Let them Make Me a SanctuarySearch the Word | Vol. 26 No. 6 | Sep-OCt 2016
That I may dwell among them – Exodus 25.8
In the beginning God communed with His children face to face. The Bible records that He came to the Garden of Eden to talk with Adam and Eve.
But one day things changed. As God came for His regular visit, instead of meeting God with joy, Adam and Eve hid themselves deep within the dense foliage of their garden home. Because of their choice of sin, to disobey His command and eat the forbidden fruit, they could not feel at ease in God’s presence, and God could not have direct contact with human beings.
Yet the heart of God longed for a restoration of communion with the human race, with men and women who had been created to reflect His image. Long before the creation, the Father and Son made provision for just such an emergency. In the counsels of eternity, the Son covenanted to give Himself, in the event of sin, to take away this enmity, this alienation, in the heart of man.
It is through the sacrificial services of the Hebrew sanctuary that God has chosen to reveal the details of this covenant. God commanded Moses, “Let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” Exodus 25:8.
As we study this divine illustration may we see new glimpses of the love and mercy of God.
I. THE SEPARATION
1. What separates man from God? Isaiah 59:1, 2
2. Since sin separates man from God, how many people are separated from God? Romans 3:23
3. In His mercy, God separated Himself from the sinner: “For our _____________ is a _____________ fire.” Hebrews 12:29
The nature of our God is so pure that sin and anything attached to it are destroyed in His presence. To Moses God said, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me and live.” Exodus 33:20. But God does not desire to remain separated from His own creation; therefore He gave man a way to be freed from sin.
II. COME TO THE SANCTUARY
Christ said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” John 12:32. When we allow Christ to draw us to Himself, we find a path to the throne of God.
1. Who is the Way? John 14:6
2. Since Jesus Christ is the Way, where can He be found? Psalm 77:13
While we can no longer have face-to-face communion with God and live, in the sanctuary veiled by curtains and walls, communion with God could be found. And by entering into the “sanctuary experience,” God was preparing man once again for face-to-face communion.
III. CHRIST IN THE SANCTUARY
In the sanctuary, we will find Christ illustrated in every aspect. In Him, we find the Way to life. As we continue in this study, notice the different parts in the diagram of the sanctuary.
1. Who is the only door by which we can enter into salvation from sin? John 10:9
IV. THE COURTYARD
1. When a man sinned, he would bring a lamb to the sanctuary. Who is the Lamb that the Christian symbolically brings to the altar? John 1:29
2. In Leviticus 4:32, God commanded that the lamb brought to the sanctuary must be “without blemish.” Did Jesus meet these requirements? 1 Peter 1:19; 2:22
3. Even though we have been alienated from God by sin, what did Jesus do to reconcile us to Him? Colossians 1:20–22
The altar of burnt offering represents the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross of Calvary. We are called to join Him by choosing to obey His will rather than the natural inclinations of our hearts. This decision must be made daily in order to free us from sin.
4. When our wills are crucified with Christ, whose life do we live? Galatians 2:20
The Psalmist declared, “For with Thee is the fountain of life.” Psalm 36:9. In the sanctuary we find a symbol of the fountain of life—the laver. See Exodus 30:18. It was a large, bronze basin of water used by the priests for washing before performing their various services. In this symbol we find a representation of being washed from sin and receiving new life in Christ.
5. Which of David’s prayers is answered at the laver? Psalm 51:7
6. When we are washed in the fountain of life, what spirit do we receive? Titus 3:5
7. What kind of life will we receive as we are washed by the water of life, represented by baptism? Romans 6:4
On the cross both blood and water flowed from the side of Christ. In the courtyard of the sanctuary, we find the water and the blood. Both pardon and cleansing are offered to all who will believe. A new life, with new desires and tendencies, will be the result. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.
V. THE HOLY PLACE
The sanctuary is divided into two apartments: the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. See Exodus 26:33.
The people could enter into the courtyard, but only the priests could enter into the Holy Place as part of their daily services. Three items of furniture stood in the Holy Place: the table of showbread, the seven-branched candlestick, and the altar of incense. Each represents some aspect of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
1. What did Jesus claim to be? John 6:35
2. What is the bread essential for spiritual life? Matthew 4:4
3. As we hide God’s Word in our hearts by studying and memorizing it, what will this enable us to do? Psalm 119:11
When we enter this path to the throne of God, the Word of God (which represents both Jesus and the Bible, See John 1:1, 2; 6:63) becomes bread. Just like we daily nourish our bodies with food, we nourish our hearts with God’s Word.
4. The candlesticks spread light throughout the sanctuary. Who is the Light of the world?
5. In order to be freed from sin, our sinfulness must be shown to us. What will the light reveal to us? John 3:19, 20
6. As Christians, what does Jesus encourage us to be? Matthew 5:14–16
The priest would offer before the Lord a sweet-smelling offering on the altar of incense. As he ministered there, he would pray for the people, bringing their requests before God.
7. Out of love, Jesus gave Himself to us: “And hath given Himself for us an _____________ and a sacrifice to God for a _____________ savor.” Ephesians 5:2
8 What does incense represent in the Bible? Revelation 5:8
In the Holy Place, we are filled every morning as we behold Christ in the Bible. Our minds are strengthened and able to resist the temptations of Satan as we store His Word in our hearts. When we look to the Light we sense our need and feel our sinfulness because in His presence no sin can hide. Then we can witness for Christ in our words and actions, letting our lights shine. All through the day our prayers arise like incense to the throne of God, pleading for power, comfort, and courage.
6. THE MOST HOLY PLACE
Because the glory of God dwelt within the Most Holy Place, a thick, elegant curtain or veil was placed as a partition between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. It veiled the priests from the consuming presence of God while they fulfilled their various responsibilities in the Holy Place.
1. What does the veil represent in the Christian experience? Hebrews 10:19
Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest would go into the Most Holy Place before the presence of the Lord. See Leviticus 16. This is a Jewish conception of what took place on that day:
“God, seated on His throne to judge the world, at the same time Judge, Pleader, Expert, and Witness, openeth the Book of Records; it is read, every man’s signature being found therein. The great trumpet is sounded: a still, small voice is heard; the angels shudder, saying, this is the day of judgment….” Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 281.
2. Who is ministering for us now as High Priest in the sanctuary in heaven? Hebrews 2:17; 4:14; 8:1, 2; 9:11, 12
In the Most Holy Place, the glory of God rested above the Ark of the Covenant which contained the Law of God.
3. In this prophecy of Christ, what was in His heart? Psalm 40:8
4. Where does God desire to write His law today? Jeremiah 31:33
This is the purpose, the climax of the sanctuary—God’s law written in the heart of man. When His law is written in the mind (heart) of man, no more sin will enter there. Then man and God can once again be restored to full communion.
5. Who enables us to stand faultless before the throne of God? Jude 24, 25
Will you take the time to study more about the sanctuary in the Bible? Will you pray for God to help you to understand its symbolism and to enter into the experience it represents—a deeper, living relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ?
“Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?” Psalm 77:13.
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