Some of our neighbors may not be seeking the Lord’s church. Others might be convinced that they have found the right church for the entertainment of their family and are an active participant in the works of that church. Some of our neighbors might be somewhere in between the first two. Whatever the case is, before they stand before the Lord on the Day of Judgment, there are a number of things they should know about the Lord and His word. No matter how satisfied they are with their lives and no matter how happy they are with where they attend church, they need to hear of God’s true design for the way they live their lives and the way they worship Him. In hopes to help us share the truth with them, let’s take a look at two events in the bible that are very interesting to compare and contrast. Prayerfully, our neighbors will see the difference between the two.
The first event is found in Exodus 32, when Moses went up the mountain to receive the law and the people saw that he was delayed, not knowing what had happened to him. Therefore they said to Aaron “Come, make us gods that shall go before us.” Aaron doesn’t seem to hesitate in granting their request and the result is a golden idol. Isn’t it interesting that they called for a god to lead them and Aaron gave them a heavy chunk of metals that they would have to tote around? How can that be considered a leader, let alone a god? That idol could only go as far as they would be willing to drag it! This very idea is breathed out of the mouth of God in Jeremiah 10:5, saying idols “cannot speak; they must be carried, because they cannot go by themselves.”
The account of the golden idol is not long or difficult to read, it is reported to us in only six verses. What our neighbors should reap from this reading is the absolute inexistence of thought and planning that went on before the construction of the idol. This is a perfect example of most people’s approach to worship. Many today find themselves attending a church without ever searching the scriptures to see if that church is following God’s design in the New Testament. Something else has driven them to attend that church other than prayerful planning and scriptural thinking, which is exactly why we find God’s people building an idol in Exodus.
Before we forget about what we learned in Exodus 32, let’s look at another event for contrast. Around the same time the people are making the golden idol, Moses is receiving God’s law up on the mountain. One of the instructions God gives him is the design of the tabernacle and its furnishings. The account of these instructions are given in eleven chapters of Exodus (chapters 25-27; 30-31; 35-40). That’s over a quarter of the entire book of Exodus! And roughly over half of the book’s laws are designated to the tabernacle and its furnishings. When someone takes the initiative to read these eleven chapters they will be quite exhausted afterward. Why? Because of all the details! The LORD very descriptively instructs His people to build Him a tabernacle so that He “may dwell among them.” It is His dwelling place, it is His house and He has commanded exactly how it must be built and furnished. Within these eleven chapters he explains the exact materials needed, the color of the materials, the type of wood, the shape and length of the wood, what must be hammered into the wood, what must be embroidered into the materials, the height, width and length of everything inside the tabernacle as well as the tabernacle itself.
All of these chapters prove a grand point: Jehovah has a plan, or a pattern, and it covers every detail, a complete blueprint that leaves nothing out. After reading God’s blueprint, wouldn’t it sound ridiculous if one of the workers constructing the tabernacle said “why don’t we make this tabernacle just a couple cubits shorter? It would sure make it easier to transport from camp to camp and it wouldn’t change the purpose of the tabernacle.” I’d imagine someone approaching them with the written pattern in their hand and saying “Is that in the blueprint? Did God authorize that? Did God’s intricate planning for this tabernacle say that the workers are allowed to make any changes necessary if they think of a better pattern?”
The LORD said in Exodus 25:9 “According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.” The importance of following the pattern is repeated four times in the Old Testament and twice in the New Testament (Acts 7:44; Hebrews 8:5). We know that when God commands something once it is set in stone, but when He commands something numerous times we better not forget it.
Now that we’ve learned lessons from two bible events, let’s compare and contrast. God’s people built an idol to worship and they did it without any critical thinking or planning. Their actions were very quick without the thought of any consequences or whether or not it was a good idea that would be pleasing to God. And because of that, this event was easily covered in only six verses of scripture. In contrast to this event, we see clearly from the intricate details found in eleven chapters of Exodus that God had put great thought and planning into every part of the tabernacle and its furnishings. There is a great contrast here between the ways of man and the ways of God.
We saw that the tabernacle was the dwelling place of God (Exodus 25:8). However, isn’t the church now the dwelling place of God? In 2 Corinthians 6:16, God says to the church, “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” The details He gave for the tabernacle within eleven chapters are very complete, but the details for the church are given in 260 chapters of the New Testament! This illustrates that God certainly did not leave out any detail for the worship of the church, nor of the salvation of souls. In fact, God’s planning to bring a soul to eternal life is so complete that Titus 1:2 even states that His planning was complete “before time began.” Therefore, how could anyone worship contrary to God’s complete pattern? How could anyone modify our Creator’s eternal planning? How could they think that they have a better idea of how God wants to be worshipped than the way God Himself has commanded? The answer is given to us through the example of the golden idol: they do not think before they act. Thus they do not search the scriptures to make sure they are abiding by God’s every detail.
If we share passages like these it may prick the hearts of our neighbors. They may desire to look closer into God’s design, or pattern, for the salvation of their souls. At that point, it would be a good time to show them that God’s eternal plan is for a sinner to believe (John 3:16), confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus (Romans 10:9), repent of their sins (Acts 2:38), and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21). May God bless you in your endeavors to seek to the lost.