When it comes to obeying the Father’s clear instructions to observe His Sabbath and Appointed Times, most believers are quick to argue that they were merely “shadows” which have been done away with and no longer hold any value for us today. The belief that the Creator’s calendar is nothing more than an ancient and outdated “Jewish tradition” has been widely spread in modern-day churchianity, but is this the truth? Were the Sabbath and Feasts ever supposed to be replaced?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at exactly what Scripture has to say about this matter, and it’s my prayer that you will have an open mind and spirit to test what you currently believe to the perfect and unchanging Word of YHWH.
Let No Man Judge You
It’s no secret that one of the most popularly used passages to support disobedience in the areas of the Sabbath and Appointed Times is Colossians 2:16-17. Many believe that Paul is teaching that the things which we’ve been instructed to observe “throughout all our generations” have been abolished, but is that rightly dividing the Word? Let’s take a closer look…
Colossians 2:16 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: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body
is of Christ.
Notice anything strange there? A careful reading of the above verses reveals a far different meaning than what is currently being taught in churches today. Most will tell you that these verses are a “free pass” to disregard the Father’s crystal clear instructions and do whatever their heart desires, yet what we really see here is Paul instructing others not to allow others outside of the body of Messiah to judge them for keeping His Torah.
First of all, notice that in verse 17 Paul is describing the Shabbat and Appointed Times as those things which are (not were) a shadow of things to come (not what where to come). Keep in mind that at this point in time, our Messiah has already died and been resurrected — clearly revealing that these things are all still in-effect and pointing to that which is still to come in the future! Please take a minute to really dwell on that. This is post-resurrection, yet these remain shadows of things that are to come.
It’s also very important to note that the word “is” near the end of verse 17 is italicized in the KJV. What this means is that it was added by the English translators and is not in the original text. While this slight change may seem subtle at first, the addition of the word “is” completely changes the meaning of the statement and seemingly pits the Messiah against the Torah. My personal opinion is that this was done intentionally.
So, despite the fact that Colossians 2:16-17 is often misused as a proof-text for disobeying the Torah, Paul is in no way telling us that these things have been done away with, outdated, and without value. In reality, Paul is instructing believers not to allow others outside of the body of Messiah to judge them for keeping the Father’s instructions — the complete opposite of what is being taught in most churches today!
Are Shadows a Bad Thing?
Another thing I can’t help but notice is how often the word “shadow” in the above passage is used in a negative manner, one that elicits thoughts of something void of value. One quick look at the more popular Christian commentaries of the day will prove my point (scroll down below the verses on that page for commentary).
Here are some phrases from those commentaries which really stand out: “dim outline”, “mere outline”, “no value”, “imperfect or unsubstantial”, “shadows are gone”, “feasts of the Jews”, “Gospel dispensation”, “substance belongs to the Christian economy”, “The body as a thing of substance and physical strength, he sets against shadows”, “We are to pay no attention to the shadows since Christ has come”, “Which are but a lifeless shadow”, “defects of the law”, “When the substance was come, the shadows fled”, “Let not any be troubled about bigoted judgments which related to meats, or the Jewish solemnities”, “sabbath of the Jews”, “The first day of the week, or the Lord’s day, is the time kept holy by Christians”…
As you can clearly see, “scholarly” Christian commentators make absolutely no effort to hide the fact that they view the Torah as worthless. They have gone to great lengths to replace the Father’s instructions with the doctrines and traditions of men, and millions upon millions of church-goers have taken the bait — hook, line, and sinker.
Stop for just a minute to think this through — if we do away with the shadow of something, we’re doing away with the very substance of it. For example, if my shadow is gone, it either means that I’m in total darkness, or I’m literally not there anymore. If we take away the “shadow” of Messiah, the things which point to what He did and is also going to do soon, what we’re actually doing is removing Him from the equation. Furthermore, if Paul truly believed anything remotely resembling what is stated in these popular commentaries, why would he still be keeping the Torah, the Feasts, the Sabbath, and instructing other believers to do likewise?
1 Corinthians 5:8 “Therefore let us keep the Feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.”
Another important correction which needs to be made is that Scripture clearly tells us that the Sabbath and Appointed Times belong to our Creator, not the Jewish people…
Leviticus 23:2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.”
Exodus 31:13 “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you.'”
Isaiah 56:4 “For thus says the Lord: “To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant,”
Ezekiel 20:12 “Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them.”
It is vital to remember that the Jewish people are of the tribe of Judah, but there are 12 tribes of Israel in all. The fact of the matter is, the vast majority of Israel is not Jewish and will be regathered in the last days as the House of Judah and Ephraim are reunited. The House of Israel has lost her identity, but a process of restoration is underway as the lost sheep of the House of Israel are being brought back into covenant with the Most High. Halleluyah!
Ezekiel 37:15 Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 16 “As for you, son of man, take a stick for yourself and write on it: ‘For Judah and for the children of Israel, his companions.’ Then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions.’ 17 Then join them one to another for yourself into one stick, and they will become one in your hand. 18 “And when the children of your people speak to you, saying, ‘Will you not show us what you mean by these?’— 19 say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand.'” 20 And the sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes. 21 “Then say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; 22 and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again. 23 They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God. 24 “David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. 25 Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever. 26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 28 The nations also will know that I, the Lord, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.'”
Are We Abiding in Yeshua’s Shadow?
Hosea 14 is another beautiful, prophetic passage that paints a picture of the day when the Father will restore Ephraim, also known as “The House of Israel”, the prodigal son, and the northern 10 tribes which were scattered and lost. Of particular interest to this discussion of “shadows” is verse 7 which speaks of dwelling under the shadow of Israel.
Hosea 14:1 O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. 2 Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. 3 Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy. 4 I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him. 5 I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. 6 His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon. 7 They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon. 8 Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir tree. From me is thy fruit found. 9 Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.
You may also want to check out the various English translations for verse 7, I really thought that the Darby Bible Translation was particularly noteworthy — “They shall return and sit under his shadow“.
In closing, here is an important thought to consider: Are we abiding in Yeshua’s shadow? Or have we cast away His shadow (and in the process, the substance that goes with it) based on the doctrines of men?
As followers of Messiah, we are called to walk exactly as He walked and we must never forget that in order to be standing in the shadow of something we need to be quite close. The reality is — if we’re not standing in His shadow, we’re afar off.
1 John 2:6 “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”*Have something to add? Please share your comments below...