I am told that the Old Testament can be interpreted as a shadow and the New Testament as its reality. What are the Biblical grounds for believing that?

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The Bible testifies that the law of the Old Testament is only “a shadow of the good things that are coming” (Heb 10:1). It also says in the Bible that God made known from ancient times what was still to come (Isa 46:10), and that whatever is has already been and what will be has been before (Ecc 3:15). All these words show that God already made known what He would later fulfill, as a copy and shadow in the age of the Old Testament.

Melchizedek in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament

Let’s examine the fact that the Old Testament is a shadow and the New Testament is its reality, through some cases. First, let’s see the historical event that occurred in the days of Abraham. When Abraham returned victorious from battle, Melchizedek who was priest of God Most High blessed him through bread and wine. Through this scene, God showed us in advance that Jesus would bless us with eternal life through the bread and wine of the Passover in the age of the New Testament.

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.”Ge 14:18–19

So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover… . While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took the cup(wine), gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”Mt 26:19–28

The New Testament testifies that Jesus is high priest in the order of Melchizedek. It is because Jesus is the reality of Melchizedek who appeared in the Old Testament. God showed the history of Melchizedek in the Old Testament as a shadow to help His people recognize Jesus who would come to give them the truth of salvation.

Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.Heb 5:8–10

The Passover at the time of the Exodus and the Passover of the new covenant

In the Old Testament age, the Israelites suffered hardships as slaves in Egypt for a long time.

Then God sent them a prophet named Moses to set them free from Egypt by letting them celebrate the Passover.

“Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast… . it is the LORD’s Passover.”Ex 12:6–11

At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well… . During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the LORD as you have requested.”Ex 12:29–31

This historical event was a shadow showing that Jesus would set mankind free from slavery to sin and death through the Passover in the New Testament age.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”Jn 8:32–34

… Grace and peace to you … from Jesus Christ, … To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,Rev 1:4–5

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”Mt 26:26–28

God’s judgment shown as a shadow

The history of the Old Testament is a shadow of what is to come in New Testament times. From this point of view, there is one thing we must remember in this age. That is God’s judgment to come upon this sinful world.

In the days of Noah, God destroyed the wicked world by a flood, and He destroyed the corrupt cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by raining down fire and burning sulfur upon them. This is not just a past history, but it shows that God will judge this sinful world on the last day.

“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.”Lk 17:26–30

… if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men.2 Pe 2:5–7

Before judging and destroying the world, God made it known to His people in advance; He told Noah to build an ark to save himself and his family from the flood, and let Lot flee to the city of Zoar to escape the punishment of fire and burning sulfur. Even in this age, when the four angels who have been given power to harm the land and the sea are about to release the four winds of the earth (Refer to Jer 25:32), the work of salvation is urgently proceeding.

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”Rev 7:1–3

The seal of God is the sign or mark of salvation given to God’s people so that they can escape the great disaster when the four winds of the earth are released to harm the whole earth. Just as God prepared a refuge of salvation for His people—the ark in the days of Noah and the city of Zoar in the days of Lot, so He has prepared a place of salvation for His people and is carrying out the work of putting His seal on them in this age; He has proclaimed the Passover—the sign and seal of salvation from disasters (Ex 12:1–13)—in Zion the city of God’s appointed feasts (Isa 33:20).

“Announce in Judah and proclaim in Jerusalem and say: ‘Sound the trumpet throughout the land!’ Cry aloud and say: ‘Gather together! Let us flee to the fortified cities!’ Raise the signal to go to Zion! Flee for safety without delay! For I am bringing disaster from the north, even terrible destruction.”Jer 4:5–6

In the days of Noah, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, without knowing anything about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. And in the days of Lot, his sons-in-law took his warning about God’s upcoming judgment as a joke. Like them, many people today do not discern this present time. God has called us earlier than others, let us discern this present time and taught us the New Covenant Passover—the life-giving truth of salvation from the last disaster, just as He did to Noah and Lot. Taking a lesson from the past history shown as a copy, let us discern this present time fully and preach the good news of salvation quickly to people all around the world to lead them to Zion, giving thanks to God for His profound providence of salvation for us.