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Copies of Things in the Heavens

The two gates in the centre of the iconostasion always depict the Annunciation. But here at Sinai there is an exception to the rule, since this is the place of holy prophets. On the left is Moses, holding the Tablets of the Law, and on them, objects of the tabernacle. He was shown the tabernacle in sacred vision and commanded to make the same, that the worship offered here below should be ‘unto the example and shadow of heavenly things’ (Hebrews 8:5). On the right is Aaron clothed in the vestments of the High Priest, holding a censer and the rod that ‘brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds’ (Numbers 17:8).

In the Epistle to the Hebrews we read that the objects of the tabernacle were ‘copies [ὑποδείγματα] of things in the heavens’ (Hebrews 9:23), ‘figures [ἀντίτυπα] of the true’ (Hebrews 9:24). In the ninth century, Saint Theodore the Studite wrote to his disciple Naukratios, ‘by means of copies [ὑποδείγματα] and shadows the people of the Old Testament worshipped heavenly realities. And what were those things if not images? And was it not through these images that they were led up to the contemplation of heavenly realities?’

2 comments to Copies of Things in the Heavens

  • Maria

    Dear Fr Justin thank you for sharing your beautiful images from Sinai.
    Can you please pray for my family? I entrust them to the prayers of the monks of Sinai.

  • Ian

    Fr Justin, I have just discovered this blog. Thank you for your reflections, information and beautiful photos. If God wills I one day hope to make pilgrimage there.

    With my unworthy prayers from New South Wales, Australia,
    Ian (John Climacus in the Church).

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