Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament, Part 89

“Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law; who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, ‘See,’ He says, ‘that you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.’ ” Hebrews 8:5

The move from the physical view to the spiritual perspective is the core issue the inspired penman of the Hebrew letter is working to communicate as the divinely directed mouthpiece of the Lord. 

In so doing, the writer repeatedly takes the reader back to physical types offered in the Old Testament writings in order that they may appraise properly the spiritual correlation offered. There are two great mounts central in God’s progressive revelation offered to His spiritual offspring. The physical Mount Sinai (also called Horeb) and Mount Zion. Both are used to communicate critical principles, promises, prophesies and ultimately, their spiritual realities. Space does not allow us to go into all the sundry concepts here. The pattern given on Mount Sinai through the prophet Moses was the example of how to build the tabernacle of God (eventually the Temple) and operate as the people of God. The writer thus takes his Hebrew readers back to a familiar Old Testament passage, Exodus 25:40. It reads, “And see that you make them after the pattern for them, which was shown to you on the mountain.” This is specifically in reference to the articles and furniture to be used in the tabernacle system, but inherit in that as well were the Sinaitic regulations communicating God’s express purpose and will for the priesthood and the people. No one had any right to change or alter the pattern given by the Lord. If they did, well, that’s why we have all those examples in the Old Testament of those who tried such as Nadab and Abihu with their strange fire (Lev. 10), Korah and his allies who led a rebellion against God’s high priest (Num. 16), and Uzzah in the movement of the ark of the covenant (2 Sam. 6) just to name a few. The principle – God spoke from Mount Sinai through His appointed spokesperson and He meant what He said! There is also another principle conveyed from Mount Sinai and it had to do with separation. No one could draw close and touch the mountain once Moses ascended it to receive the Law in the presence of the Lord (Ex. 19:12-23). In the tabernacle, a similar principle existed. Having moved His presence off Mount Sinai and into the Tabernacle, the people could not come near the tent and the priests couldn’t approach to serve in the tabernacle except as divinely proscribed lest the Lord “break forth upon them” (Ex. 19:24). The writer, in the previous context of chapter seven, has made it clear that Jesus is now our high priest and that the Christian is no longer bound by the pattern shown on Mount Sinai since Jesus has now “obtained a more excellent ministry.” However, there is still a pattern of God’s will revealed.  And like Mount Sinai, the pattern has been revealed to us by one who ascended a mount to receive it in the presence of the Lord. This mount is spiritual Mount Zion in heavenly Jerusalem.  It is from here that God speaks through His Son (Heb. 1:2), Jesus Christ, the raised up prophet of God. He sets forth the pattern through His New Testament spokesmen for the building and operation of the true tabernacle which God pitched, not man. Here, in contrast to Mount Sinai, all of God’s people are told they have “come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus..” (Heb. 12:22-24) Old Covenant Israel never had opportunity to partake in this.  How privileged are we to be in this lofty position? Do we appraise it properly? Do we recognize the prophesies fulfilled by the church in reference to Mount Zion? Do we see the importance of the apostles’ teaching, that which was communicated from Mount Zion in heaven?! Lest we take it for granted we are warned as Moses was warned. “See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.” Praise God that we don’t tremble at the foot of Sinai, but exalt and commune with Him in spirit at the summit of Mount Zion in heaven! Amen?


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