Simplicity and Glory

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The Bible teaches us that the times of the new covenant are attended with a greater glory than the old covenant, as well as with a greater simplicity. In effect, that simplicity is part of the glory.

The arrival of Jesus the Messiah was not a signal for us to lapse into some kind of second-rate old covenant observance. The old covenant was glorious, in its time, but when we try to imitate the types and shadows we are taking the lesser glory and turning it into something inglorious.

This applies to many things—the sacrificial system, the practice of tithing, our observance of the Lord’s Day, and so on. In place of the entire Mosaic economy, we have two sacraments. In place of a year of calendar obligations, we have one day of obligation, recurring every seven days, and that recurrence is for the sake of our relief and rest. In place of bloody sacrifices, we have a cup of wine. In place of meat on the altar, we have a simple piece of bread.

The glory of the new covenant is simpler, but this simplicity is not to be understood as a downgrade. This simplicity is a relief, and an ornament of grace. It is not that we are barred from the glory that our old covenant brothers enjoyed, but rather that we are taught the meaning of a deeper glory. It is not as though God thinks that extra embroidery on Aaron’s robe would be more glorious, but He doesn’t want us to have that. Rather, God is teaching us that in the realm of glory, as with other forms of aesthetic experience, less is more.