Author's Note: Just some thoughts on shadows and symbolism—again, not apologetic.
Shadows . . . .
If you've ever read anything by C. S. Lewis, you've probably read The Chronicles of Narnia or perhaps Mere Christianity or even The Screwtape Letters. Most people read The Chronicles when they were kids. I have my second grade teacher to thank for reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to us. Very cool—she gave me her copies from, say, the 1970s? Something like that. Well, in the very last book of the Chronicles, The Last Battle, everybody dies. In fact, C. S. Lewis creates the final scenes in such a way that the first time I read them, I didn't even realize that my beloved characters had died. It was only when I read them again when I got older that I began to understand some of the theology, and even the fact that the Stable Door was death . . . and yet nothing was to be feared by the faithful Narnians under King Tirian.
After the characters Tirian and Jill and Eustace die (unwittingly to me), they find themselves in a wonderful place reunited with Peter, Edmund, Lucy, Digory and Polly, all the people (minus Susan) who have ever traveled to Narnia. After the literal end of the Narnian world, Peter shuts the door to Old Narnia, and they find themselves in a place that looks remarkably familiar. A few moments (or perhaps years, one really doesn't know because time has very little meaning there) later, they realize that this place reminds them of Narnia . . . but it seems more real than the other one. The characters comment that the colors are deeper, the mountains higher, Archenland and other countries seem further away . . . something's different. They are in fact in Narnia, but this Narnia is "more like the real thing". The same character goes on to explain that everything in the Narnia they once knew was a shadow of the real country, Aslan's country.
I think some of what Lewis wrote about Narnia can be applied to Earth. This temporal, mortal earth is only a shadow of the one to come. All the things on the earth are pictures, or shadows if you will, of things that exist more perfectly in heaven. Or maybe, the things that will exist in the new heavens and the new earth. If you'll recall, when God told Moses to build the Ark of the Covenant, he had a very special set of directions that he made sure Moses followed. When David was preparing for Solomon to build the temple, he revealed that God had given him a set pattern of how to build it. The Covenant itself and the law were patterns.
Now as a Christian, I believe in the New Covenant—the New Testament—a work finished by Jesus Christ, that by Him were all sins taken away, and by Him were we sanctified. If you've got a Bible somewhere, flip to Hebrews 9. This chapter of Hebrews compares the old and new covenants. As most know, according to the Old Testament, sacrifices of animals were necessary to wash away sins (but they really couldn't). According to the New Testament, Jesus Christ crucified does it once and for all time. But that's only leading up to my point found in Hebrews 9:23-25 "It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others." So the things on earth, the Temple, the Ark—they are the patterns, the 'likenesses', of the true things that exist in heaven.
Here is an illustration: In the Temple, there is something called the Holiest of all, and a Veil separates the Holiest from everything else. Now this Veil symbolizes the division of God and Man since the fall of Adam in the Garden. It was this very Veil which was tore apart when Jesus was crucified. (Luke 23:45 "And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst." Directly after this in 23:46 Jesus died, his work being finished. "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.") This Veil was what separated us from God, and Jesus tore it in half. Now the Comforter, the Holy Spirit is able to come and reside in our hearts—our connection to God is restored again. In addition, the law that God gave Moses only a shadow or precursor or forerunner for the law of faith that Jesus instituted. If you will recall from the book of Hebrews, the writer of that same book tells us that "it is not possible for the blood of bulls and of goats" to take away sins (10: 4)—but that Jesus "offered one sacrifice for sins for ever" and "perfected for ever them that are sanctified" that is, those who believe in him (10:12-14). The writer tells us in the first verse of this chapter that the law has "a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things". The Lord foreshadowed in his own book! He let the Israelites know how things were going to be, how he was to save them and all others who believed in him in the end. (Now that's thinking ahead!).
But this Veil symbolized something that was true—separation from God was a reality without Christ. The Veil is a shadow of separation (or maybe the fall), the earth is a shadow of the true earth when "the former thing shall pass away", the Temple is a shadow of something that exists in heaven, and Jerusalem is a shadow of the true Jerusalem that "great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God . . . ."
So it seems to me that a lot of the things on this earth are modeled after things that already exist in heaven or things that will exist in the new heavens and the new earth. Probably animals—when one thinks of the four living creatures-trees, plants . . . maybe even spiders (but I hope not). We know that in the new heaven and earth there will be rivers and trees and cities; there will probably be other things that we haven't even dreamed of. All the good things in this world, the things when, after God created them, looked at them and said it was good, all these good things will be present later and uncorrupted—like we will be. All I know is, I won't be bored.
Some of this leads into another direction I've been pondering . . . also thanks to C. S. Lewis. And this is about how things in nature reflect a higher spiritual truth . . . next time.