Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 1 * BOOK 51
A Shadow of Something Glorious to Come
The Book of Hebrews is written to the Jewish people, and so the whole thing is naturally flavored in that direction. Although the overall doctrines go right back into Romans and Galatians and Ephesians (and pick up almost the same things), never forget that these things are written to Jewish people who are having a hard time turning their backs on all the traditions and the teachings of Judaism. And it’s no different than someone coming out of a cult. My, it is so hard to turn their backs on something that’s been pounded into them for a lifetime, and then suddenly they realize that it’s no longer the right way. So, Paul is addressing these admonitions to Jews who were understanding his Gospel of Grace to a point, but they still had to be convinced that all of this was part and parcel of God’s program for the ages, as I like to call it.
We’re going to go back to some of the things in Romans, but first let’s read Hebrews chapter 10 verse 1 where he writes:
“For the law…” The Law, the Old Testament economy. Usually we think of the Ten Commandments as the Law. But, you can’t confine it to just the Ten. Because of the Ten Commandments, God instituted the Temple worship or what we call the ceremonial aspect of the Law. In other words, if they committed a particular sin, they had to bring a particular sacrifice. But naturally, basic to all of it was the moral law, the Ten Commandments.
“For the law having a shadow of good things to come, (not necessarily good while it was in practice but looking forward to something that was good in the future.) and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.”
Now in plain English, what’s he saying? All of this practice of the Law could never bring that Jew to a full relationship with God. It was impossible, because they were still under a system of animal sacrifices and everything was merely a shadow of that which was to come.
Since our last taping a month ago, we’ve been out to Ohio and Indiana, and even up into northwest Kansas. So, it seems like a long time ago that we covered the difference between the image and the shadow.
So I think it bears repeating. Remember I gave you the illustration of this gentleman who had a big beautiful tree. And his best friend was a woodworker. And that friend could just see that beautiful tree sawed into lumber that he could use for whatever he was going to make. So, he asked his friend what he would take for that tree. Well, of course, he wanted several hundred dollars. which was a lot more than the woodworker wanted to pay. So the owner of the tree said, “Well, I’ll sell you the shadow of the tree for $50.” Well, you know we smile. But the lesson is the shadow is the exact outline of that tree but that’s all it is.
You cannot determine what kind of a tree it is from the shadow. You can’t see the shape of the leaves. You can’t see the configurations in the bark. All you see is the outline. You can go up to the tree, and you can examine it and you know exactly what it is. Now that’s the analogy throughout Hebrews, that all these things back under the Law were not the ‘tree;’ they were the ‘shadow.’ But if you start at the far end of the shadow and you follow it, where does it take you? To the tree. All right, now that’s the whole idea of the Old Testament economy. It’s just like the shadow of a tree, that as you follow it, it’s going to bring you to the image or the real thing.
Now the word image here in the book of Hebrews in the Greek is the same Greek word that, when the disciples were confronting Jesus about materialistic things, He asked them for a Denarius, a Roman coin. And what did He ask them? “Whose image is on that coin?” What was their answer? Caesar’s. All right, now that word image is the same word translated image here in Hebrews.
When they looked at a Roman coin, what did they see? They saw the likeness of Caesar. That was the image. All right, now this is what we’re supposed to understand, that all these Old Testament things and everything that took place under the Law were just the shadow of the real thing. And what’s the real thing? Christ – death, burial, resurrection, ascension to glory.
Okay, so the Old Testament economy was good while it was there. But it was only a shadow looking forward to something which would be, as we’ve seen throughout all these previous nine chapters, something far better. Over and over we’ve seen that. Yes, that was good, but this is better. Let’s go back to Romans chapter 3 where the same Apostle Paul writes now, not in the language that pertains to the Jew, but in language that pertains to the non-Jew.
That’s why Paul is always emphasizing that he was the Apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11:13). But he’s basically saying the same thing. Only, he’s approaching two different kinds of people.
“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law;…” I don’t think there’s a person in this room that doesn’t know who was under the Law? Israel. Israel was under the Law, not the Gentile world. Only Israel practiced the Temple worship and the sacrifices and had the priesthood.
All right, but the power of the Law to condemn didn’t stop at the borders of Israel; it went to the whole human race. To every last human being that’s ever lived, the Law condemned. Read on:
“…that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”
Now, you know I repeat and repeat and repeat. And over and over people say, keep repeating. So I’m not going to apologize for that. But again, how many people, even right here in the Bible Belt, have got that fouled up idea that the Ten Commandments are somehow a means of gaining entrance into Heaven.
The Ten Commandments are just the opposite. They’re God’s reason for not letting a human being into His Heaven. Because they are all guilty. And that’s all the Law could do was show men their guilt. And this verse says it plain as day. That “all the world may become guilty.” Not saved. Not made ready for Heaven, but made guilty.
“Therefore (since that was the purpose of the Law, to condemn mankind.) by the deeds of the law (or keeping the Law) there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: (Jew or Gentile. Nobody. And then he repeats the reason.) for by the law is the knowledge of (not salvation or eternal life, but what?) sin.”
That’s all the Law can do is show us our sin. Every time you read the Ten Commandments, all they can do is just bombard you with what? You’re guilty. You’re guilty. There’s not a one of us that can say I’m not guilty. And then the Lord Himself really made it tough with one of His remarks. “Even if you think it in your heart you’re guilty.” James says, “If you’re guilty of one, you’re guilty of how many? All of them.” I mean, we don’t stand a chance. That’s how condemning the Ten Commandments are. But look at verse 21, what’s the first word? One of my favorite words in Scripture.
Oh yeah, that’s all the Law could do was condemn – but – there’s a tremendous loophole. Big enough for the whole world to come through if they would, and what is it?
But now the righteousness of God without the law (now we’re coming to the end of the shadow, we’re coming to the image. We’re coming to the real thing.) is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;”
Now whenever somebody accuses me, and they do occasionally, of being too Pauline, by saying, “You make too much of Paul. Paul isn’t the only one that knows any of these things.” I say, “He never claimed to.” Look what he says right here. Everything that is being revealed is resting on that which went before and what went before the Apostle Paul? The Law and the Prophets. He never claims to have just come out of the woodwork with all this. His is just part of what I’ve always called progressive revelations. From Genesis 1:1, this blessed Book is a progressive revelation. You don’t get it all up there in the first chapter. It just keeps flowing and as it gets closer to the end it’s just like the old Mississippi. You know up there in Minnesota you can walk across it on a few stones. But by the time it gets to the Gulf of Mexico you need a ship to go across it.
That’s the way the progressive revelation of Scripture is. It just keeps expanding and expanding and expanding. And that’s why we can’t plumb the depths of it. But, Paul claims by inspiration that everything he’s had revealed to him is resting on the Law and the Prophets. Through the Old Testament economy Christ came in His first advent, presented Himself to the Nation of Israel for three years, but was rejected and crucified in order to become the supreme sacrifice that the Law again, was just a shadow of. See?
All right, so after being witnessed by the law and the prophets, this is now evident that “the righteousness of God,” not man’s righteousness, but God’s righteousness as we see in verse 22.
“Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe:…” And that’s another pill that’s hard for some people to swallow, that all of this is appropriated on our behalf when we believe – plus nothing.
I got a letter in the mail yesterday; I haven’t had time to read it all. All I saw was the first sentence, “Les, you’re wrong. There’s more than faith plus nothing.” Well, then I said, “Wait, I’ll read that one when I’ve got nothing better to do.” Because it is Faith plus Nothing! It’s a free gift that you cannot work for. I don’t care what any person says because, over and over, the Scriptures make it so plain that this is where it’s at. It isn’t faith ‘plus.’ It’s BELIEVE IN YOUR HEART! (Romans 10:9-10) And we did that in our seminar out in Ohio a few weeks ago. One of the questions toward the middle of the afternoon was, “Is water baptism necessary for salvation?” And you know how that triggers me.
And so I just went back and I didn’t say a word from my own thinking, I just went Scripture after Scripture after Scripture. And fortunately, I think, with the Holy Spirit’s help, I was able to show all these verses like this one right here. Look at it again. This is one that I used and I’ll show you how I did it. “For it is by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ unto all them that believe” and are baptized? I had four hundred and some people raise their heads and shake them. No, that’s not what it says. And then you can go back to Romans 1:16, what does Paul say?
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it (the Gospel) is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth;…” and is baptized? Is that what it says? No. That’s not what it says. To everyone that what? Believeth! Period. And so I went all the way through Paul’s epistles where it says to him that “believeth.” Plus nothing. See? All right so here it is all them that believe. With no strings attached. And then of course, “there is no difference between Jew and Gentile.” Now they must all come the same way, by believing Paul’s Gospel of salvation.
Back to Hebrews 10, so let’s move on through the last half of the verse now. This whole system of the Law, which was only the shadow, with all of its works; feast days, the sacrifices, continuously – never ending. And then what does the verse say?
“…sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.”
Or prepared and ready for God. Disheartening, wasn’t it? And yet it was an unending process. Now, I find it hard to believe, but I’ve read it more than once, that Josephus made the claim that at the time of Christ, almost a million animals a year were sacrificed. Now I find that hard to believe because you divide a million by 365 and that’s almost more than they could kill in a day. But, we know it was a humongous number of animals that were daily being sacrificed at the Temple there in Jerusalem, and yet practically for nothing because animal’s blood couldn’t do anything.
“For then would they not have ceased to be offered?…” In other words, if those animal sacrifices were all that were necessary, wouldn’t the day have come when they’d quit? But they never could. They never could because those sacrifices could not take away sin. Reading on in verse 2:
“…because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.” If those animal sacrifices were complete in themselves, those Jews should have been able to go away from that Temple. They should have been able to go back to their homes in Greece or Babylon content that all of their sins were forgiven. But could they? No. Next year they had to be back again. Now verse 3.
“But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins (how often?) every year.” We’re talking primarily about the Day of Atonement. And so Israel’s sins were never removed. They just kept coming back. It was unending. And this is what Paul is proving – and what a difference – as we’re going to see the other side of the coin. Here in verse 4 is why they had no assurance of sins forgiven, because it was not possible.
“For it was not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 5. Wherefore, when he (speaking of the Messiah, the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth) cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not but a body hast thou prepared for me:”
Now we’ve got to stop a moment. What was he really saying? Did God take pleasure in all those innocent animals being slaughtered? No. He didn’t take pleasure in it. Now when they made a dent in Israel’s spiritual life, I’m sure it made a difference. But most of the time, Israel’s spiritual life was in the pits. Let’s go back to Isaiah chapter 1, lest we get the mistaken idea that God was so pleased when those Jews would bring those perfect little lambs or those cute little goats and have them killed. He wasn’t pleased with all that, but it was a part and parcel of His demands on the Nation of Israel to let them show their obedience and, yes, their faith. If they did it right, they brought those sacrifices by faith. Because that’s the way God told them to do it, but most of the time even faith was absent. See? Here in Isaiah, this is God speaking through the prophet concerning all these sacrifices.
“Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom (now that’s the other word for Jerusalem) give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.” Now, why in the world call Jerusalem, Sodom and Gomorrah? Because of their wickedness. Oh, you have no idea, see? Now verse 11.
“To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full (“I’ve had it up to here” is the way we put it don’t we?) of the burnt-offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.”
“When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? 13. Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; (which of course was part and parcel of the sacrificial worship) the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.”
Now do you know how meticulous the Jews were about all that? See, most people don’t understand the customs. They were so intent on knowing the exact time that a new moon came about that they would actually station people on the mountains of Israel to watch the nighttime sky for the first slightest sliver of moon and they could announce to the Temple people, the new moon has begun, see?
All right, see this is what the Lord is talking about. They made such a big deal over the “new moons, the Sabbath days, the calling of assemblies.” God says, “I cannot, away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.”
Now whenever I read these verses, you know what I have to think of? I wonder how many services across the world today the Lord has the same feeling for? Most of them have just become almost an abomination. They have departed from the truth of God’s Word and God hates it. But they think that they can compensate for it with all of the entertainment and what-have-you. But I’m sure God doesn’t. He doesn’t swallow that. And He would like to just say, “Away with it.”
“And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear; your hands are full of blood.” Quite a condemnation isn’t it?