A pattern is an example or instructions concerning how something is to be made. Though not too many women make their own clothes anymore, most are at least familiar with the patterns that one can buy, by which one can make a dress or other garment that will look just like the one in the picture on the front. Another good example of a pattern is the blueprints that are used by contractors in the building of your house.
In the realm of Christianity, many will denounce the whole idea of there being such a thing as a pattern for Christianity, calling the concept “pattern theology”. However, it really is just a matter of following the inspired instructions for serving God. The psalmist said, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). The apostle Paul said that the scriptures are the instructions we are to use for our doctrine, reproof and correction (II Tim. 3:16). When God has legislated how something is to be done, no other way will suffice; that revealed way is the pattern for how it is to be done. Man has not the right or authority to add to or take from that way specified by God (Deut. 4:2; Proverbs 30:6; Gal.1:6-9; Rev. 22:18-19).
A prime illustration of the pattern concept is seen in the building of the tabernacle and all the items of the tabernacle in accordance to the instructions given by God. Moses recorded, “According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it” (Exodus 25:9). He further stated, “And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was showed thee in the mount” (Exodus 25:40).
Many years later, in making his defense Stephen stated, “Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen” (Acts 7:44).
Now, what happens when one ignores or neglects to follow the pattern given by God? A few examples should suffice in answering that question. When “Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not” (Lev. 10:1), “there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord” (Lev. 10:2). When the children of Israel attempted to transport the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem after it had been taken by the Philistines, they failed to follow the instructions given in the book of Numbers concerning the ark being touched by no one and being borne upon the shoulders of the sons of Kohath. The end result of that was that God smote Uzzah putting a stop to the transport (II Sam. 6:1-11).
Later David recognized the problem and stated, “For because ye did it not at the first, the Lord our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after due order” (I Chro. 15:13). Not after due order is the same as not according to the pattern given. Many other examples could be cited, but these clearly show the end result of not following the pattern.
Let us note quickly a couple of examples of what happens when one does adhere to the pattern. God gave Noah instructions concerning the building of the ark (Gen. 6:14-16). The scriptures say, “Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he” (Gen. 6:22). Many years later the Hebrew writer would state, “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and become heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Heb. 11:7). When one follows the pattern, they are acting by faith. When the walls of Jericho fell, it was because the children of Israel followed the pattern given by God in marching around the city for seven days and blowing the trumpets and shouting. Again that writer of Hebrews stated, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days” (Heb. 11:30). Again many other examples could be cited.
There are too many applications of this point about following the pattern for us to even enumerate them, much less discuss them. However, please do note that there is a pattern for Christianity. It was again that writer of Hebrews that set forth clearly the necessity of following the pattern given by God for Christianity. He wrote, “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 showed to thee in the mount” (Heb. 8:5). The apostle Paul said of the gospel of Christ that is it the power of God unto salvation and that it reveals the righteousness of God from faith to faith (Rom. 1:16-17). Paul also warns about straying from the pattern when he writes, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you that that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8). Let us stick to the pattern given by God.
Robert Oliver is a long time columnist for The Sampson Independent.