Then truly the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.…
I. THE ERECTION OF THE WORLDLY SANCTUARY. In contemplating the character of their "worldly sanctuary" whether in the wilderness or on Mount Zion — we behold God dealing with men in a manner accordant with the character of the covenant under which He saw fit to place them. For whether we review the history of our world at large, or the history of God's dealings with His Church, we find it to be a law of the Divine Procedure, that, in civilisation and scientific discovery, and in the attainments of knowledge and of arts, no less than in matters directly spiritual, He allows period of lengthened infancy and childhood. In no respect does He allow men to attain at once to maturity. Thus, in mere secular things, how old was our world ere printing was invented, ere the powers of steam were discovered! Railways and electric telegraphs are but of yesterday, it is with the world at large and with individual nations, intellectually and socially, as with the individual man physically. We are born, not men and women, but babes; we speak, and think, and understand as children; we attain manhood slowly. It has been so with human society: it has been so with our own favoured land, where once savages swarmed, and Druids offered their bloody rites. The history of man in every country had been different had not this principle pervaded God's designs and government — intellectual and social infancy — growth from infancy to childhood — from childhood to manhood — the manhood of intellect, and science and art, and civilisation; from the Rome of Romulus and Numa to the Rome of Augustus from the Gauls of Caesar's day to the French of the nineteenth century; from the England of Roman conquest and Saxon rule and Norman triumph to the England of our birth. Apply this principle to the subject before us. Israel, long familiarised with material temples and carnal rites in Egypt, was spiritually a nation of children: their worship was wisely and mercifully adapted to their spiritual age and attainment. For the simple worship of the more spiritual dispensation they were wholly unprepared. Form and ceremony — material and sensuous splendour — were needful. To have elevated and simplified their minds and tastes for our simpler worship would have been, in fact, to have forstalled the. progress of ages, and changed the whole course of God's procedure with His Church and with our world.
II. THE CONTRAST BETWEEN THE WORLDLY SANCTUARY AND THE SPIRITUAL WORSHIP OF THE GOSPEL DISPENSATION. The blessed truth, that He who was at once the sacrificial Victim and the sacrificing Priest, by His one offering of Himself, hath made an end of sacrifice, and for ever perfected His people, as touching their justification — these truths discerned, experienced, bring with them true spirituality of mind and heart and life. The believer, while he rejoices in Christ Jesus, and has "no confidence in the flesh," exhibits also the other feature of the apostle's portraiture — he worships "God in the Spirit." The temple with which his eye and heart are filled is the spiritual temple, in which himself is a lively stone — the Chinch of the Father's election, of the Spirit's sanctifying. The glory of Christianity is not in tabernacles or temples, in carnal ordinances. The glory of Christianity is Christ; the glory of the gospel, its message, "God is love!" And in accordance with the spirit of simplicity which characterises its doctrines should be the spirit of its worship.
(J. C. Miller, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.