PULPIT TODAY SERMONS
Robert D. Pace
“According to the Pattern”
I typically open my message by reading Scripture, but today’s Word is different. I want to identify several Bible characters that will help synthesize my key thought for this message.
Let’s first consider Noah, the man to whom God issued precise instructions for building the Ark. The Lord told him which type of wood to use; which sealant to apply; the precise measurements of the Ark; and how many of each animal to bring aboard. And then God included a bold warning to Noah. He said, “This is how you are to build it”! (Genesis 6:15) Wow, details are important to God!
Second, notice that God gave detailed instructions, along with a similar warning, to Moses regarding the template for the Tabernacle. Hebrews 8:5 says, “Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the Tabernacle; “See that you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.” (Also Exodus 26:30; Acts 7:44.)
And then thirdly, the Lord issued an explicit pattern for designing the magnificent Temple at Jerusalem. Let’s talk about that for a moment.
Years ago, I wondered how Solomon knew to construct the Temple with all its grandeur. It had the Holy Place, the Most Holy Place, the Golden Candlestick, the Mercy-seat overlaid with the cherubim, and so forth. However, it was constructed quite differently than the Tabernacle of Moses. What gave Solomon the right to deviate from the plans Moses so carefully implemented?
As I investigated, I discovered 1 Chronicles 28 contained the answer. And strangely enough God had not revealed the blueprints of the Temple to Solomon—and he was the world’s wisest man! The Holy Spirit revealed the details of the Temple to David—a man anointed by the Holy Spirit. Here’s what David said in 1 Chronicles 28:19, “The LORD made me understand in writing by His hand upon me, all the details of this pattern” of the Temple.
God used a “Man of the Spirit” to design the Temple! Here’s what’s interesting about Solomon. Although he was the world’s wisest and most intelligent man, once David died, Solomon never crossed paths with a prophet of God. And prophets are known to primarily operate by the Spirit! This is likely a reason he couldn’t remain steadfast toward the Lord.
(Transition) Now, here’s the purpose for using Noah, Moses, Solomon, and David as opening examples:
Always Follow God’s Instructions!
The Bible shows that God gave people assignments throughout the Bible. He called men to build boats, Tabernacles, Temples, garments, and so forth. He called some to fight battles, others to write Scripture, others to prophesy, and still others to evangelize and pastor. Whatever the assignment was, God always had a pattern for the project. And God always had a blessing for those that ministered according to the pattern!
(Insight) The reason we fail in life isn’t because we aren’t doing what God ordained; it’s because we aren’t doing it His way! When God issues a plan He often issues instructions to implement it. That’s because details are important to God! Don’t ever forget that. If you want to succeed, you can’t keep fishing off the left side of the boat once Jesus says, “Cast your nets on the other side.” Details will always be important no matter how long we live for God.
(Bible Example) Let me mention a mistake made by David, the “man after God’s heart.” In 2 Samuel 6, David is seen transporting the Ark of the Covenant to Bethlehem. As the Ark was in transit, an ox that transported it stumbled. And when a priest tried to steady the Ark he was struck dead! David was incensed that God would do this! But remember, God doesn’t always object to our plans, it’s a detail, or a misstep that becomes the obstacle. And hundreds of years earlier, in the Torah, Moses had issued strict instructions for transporting the Ark of the Covenant. The Lord had ordered it to be transported on the shoulders of Priests, not ox! Thus, it was David’s procedure that displeased God and brought the death of Uzzah.
(Insight) This event gets really interesting when you peer “behind the scenes” and uncover David’s intention for moving the Ark. David’s ultimate ambition and intention was to restore the worship experience for the Israelites at Jerusalem. And I t’s simply impossible to find a more noble aspiration than that! But from the start, God wanted David to know that every detail of Israel’s worship was important!
Now that I’ve laid a foundation for this message, I have a question: Why did the Temple exist? What was its underlying, primary purpose? And the answer comes from the lips of David: Here’s what he said in 1 Chronicles 29:1, “The Temple is not for man, but for the Lord God.” God designed the Temple expressly for His glory!
When we take the “Temple Principle” and make it the “Church Principle,” we will understand that God has designed every aspect of ministry and worship for his glory! And when that happens we will see God’s glory fill our house just as it filled the Tabernacle of Moses and the Temple of Solomon. That’s what we’re after—the glory of God!
There’s nothing wrong with making our churches warm and inviting but, most importantly, we should structure church worship for the express purpose of glorifying God and accommodating the presence of the Holy Spirit. We must never forget that Jesus shed his Blood and died for the Church. That alone should constrain us to construct worship services “according to the pattern.” And that pattern is, to satisfy the pleasure of God! Once the pleasure of God is fulfilled the glory of God will follow.
(Transition) Thus far, I’ve mentioned Moses and the Tabernacle, David and the Ark of the Covenant, and Solomon and the Temple, but now I want to mention God’s directions to Noah to build the Ark.
God Commands Noah to Build an Ark
A thousand years after creation, the depravity of man plunged to such that it elicited God’s wrath against the world. He would destroy man and beast with a universal flood. Fortunately, God found Noah fit for following his plan and preserving the human race. He gave Noah the assignment of building a boat. It’s interesting that Noah’s task came with precise instructions. And there was no ambiguity in how God wanted the Ark constructed.
In Genesis 6:14 the Lord said to Noah: “Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. (15) This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, seventy-five feet wide and forty-five feet high. (16) Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within eighteen inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make, middle and upper decks.”
(Fact) When you calculate the Ark’s dimensions it was ten times longer than its height, and six times longer that its width. In 1997, naval architect David Collins concluded that even in winds up to 210-knots—that’s three times hurricane force—this made the Ark virtually unassailable! Dr. Henry Morris published an article that proposed, “The ark’s dimensions made it almost impossible to capsize—even if tilted through any angle less than 90 degrees.”
Noah’s ark was a nautical wonder! And naval architects understand that applying Noah’s proportional dimensions to ship-building produces the most seaworthy vessels. That’s amazing! Five thousand years ago God directed Noah to construct the Ark in a way that remains the prototype for building ships. Is it any wonder that God has a divine blueprint for our lives?
God knows the winds of adversity that will howl against us.
He knows the battles we will fight.
He also knows the opportunities that await us.
That’s why the Lord has a specific design for your life.
(Illustration) Many years ago, I accepted God’s call to preach. At the time I accepted the call to preach the Lord gave me an assignment that coincided with that Call. It wasn’t an audible voice but it was an irrepressible knowing that God infused deep into my soul. He called me to pray. Throughout my life I’ve always known the necessity of maintaining a life of prayer.
(Insight) There’s a prayer I have prayed repeatedly for many years. It’s a Messianic prayer found in Psalm 40:7 and also Hebrews 10:7. It says, “Behold, it is written in the volume of the Book, Your will, O God, I have come to do.” When I’ve used this prayer, I’ve used it to reconsecrate my life and assure the Lord that I don’t have an “Agenda.” It’s been my way of letting God know that He’s the Captain of my Salvation and I’ll trust him to direct my course.
Folks, I don’t want to be in charge of my life. I’m unfit for the task! But I have an omniscient Heavenly Father that is completely adequate for leading my life!
(Transition) I want to speak to you about opportunity. Because as the sage said, “All that glitters is not gold.” Turn to Acts 16 and lets read how the Lord directed the Apostle Paul.
“Don’t Go to Asia!”
Acts 16:6 says this: “They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; (7) and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bythinia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; (8) and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. (9) A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” (10) When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”
Paul first started toward Asia with the Gospel, but the Holy Spirit said, “Don’t go to Asia” (6). So, Paul altered his course and headed to Bythinia. But on the verge of going to Bythinia, the Holy Spirit said, “Don’t go to Bythinia” (7)! So Paul once again halted his course. Then, after twice being redirected, God gave Paul a vision of a man from Macedonia calling him to minister there. And when Paul obeyed God, the door to Eastern Europe and Asia Minor was thrown wide open.
Years ago, a church historian studied the ministry journeys of the Apostle Paul. He concluded that his work in Europe and Asia Minor literally erected a barricade of churches that prevented Islam from flooding the Western World. Do you see how important it is to do things According to the Pattern?
One more insight about Paul’s vision to minister in Macedonia. Did you ever wonder who the man in the vision was that beckoned to Paul? It was most likely Dr. Luke! That’s because this is where the Bible shows Paul and Luke meeting!
(Illustration) Years ago, my dad founded a worldwide ministry. He scheduled a trip to the Far East and assembled a team to assist him. After the plans were set one traveler cancelled his trip so my dad offered me an all-expenses paid trip! It was an incredible opportunity, but I couldn’t accept! Several days earlier the Lord had given me a dream that I was traveling overseas. He even showed me someone on the trip. During the dream the Lord warned me against going. I didn’t understand why, but I had to decline my dad’s offer. But something unusual happened during that time. I had been pastoring a church for 2½ years with hardly any growth. On my first Sunday, we had 35 people and it had struggle to grow to 50. But on the Sunday morning I would have been in Asia with my dad, 27 visitors walked into that sanctuary! In a day, the church had grown to about 90 people. In three months we were having 150 people. In six months we were having over 220. Less than two years later we had built a worship facility for 600 people!
God wants us to know that every opportunity is not necessarily a “stepping stone.” Satan might have an “opportunity” disguised as a trap! That’s why we must maintain humility before God and submit to His will. Only the Holy Spirit knows the “end from the beginning.” And that’s the best-ever reason to leave him in charge of guiding your life!
(Example) Two thousand years ago the crowds tried to crown Christ King. They saw Him multiply bread and fish, open blind eyes, and work wonders, so they decided to crown Him. But He wouldn’t permit it! He rejected their crown knowing that the Cross awaited him! You see, he knew only the Cross could bring his Resurrection. And his Resurrection would exalt him to the Father’s right hand! And you and I are here today because Christ chose the Cross!
(Transition) Let’s return to David and inspect another aspect of his life.
David: Israel’s National Inquirer
In 2 Samuel 5, the elders of Israel anointed David King of Israel (5:3). Immediately after his ascent to the throne, the Philistines attacked. But notice David’s course of action. The Bible says David “inquired of the Lord” (5:19). That’s important! David didn’t presume to know God’s plan; and He was the King! This is why I call David, “The National Inquirer.” He was always seeking the will of God. David knew the importance of ascertaining God’s course of action.
So “David inquired of the Lord saying, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you give them into my hand?” The Lord said, ‘Yes, David, go up. Launch an attack’. And when David obeyed he routed the Philistines!
However, the Philistines weren’t finished, because a short time later they launched another attack. But once again, the Bible says, “David inquired of the Lord” (5:23). And it’s good that David “inquired” because God gave him a completely different strategy. The Lord said, “Stay put David. Don’t move until you hear the sound in the tops of the balsam trees. I’m going to make the first move.” And when David obeyed God brought another mighty victory!
(Transition) God always knows the strategy for winning. Always! I want you to notice an interesting story in Mark 8. It involves the healing of the blind man from Bethesda.
Healing of the Blind Man
Mark 8:22 says: “And they came to Bethsaida. And they brought a blind man to Jesus and implored Him to touch him. (23) Taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes and laying His hands on him, He asked him, “Do you see anything?” (24) And he looked up and said, “I see men, for I see them like trees, walking around.” (25) Then again He laid His hands on his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly. (26) And He sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.” This is a unique miracle. Why did Christ’s first touch not secure perfect vision? His touch merely improved the man’s sight to an imperfect blur; not 20/20 vision. What went wrong? There is a reason.
The friends of this blind man desperately wanted him healed; but they wanted him healed on their terms! They mandated the instructions for Christ to work the miracle. Listen again: “they implored Christ to lay His hands on the blind man.” The people of Bethsaida told Christ how to work the miracle!
Does the Great Physician not know how to administer the healing touch?
Does the Good Shepherd not know how to care for the sheep?
Who are we to instruct the Lord in His mysterious ways?
This is why the Lord wouldn’t open this man’s eyes by employing the crowd’s mandate. And it’s important for us to remember that it’s not our place to prescribe the pattern to God. It’s our place to submit to God’s directions and exercise faith.
(Transition) You say, “How am I supposed to do that? How am I supposed to follow His pattern?
The Doctrine of God’s Guidance
The fact is, God is more interested in communicating His plan to you than you are interested in finding it out! When this life is over and we stand before God, we will discover that He was a better Leader than we were follower; He was a better Shepherd than we were sheep. Let God direct your life. (Can you say, “Amen!”)
I want you to notice some of the Scriptures that set forth the “Doctrine of God’s Guidance”:
Psalm 48:14 says, “For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.”
Psalm 73:24 says, “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.”
Isaiah 30:21 says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
Isaiah 48:17 says, “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”
Jesus said in John 16:13, “when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”
Psalm 139:9 says, “If I rise on the wings of the dawn or if I settle on the far side of the sea, (10) even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”
But remember, if God knows everything, and He does; and if God is completely wise, and He is; then it makes sense to follow His leading. It seems appropriate to heed the “voice behind . . . [us that says,] “This is the way; walk in it.”
There are many ways God exercises the Doctrine of Guidance toward Christians:
He leads us by His infallible written Word—the Bible.
He guides us when the Holy Spirit prompts us to do something.
The Lord directs us by placing deep desires within our heart that won’t go away.
He leads supernaturally through dreams & visions.
The fact that the Bible calls God our “Heavenly Father” carries an implicit guarantee that the perfect Father will always care for His people.
Learn from Your Mistakes!
Sometimes we discover how to follow God by learning from our mistakes. Rather than asking anyone here to expose their failures, let’s consult Scripture because the Bible scripts a long list of people that teach us how not to fulfill God’s will. And once more, let’s turn to Moses.
The most revered man of the OT is Moses. That’s why God gave him a private burial service! And once laid to rest, who would ever want to succeed Moses as Israel’s leader? I believe the angels would have hesitated to lead Israel had God offered Moses’ staff to one of them. But somebody had to succeed him; and Joshua was the man. In order to understand the magnitude of Joshua’s task I want to rehearse Moses’ resume.
Moses is the man that conversed with God face to face as a man speaks with his friend.
Moses performed more miracles than anyone but Christ.
Moses entered into the presence of God and received human history’s greatest legislative document—the Ten Commandments.
Moses had single-handedly delivered Israel from Egyptian slavery when Egypt was the world’s mightiest monarchy.
When Moses raised his staff, the Red Sea parted and Israel departed from Egypt.
This is the grand prophet that Joshua followed!
Yet it’s interesting that Joshua never healed one sick person.
Joshua never called down fire.
He never gave Israel a miraculous supply of manna or water.
But God used Joshua mightily to defeat the Canaanites and settle Israel into the Promised Land. In fact, Joshua followed God’s purpose for His life so diligently that he is regarded as Israel’s greatest military General.
God didn’t want Joshua to be Moses. God called Joshua to be Joshua. He gave Joshua a completely different assignment than Moses received. And this is true for you! God has issued a unique calling upon your life. He’s assigned you with a unique mission. It may be similar to someone else, but nobody is made exactly like you and nobody has your precise assignment.
Be Who God Created You to Be!
Sometime back I noticed an interesting analogy between Jesus and John the Baptist. Each man was divinely chosen for a specific mission, but each fulfilled their mission uniquely:
John “prepared the way.” Jesus was “the way.”
John was the “voice of one crying in the wilderness” while Isaiah said of Christ, “He will not shout or cry out, or raise His voice in the streets.”
The diet of John consisted of locusts and honey. Jesus dined at the tables of wealthy publicans and sinners.
John’s wardrobe was a garment of camel’s hair fastened by a leather belt. Jesus wore the beautiful seamless robe.
John baptized in water. Jesus baptized in the Holy Spirit.
John’s purpose was to decrease. Jesus’ purpose was to increase.
And there are more analogies like this throughout Scripture.
David was a man of war. Solomon was a man of peace.
Jeremiah was a prophet to the nations. Nathan was a prophet primarily to one man—King David.
Peter was an apostle to the Jews. Paul was an apostle to the Gentiles.
And Moses was called to take God’s people out of Egypt, while Joshua was called to lead God’s people into the Promised Land.
So many times we contest God’s grace for our lives. We try to lead the people out when God called us to lead them in. We see another person’s methodology and imitate them, instead of embracing God’s spiritual endowment to us.
(Illustration) Early in my full-time ministry I was praying in a field. The Lord spoke to me: “I sent you to reap on another man’s foundation.” At that time, I didn’t realize this was a verse of Scripture, but I soon discovered this is what the Lord told His Apostles in John 4:38. “I sent you to reap whereon you bestowed no labor. Others have labored, but you have entered in upon their labors.” And throughout the years, God has blessed me as I have labored “according to the pattern” for my life in John 4:38.
(Transition) So how do you know whether a vision or major endeavor is from God? There’s a simple answer for this.
What vision or major change are you contemplating? Is your heart is uneasy or apprehensive or even distressed? If so, don’t move until you resolve those issues! Remember, our God is called, Jehovah Shalom—“God our Peace”; and Jesus is called, “The Prince of Peace.” Once the Holy Spirit has given you peace and faith, regardless of how huge the vision is, then it’s time to implement the vision, and implement it “According to the Pattern.”
Footnote 1. Creation Research Society Quarterly 14:83-7.
Footnote 2. The Biblical Basis for Modern Science, published 1984, page 294).