It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. Hebrews 9, verse 23.
My wife and I have taken to attending Tuesday night Bible studies at a church in Paris. We haven’t joined the church but we attend 2-3 times per month, and have started taking part in activities like these studies, dinners, small groups, and the like. It’s a great way to worship with fellow believers as well as a way to meet like-minded folks here in a new place. Without kids living at home, that can be a difficult thing to do.
During last night’s study, a thought hit me particularly hard: this is for our benefit. No, Calvary Paris isn’t sponsoring weekly men’s Bible studies just for Dave Terry. No, the world really doesn’t revolve around me. But all this here on the Third Rock was done by God for us. Creation, redemption, salvation, even discipline and correction and rebuke, are all done for our benefit. They’re gifts of love from a loving God who loves us fully all the time. He didn’t need to do them, but He wanted to do them, give them, for us so that we might be closer to Him.
Take the earthly tabernacle, which we’ve discussed before. God directed Moses to have the Israelites build His tabernacle according to specific directions. He didn’t do it because He was OCD or a neat freak: God directed it for our benefit. He, being holy, wanted to tabernacle – to dwell – with His people in a way they could understand and appreciate. He wanted to share with them – and us – a glimpse of heaven, a representation of it while we were still bound here by the limits of our earthly existence. God wanted to give His people a way they could worship Him so that they would be built up through Him and would grow His love in the world. Building the tabernacle would represent what God’s temple in heaven looks like. It would give His people an ordered place in which to conduct that worship and a way to know that they were special in His eyes.
It wasn’t for Him: it was for them. It was for the people to better know their God. It was a way for God to bless them and now us. Four thousand years later, it is still for us. That description of the tabernacle is for our benefit. That Sunday worship, your time in the Bible, that time you spend holding the door for strangers and listening to friends: they’re for our benefit. They bring praise and glory to Jesus in ways pleasing to Him and He inspires us to do them because they’re for our benefit. It’s more selfless love from Him.
And it just keeps going. Have you ever considered that beauty is a glimpse of heaven? Or when you look at someone in real love, say when you see a baby sleeping, that’s a glimpse of heaven, looking at a terrestrial something through heaven’s eyes? Have you ever thought that the times when we do good works for Jesus’ glory – which really should be every time – we’re sharing a glimpse of heaven with others? A walk in the forest, a sunset on the beach, an hour of conversation with a good friend, working a job well done, the majesty of the mountains, doing things for other people: those things are for our benefit. They’re ways God dwells His love and His loving feelings within our terrestrial boundaries.
The focus of last night’s Bible study was on ways men can better manage their lives in praise of God. We discussed Godly roles for men as fathers, husbands, leaders, and more. And then we broke into smaller groups to continue the discussion and continue to get to know each other better. Yet that thought stayed with me: this is for our benefit. It’s for our benefit that God first directed His people to build a dwelling place for Him in their midst. It’s for our benefit, still, that He continues to do the same thing here and now.
For further reading: Hebrews 8:5.
My Lord, dwell in me. Live out Your life through mine. Act through me, speak through me, work through me, and let it all be to Your glory.