Greg Boyd’s podcast episode God’s Shadow Activity is utterly brilliant and fleshes out the topic of Progressive Revelation by focusing on Col 2:16-17. Ritual practices, the writer to the Colossians says, are a shadow of things to come. A shadow is the negation of reality; it tells you something, but not a lot. The Cross, Boyd says, cast a shadow back in time that was interpreted by the ancient Jewish people as the idea that animal sacrifices make us right with God, but that was never the true reality; it was merely a shadow.
There are three ways the OT presents God’s shadow activity:
- The Law
These are negative contrasts to the real nature of God; awful representations of him that are shown-up in Jesus.
God is all-powerful so why didn’t he click his big cloudy fingers and make everyone understand him fully? Well, what God would have been doing there was obliterating a whole people and replacing them with mannequins who walk, talk, and act in a programed way. God creates persons and then accommodates their misunderstanding of him as he patiently paves the way for them to understand his true nature as revealed in Jesus.