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Shadows of reality

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series

"The Building Blocks of Worship"

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Last week I suggested that the establishment of the Jewish sacrificial system, tabernacle, and priesthood was a codification of worship elements that had been instituted in the Creation/Fall events.

However, what the tabernacle also reveals is that these essential worship elements were not simply instituted at Creation, but are in fact representations of the essence of the worship of Heaven itself.

God gives Moses the pattern (Exod 25:8–9; 25:40; 27:8; Num 8:4; cf. Acts 7:44), and this is a pattern of “heavenly things” (Heb 8:2, 5; cf. Heb 9:11, 23–24). In other words, the idea of worship visualized at Creation and in the tabernacle (and later, the temple) is modeled after the eternal essence of heavenly worship.1

This means that the worship construct observed at Creation and illustrated through the Mosaic system reveals the transcendent essence of worship: (1) God reveals himself and initiates a relationship with his people; (2) God forms the boundaries of the relationship with his commandments; (3) the nature of worship consists in this relationship of communion between man and his Creator; (4) this worship takes place in the sanctuary of God’s presence; (5) failure to obey the commandments of God prohibits communion with him; (6) God provides atonement whereby man is once again enabled to walk in communion with him.

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About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is director of doctoral worship studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

  1. How, exactly, the tabernacle mirrors the heavenly sanctuary is not clear. However, language in Isaiah 6 and Revelation used to describe heaven connect closely with both the earthly structures and furniture of the tabernacle and of the spiritual realities of worship present since Creation. See Ross, Recalling the Hope of Glory, 187–91. []