It is clear from the reading of these verses that God has a pattern He expects to be observed. What does the word pattern mean then? It is defined by Mr. Henry Thayers Greek Lexicon, in the following manner. "...an example... the pattern in conformity to which a thing must be made..." (pg. 632). In our every day language that simply means that God has a way in which He wants things done and demands of us to follow the pattern He has given in His Word. The Lord says to follow the pattern! He has not only given patterns in both Old Testament and New Testament, but has also shown that His wrath comes upon those who do not follow it. It does not matter whether we may understand why the Lord has instructed something to be done! It is His pattern and without question must be followed or we suffer His wrath upon us. Please note the following regarding the thinking of man and that of God. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9). Let us study.
Most of the 25th chapter of Exodus describes the pattern God gave for the building of the tabernacle and the furniture in it. Note especially the following verses. "According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it. And they shall make an ark of acacia wood; two and a half cubits shall be its length, a cubit and a half its width, and a cubit and a half its height." (Exodus 25:9-10).
The next two chapters contain the same kind of instructions.
Note the pattern God had for the priests. "You shall also take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands on the head of the ram. "Then you shall kill the ram, and take some of its blood and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron and on the tip of the right ear of his sons, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar" (Exodus 29:19-20).
Was this something that man could understand as to why it was to be done? Maybe not, but, it was the pattern that God outlined and must be followed!
An object lesson concerning following God's pattern can be seen in the account of Nadab and Abihu's death. The Lord had instructed that fire be taken from off the alter before the Lord. "Then he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from the altar before the LORD, with his hands full of sweet incense beaten fine, and bring it inside the veil" (Leviticus 16:12). The fire was used to burn incense as an offering to the Lord. This alter was the one just outside of the tabernacle. We are not told where these two priests got the fire they used but is was "strange" fire in that it was not from where God told them to get it. Note the punishment for not having followed the pattern God set up:
One might ask, "What difference did it make where the fire came from as long as it did what was needed?" The difference is that it was not what God said to do and because they did things in a different way from the pattern, they were burned alive!
One other example of a law God gave to be followed that involved a pattern. "This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD has commanded, saying: 'Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring you a red heifer without blemish, in which there is no defect and on which a yoke has never come. You shall give it to Eleazar the priest, that he may take it outside the camp, and it shall be slaughtered before him" (Numbers 19:2-3). Why a red heifer? Remember, God does not think on the same plane that man does (cf. Isaiah 55:8-9), and whether we understand the why of the command or not, we are to obey it. I am sure that Nadab and Abihu thought that fire is fire, and that it should not make any difference where they got it. But, in thinking and acting so, it cost them their lives. The lesson for us is this: We must follow the Lord exactly as He directs, whether we understand it or not, if we are to be pleasing to Him.