A SHADOW OF THINGS TO COME
Colossians 2:16-17 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
To the Ephesian brethren, and here, to the Christians at Colosse, Paul told them that they were once dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). But now they are quickened, or made alive again, having their sins and trespasses forgiven by being buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead (Col. 2:12-13). As Jesus was buried in a tomb and raised from physical death by God, so all that are buried with Christ in baptism are raised from spiritual death, to live a new life in Christ. They become Christians; followers of Christ in whom is found the complete plan of salvation. As Paul told them, ye are complete in Him (Jesus Christ) (Col. 2:10).
The Jewish rite of circumcision, as well as all other requirements under the Law of Moses, were made unnecessary through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The promise made to Abraham, that through his Seed all people of the earth would be blessed, was fulfilled with the coming of his descendant, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the world. With the birth of Jesus, the very purpose for the separation of the house of Jacob from the world, had been fulfilled. Therefore the handwriting of ordinances, that is,the Jewish law of Moses, was blotted out. Jesus Christ, at His death, took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross (Col. 2:14). The New Covenant, established in Christ, nullified the Old Covenant, the Law of Moses. it was made of no effect - it was no more binding on the Jewish nation - it vanished away (See Hebrews 8).
The result of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ was a complete victory over His foes. Not only did Jesus conquer death, but also He destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil (Heb. 2:14b). In so doing, Jesus exposed Satan's deceivers of mankind. The apostle John confirmed this when he wrote, let no man deceive you ...he that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:7-8).
These false teachers are referred to as the principalities and powers that Christ, by His resurrection, utterly defeated. By their "spiritual" deviousness, these enemies of God subjected mankind to ordinances, traditions of men, and rudiments of the world (Col. 2:8) that were contrary to the will of God. It was their deceitful domination that was spoiled, or taken from them by Jesus, when He was manifested as the Son of God. In His triumph over them, Jesus made a show of them openly, to the extent that, now all Christians everywhere may know the "will of God" and distinguish it from the "will of man." Today God's word reveals truth and exposes error - it gives unerring light to the traveler seeking the pathway to heaven.
The Mosaic Law, being fulfilled in Jesus Christ, was nailed to the cross, taken out of the way, and made void. It was no longer required by God to be followed in order to be obedient to His will. Having been removed by Jesus the Savior, no religious body or individual can rightfully impose the tenants of the Old Testament law on members of the body of Christ today. The commandments given to the Jewish nation regarding eating and drinking of certain foods and beverages, are not binding on New Testament Christians. Neither are the celebrations of feasts and festivals required on any Jewish holy day, or certain sacrifices during the new moon. Jewish Sabbath days are no longer required to be observed as days of worship. The yoke of ceremonial law was broken, never again to be imposed on members of the body of Christ.
Verse 17 of the lesson text gives us the answer as to why we are no longer under the Law of Moses. It was only a shadow of things to come. The Old Testament reveled the Savior as a shadow, an outline of what He was to be to the world. Through the eyes of the apostles and other New Testament writers, it was plain to see that the body is of Christ. To the Galatians, Paul wrote this about the Old Law: Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster (Gal. 3:24-25). Thanks be to God for the plan of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ; thanks be to God for the New Covenant that fully reveals it to us; and thanks be to God for the Old Covenant that was a shadow of things to come.