Patterns and molds have been useful in everyday life for millennia. If there is something you want to create the same way over and over again, having a pattern, mold, formula, or method is key. If the pattern is working properly, your product (a garment, metal, glass, coins, plaster, wood, etc.) always comes out the same shape or form.
Did you know that God has also been using patterns? One could consider our DNA as a biological pattern for all life, so that each creature looks like its predecessor. But even spiritually God has regularly pointed to patterns. There are patterns in men’s historic behavior and God’s responses (recorded in the stories of the Bible); but, more to my point here, there are patterns in the structure of worship, holy conduct, organization of his people, and even teachings — things He wanted to remain consistent.
Clearly there were some general patterns that men recognized from earliest times: patterns of covenant, marriage, sacrifice, and family (read Genesis). But the idea of following God’s spiritual patterns was formalized in Moses’ time, when God told Moses, (Exodus 25:9) “According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it.” Just so.
But sadly men didn’t always follow God’s pattern “just so”. Nadab and Abihu are early violators of the pattern (Numbers 10), and it didn’t end well for them. Probably the most famous Old Testament example of someone who chose not to follow God’s pattern is king Jeroboam of Israel (the northern kingdom). In 1 Kings 12 Jeroboam, in an attempt to keep his people from returning to worship the Lord in Jerusalem, changed a number of God’s patterns — which became the spiritually infamous “sins of Jeroboam” (see 1 Kings 14:16; 15:30; 16:31; 2 Kings 3:3; 10:29,31; 13:2,11; 14:24; etc.).
Did God care? Yes, and He called Israel back to the pattern over and over again — Jeremiah 6:16 “Thus says the LORD, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls.’ But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” So, off to Babylon they were exiled in punishment for their disregard of God’s pattern.
And God continues to use and care about men following His pattern. Consider…
- Philippians 3:17 “Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.”
- Romans 6:17 “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,”
- 2 Timothy 1:13 “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.”
…just to cite a few New Testament examples of how much it matters.
The pattern is found in the the book, chapter, and verse of the Scriptures, the Bible. And this is why churches of Christ (a result of the “Restoration Movement”) continue to also call men back to the original pattern — found in the New Testament — for the identity of the church, for worthy worship, for God-approved organization, for sound doctrine, for the way of salvation, for true discipleship, and sincere godliness.
In the next several weeks in our bulletin, let’s take a look at this holy pattern given by the Lord — with the intention to follow it “just so”.