Pattern, Precepts and Blessing; or Perversion and Plagues
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 8:4-5 (NAS)
Last week we noted that our Old Testament quote found here in chapter eight of the letter to the Hebrews by the divinely directed penman of God, is a continuation of the church’s education and edification in the critical principle of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as our high priest.
Our last installment dealt particularly with the foreshadowed pattern and precepts given Moses while he was on the mountain in the construction of the Tabernacle, its furnishings, and the priesthood. These copies were constructed in the physical realm cast from the long shadow of the true eternal things in the heavenly realm. A principle communicated in the book of Exodus is that if you build according to the pattern, you’ll receive the blessing (Ex. 39:42-43).
So as the inspired scribe is revealing the true eternal heavenly pattern, precepts and priesthood and its associated blessings, the Holy Spirit moves him to quote from Exodus 25:40. “And see that you make them after the pattern for them, which was shown to you on the mountain.” (NAS)
The Preview of the Heavenly Pattern
Last week we got the foreshadowed pattern in the Tabernacle system. Moses knew the path to blessing for the nation of Israel was through adherence to the precepts of every word that proceeded forth from the mouth of God (Deut. 8:3). The history of Israel demonstrated a less than stellar effort at heeding that lesson. After some pretty severe disciplining by the Father in heaven, including another stint in captivity, the Israelites had abandoned disobedience and the associated idolatry, and sought to employ the revealed pattern once more among the people.
However, by the time of Jesus’ ministry upon earth, they had yet again veered off the beam, this time elevating and “teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.” (Matt 15:9; Mark 7:7) Knowing that the Son of God had warned his disciples about the hypocritical, destructive nature of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt. 16:6-12; Mark 8:15), The Father then prepared for the next step in assuring the implementation of the heavenly pattern. Jesus said this to his disciples in relation to the leaven of the Pharisees: “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.” (Luke 12:1b-2)
So what did the Father have in the works that would help reveal that which needed to be known? A little preview on another physical mountain to key apostles. This one was going to set the stage for all the apostles, those whom He would utilize to set the foundation of the heavenly pattern and precepts for the church. So, on the Mount where Jesus was transfigured, and Moses (representing the law) and Elijah (representing the prophets) appeared, the Father made clear whose words they were to heed. “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him!” (Mark 9:7)
The Substantive Pattern of the Heavenly
As we also mentioned last week in our study, there is a general pattern revealed in God’s deliverance of His people. After being freed, the physical nation of Israel, His chosen people, were given safe passage to the mountain (Sinai) by the one who went before them, Moses. Here the LORD’s presence descended and dwelt while the precepts were delivered to Moses. Similarly, spiritual Israel once delivered is exhorted to follow her leader and high priest, Christ Jesus, in safe passage to a mountain, albeit a heavenly, spiritual mountain beheld by the eyes of faith. He was the forerunner into the Father’s presence akin to Moses (Heb. 7:19-20) Now, here’s the contrast to Mt. Sinai. Jesus came down to earth in order to raise and seat all the faithful in the Father’s presence (Eph. 2:6) on Mt. Zion in heavenly Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22). All this occurred because of the superior ministry of our high priest.
Once Jesus ascended to the true mountain of God, the Father, as the Hebrew writer states, “in these last days has spoken to us in His Son.” (Heb. 1:2a) The Son of God, our deliverer and high priest then began the dissemination to His holy nation of the substantive pattern and precepts of the heavenly by speaking to us through the apostles and New Testament prophets. Just as in the construction of the Tabernacle and the arrangement of the priesthood, there is a pattern revealed in the New Covenant that is not to be broken or amended. The church did not receive a copy and a shadow of the heavenly things. In Christ we have received the heavenly things! The inspired writer of Hebrews is saying to us what the Father said to Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration- “Listen to Him!”
Remember the lessons from the history of Israel. They were able to hear but they weren’t so good at follow through. Consequently, they perverted God’s word and reaped the associated plagues, rather than blessings, for abandoning God’s precepts. Stay with the pattern shown you in God’s word spoke from the true heavenly mountain. Hear the exhortation of one He spoke through. “But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.” James 1:25. Amen.