Items posted on 30 August 2012
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Ezekiel 43.13-17 and Hebrews 8.5-6 – The worship of God.
Posted: 30 August 2012 in Ezekiel, Hebrews

“And these are the measures of the altar after the cubits: The cubit is a cubit and an hand breadth; even the bottom shall be a cubit, and the breadth a cubit, and the border thereof by the edge thereof round about shall be a span: and this shall be the higher place of the altar. And from the bottom upon the ground even to the lower settle shall be two cubits, and the breadth one cubit; and from the lesser settle even to the greater settle shall be four cubits, and the breadth one cubit. So the altar shall be four cubits; and from the altar and upward shall be four horns. And the altar shall be twelve cubits long, twelve broad, square in the four squares thereof. And the settle shall be fourteen cubits long and fourteen broad in the four squares thereof; and the border about it shall be half a cubit; and the bottom thereof shall be a cubit about; and his stairs shall look toward the east.”

“Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he [Christ] is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.”

Here, and for several chapters previously, God gives Ezekiel very detailed instructions regarding the construction of the temple in which he is to be worshipped. In many ways it reflects the equally detailed instructions given to Solomon, and to Moses in the desert. We might wonder at the reason for this, and the writer of Hebrews gives at least part of the answer. Namely that the earthly Temple and/or Tabernacle is the representation of a heavenly reality where Christ now ministers on our behalf. Now that Christ is fulfilling the role of a high priest in heaven we, of course, no longer need detailed instructions for building a temple where sacrifice can be made.

The problem I have always had with the regulative principle is that, without borrowing from the Old Testament, the New Testament doesn’t actually say much about the conduct of public worship. Nevertheless, in principle it seems right to say that it is not for us to decide what would be pleasing to God, and only he can stipulate that – as he does, in great detail, to Ezekiel.

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