God’s Festivals as Shadows of Things to Come

Colossians 2:16-17  

So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

Listen to the "Verse by Verse" episode covering this scripture.

This passage is explained in detail in “Colossians 2:16-17: Did Paul Warn Christians Against Keeping God’s Law?” We encourage you to study that explanation to clear up several misconceptions about this passage.

In essence, Christians were still enjoying the biblical festivals with eating and drinking, and apparently were being judged by those who believed in philosophies of self-denial. Paul mentions these ascetic ideas later in the chapter: “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle” (Colossians 2:21).

Some think that when Paul said the festivals are “a shadow of things to come,” it was a put-down. They think Paul was saying the festivals were not important.

But another way to look at these shadows is to see that they help us picture the objects of which they are shadows. For example, the Passover clearly represents the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and foreshadowed that event. Pentecost foreshadowed the coming of the Holy Spirit and the beginning of the New Testament Church.

In the same way, the four fall festivals foreshadow events that have not yet taken place. Learn more about these important events in God’s plan of salvation in our free booklet From Holidays to Holy Days: God’s Plan for You.

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