Have you ever wondered what the law of Moses was for? Hebrews stated the function of it clearly.
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.
Did you see it? The law is a shadow of the good things that are coming.
That’s an interesting word: Shadow
Well, how is the law a shadow? Take a look at this picture.
Notice the shadow casted by the man? We see the shape of the shadow and we can guess what the original object is like. The shadow is not the actual person, just a hint or preview of things to come – in this case, a man.
Similarly, the law is a shadow of the good things to come. It is a hint, a preview. It isn’t the actual thing or as the verse says “not the realities themselves”. What does that mean?
The author gives the example animal sacrifices. The animal sacrifices as stipulated by the law of God was commanded for the forgiveness of sins but in reality, could never take away sins. Why not? Because it is only a shadow, not a reality.
What then was the reality?
The reality came in the form of Jesus Christ. The lamb of God who gave the ultimate sacrifice on the cross, fulfilling the law. And this time, his shed blood could take away sins. Why?
Because Jesus is the reality. Only his sacrifice could fulfill the law. The law merely anticipated his sacrifice, but could never take away sins. It was a preview.
Jesus died for us and fulfilled the law of God so that we might live in him forever. The shadow disappeared when the light of God stepped into awesome reality.