A few Sundays ago I mentioned that our passage for the morning, Colossians 1:9-14, was filled with Old Testament echoes. Due to time we couldn’t consider all of the references, but let me list a few more transparent examples.
“bearing fruit…and increasing” (vs. 10)–This language echoes the command of Genesis 1 in which God commands Adam and Eve to “bear fruit and multiply”–a reference to having children and proliferating the image of God on the earth. The transition of this language to Colossian christians is profound. As people are born again into the gospel of Jesus Christ, they are born in the image of Christ, who is the “image of the invisible God” (vs. 15). The new creation is receiving the same command to increase through spreading the seed of God’s Word and raising up spiritual offspring after the image of their Savior.
“who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints”(vs. 12)– To have an inheritance is a reminder of Israel’s promised inheritance in Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey. But this new inheritance is not in any portion of fallen earth, but rather with the saints in the land of light. This new creation is illuminated by the presence of God himself, in which neither sun nor moon is required.
“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness”(vs. 13)–to be delivered from an evil power is an echo of the OT language of deliverance with its primary referent of the evil Pharaoh of Egypt and his murderous oppression of the Israelites. God’s miraculous works of deliverance, enumerated in Exodus, produced salvation for his people through the process of judgement. This same process of deliverance by means of judgement echos forward to this passage, where the judgement on Christ has produced deliverance from the oppression of sin and Satan.
“Transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption”(vs. 13)–God’s people were not brought out of bondage only to be left in the wilderness to die alone. God brought them into the promised land and established a kingdom led by a man after his own heart. Now, we have been delivered from the prison of darkness in sin and condemnation and into the domain of Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, before whom every knee will bow and every tongue confess. In the Old Testament passages, the price of their redemption was visited on the Egyptian people–first born Egyptians died in the night of the Passover–or on substitutes–flawless lambs died in place of Israelites. This echo now finds expression in the perfect Substitute–Jesus Christ–who is our passover lamb and redemption price, purchasing us for new life in his eternal kingdom.
Echoes and Shadows--If we are considering this passage in terms of the chronology of the Bible, “echo” is the right metaphor. The Old Testament events did happen BEFORE the coming of Jesus Christ. However, there is an even more profound vantage point to consider. Since God is above all time and has always had the intention to bring ultimate glory to his Son, the original events themselves may be viewed as “shadows.” Like shadows, they were not the ultimate Object, but did reveal His outline and indicate His contours. God’s ultimate and original plan was to exalt the glory of his Son Jesus Christ, the King Redeemer. His plan happened BEFORE the Old Testament events. Shining his light of sovereign power on to his Son created history shaping shadows, which we see in the events of the Old Testament. From the standpoint of history, we see Old Testament patterns culminate in the ultimate fulfillment of the Son. From the standpoint of God’s eternal plan, the original, objective goal is Jesus Christ, and all the events of Biblical history were flickering shadows revealing his Person and Work. Whichever way we are looking at the story, the glory of Jesus Christ and the unfathomable wisdom and power of God are displayed.
From Him and to Him and through Him are all things. To Him be glory forever.