TITLE: Shadows of Heaven
By Debra Burchett
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The Shadow of Heaven
I went for a walk one day with friends. It was a warm and sunny day. We were also in the company of a small child. I love to watch children as they discover the wonders of this world. As we crossed a parking lot, the child discovered her shadow was in front of her. She began to jump, squat and spin so her shadow would do the same. Her innocent antics brought laughter to our lives as we watched her make her shadow do different things.
The innocent play of that child got me to wondering if the Bible talks about shadows?
I got out my trusty concordance and looked up shadow (shadows). The two words seemed to be tied together. I found forty verses listed that spoke of shadows.
As I began to look up each verse I found the majority of them were in the Old Testament.
A few of the verses spoke of being in the shadow of death.
This shadow is described as being a dark, lonely place of no joy or laughter. A place so dark not even a hint of light is found.
There is a suggestion is some of the passages, this place was believed to be ruled by Satan and that it is where souls went until God would return for his people and judge weather they were worthy to come to heaven.
I don’t know about you, but I think this would make dying very scary! I have a hard time imaging living a life where you only could hope you had been kind enough, worshiped long enough or sacrificed enough to get to heaven. How sad it would be to have no assurance of heaven. I only found 3-4 of these types of verses.
Most of the verses talking of shadows in the Old Testament, were found in Psalms. Their message was often a plea for protection.
Psalms 17:8 NIV for example was David asking to hide in the shadow of God’s wings.
When I read this passage, a picture came to mind of a mother bird sheltering her babies from the elements.
Growing up in the country we had chickens. As a child, I remembered seeing a mother hen with her babies wondering the yard in search of food. I also remember on that day, a hawk flew over and its shadow was cast upon the ground as it circled. That hen set up a fuss and all the babies ran to her. She spread her wings out wide so all the chicks could get under them. This also made the hen appear larger than the hawk could handle, so it soon left.
Many of the scriptures talking of shadows were pleas for protection. Seeking the ability to hide in God’s shadow, where no evil can see us.
Psalms 57: 1 NIV Says: have mercy on me, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.
I also found several of the 40 verses spoke about how our lives are just as shadows on this earth. Appearing briefly then gone with the passing of light.
These images are also repeated a few times
Ecclesiastes 6:12 NIV is one for example:
For who knows what is good for a man in life, during the few and meaningless days he passes through like a shadow: Who can tell him what will happen under the sun after he is gone?
I am of the opinion that this verse refers to the way a person lives their life. Storing up riches for the future, which they may never see instead of living in the present.
Isaiah 9:12 NIV is a verse that gives us hope.
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light. On those living in the land of the shadows of death a light has dawned.
I found it interesting that the Old Testament most often referred to shadows with fear yet there were only six verses in the New Testament that spoke of shadows. These few verses strive to take away the shadows. The New Testament then speaks of fear of shadows no more.
Hebrews 10:8 NIV tell us we no longer live under the shadow of the laws. There will be no more burnt offerings or sacrifices acceptable to God. This is because the final sacrifice has been made through the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
After this verse there is no more talk of shadows in the New Testament. Jesus is the light and now there is no more darkness, no more fear if we believe and trust in him.
Job 8:9 NIV For we were born yesterday and know nothing and our days on earth are but a shadow.
This is who we are! Shadows cast by God’s light so others can see a glimpse of heaven. We are the substance or image of God’s light. We are his shadow, existing so other people can see the power and glory of God through us. Through the mere shadows of our lives if we are living as God has set the example.
Genesis says we were created in his image. I dare to suggest that as such we are the shadows of God. So we should be living lives that honor and represent who God is, to those who have yet to realize they too belong to God.
In God’s image, we are the shadows of heaven.
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