For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come…Therefore 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. (Hebrews 10:1; Colossians 2:16-17)
Just as an approaching shadow points to the arrival of the person casting the shadow, so the law pointed to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus (with His abounding grace) is the substance that the law foreshadows. "The substance is of Christ." Jesus is the one who brought "the good things to come."
One of these "good things" that Jesus brings by His grace is the full rest seen in the shadow of the Sabbath. The law of God called for a day of rest every week for His people. "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy…Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD" (Exodus 20:8; 31:15). This shadow provided regular physical rest for the Israelites. However, it pictured the substantial rest (true spiritual rest) that Jesus brings us. "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:28-29). Jesus is now the daily Sabbath rest for all who humbly depend upon Him. "For we who have believed do enter that rest" (Hebrews 4:3).
Another of the "good things" that Jesus provides by His grace is the full fellowship that is foreshadowed in the Tabernacle of the Old Covenant. The Tabernacle reveals God's desire to dwell in the midst of men. "Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle…just so you shall make it" (Exodus 25:8-9). This elaborate portable tent was to be set up right in the middle of His people. "You shall appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of the Testimony…they shall carry the tabernacle…and camp around the tabernacle" (Numbers 1:50). The priests of the tribe of Levi would encircle the Tabernacle, with the other tribes of Israel encamped around them. This is a significant shadow: God dwelling in the middle of His people. Yet, something far more substantial than this shadow is fulfilled in Christ. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt [literally, "tabernacled"] among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). Now, this same Jesus has made the church collectively, and our lives individually, the tabernacle of His presence among men! "Do you not know that you are the temple of God...that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith" (1 Corinthians 3:16 and Ephesians 3:17).