Only A Shadow

When a child sees their shadow for the first time, they realize it's connected to them in some way. They react and interact with it. At first, some are afraid of their shadows while others play with it.

Surprisingly, research shows that a full understanding of our own shadows doesn't take place until preadolescence, even into early teen years. It takes time for a person to realize and understand their shadow isn't permanently attached to or part of them in a personal way.

A shadow is a silhouette pattern cast by our body blocking the sun's light or another source of light. It's not who we are but only a temporary image of our form.

In a sense, this is the difference between the Old Covenant relationship with God and the new one based on God's grace and known by faith.


Moses’ Teachings with their yearly cycle of sacrifices are only a shadow of the good things in the future. They aren’t an exact likeness of those things. They can never make those who worship perfect. 
If these sacrifices could have made the worshipers perfect, the sacrifices would have stopped long ago. Those who worship would have been cleansed once and for all. Their consciences would have been free from sin. 
Instead, this yearly cycle of sacrifices reminded people of their sins. (The blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins.)  [vss 1-4]
(Hebrews 10:1-4 GW) [Context– Hebrews 10]

Key phrase—

Moses’ Teachings with their yearly cycle of sacrifices are only a shadow

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What are we told about the sacrifices under the Law of Moses, the Old Covenant relationship?

  • What do you think it means that they are "only a shadow..." and not "an exact likeness"?

  • What could these sacrifices never do? Why couldn't they make people "perfect"?

  • Why did the annual sacrifices remind "people of their sins"?


The Old Covenant relationship with God required perfect obedience to all the laws and many, many sacrifices. Way too many Christians live as if they are still in a relationship with God under the Law and try to be "good in God's eyes."

This attempt to be good enough for God is called self-justification. It's a false attempt at righteousness.

At some point, Christian believers need to accept the full forgiveness and kindness that Jesus gives by grace. This honors God more than any effort at goodness on our part.

Christianity is not about living a morally good life. Although moral goodness is to be valued, reducing the Christian life to this robs it of life and depth.

Christian believers are not called to follow a set of rules for a good moral life. We are called to follow Jesus in a personal relationship by faith—personal trust in Jesus.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • Is your conscience free from the guilt of sin? If not, what are you trusting in to gain that?

  • What value is there in being reminded of past sins the Lord has forgiven? None!

  • Do you struggle with self-inflicted guilt and condemnation?

  • Have you learned to come out from under the shadow of law to walk in the light of God's grace?


Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews