Shadows of Faith
Hebrews 8:1-5The Holy Bible, New International Version
Hebrews 8:5 (NIV)
5They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”
A symbol is a visible sign of an idea, a quality, an object, or anything that suggests an idea of a thing.
--- Joshua Stauffer, When He is Come
God, in His infinite wisdom, has used so many symbols, word
pictures, similes, analogies, and other comparisons with things about
which we have at least a partial understanding that numerous truths
are revealed to us through His Word. It is with this thought in mind
that we seek to bring you the ideas developed in the messages that
follow. We pray that the Great Teacher, about whom we reverently
write, may guide your thinking in such a manner as to make these ideas
of greatest value to you. If they can provoke thoughts about Him in
your own mind which have not even been in my mind, my own deep desires
shall have been realized in the sending forth of these truths.
--- William David McGraw Jr., Symbols of the Spirit
I. Symbols show us shadows of the past.
A. Faithfulness of others in time
* "I'm pregnant."
After Cori, my 21-year-old, unwed daughter, said those words, I went through all kinds of emotions.
Yes, it would be embarrassing. I wrote the book Sanctified Sex. I had criss-crossed the country telling thousands of young adults like my daughter to "just say no."
Yes, it broke my heart. I stayed awake many nights listening to my wife's muffled sobs. I came home many days to referee a family feud.
Cori has always made it clear that she likes the wilder side of life. She has always learned her lessons the hard way.
My wife, Roberta, and I have always wanted our home to be a place where no-strings-attached love could grow.
Throughout the crisis, I have asked God, "How do I model sensitivity and strength when my family is falling apart?"
God replied with several questions: "Will you quit, Haman? Will you quit loving your daughter? Will you quit investing in her life? Will you quit forgiving her as you have been forgiven?"
My answer continues to be: "No, I won't quit, Lord. With your help, my family will make it."
-- Haman Cross, Jr., pastor of Rosedale Park Baptist Church in Detroit. Men of Integrity, Vol. 1, no. 1.
B. Faithfulness of God in time.
Genesis 9:12 through Genesis 9:16 (NIV)
12And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
II. Symbols show us shadows of truth
A. Truths to be learned
Joshua 4:19 through Joshua 4:24 (NIV)
19On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. 20And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. 21He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan just what he had done to the Red Sea£ when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God.”
* Before people were generally literate, the symbols in worship told a story of faith.
*God uses figurative language to teach us divine truths. Figures of
speech, symbols and parables are frequently used to make great truths
clearly understood. They attract and hold attention and aid us much to
remember. This figurative language and the types and symbols that are
used are divinely inspired and chosen to make the truth more vivid.
Terry (Biblical Hermeneutics) says that this part of the inspired
Scriptures has a "harmony which it is the noblest mental exercise to
discover and unfold."
___ R.E. Carroll, Holiness in the Book of Hebrews.
B. Truths to be lived
Numbers 15:38 through Numbers 15:41 (NIV)
38“Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. 39You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. 40Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God. 41I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD your God.’”
III. Symbols show us shadows of heaven
A. A revelation of God
The Ark of the Covenant
Mercy Seat – God extends mercy
Tablets – God has standards
Almond Rod – God chooses his leaders
Manna – God provides
B. A revelation of grace
John 1:29 through John 1:31 (NIV)
29The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”