Do you ever bother to read the instruction manuals? We guys are notorious for skipping the reading of the instruction manual. We just want to jump and start building or using the new technology toy we purchased. It works well for the first few minutes, then something snaps and breaks or a screw is left over. You never have confidence that item will work as well as you wanted.
10 years ago I was a manager of a group of computer data center engineers at Océ’s North America front office data center. This role was the first time I had people technically smarter working for me. I had built my skills in the PC world, but servers were a newer level of complexity that I had better leave for the pros. One Friday afternoon a new piece of equipment arrived. I was bored, it was late in the day and I decided I needed to show the team that I still had the stuff to be one of the guys. I was going to show them I was more than a pencil pushing – memo writing manager.
Without looking at any directions I decided to install the new $5000 piece of equipment. Instruction #1 – “Warning: do not attempt to install this device alone, it is a two person job!” I quickly set that sheet of paper aside and moved forward thinking, “I have the brain of two men, which should count for something.” Well, if you know me, you know the rest of the story. I dropped the device as I was installing it, tried to prevent it from hitting the floor and severely damaged my back. Nine months later I was having back surgery to fix a disk that was then pinching my sciatic nerves. My dream of being a ballet star was over.
Instruction manuals are not exactly easy reading, which is why we skip them. They are not meant for a nice evening’s read next to a fireplace with a nice cup of hot chocolate. They are very precise, go into way too much detail and assume you have no knowledge and they seem to belittle us. But they serve a purpose, they help us do what is right.
Get ready for some long readings that start today. We are going the Old Testament’s version of an instruction manual. We are going to start having instructions on how to build the tabernacle, how to clothe the priests, how offerings and sacrifices are done and how and when the Israelites should have special festivals. It is a long instruction manual.
So what does reading the long, highly detailed instruction manual have for us today? I have several thoughts:
- The instruction manual of immense details about how man should relate to God is no longer needed. Through Christ we no longer have temples, and priests, offerings and festivals to follow. Christ takes care of all those details now, Christ is the true priest and sits in the true Tabernacle
- The earthly tabernacle, its priests, its altar items were all there to demonstrate to the Israelites that God was their king. They did not have an earthly king, but a heavenly one.
- The earthly tabernacle, its priest, its holy altar items, its Holy Place and the Holiest of Holies were all there to remind the Israelites that God is a Holy God. He was to be separate from man and being in His presence was not to be taken lightly.
So, as we read through these chapters of long winded, overly detailed instructions let’s remember a few things:
- Jesus took away the need for all these instructions. He simply requires our heart.
- God is our King and worthy of our attention to detail and self sacrifice
- God is Holy and worthy of all praise.
Some verses that help make the point…
Hebrews 8: 1-6
The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man.
Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.
Hebrews 9: 11-15
When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life
** Special Note for my Dutch Friends: There is a scaled replica of the Tabernacle as described in our reading in Exodus 25 -28 at the Bijbel Museum in Amsterdam. I took my family there last summer. (it is better and larger than the one in the picture above)