Does the Mosaic Law Point Forward Still?Can any part of the Mosaic Law can still be said to be pointing forward to anything? We are looking, in this third part of our study of Colossians 2, (Go back to part 2 - Grace and Law) at whether, specifically, the annual feasts, the new moons and the seventh-day Sabbaths could be said to be pointing forward to something yet future from the present day. Let's consider each in turn.
Passover. The ultimate Passover - the end of the world - is yet to come.
"And he said unto them, With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God." (Luke 22:15-16)Note that the Passover will not be fulfilled until "the kingdom of God" has come.
First Fruits. The one hundred and forty-four thousand are spoken of as the first fruits. (Rev 14:4) Why would they, to come in the future, be labeled like that if the feast that pointed forward to them was nothing more than an outdated Mosaic Law?
Feast of Unleavened Bread. The abstinence from all leaven was to symbolize the putting away entirely of sin from the lives of God's people. This never happened during what is thought of as the time of Mosaic Law but it will yet happen to the people of God before they go through the final tribulation after the close of probation and without a mediator in heaven.
Pentecost. The Holy Spirit has not yet been poured out in the Latter Rain.
"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions." (Joel 2:28)Trumpets. The trumpets of Revelation, in their final fulfillment, have not yet sounded. Revelation 8:7-8 shows that the trumpets hurt the earth, sea and trees. The angels who were given the trumpets were told to:
"Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads."This is referring to the sealing of the 144,000 which is described in the balance of Revelation 7. Only after they are sealed are the earth, sea and trees hurt by the events following the sounding of the first four trumpets of Revelation 8.
Day of Atonement. The sanctuary is not yet cleansed. We are not yet at one with God. The final judgment and reconciliation between sinners and God has not happened.Feast of Tabernacles. This was a time of rejoicing after atonement was complete.
"And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles." (Zech 14:16-19)
What about the New Moons described in the Mosaic Law? Is there any way in which they can be seen as still pointing forward?
"And it shall come to pass, that form one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD." (Isa 66:23) "In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." (Rev 22:2)Evidently, the new moons will still have a role in the earth made new.
Sabbath keepers tend to emphasize the fact that the Sabbath points all the way back to creation (and is therefore before the Mosaic Law) as it most certainly does. But many people seem to have a hard time with the idea that it can also point forward to something yet future. Edward Reid presents considerable documentation about the 7,000 year plan of God - the idea that God has allotted 7,000 years for the probation and judgment of man. The seven days of creation week are seen as a type of this 7,000-year period:
"...the millennium will be the seventh 1,000-year period of human history, corresponding to the seventh day of Creation..." (Reid p131) "...we recognize that God has allotted mankind 6,000 years of probationary time, followed by the 1,000-year 'day of the Lord.' and that God, in His perfect foreknowledge before the creation and fall of man, foreshadowed this history in the six says of Creation followed by His Sabbath rest..." (Reid p135)How can the Sabbath foreshadow something to come in the future without being a shadow of things to come? Clearly, the Sabbath must point in both directions. It extends in either direction beyond the Mosaic Law. There is another way of understanding the shadow-substance point as explained by William Richardson:
"The word 'shadow' has often been interpreted as if it meant to 'foreshadow' something to come. But without exception, when the word 'shadow' (skia) is used in juxtaposition with 'body' (soma), the meaning is emptiness contrasted with substance or reality. By these two words Paul addressed several aspects of Colossian worship practise that had one thing in common; they are Christ-less and for that reason, empty. Some practises are ascetic and empty; others were Jewish types and now empty. The Colossian weekly sabbath, while not a Jewish type, was empty in two ways. First, like all their other rituals, it was without Christ, and for Paul, a Christ-less sabbath was an empty sabbath. And second, Paul saw emptiness in the Jewishness that had become attached to the weekly Sabbath. When the Sabbath commandment was given the second time in Deuteronomy 5, its observance was directly linked, not to God's having created the heavens and the earth (Ex. 20:11), but to God's delivering Israel out of Egypt. Therefore, for that reason, 'the Lord your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day' (Deut 5:15, RSV)"This argument is used against the feasts still being in effect with the idea that the shadow is not pointing to something to come but to the substance that cast the shadow. However, the words "of things to come" are still there indicating that the substance is still, in some way, to come in the future. Verses 20-22 help us understand a little better what the context of the chapter is:
"Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not. Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?" (Col 2:20-22)
The ordinances are referred to as being "after the commandments and doctrines of men" as in verse 8. It is not referring to ordinances ordained of God which the festivals, new moons and sabbaths of the Mosaic Law were. The Jerusalem New Testament (JNT) has "...why, as if you still belonged to the world, are you letting yourselves be bothered by its rules?"
The whole context of the chapter is in terms of not being deceived by or drawn into man's way of worshiping rather than following God's way.
"The Body of Christ"
Verses 16-17 could be thought of this way:
"Let no man therefore judge you in or about [these items - listed] but the body is of Christ." (Col 2:16-17, abbreviated)
However, the word "is" near the end of verse 17 (in the KJV) appears in italics indicating that it is a supplied word and not in the original text. So the passage could be more like one of these wordings:
Scripture tells us what the body of Christ is:
"And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence." (Col 1:18)
If Christ is "the head of the body, the church" then it is His body or church. Ephesians is also very clear:
"And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." (Eph 1:22-23)
There it is - "the church which is his body." So Col 2:16-17 says we are to let no individual man judge us but we should be willing to listen to the body of Christ, the church.
This study has shown, by letting the Bible define its own terms, what it really means to respect holydays, new moons and sabbath days. Many people may find themselves at odds with the results. This is because they regard them as simply parts of an outdated Mosaic Law with no relevance for the future. However, we need to ask ourselves whether we are letting the Bible explain itself or are we just imposing our own definitions and understanding of the Mosaic Law based on pre-conceived theology?
Reid, Edward G., 1994 Even at the Door
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