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Why did God command the Israelites to make Him a sanctuary?

Exodus 25:8 And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.

Jeremiah 31:3 Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love.

Psalm 77:13 Thy way, 0 God, is in the sanctuary.

What was the purpose of the sacrificial system?

John 1:29 Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

1 John 1:7 The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

NOTE: The plan of salvation was revealed in the earthly sanctuary. Everything in, or connected with its services, was a symbol of Jesus and what He has been doing to save us. We cannot fully comprehend this plan until we understand the sanctuary and its services. It was a magnificent three-dimensional object lesson explaining the process of redemption.

Where did Moses obtain the blueprints for the tabernacle?

Exodus 25:8, 9 And let them make me a sanctuary... According to all that I show thee.

Exodus 25:40 And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was showed thee in the mount.

NOTE: The pattern for the sanctuary was given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai. It was a replica of the sanctuary in heaven.

What did the tabernacle and its services illustrate?

Hebrews 8:1, 2 We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.

Hebrews 9:23,24 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself (see also Hebrews 8:5 and Colossians 2:17).

NOTE: The sanctuary Moses built at God's command was a miniature copy of God's original sanctuary in heaven. The compartments, furniture and services of the earthly sanctuary have their counterparts in the heavenly sanctuary. They provide a wealth of information into how the plan of salvation is being carried out in heaven.

What were the different areas of the sanctuary?

Exodus 27:9 And thou shalt make the court of the tabernacle.

Exodus 26:33 And the veil shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy.

NOTE: The sanctuary or tabernacle was a beautiful tent-like building composed of three parts: the courtyard, the holy place and the most holy place. There the supernatural presence of God dwelt (see also p. 5-9).

How was the sanctuary or tabernacle furnished?

Exodus 40:6, 7 And thou shalt set the altar of the burnt offering before the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation. And thou shalt set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and shalt put water therein.

Exodus 26:33, 35 And the veil shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy. And thou shalt set the table without the veil, and the candlestick over against the table.

Exodus 30:1, 6 And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon ... And thou shalt put it before the veil.

Exodus 26:34 And thou shalt put the mercy seat upon the ark of the testimony in the most holy place (see also Exodus 40:20, 21).

NOTE: The laver and the bronze altar of burnt offering were in the courtyard. The seven-branched candlestick, the table of showbread and the golden altar of incense were in the holy place. The ark containing the Ten Commandments was in the most holy place (see also p. 5-9).

Do we have any descriptions of the heavenly sanctuary?

Revelation 4:1, 2, 5 I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven ... and, behold, a throne was set in heaven ... and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne.

Revelation 8:3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.

Revelation 11:19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament.

NOTE: In vision the apostle John was granted a view of God in the temple in heaven. There are enough descriptions of the furnishings to positively identify it as the heavenly sanctuary. He saw the altar of incense, the ark of the testament and seven lamps of fire—the golden candlesticks.

What services were performed in the sanctuary?

Leviticus 5:6 And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD for his sin which he hath sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin.

Numbers 28:3,4 This is the offering made by fire which ye shall offer unto the LORD... The one lamb shalt thou offer in the morning, and the other lamb shalt thou offer at even.

Leviticus 16:30 For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.

NOTE: The daily sin offerings and the Day of Atonement were the main ceremonies performed in the tabernacle. There were various other offerings, feast days and services (Leviticus 1-5,23, Numbers 28), but those two services were the ones that provided cleansing from sin (see also Shadows of Things to Come, p. 14, 15).

In the daily service, how did a sinner obtain forgiveness?

Leviticus 4:29 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay the sin offering in the place of the burnt offering.

Leviticus 4:17 And the priest shall dip his finger in some of the blood, and sprinkle it seven times before the LORD, even before the veil.

NOTE: When the sinner confessed his sins on the head of the sacrificial animal, the sins were symbolically transferred from the sinner to it. Thus, the animal became guilty and had to pay the death penalty. This represented Jesus bearing our sins. After the sacrifice was slain, the priest would sprinkle the blood in the sanctuary, thus symbolically transferring the sin to the sanctuary. In some cases the blood was not taken into the holy place; but the flesh was then to be eaten by the priest, as Moses directed the sons of Aaron, saying: "God hath given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation" (Leviticus 10:17). Both ceremonies alike symbolized the transfer of the sin from the penitent to the sanctuary.

Why did animals need to be sacrificed in these services?

Hebrews 9:22 Without shedding of blood is no remission [forgiveness].

Leviticus 17:11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

NOTE: The life of the animal was represented by the blood. The animals' death substituted for the sinner's death in type.

Could the blood of animals really take away sin?

Hebrews 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

Who did the sacrificed animal represent?

1 Corinthians 5:7 For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.

John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

1 John 1:7 And the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin (see also Matthew 26:28 and 1 Peter 1:18, 19).

NOTE: Sacrificing animals was necessary to help people understand that without the blood of Jesus shed on the cross, there could be no forgiveness of sin. The shocking truth is that the punishment for sin is death (Romans 6:23). Since all of us have sinned (Romans 3:23), we deserve death—except that Jesus died in our behalf. The sinner brought his own sacrificial animal and slew it with his own hand (Leviticus 1:4, 5). It was bloody and disturbing, and impressed people with the solemn truth that sin causes death. Thus, they looked forward to the cross for salvation, while we look back to the cross for salvation. There is no other source of redemption.

How does a sinner today obtain forgiveness?

Acts 16:31 Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.

Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

John 3:7 Ye must be born again.

NOTE: God offers salvation to us as a gift (see Romans 6:23). Our part is to believe and receive His gift by faith. When we accept this gift, He also gives us repentance, a deep sense of sorrow for our sins. We verbally confess these sins and turn away from them. This whole life-changing experience Jesus called a new birth.

NOTE: Just as the daily ministration in the earthly sanctuary was for the purpose of removing sin from the penitent to the sanctuary, so when we confess our sins the blood of Christ shed at Calvary transfers them to the heavenly sanctuary where they are recorded in the books of record.

What happened on the Day of Atonement?

Leviticus 16:8, 9 And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD's lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering.

Leviticus 16:15, 16 Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the veil ... and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat: And he shall make an atonement for the holy

place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins.

Leviticus 16:21, 22 And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited.

NOTE: Only on this special judgment day did the high priest enter the most holy place. The sprinkled blood (representing Jesus' sacrifice) was accepted by God, and the confessed sins of the people were transferred by the high priest from the sanctuary to the scapegoat, which was led into the wilderness and abandoned. In this manner, the sanctuary was symbolically cleansed from the sins of the people, which had been transferred there by the sprinkled blood all throughout the previous year.

Does the heavenly sanctuary have a Day of Atonement to cleanse it from the confessed sins of God's people?

Daniel 8:14 Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.

Hebrews 9:23, 24, 26, 27 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us ... but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

NOTE: As the Day of Atonement was to cleanse the sanctuary and remove the accumulated sins of the people and dispose of them forever, so the heavenly sanctuary has a cleansing. All the sins that have ever been confessed by God's people will then be removed and placed on the head of Satan. The cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary is also called the judgment.

16. What evidence will be examined in the judgment?

Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books.

1 Corinthians 4:4, 5 He that judgeth me is the Lord ... who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts.

Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Revelation 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life.

Revelation 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

NOTE: The evidence presented in the judgment comes from the books of record kept in heaven. They contain every detail of a person's life, including their thoughts and motives. The book of life contains the names of everyone who has ever entered the service of God. If a person's name is not recorded in the book of life, he is counted as guilty. If his name is in the book of life, the other books are examined to see if he has continued to abide in Christ.

NOTE: In the day of atonement for ancient Israel, the only sins that could be removed from the sanctuary were those that had been confessed and transferred there. So in the judgment, the only people whose records need to be checked are those who have confessed sins in the heavenly sanctuary, and thus have their names written in the book of life. If they have been faithful, their sins are blotted from the books of record and removed from the sanctuary. If, however, they have not been faithful, the record of their good deeds is erased and their names are blotted from the book of life (see also Facing Life's Record, p. 28).

What is the standard of judgment for those whose names are written in the book of life?

James 2:12 They... shall be judged by the law of liberty.

John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

NOTE: The great standard in the judgment is God's law which condemns sinners, but Christ came and made a way of escape for all mankind. So ultimately what you will be judged on is whether or not you have turned your sins, your heart, your life over to Christ and let him become Lord of your life, separate you from your sins and write His law of love in your heart (see Matthew 22:11-13; 25:31-46).

Must I stand alone before the judgment?

1 John 2:1 We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Hebrews 9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands ... but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.

Hebrews 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

NOTE: As in the day of atonement, the priest went into the most holy place to intercede for the people, so in the great day of judgment Christ is interceding in behalf of all who have chosen Him as their Advocate.

Will the sins taken from the heavenly sanctuary be placed on Satan's head?

Revelation 20:1-3 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled.

Ezekiel 28:18 Therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee [Satan] , it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.

NOTE: For a thousand years Satan is deprived of power, cut off from the work of deception and ruin. He must spend this time confronted by his sins and the results of his rebellion against God, looking forward with terror to the future when he must suffer for all the evil that he has done and be punished for the sins that he has caused to be committed.

God's Other Temple

Our bodies are also to be God's temple. "Ye are the temple of God, and ... the Spirit of God dwelleth in you" (1 Corinthians 3:16). It is your privilege to have Christ abide in the inner sanctuary of your soul. "For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people" (1 Corinthians 6:16). Does Christ live in your heart by faith? If the door of the heart is open to Him, Jesus will come in, and His presence and influence will bring you into harmony with God. By faith we may hold sweet communion with the Father. If Jesus abides in the heart, our lives will glorify Him.

"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you... and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20). Our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost; and we should take care of this temple, that it may be a fit place for His Spirit to dwell. We should carefully try to maintain the body in the best possible health that we may give God its best service and be of benefit to society and family. "Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people" (1 Peter 2:9). "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). The question each of us should ask ourselves is, "How should I treat this body temple God has given me? Will I work for its highest physical and spiritual well being, or will I spend my health and vitality in selfish indulgence, making myself an unfit dwelling for His Spirit?" The choice is yours.

Copyright 2005 by Family Heritage Books.
Web page created: 12/21/06 Updated: 12/21/06