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In the Gates

Follow the Pattern

Abiding Principles from the Ceremonial Laws: Worshiping God (1)


God has declared the pattern He intends us to follow in worship.

Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and all its furniture, so you shall make it.” Exodus 25.9

The ceremonial laws of the Law of God outline the way Israel was to approach God for the purpose of renewing and sustaining their relationship with Him in His Covenant. That is, the ceremonial laws governed how God’s people were to demonstrate their love for Him in worship. The instructions provided in these precepts, statutes, and rules are precisely in keeping with the altogether unique nature of God and the particular needs of His people.

We may expect to benefit from these laws by deriving principles for the worship of God which have abiding relevance for us in our day – both because of the way God established these laws initially, and for how we understand our calling to worship the Lord today, within the age of grace and the Spirit. God’s Covenant remains the same, and He is unchanged. It only makes sense for us to believe that these laws, while they have been set aside as to formal observance (Heb. 7-9), nonetheless contain principles which God still intends to guide us in showing love for Him and for our neighbor.

The first principle which we encounter in the ceremonial laws establishes the divine prerogative to set the terms by which He will be worshiped. In ancient Israel the worship of God centered on the Tabernacle, its furnishings and ceremonies, and the people charged with the responsibility of facilitating Israel’s worship of God. When God brought Moses up to the mountain to reveal His plans concerning the construction of the Tabernacle, everything that relates to the worship of God was in view. And God reserved unto Himself the right to determine how He would be worshiped by His people.

“Be sure you build it according to the pattern revealed to you on the mount.” Over and over God admonished Moses about the construction of the Tabernacle. As we shall see, this principle of divine prerogative was meant to be applied not only to the Tabernacle and its trappings but everything related to the worship of God. God reveals how He will be worshiped; our “good ideas” or the practices of those among whom we live must not be allowed to compromise God’s requirements and expectations for our worship. The ceremonial laws show us plainly that God will be worshiped by His people, and that He will be worshiped according to His instructions, and nothing else.

Our part in the worship of God is to make sure that everything we do in worship is according to the pattern He reveals in Scripture, and which He began to reveal in the ceremonial laws given through Moses on Mt. Sinai.

For a fuller study of the pattern of worship revealed in Scripture, order the book, The Highest Thing, by T. M. Moore, from our online store. These studies and brief essays will help you to see how the pattern of sound worship, which began in the Law of God, comes to complete expression in the rest of Scripture. Pastors, we’re getting ready to start the next season of The Pastors’ Fellowship. Write to me today at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for information about how you join in these online discussions. Our theme for the coming series is “The Worldview of God’s Law.” There is no charge for participation, but you must reserve a place for these monthly gatherings. Subscribe to Crosfigell, the devotional newsletter of The Fellowship of Ailbe.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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