What are shadows in the sanctuary?
In the new testament we find references to “shadows”. For example: “Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.” Hebrews 8:5
Notice the writer states the shadow is of heavenly things. Now we all know what a shadow is, but what is meant here? Is there something in heaven casting a literal shadow all the way down to earth? Well, in a way, yes. One dictionary defines it this way: shadow: “a shaded or darker portion of a picture”, “an imperfect and faint representation”.
The context of the Bible passage above is comparing and contrasting the old testament tabernacle, or sanctuary with the tabernacle in heaven. The “pattern” tabernacle, the true tabernacle in heaven was made by God. The tabernacle here on earth was made by Moses, and was a representation of the true tabernacle in heaven. The tabernacle, or sanctuary on earth was a shadow of the true one in heaven. All of the sacrifices associated with the sanctuary, as well as the annual feast days all pointed forward to specific events and time periods within God's plan of salvation that would be carried out by the Messiah.
Notice that these old testament shadows were not the plan of salvation, but rather a representation of what the true plan is. Once the true plan was implemented, these shadows were no longer the focus. So it is today, our focus is not on the past shadows, but what God is doing right now and in the future within this plan of salvation.
So, are the old testament sanctuary shadows no longer of any value? Certainly they are! They are like a “blueprint”, a meticulously drawn plan that we can refer to that enables us to first, identify the true Messiah, and then accurately identify each step He takes within the plan of salvation. Why is this important? Because as you will learn in our studies, there is a counterfeit plan. The two plans parallel each other through time. For every truth that God presents within His plan, His enemy copies the move with a counterfeit.
The “shadows” are history now, but they retain vital importance today. It is by comparing this blueprint with its new testament fulfillments that we identify the true path of salvation. Without a proper understanding of the “blueprint”(old testament sanctuary), we are unshielded from the enemies deceptions.
Please take time to download the first three studies and see for yourself how clearly the blueprint reveals truth and at the same time exposes error. Studies Download page.