepts in the Bible is that of the need of sacrifice for sin. We see that God killed an animal to cover the sin of Adam and Eve and we also see, in the law, that there were different sacrifices of animals to be made to cover the sins of God’s people. These sacrifices never actually covered the sins of anyone, they were merely a shadow or a picture of the true and perfect sacrifice that was to come – Jesus Christ.
And so it is with the Sabbath. As we have already seen, sabbath means rest. Now that we have been given the object of our hope and can learn about Jesus through the gospel, we can now see that the Sabbath was a shadow of the rest we have in Jesus.
This does not mean that that we are not to have physical rest from our labors or to not follow a regular worship schedule. We will discuss that later. The fulfillment of the Sabbath in Jesus Christ tells us that we can rest from our labors to try and save ourselves from our sins. Jesus has already saved us and He is set down at the right hand of God and He is resting.
As Jesus rests, so should we rest in Him.