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Patterns (5) – in the Church

In what we read in Hebrews 8 we have information that God demands that the church, the assemblies of this end of the ages, should also be built according to the instructions and out of the pattern that the Lord God Almighty has provided.

How can I say that?

The writer says that if Christ were still on earth, that he would not be a priest at all, and elsewhere in the letter he gives the reason for it.

“For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. For He testifies: ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.’

“Of necessity there is also a change of the law.”

It stands noted that Judah never produced a priest as that would have been contrary to the Law of Moses. There that was given to be the domain of the Levites according to commandment. Further the writer stated, “There are priests that offer the gifts according to the Law, who serve that which is a copy and a shadow of heavenly things.” Then he quotes Exodus 25:40 with reference to the obligations of Moses to “build everything according to the pattern, which was shown to you in the mount.”

Therefore, as stated, with the change of high priest also came a change of the law. And the reasoning follows as surely as night follows day that: We had to have had a change in the priesthood to allow that Jesus should be the new High Priest, so a new pattern was also given to be followed — the pattern supplied in the Gospel to approach God and offer our worship.

Further if Christ is the new High Priest and also the Son of God what does he lack in authority? The answer: nothing. He had stated upon his ascension that “all authority has been given to me…” So his defined pattern must be followed.

To allow that the new law had to be followed, in the beginnings of “those last days” the genealogical records of Israel were destroyed and it could no longer be identified who was a priest, and in particular, who was to be the high priest. So there is no possible way the followers of the Law of Moses could then or can now provide for its requirements. Do you suppose that was some random accident of history?

It follows then as Moses was obligated to establish according to the instructions what was identified as the copy, the shadow, the type of the things which were then yet to come, things which were really just a foreshadow of the true tabernacle; how much more is it then necessary for God’s people to build the actual heavenly hold, the entrance to the kingdom of heaven on earth, according to the instructions? And how could the reference here not be to the church when it is comparing the physical tabernacle to the spiritual “heavenly things?”

Therefore, the tent of meeting, the tabernacle, was the copy or type for the assemblies. The earthly high priests the type for the true high priest. And as it was necessary for Moses to build and order the first exactly as he had been instructed; there is left for us only one thing to do when we are following the spiritual pattern in the church.

How then could anything less than exact obedience have any value? Without building according to the pattern God has given us, will God bless what we are doing and sanctify or accept our service?

Paul instructed Timothy: “I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15)

Paul later wrote to him to “hold fast the form of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 1:13) The word “form” as used here is simply a synonym for the word pattern.

In his letter to the Roman church, Paul stated, “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

So then any pattern we may ever know about must come from God’s Word, and for us that means that we should identify the pattern given and stay within what is listed in the new covenant – the New Testament. This is exactly what is being stated by Paul: he notes the Old Testament examples are given for learning, but that the Gospel and the New Covenant are given for salvation’s sake. No other system or configuration has any value.