The Shadow of the Almighty
Bible Teaching by Nicky (Smith) Eatalapaka
Song of Solomon 2 v 3 -"...I sat down under His shadow with great delight and his fruit was sweet to my taste."
The dictionary defines a shadow as 'a reflected image that serves as a reminder of something'.
'We notice that a shadow generally, is very real, but not necessarily always clear. It may be very clearly defined or somewhat incomplete, depending upon the light source. A shadow proves the existence of something by its very appearance and yet it is never the substance of the object that makes it.
This scripture from the Song of Solomon declares that we sit under the shadow of 'our beloved', ie. Christ.
If we take some time to consider this expression, we notice how it compares so well to our experience of God. He is spirit, but whilst we cannot physically see and touch Him, His presence is often as sure and real as any shadow that proves the reality of the object that makes it.
Sometimes we find the presence of God is very clearly defined, almost tangible, and at other times not so well defined, but still present. Scripture makes many references to being 'in His shadow'. As we consider some of them, we notice how real God is and how obvious His presence is, yet it is not always easy to define or understand.
The most commonly used expression in scripture of shadows is 'the shadow of death'. We could say that from man's first sin in Genesis chapter 3, he has lived under the shadow of death. Every human being lives in this place. "It is appointed unto man once to die" - Hebrews chapter 9 verse 27. We are all faced with our own mortality, the shadow that extends across us all. It is also however the shadow of death that causes man to consider eternity and the possibility of God.
When faced by the shadow of death, we find ourselves considering our works, our past failures and successes as well as the possibility of facing our Creator.
Richard Wimbrand, leader of the Romanian during the period of communist rule pointed out, "The fact that you can be an atheist when everything goes well does not prove the truth of atheism. It does not hold up in moments of great crisis. I have seen innumerable atheists regretting on their deathbeds that they has been godless; they called on Christ."
We could say that the shadow of death, under which we all live, is therefore just a reflection of God's reality. Whilst we cannot see or touch Him, nor always easily define His nature or character, He is very real. When we are faced with our own mortality, we do all live under the shadow of death.
As we progress through scripture, we find in Isaiah chapter 4 verse 6 a shadow from the tabernacle protecting from the heat, a place of refuge from storms and rain. Again we find the expression of a shadow used as a defining factor showing a reality in our natural lives of an unseen spiritual reality. How true it is that Christ is the one we come to for refuge and protection in the storms of life. He is the shadow under which we must come to dwell.
However, whilst Christ is truly real and alive, again we find we cannot physically see or touch Him. For this reason we have the word of God. It shows us the detail of all that God is and has done. It is secure, reliable and unchanging. It is the truth that sets us free. Whilst it is simple and obvious, it is also deep and complex containing many deep spiritual truths, hard to comprehend at times. It is exactly the same as a shadow, declaring the reality of the unseen object, sometimes in extraordinary detail, at other times, not so clear.
We find in our Christian life that the shadow of His tabernacle is His word, the place we resort to, to encourage, protect and save us from the storms of life.
As we come to Psalm 91, we find that if we dwell in the secret place we abide under 'the shadow of the Almighty'. If we constantly live in a place of fellowship with God, then we see the shadow of His presence in our lives. None of us have a tangible manifestation of God with us all the time, but His presence is often seen and felt both by ourselves and those around us.
Just like a shadow, we experience the reality of God in our lives, with us in every situation but at the same time, we find it difficult to declare its very nature. Whilst we know His presence with us is true, at times it does not appear real. If we consider how we are so often provided for, saved or rescued from, directed or moved to do to certain things, we see a very real yet intangible presence that overshadows us - it is the Almighty.
Colossians chapter 21 verse 17 talks about 'a shadow of things to come'. In this chapter He speaks of the Old Testament laws, feasts and offerings which bring a shadow of the Christ who was to come.
We find a similar situation arises for us in Christ now. 2 Corinthians chapter 4 verse 17 speaks of 'our light affliction working for us in an eternal weight of glory' and the very communion service speaks of us remembering only until He comes.
In the Church, we see a shadow of things to come. In a small measure we see the glory that will be revealed when He returns. Sometimes we catch a glimpse of the glorious future, the perfect church without spot or blemish. In an instant it seems to move and we no longer see it.
As Christians, there are moments when the power of Christ is seen as a reality in our lives and then it is gone. Just as a shadow it appears perfectly displayed for a moment and then vanishes as the situation changes. We live under the shadow of things to come, a reminder that 'He will perfect that which concerns us' and all we experience now is just a shadow of the reality we will live in, upon the Lord's return.
We notice another expression used in scripture, in Isaiah chapter 51 verse 16, 'the shadow of His hand'. He declares to Israel that 'you are my people' and hence they live under His protection - the shadow of His hand. How often as we look at our lives do we see that protection that keeps us in our daily lives?
All of us can consider how we should have possibly died, failed or at best, long since given up and fallen away, there we see the shadow of His hand. These are the times when we can look at our lives and see we have been saved from physical, mental or spiritual destruction.
Sometimes we can confidently and openly declare, "it was the Lord who saved me". At other times, the protection we seem to have is less obvious. Only as we look back and consider situations do we realize that all the time we were living in the shadow of His hand. We see yet again that the outcome is obvious but His hand is more like a shadow, confirming the reality of His presence.
We find in Psalm 36 verses 1-8 the expression 'the shadow of His wing' is used. It is used as an expression of His kindness and love that meets our need. How often we see the many and varied expressions of His loving kindness in our lives. There are perhaps some who can write it off as coincidence, chance or good luck, and yet as we put out trust in Christ, we see a constant stream of love, mercy and compassion that flows out to us in every area of our lives. We also notice that as the scripture says, we can put our trust in it. Whilst we cannot see, feel or touch His presence, it is so constant and unfailing that its reality means that we can come to trust in it. First, as sure as the light of the sun will produce a shadow, we can trust in the loving kindness of the Lord, dwelling and trusting in the shadow of His wings.
As we complete our look at shadows, we see in Hebrew chapter 8 verse 5, the writer speaks of 'the shadow of heavenly things'. The Old Testament tabernacle which Moses set up, was merely a shadow or image of something real in heaven. Notice how we too live under the shadow of heavenly things. We notice that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the church, is seated in the heavenlies. He alone directs, speaks, teaches and perfects His body. There are times again when this is obvious and other times when it is not so clear to us.
We live under the shadow of heaven, our Lord at God's right hand. He directs us all both as individuals and as a collective body. He alone has the plan. He alone has the power and authority to complete it. We live at times aware of its reality and at times, unsure, but we still live under the shadow of heavenly things.
As scripture says, "I sat down under His shadow." When we chose Christ, we came to dwell in a place where His reality is constantly seen and felt. His shadow over our lives is the proof of His reality.' - Reverend Nicky Smith