1. Why Study the Sanctuary?


Some Christians may argue it is not necessary to know anything about the sanctuary as that was only part of the Jewish system and the old covenant or dispensation, and we are now in the time of the Gospel of Christ and the new covenant or dispensation. However, under inspiration Paul in writing to Timothy and Asaph in composing a psalm both tell us something quite different.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Timothy 3:16, 17.

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

The word 'sanctuary' is mentioned 132 times and 'tabernacle' is mentioned 297 times in the Bible. From just these numbers we can quite simply come to the conclusion that this topic is important to God because of the number of times it is mentioned in His Word.

As the sanctuary or tabernacle is mentioned so extensively throughout the whole of the Bible, but especially in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Hebrews, it is proper and right that we as Christians should study this topic to know why God included it in His Holy Word.

God, who knows that nearly ninety percent of what we remember comes through the eyes and the hands while only about ten percent comes through our ears, emphasised the importance of clearly understanding His plan by appealing first to the ear in giving the most minute and explicit directions for the construction of the sanctuary, next to the eye by showing Moses the pattern, and finally to the hand by instruction the people to unite in its construction.

In this masterpiece of true Christian education, through this comprehensive textbook of visual education, God demonstrated in perfect detail all the various stages of the plan of redemption, not only for the world as a whole, but for each individual for whom the Lamb of God has given His precious life.

Every step of the way from the moment we enter the gate of the sanctuary and experience justification by accepting the offering made for our sins, typified in the court, through the lifelong process of sanctification, typified in the holy place, into the glory room, the most holy place, where are typified the blotting out of all sin and the granting of life's reward – the entire work of Christ for our salvation is made clear and simple and beautiful and deeply impressive in the sanctuary.

For although we are in the time of the Gospel of Christ, He is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world and that was slain from the foundation of the world (John 1:29; Revelation 13:8). To understand statements like this we need to understand the sanctuary.

Like wise we find in the book of Hebrews chapters 8 and 9 mention that we are under the new or second covenant in which Christ is our High Priest a minister of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man. If we do not study the sanctuary to find out what the High Priest did, then how can we know what Christ is doing for us today in the heavenly sanctuary.

God not only wanted Israel to be a special nation for Him, He wanted them to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. Exodus 19:5, 6.

According to Peter, today God's people are to be a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, and holy.

Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 1 Peter 2:5-9.

The Israelites knew what God expected of them because He gave them all the laws, rites, and ceremonies they were to follow. God does not expect us to follow the rites and ceremonies given to ancient Israel as they were a shadow of better things to come (Hebrews 10:1), however we should conduct our lives as if we were priests in God's sanctuary and to do this we need to know what they did and any special rules that God made for them. Again this can only be done by a thorough study of the sanctuary.

Ellen White in Testimonies to the Church Vol 5, page 575 puts it this way :-

The great plan of redemption, as revealed in the closing work of these last days, should receive close examination. The scenes connected with the sanctuary above should make such an impression upon the minds and hearts of all that they may be able to impress others. All need to become more intelligent in regard to the work of the atonement, which is going on in the sanctuary above. When this grand truth is seen and understood, those who hold it will work in harmony with Christ to prepare a people to stand in the great day of God, and their efforts will be successful. By study, contemplation, and prayer God's people will be elevated above common, earthly thoughts and feelings, and will be brought into harmony with Christ and His great work of cleansing the sanctuary above from the sins of the people. Their faith will go with Him into the sanctuary, and the worshipers on earth will be carefully reviewing their lives and comparing their characters with the great standard of righteousness. They will see their own defects; they will also see that they must have the aid of the Spirit of God if they would become qualified for the great and solemn work for this time which is laid upon God's ambassadors.


© S. D. Goeldner.


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