December 29, 2014

Minecraft Pickaxes, Shadow, Reality and Jesus

For part of his Christmas present my son wanted a Minecraft pickaxe. Or should I say rubberised foam pixelated-looking axe-shaped thing that is used in a curiously popular video game called Minecraft.

This is what the aforementioned pickaxe looks like:

hand attached to pickaxe may differ to my actual hand

For some reason he loves this pickaxe (yeah, I know, go figure!). It does an excellent job of hitting me over the head, scaring the dog, swiping ornaments off the mantelpiece – all the usual stuff.

But it wasn’t the first Minecraft pickaxe that he owned. It is in fact the second one. Long before Christmas (okay, a fortnight or so), my son asked me to make him a Minecraft pickaxe in lieu of having an actual one.

Now my craft skills, never mind my Minecraft skills, are on the poor side. It would be fair to say that when as a child I was given those model WWII airplanes to glue together I would have been better off breaking the pieces from their holding frame, pouring glue into the box and shaking it like pancake mix for two minutes, cos that’s what I usually ended up with anyway.

So I decided, rather than start from scratch, to download a picture of a Minecraft pickaxe (much like the one above minus the hand), stick it onto cardboard and cut it out. Brilliant hey? A copy of a Minecraft pickaxe that would serve him well until the appointed time. And here is the end result of that effort:


attached to my actual hand

Not too bad eh (now just where did I put that unfinished model airplane? -Ed)? For a copy it was pretty good, my son was pretty happy with it and it did a fair to middling job of hitting me over the head, scaring the dog and swiping ornaments off the mantelpiece. In short my son thought this copy of a Minecraft pickaxe was great, and I basked in the afterglow of his adoration.

And how many times has he played with it since Christmas? Not once. Nix. Nada. He hasn’t even noticed that it has made its way into my study to be used for this blogpost. And am I mortified? Am I cut? Am I annoyed that he no longer uses it? Of course not, because Christmas has come and the real Minecraft pickaxe turned up courtesy of a weird old bloke who visits once a year wearing questionable velvet clothing (my brother – Ed).

You see where this is going don’t you? That is exactly how the Old Testament sacrificial system functioned for Israel. It was a copy of the real thing, that was useful whilst Israel waited for the reality to appear, but once that happened, its day was done. Hebrews 10 is so clear on this:

10 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

The law’s function was exactly like the cardboard pickaxe. The law’s sacrificial system faithfully represented the reality, in that it was a shadow and copy of that reality. Hence it was both true and useful until the appointed time.

And what was that appointed time? For my son the appointed time was Christmas when the copy was superseded by the reality. For Israel and her sacrificial system however, that time was not simply Christmas, but Easter, in which the substitutionary death of Jesus – a substitutionary death that is as superior to the substitutionary death of an animal – functioned as the real Minecraft pickaxe does to my, now, rather tatty cardboard one.

Hebrews goes on to show just how superior Christ’s work is:

5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”
8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Now just where did I put that model aircraft glue?

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There is no guarantee that Jesus will return in our desired timeframe. Yet we have no reason to be anxious, because even if the timeframe is not guaranteed, the outcome is! We don’t have to waste energy being anxious; we can put it to better use.

Stephen McAlpine – futureproof

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