The Bible Speaks

21. His Way in the Sanctuary

There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle the Lord set up and not man. In it, Christ ministers on our behalf making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross. The sanctuary has been given to man by God that by example he may understand the plan of salvation, and the enormous cost that was required to make a way of escape for mankind from the power of wickedness and sin.

01. Why did God ask Moses to build Him a sanctuary in the wilderness?
Exodus 25:8
Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them.

02. How was Moses to build this sanctuary? Was he to design and furnish it himself?
Exodus 25:9
You must build this Tabernacle and its furnishings exactly according to the pattern I will show you.
Note 1
The original Hebrew word tabnit which is translated "pattern" has a more accurate meaning along the lines of model, copy or reproduction. This suggests plans for the sanctuary given by God to Moses were not an unique design, but a copy or a reproduction of an original.

03. How seriously did God view the institution of His sanctuary?
Leviticus 19:30
Keep my Sabbath days of rest, and show reverence toward my sanctuary. I am the LORD.

04. What did the Sanctuary look like inside? And what were the articles of the sanctuary symbolic of?
Exodus 25:1-9 (Offerings for the construction of the Temple)
Note 1
All the Hebrews were to bring freewill offerings willingly from their heart (v2). Offerings of all precious materials were to be brought for the forming and construction of the sanctuary. This symbolises that God will accept no grudging, forced or sub-standard offerings. Only freewill offerings offered from the love of God in the heart will be acceptable. And should this not be so? Did not God freely and willingly offer His own Son to die on our behalf?
Exodus 25:10-22 (The Ark Of The Covenant)
Note 2
The ark was to be made of wood overlaid with gold, with two cherubim (angels) with their wings spread over the ark looking down towards the top covering of the ark (The Mercy Seat). The ark was to contain inside the Law of God which he wrote with His own finger. The Ark of the Covenant was to be kept in the Most Holy Place of the Sanctuary (Exodus 26:33). The top of the arc of the covenant was the mercy seat where once a year God would meet with the priest to make atonement for the people. God appeared directly above the expression of His own Law (character). This symbolises the importance God places on His own immutable Law.
Exodus 25:23-30 (The Table Of Showbread)
Note 3
The table of showbread was in the Holy Place to the right hand side upon entry. The bread on the table (12 loaves, 12 tribes, 12 disciples) was representative of Jesus being the bread of life (John 6:35, 48).
Exodus 25:31-40 (The Lampstand)
Note 4
The lampstand was in the holy place to the left hand side upon entry. The flames on the lampstand were never to go out. This represented the light of the Holy Spirit that was was to protect and enlighten God's people throughout the history of the earth (Revelation 1:16,20)
Exodus 30:1-10 (The Altar of Incense)
Note 5
The altar of incense was in the holy place directly to the fore upon entry. The altar of incense stood centre and immediately before the veil that separated the holy place from the most holy place. The smoke from the altar on incense represented the sweet smelling savour of the prayers of the saints that constantly ascend before God (Revelation 5:8, 8:3-4).
Exodus 30:18 (The Laver)
Note 6
To enter into the presence of God, one needs to first be washed clean by water. The represents Jesus who washes us clean from sin before we can commune with God (John 13:8).
Exodus 27:1-8 (The Altar Of Burnt Offering)
Note 7
As soon as one steps into the front entry of the sanctuary, the first think to be seen is the Altar of Burnt Offering. This is the location where the lamb offerings bought by the Hebrews were sacrificially burnt symbolising the sacrifice of Jesus as being the first and most important element of our journey of salvation. (Acts 4:12).

** To see a visual representation of the Sanctuary, Click Here

05. Did God instruct Moses as to how the sanctuary was to be maintained?
Numbers 1:50-51
50 but you shall appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of the Testimony, over all its furnishings, and over all things that belong to it; they shall carry the tabernacle and all its furnishings; they shall attend to it and camp around the tabernacle.
51 And when the tabernacle is to go forward, the Levites shall take it down; and when the tabernacle is to be set up, the Levites shall set it up. The outsider who comes near shall be put to death.

06. What main purpose was the sanctuary to serve between God and His people?
Leviticus 4:27, 32-35
27 ‘If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally by doing something against any of the commandments of the LORD in anything which ought not to be done, and is guilty,
32 ‘If he brings a lamb as his sin offering, he shall bring a female without blemish.
33 Then he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and kill it as a sin offering at the place where they kill the burnt offering.
34 The priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and pour all the remaining blood at the base of the altar.
35 He shall remove all its fat, as the fat of the lamb is removed from the sacrifice of the peace offering. Then the priest shall burn it on the altar, according to the offerings made by fire to the LORD. So the priest shall make atonement for his sin that he has committed, and it shall be forgiven him.

Note 1
If any of the people of God sinned, they could find forgiveness by following the process (ceremony) that God had put in place. The ceremony itself had no value, but the symbolism of what it pointed forward to was where the forgiveness lay. The sacrifice (lamb or goat) represented Jesus, and the sin of the penitent was forgiven by faith in the coming redeemer. As we today look back to what Jesus did on the cross for our salvation, the Hebrews looked forward with the same hope.

07. Why did God put everything in symbols? Why didn't He just spell it out plainly?
Revelation 1:1-2
1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants--things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John,
2 who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. (NKJV)

Note 1
We note from this verse that Jesus Himself "signified" the book of Revelation to show His people what will soon take place. And this same method of "signifying" important truths we find used throughout the Bible, including the sanctuary. Why did He do it in symbols? Two main reasons follow:
1. The original intended audience were basically illiterate. Additionally, they did not have access to written books and the method of the day for sharing information was through oral stories. The stories in Revelation were vivid and fantastic, and made a distinct and lasting impression on people's minds. The details of the stories told real truths regarding future events that could be easily remembered and shared.
2. Because the truths of future events could be dangerous to the people of God in the hands of God's enemies, to hide these stories in symbolic form would allow the truth to be revealed only to those who seek it. This would allow God's people a level of safety because the enemies of truth would be unlikely to seek truth in what they considered nonsensical stories. (The Holy Spirit would also restrain from revealing truth to the enemies of truth.)

08. What was the most important ceremony in the sanctuary?
Leviticus 16:2, 16-17
2 The LORD said to Moses, “Warn your brother, Aaron, not to enter the Most Holy Place behind the inner curtain whenever he chooses; if he does, he will die. For the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—is there, and I myself am present in the cloud above the atonement cover.
16 Through this process [v3-15], he will purify the Most Holy Place, and he will do the same for the entire Tabernacle, because of the defiling sin and rebellion of the Israelites.
17 No one else is allowed inside the Tabernacle when Aaron enters it for the purification ceremony in the Most Holy Place. No one may enter until he comes out again after purifying himself, his family, and all the congregation of Israel, making them right with the LORD.

Note 1
The annual ceremony of cleansing the sanctuary was performed once a year and was a very solemn ceremony. This ceremony was responsible for cleansing all the figurative sins of the people that had been accumulation for the last year. The text in scripture that describes the "cleansing of the sanctuary" is found in the middle chapter of the middle book of the writings of Moses (the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible). This ceremony has a very strong connection with prophecy (Daniel 8:14) as well as symbolising the final events on earth when God finally removes once and for all the curse of sin on the earth.

09. Does the sanctuary theme appear elsewhere in scripture?
Note 1
1. The words "Sanctuary" or "Tabernacle" appears 498 times across 26 of the 66 books in the NKJV Bible.
2. The book of Hebrews is largely dedicated to comparisons between the ministry in the earthly sanctuary and Jesus ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. (Hebrews 4:14, 7:24-28, 8:1-6, 9:1-28, 10:20, 13:11-12)
3. The prophetic books of Daniel and revelation are steeped in sanctuary imagery (Daniel 8; Revelation 1:12-13; 2:1; 6:9; 8:3,5; 9:13; 11:19; 13:6; 15:5; 21:3). When one searches the book of revelation, the first half of the book deals with events that occur in the Holy Place. After Revelation 11:19, all references in revelation deal with events that occur in the Most Holy Place. The book of Revelation is a progressive walk through the sanctuary. Therefore, without the sanctuary, the book of revelation cannot be rightly understood.

10. What does the Psalmist reveal regarding God's sanctuary?
Psalms 63:2
I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory.
Psalms 73:17
Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.

Psalms 77:13
Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; Who is so great a God as our God? (NKJV)

Psalms 102:19
Tell them the LORD looked down from his heavenly sanctuary. He looked down to earth from heaven

Psalms 150:1
Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heaven!

Note 1
The Psalms are mostly musical lyrics that were to be put to music. This is not an accident as the Bible describes the Psalms as the 'songbook of the sanctuary' (1 Chronicles 16:9 (NKJV), Psalms 105:2 (NKJV), Psalms 95:2, Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16, James 5:13 (NKJV))

11. What was Jesus attitude towards the temple in Jerusalem?
John 2:13-17
13 It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem.
14 In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money.
15 Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables.
16 Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them,
“Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”
17 Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.” [Psalms 69:9]

Concluding Question:
The sanctuary theme weaves it's way throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and is in symbolic form a revealer of the events that God is going to orchestrate for the ultimate salvation of mankind. Culminating in the infinite sacrifice of Jesus Himself on your behalf, wouldnt you like to commit your life to Him and accept the forgiveness of your sin and the free gift of everlasting life?