Dont Settle for a Shadow
God gave Moses the tabernacle, the law, and the seat of government over the children of Israel. He specified every detail, the number of poles, the size of the curtains, and even the number and material of each clasp. Nothing was overlooked.
The law was perfection. It outlined all the behavior of men before God, and gave the perfect sentences in judgement. It provided for both interpersonal, as well as dietary and dress requirements. So perfect, that only one man in history has ever lived it.
His name was Jesus. By His death, He changed the nature of the heavens, removing the barrier between man and God, unveiling the glory.
Today, we come up with all sorts of rules and regulations. We have manuals on how to pray, lead small groups, and even services. We have man-made doctrine after man-made doctrine for worship services, and written and unwritten regulations on how to dress, conduct interpersonal relationships, and business exchanges. And that doesn’t even begin to touch Christmas!
All our creations are still not as good as the original, mind you, the perfect one. It still falls short of what God requires in terms of propriety and order in worship. And, for the most part, it is absolutely worthless and not worth the time nor the paper it is written on. At least the trees would have clapped their hands in worship to their maker if they had not been printed perhaps… Or, perhaps, it could have at least been used as toilet paper or something more useful than a dust-collector, the church manuals that is.
Jesus said it was easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for one of His Words to pass away. He said that He did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. He said that to be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven, all one would need to do would be to break one the least of the commands and teach others to do the same.
So how do we interpret this? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Do you believe? Do you follow? Is your love and obedience growing? Do you hate sin and love righteousness? Great! Keep on going. As 2 Corinthians 10:6 says, “punishing every disobedience once your obedience is made perfect.”
The problem with man’s laws is they are never as good as God’s original one. The “problem” with God’s original righteous one is that fallen man cannot live it. Yet, we cling to it, because on some level, the natural mind of man can seem like he might grasp the heavens if he sits in enough formal, ritualistic meetings. But, it didn’t work for the Jews, even the priests of His day, for the most part. Because, in God’s wisdom, He regards Faith as righteousness.
When you cling to how wide to make your linens, where to place your altar, how often to bake your shew-bread, and whatnot, you are merely imitating, in a crude and, by definition, imperfect way, what God gave Moses. When we look to a liturgy as meaningful, when we rest our emotions in ritual and pattern, when we situate our minds on things like governmental seating on the platform, on the arrangement of curtains and banners hanging from the walls, cultivating an aesthetic appeal above spiritual dynamic, we only have a shadow of the thing we hope for. Worse than that, because we’re not going the full bore into rebuilding the Tabernacle of Moses, with all the blood and continual fire on the altar, we are either looking at a mangled shadow, or WORSE, THE WRONG SHADOW! But, remember, it’s still just a shadow.
Even the feasts of the Lord, given to Israel, merely pointing to what was then yet to come. They were a prophetic picture, they were a live pre-enactment, if you will, of an event to look forward to. Their meaning was obscured on purpose, by the foreknowledge of God, to be revealed at their proper time, in the person of Jesus Christ.
Format and programming will always be a part of any gathering, simply to accommodate the people. Even Jesus had the people sit in groups of 50′s an 100′s when He fed them. Perhaps there was some unrecorded wisdom in this instruction. It probably certainly made them easier to count! But the focus was not the meeting arrangements, as they didn’t even have the fore-thought to prepare food! Instead, it was on the Bread Himself, the Living Bread which came down from heaven.
Before we do anything in our meeting, let us look for the real Bread, the real Light. Before we even think about any level of structure, let us focus on our foundation, precisely, our corner-stone. Before we write one more prayer manual, let us know our Chief Intercessor.
The shadow will always a shadow. It cannot touch you, nor feed you, nor give you anything! But, the reality is found in Christ.
When we do not seek out, in Spirit and in Truth, the maker, creator, sustainer, we settle for a shadow… when we rely upon formality and tradition, we nullify the Word of God.
Truth is not in a meeting, if that meeting does not contain Jesus. You can talk all day about the Queen of England, but it is not the same thing as if she walks in the room.
We can look even to the Tabernacle of Moses, and if Jesus isn’t there, all you have is nothing.
Truth is a person, and if you do not have HIM, you do not have anything. If you have neither His Presence, nor His Anointing, you have “nothing”.
If your eyes are so blind that you can only see what is visible, and ears so deaf that you can only hear what is audible, how great a darkness and deafness it is.
Why should we settle for a shadow, the mere form, when by faith, we have Christ within our midst?