The Expository Files.

Making All Things According To The Pattern: Re-visiting A Familiar Text

Hebrews 8:5

Many features of the Old Testament system (law of Moses) were put in place by God, to picture what would eventually become reality through the work of Jesus Christ, our great High Priest. For instance, various details in the Jewish tabernacle served to foreshadow the good things God would eventually confer upon believers. The good things to come were pictured by various elements of the Mosaic system. The law, therefore was a shadow of the good things to come, (see Heb. 9:11 & 10:1).

This is one reason why, when Moses supervised the building of that tabernacle, it was crucial for him to make all things according to the pattern which came from the perfect mind of God. Even the detailed furnishings had to be made exactly like the pattern the Lord had shown Moses, (Num. 8:4). Various features of the old Jewish system were designed by God to foreshadow gospel blessings; these institutions served as the copies or shadows of the heavenly things, so Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. God said to him: see that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain. {Heb. 8:5; Acts 7:44; Ex. 25:9,40; 26:30; Num. 8:4.}

We have not been instructed to build, or re-built that Mosaic tabernacle, but when we study these things we must carefully explore for any underlying principles that pertain to us. Just as God expressed His mind to Moses and gave instructions to Him, He has expressed His mind to us, and given us instructions to follow (Heb. 1:1,2). In Gods dealings with Moses, are there principles that pertain to us?

I'm convinced there is such a principle, and I can best express it this way: God's purpose is carried out when His pattern is followed! The tabernacle is an excellent example. In having the Jews build that tabernacle, we know that God had a purpose in mind. He didn't do this accidentally, nor was this an exercise to keep the Jewish laborers and artisans busy. God had a purpose in mind, when He had the people build the tabernacle; an immediate purpose [Jewish worship], and an ultimate purpose [symbolic of the New Covenant blessings, see Heb. 9:9]. The pattern, or blueprint God gave to Moses was designed to implement Gods purposes, both immediate and ultimate.

The principle is: God, in His perfect mind, forms a purpose; then He reveals His pattern, with admonitions to follow His instructions. Only when men follow Gods pattern, is Gods purpose carried out. Stated negatively, if I don't follow Gods pattern, I fail to carry out His purpose!

In the case of the tabernacle, if Moses had ignored God's pattern and followed a human plan - the tabernacle would not have fulfilled Gods purpose; it would not have effectively functioned in foreshadowing the new covenant and the high-priestly ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary (of which the earthly was only a replica.)! Only as we follow Gods pattern, can it be said that we have performed His purpose. We need to acknowledge how purpose and pattern go together. Behind every pattern revealed by God, there are divine purposes, which are fulfilled to the extent we follow His pattern.

Applications follow:

MARRIAGE. God didn't establish the marriage relationship, just to have something to do; nor was this done by accident. God had certain purposes in mind: (a) companionship, (b) reproduction, (c) the nurturing of children, and (d) the foundation of the social order. God had these good purposes in mind. To accomplish these purposes, God revealed a pattern (instructions, law). If we ignore Gods pattern for husband and wife, Gods purposes are not carried out.

THE LORD'S SUPPER. Where did you ever hear about the Lord's Supper? Where did we get this idea, of having the Lord's Supper? Your answer is, in the Bible! That's right. But take this further. What about the elements we use ... the significance we attach to this feast ... the regularity with which we partake ... Where did we come up with all this? The answer is the same, in the Bible. When I take everything the New Testament says about the Lords Supper, and use that as my pattern, is there anything wrong with that? Does that make me a radical, a Pharisee, or a conservative or anti? I think it makes me a Christian. This is what being a Christian is all about; letting Christ be the head of the church, and following the instructions given by Christ through His apostles ... making all things according to the pattern, in order for
the purposes of God to be fulfilled.

THE LOCAL CHURCH. God, in His wisdom, set up the local church. That's why, when you read the New Testament, you read about local churches (Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus, Corinth, etc.). Christians got together. They formed themselves into local groups, to worship together, to edify one another, and to join together for the preaching of the gospel.

Now, when God set up the local church, through the preaching of the apostles, let there be no doubt, God had certain purposes in mind! I submit, if we want a local church to fulfill the purposes intended by God, we need to follow the pattern given by God. Is that difficult or complicated? Is that an expression of human tradition? NO, it is entirely reasonable, and in keeping with everything the Scriptures teach.

So, when it comes to things like ELDERS AND DEACONS; the preaching and teaching we do; the way we use our resources; the worship we provide for; the support of gospel preachers; the assistance given to needy saints, and all other matters that have to do with the local church, we should follow the pattern given by God!

This is not a matter of being conservative, it is a matter of being right. This isn't just about continuing to do what those men believed in, who started a local church in a community, it is about continuing steadfastly in the apostles doctrine (Acts 2:42). When we follow God's pattern, because we love God, want to honor Christ and carry out divine purposes - this is not the mentality of a Pharisee, this is the mentality of a servant who wants to obey the Lord.

Hebrews 8:5 may not call upon us to build a tabernacle, yet the underlying principle is trans-dispensational. It has always been necessary to follow any pattern given by God. This is the only way we can carry out His purposes.

By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 1.6; June, 1994