If you had long known your friend’s face (having lived with him day after day), what would happen if you met his father? You might have the experience of looking upon something or someone you knew very well, even without having known his very person.
Or if you had walked through the rooms of a great house and seen its portraits, what would happen when you came across the owner himself? You might think to yourself, “Ah! There he is in the flesh. Those images were indeed like.”
Or if you loved the goodness of a certain man or woman and one day were to meet the one who had trained him or her in that goodness, one who was truly the source of that goodness, you would love them too, perhaps not with that very love, but with a greater love yet. For you would love with the love which loved Love itself.
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory. –1st Peter 1:8
This is the meaning of the pattern of the creation. This is significance of the whole pattern of life and worship laid out for Israel by God. God instituted a pattern of the tabernacle, the temple, of holiness and worship in order to prepare his people–both to be a certain like him, reformed in his image, and also to be ready to recognize something. God instituted his law so that the life which it prescribed might prepare Israel to recognize someone.
When the reality came, when the original upon which all things had been patterned, including the law and tabernacle, Israel would have been prepared in their affections, in their aspirations, and in the history and organization of their nation. The shadow prepared them to recognize the substance.
The ritual, the organization, even the imperfect righteousness of the law prepares us to know Jesus Christ as the Original, the source and exemplar and to love him as such. In him (the express Image of the Father), we are further prepared to one day meet God face to face, just as we meet him now by faith.
Our whole life is an education through likeness, being trained in mind, in heart, in appetites and affections, and in ethical habits to love a certain kind of order and goodness–to love a certain God.
When we meet with Christ, our hearts burn within us because his Word and Spirit testify that he is the true Exemplar, the one who corresponds to what we have known and desired, even as he supersedes all that we have known. Christ corresponds to the pattern of human nature and divine, as well as to the pattern foreshadowed in the Old Testament.
In Christ, we recognize one who is the fulfillment of every love and longing. And he promises to us the perfect attainment of these desires. When I think of happiness and holiness, I often think like a ten year old. But the happiness he prepares us for is quite literary greater than our souls. It is a happiness we cannot even contain. Yet the hope of it sets our hearts in order, making us over in a pattern which exceeds that of the old, in a pattern yet more Ancient and more New.
And see that you make them after the pattern for them,
which is being shown you on the mountain. —Ex. 25:40 (Heb. 8:5)