A God of Patterns

by William J. Stewart

When we consider the work of God, we can see time and time again that He uses and loves patterns. In every age, and for numerous causes, it can be seen through the Scriptures that God supplied a blueprint for His people to follow. Let us consider some of these today.

In the creation sequence (Genesis 1:1-31), we can see a distinct pattern and intended design. God created in an order which was logical, both for the plant life which was made and for mankind. The elements of the atmosphere were created the second day, which of course, the plants (day 3) required to survive. The very next day, the sunlight was created, which again vegetation requires to live. The thought of some, that there were millennia between the days of creation simply does not fit the orderly succession which the Lord used. The vegetation would have ceased to be, had the sunlight been delayed such a duration.

DAY 1 – light and darkness;
DAY 2 – sky, atmosphere;
DAY 3 – separated waters; vegetation;
DAY 4 – sun, moon & stars;
DAY 5 – birds and fish;
DAY 6 – animals and man

Man was left to the very last in creation, seemingly for two purposes. First, all that was accomplished before God created man was necessary, in order for him to be sustained upon the earth. Again, God created in a chronological succession which made sense. Second, throughout the days of creation, we see Moses’ commentary on God’s view of His creation. From day 1 through day 5, we read, “God saw that it was good”. But, at the end of day 6, we are told, “God saw that it was very good”. What makes for the difference? Humanity is the crowning jewel of God’s creation.

Though the blueprint of creation is not one for man to follow, there is nonetheless a pattern or design which God established, and then followed through with. As the Lord followed His design perfectly, so ought men and women to follow the designs which He has given for humanity.

When we come to Genesis 6, the state of God’s creation was not as “good” as we left it in Genesis 1. Men and women had corrupted their ways, and walked in violence. Thus, God determined to bring destruction upon the earth and the inhabitants thereof.

One man found grace in the eyes of God, Noah. Thus, God commanded Noah to build an ark. In Genesis 6:13-16, we read the specific instructions which God gave Noah with regard to the construction of the ark. Among the details, we know the specific type of wood to be used, the number of floors in the boat, the length, width and height of the construction, and the number and placement the single door and window in the ark.

Did Noah understand the importance of these instructions? Most certainly. Genesis 6:22 records, “Thus Noah did, according to all that God commanded him, so he did.” As a result, one verse later, God can say of him, “…I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.” (7:1). However, had Noah decided to change the construction of the ark, to disregard the Lord’s blueprint, he would not have been declared righteous, nor would the grace of God remained upon him.

Years later, a different ark was to be constructed. This one, the ark of the covenant, upon which would be the mercy seat – the place of God’s presence among His people. Moses was commanded by God, “…let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.” (Exodus 25:8-9). And again, “…see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.” (Exodus 25:40). The tabernacle, the furnishings, the ark, the priest’s garments — all was to be built in accordance with the blueprint given by the Lord.

In Genesis 6, we saw 4 verses which gave the details for the construction of the ark by Noah. Here, there are 4 chapters which detail the design of the tabernacle and all that would be associated with it. Exodus 25 through Exodus 28 reveals in very specific detail exactly how God desired the tabernacle to be built.

As we approach the end of the book of Exodus, we find the following: “According to all that the LORD had commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did all the work. Then Moses looked over all the work, and indeed they had done it; as the LORD had commanded, just so they had done it. And Moses blessed them.” (Exodus 39:42-43). Shortly afterward, we read, “Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” (Exodus 40:34). God also was pleased, for they worked according to the pattern.

The tabernacle continued with Israel from the time of Moses through to the time of Solomon. David desired to build a temple for the Lord (2 Samuel 7), but was not permitted. However, his son, Solomon was chosen by God for this purpose. In 1 Chronicles 28, David shares with his son the plans which God had given him for the temple construction. We read, “Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for the vestibule, its houses, its treasuries, its upper chambers, its inner chambers, and the place of the mercy seat; and the plans for all that he had by the Spirit, of the courts of the house of the LORD, of all the chambers all around, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries for the dedicated things; also for the division of the priests and the Levites, for all the work of the service of the house of the LORD, and for all the articles of the service in the house of the LORD.” (28:11-13). Continuing in the text, the detail is great, even to the weight of gold or silver or bronze to be used for a single bowl. Then, David concludes, “All this the LORD made me understand in writing, by His hand upon me, all the works of these plans.” (28:19) These were not the thoughts and plans of David, the Spirit of God revealed the design for the temple and it’s furnishings to him.

Hear the words of David again, “My son Solomon, whom alone God has chosen, is young and inexperienced; and the work is great, because the temple is not for man but for the LORD God.” (1 Chronicles 29:1). What a wonderful statement! David realized, and sought for those who would surround Solomon in this work to realize also, that the temple was being constructed for the LORD (and thus according to His blueprint), not for man (and thus in accordance with their wishes). Though a man may have his own preferences, likes and dislikes, when the LORD has given the plan, it cannot be changed.

The first several chapters of 2 Chronicles records the construction process of the temple. When the work was completed, “…it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying: ‘For He is good, for His mercy endures forever,’ that the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.” (2 Chronicles 5:13-14). As was the case in the days of Moses, with the construction of the tabernacle, so it was now at the completion of the temple. God’s presence came into the temple, indicating His approval that they had followed His blueprint, even as He had commanded.

How odd would it be for God to give a blueprint and demonstrate design in creation, the ark, the tabernacle and the temple, but fail to do so in the church? Those who contend that there is not an identifiable pattern for the Lord’s church in the New Testament make a mockery of God’s consistent use of patterns. Plus, the Scriptures identify the church as demonstrating “…the manifold wisdom of God…” (Ephesians 3:8-11). How is a consistent use of blueprints, followed by a complete lack of a blueprint a presentation of God’s manifold wisdom?

In a subsequent article, we will specifically focus on the blueprint for the New Testament church. But before doing so, having herein considered some of the patterns which appear in the Old Testament, we should also realize that disobedience to God’s plans in Old Testament times was punished. Two priests failed to conduct themselves in accordance with God’s direction for the tabernacle service, and thus, God consumed them with fire (Leviticus 10:1-3). When David and those who were with him attempted to move the ark of God, but in disregard of God’s instruction of how to do so, Uzzah died before the ark (1 Chronicles 13:7-10). Likewise, with regard to the temple, King Uzziah entered the temple to offer incense, which was a service of the priests, and was struck by the LORD with leprosy for his disobedience (2 Chronicles 26:16-20). And Manasseh, king of Judah, brought all manner of abominations into the temple, so that the LORD brought destruction upon him and his nation (2 Chronicles 33:1-11). The LORD’s word must be heeded.

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