As we’ve discussed many times, the ancient physical Jews were a foreshadow (picture, physical object lesson) of Messiah’s bride, who was first revealed on the earth on the fulfillment of the Feast of Weeks (Acts 2). And, the Old Testament accounts of the physical Jews, the old covenant, and the written law actually point to later-revealed spiritual real substances, for, as the “schoolmaster,” the details of the law provide instruction regarding the spiritual substances that were to be revealed later.
And there are usually more details given of the physical foreshadows in scripture than there are of the spiritual real substances. For that reason, it is important to understand the physical details of the foreshadow, and then to understand how those details apply to the spiritual real substances. This is one of the primary ways that the false teachings of christianity are so pervasive. By abolishing the traditions, the details aren’t understood by the masses, so it’s far easier to deceive with false doctrines.
To illustrate for those who might not fully understand what a physical foreshadow to spiritual real substance construct is, the son of Nun, whose name was Yahoshua (your translation probably calls him “Joshua,” but that wasn’t his name), led physical Y’isra-el into the physical promised land as a foreshadow of Messiah Yahoshua leading His bride Y’isra-el into the eternal spiritual promised land.
Moreover, as the Perfect Passover Lamb, it is vital to know the details of the physical foreshadow of Passover, as provided in the Old Testament, as those details in the foreshadow will likely not be evident in the real substance to those who are not learned in them. That’s why the disciples’ eyes had to be opened to understand the spiritual meanings of the scriptures (Luke 24:45). Furthermore, the details of the ancient Jewish wedding traditions can be found throughout the account of Messiah Yahoshua’s Passover sacrifice, but if one doesn’t already know those traditions, then their important dynamics will likely be missed.
Now, not only were the Jews themselves a physical foreshadow, but so too were the old covenant, the law, the priesthood, and the tabernacle/temple. The old covenant (ten commandments) and the law (613 precepts) represented very specific details that would later be revealed as their spiritual real substances. In the written law that was given through Moses to those who had the old covenant, there were animal sacrifice laws and clean vs. unclean laws. Both of those were physical, and the spiritual real substances they foreshadowed were revealed in Messiah, and were, thus, no more—physically. But, the details in them contain instruction in doctrinal truths.
As the tabernacle/temple was one of many foreshadows representing Messiah’s bride (1 Corinthians 6:19), the animal sacrifices that took place daily at the temple were sacrifices of flesh, and actually foreshadow the sacrificing of the flesh (man’s carnal nature) that the Holy Spirit leads Messiah’s bride to practice (the righteous making themselves holy), as is shown in New Testament passages such as Galatians 5:16-26.
But here, we’re going to focus on the clean vs. unclean laws, and what they actually foreshadowed. Sadly, there are many completely false religions and denominations that do not understand the role of physical foreshadows as they apply to spiritual real substances, and they falsely believe that the physical foreshadows are things that people are to adhere to physically today, instead of understanding that they merely provide physical details by which the spiritual real substances can be better understood by human minds.
During Messiah Yahoshua’s earthly ministry, He set the stage for the coming of the new covenant, and the revealing of the spiritual real substances that, before the new covenant, were physical pictures of spiritual real substances. In His sermon on the mount, Yahoshua pointed to the difference between the old (physical) covenant and the new (spiritual) covenant that was soon to be revealed.
He explained that under the old covenant, the physical Jews were told not to murder (physical), but that hating one’s brother (spiritual) is no different from murder. And, they were told not to commit adultery (physical), but that a man lusting after a woman (spiritual) is no different from adultery. Yes, there is a physical difference, but the physical is not the real substance; the spiritual is.
Yahoshua was pointing out that the old covenant was merely a foreshadow (physical), but that the spiritual real substance was getting ready to be revealed. The physical is never the actual point, for the physical is temporal and earthly, but the spiritual is eternal and heavenly. The physical focuses on this world, which will pass away, but the spiritual focuses on the kingdom that will never pass away. To focus on the physical is to diminish the importance of the spiritual. At that point in Messiah Yahoshua’s earthly ministry, what HAD BEEN since Moses was physical, but what was getting ready to be revealed was its spiritual real substance.
Now, for the physical Jews, there were many clean vs. unclean laws, which included ordinances that dictated HOW they were to eat, drink, dress, have marital relations, and honor Yah’s Sabbaths (and many other things). And, those laws applied ONLY to those who had the covenant (the old covenant—the ten commandments). Those who teach that the Ten Commandments apply to everyone are blind false teachers. The covenant (“ketubah”) is always given ONLY to the bride.
In Ephesians 2:14-18, Paul explains that, because of the new covenant, the “middle wall of partition,” which was the barrier between physical Jews and Gentiles, had been broken down, and that both physical groups had been brought together as one spiritual man, which means that there was no longer a distinction between physical Jews and Gentiles. That is because the real substance of the law, which is spiritual, had been revealed, and a new covenant was given, but was not based on anything physical, like race, bloodline, or geographic residence.
However, before that happened, the clean vs. unclean laws were specifically to keep the physical Jews separate from the physical Gentiles, and that was because the old covenant and the law applied to the physical man, so matters of outward physicality were what determined who was a Jew and who was a Gentile. But, as Paul taught in Romans 2:29 and Galatians 3:28-29, being a Jew was no longer based on the physical (which was a foreshadow), but on the spiritual (which is the real substance—the actual meaning).
For those who falsely contend that the dietary laws had to do with health (erroneously teaching that “unclean” meant “unhealthy”), Deuteronomy 14:2 explains the real purpose of the dietary laws—in fact, it was the purpose of all the clean vs. unclean laws. Before listing the requirements of the dietary laws, Yah explains His purpose in them: “For you are a holy people to Yahweh your God, and Yahweh has chosen you to be a people for His personal possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” That was Yah’s purpose in all the clean vs. unclean laws, which include the dietary laws. A “peculiar people,” separate, or set apart, from the rest of the world.
The entirety of the clean vs. unclean laws were to keep the physical Jews separate from the physical Gentiles, as the name “Jew” describes one who has been given the covenant, while “Gentile” denotes one who is outside the covenant. And, what is the spiritual real substance the clean vs. unclean laws point to? It has to do with those who have the covenant (Messiah’s bride) maintaining a purposed separation from those who do not have the covenant. That’s what it was all about—Messiah’s bride remaining separate from the world.
So, while the foreshadow mandated a physical separation, the real substance it represented is a spiritual separation. And, just like Yahoshua’s examples in His Sermon on the Mount, the spiritual goes much deeper than merely the physical. All humans can outwardly abide by physical governance without actually believing in that governance. However, when someone is governed spiritually, that belief will be manifested in the physical. So, outward compliance doesn’t determine inward conviction, but inward conviction will affect outward compliance.
For example, someone can hate another person to the point of wanting to murder him, but also be prevented from doing so because of the legal consequences (physical) involved. However, if that same person were to deal with his hatred against the other person inwardly (spiritual), then he will likely prevent himself from committing murder, simply because of his spiritual governance, which is inward, not outward.
So, the clean vs. unclean laws, while wholly physical in nature, provide spiritual instruction through physical details. This construct is ultimately for the human brain to comprehend spiritual things. And, what is the spiritual real substance we are shown by the instruction of the clean vs. unclean laws? Clean and unclean represent what the New Testament writers refer to as “light and darkness,” or the ekklesia (called-out assembly) and the world.
The world, the flesh, and the devil always work in concert with one another, so when one is influenced by the world, it means his flesh is tempted by the things of this world, and Satan is the one commanding his powers of darkness (demons) to tempt people to feed their flesh—to live according to fleshly desires—which are worldly desires, and Satan is the “god of this world.”
Those who are Yah’s people are told not to love the world (which is to set one’s affections on things that are physical, or fleshly), and that is the spiritual real substance of what the clean vs. unclean laws foreshadowed. When one’s affections are set on things that are “of the world,” then his treasure is in earthly things, and not in the eternal things of the kingdom of Yah, because “where your treasure is, that is where your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
The spiritual real substance of the laws that governed what was clean or unclean actually foreshadow what the scriptures exhort Yah’s people concerning light and darkness, or the flesh and the spirit. It is not in the laws themselves, as the clean vs. unclean laws (physical) were abolished in Messiah, which means there is no longer any purpose in separation based on physical attributes of people, but on what is spiritual.
Now, I understand that merely defining what something is doesn’t completely explain its present application. And, it can get a bit murky in many situations. As Messiah acknowledged in John 17:14-16, He asked the Father not take His bride out of the world, but that they would not be OF the world, just as He is not OF the world. He acknowledged that His bride must be IN the world, for we have a duty to share the true Gospel of Yahoshua with others who are both IN and OF the world.
It’s vital for His true followers to navigate exactly what it means to be IN the world but not OF the world, just as the ancient Jews were to exist with Gentiles, and, by virtue of living in the world, they had to have some contact with Gentiles. The clean vs. unclean laws provided physical instructions for them to do that, but that is actually a foreshadow to instruct us how that is to be done spiritually. However, that requires spiritual understanding to apply those things properly in a practical sense. There is a lot to cover with this seemingly small matter, so, stay tuned for Part 2, as I will attempt to explain the spiritual application of what was foreshadowed physically.
For more information: What Are the Old and New Covenants?