In part 1, we saw that God’s way, God’s GPS (Gospel Plan of Salvation) is found in the Sanctuary. God gave the Sanctuary to man for several reasons. He wants to show us who He is, who we are, and how we are saved.
The Day of Atonement
Every day, the priests of Israel served in the Holy Place – the first apartment of the tabernacle. In the Most Holy Place, only the high priest could enter once a year. (See Hebrews 9:6-7) This happened on a day called the Day of Atonement. This was a day of judgment. The people of Israel gathered around the Sanctuary. The time had come. A last chance to reconcile with God. For those who had already confessed their sins, they could in an affirmative way surrender their lives to God. For the others, there was still an opportunity to confess their sin. They searched their hearts and prayed, while the priest went into the Most Holy Place and cleansed the Sanctuary.
What was the Sanctuary cleansed from? Throughout the year, the people had sacrificed and prayed for forgiveness of their sins. Symbolically, sin was transmitted to a sacrificial animal, which had to die in the sinner’s place. The sin was then transferred to the priest who carried the sins into the Sanctuary, which was sprinkled with blood from the sacrificial animal. For this reason, the Sanctuary became unclean.
All of this points to Jesus Christ – the Savior of the world who took upon Himself our sins! All sins, that had been forgiven and atoned for, were cleansed from the Sanctuary that day.
Those who made a choice not to confess their sin that day had to leave the camp to die. Everyone had made a choice. Sinners who walk their own ways will not be able to stand the presence of God. They will suffer. It is impossible to live a good and meaningful life without the presence and protection of God. Therefore, it is finally the best for sinners, who have not surrendered to God, to die.
The Shadow of the Heavenly Things
Let’s go back to the instructions that God gave:
“And let them make Me a Sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.” (Exodus 25:8-9)
Where did Moses get the pattern and blueprint from? The Bible explains this incredible fact to us in the book of Hebrews:
“Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at 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 erected, and not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, ’See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’ ” (Hebrews 8:1-5)
Paul begins chapter 8 in the book of Hebrews by saying “this is the main thing”. When the university professor says: “This is the main thing of what I want you to understand”, then it is important to pay attention. This is when the very essence of the message comes.
Paul tells us about Jesus as our High Priest in the “true tabernacle” that God has raised in heaven. Did you get that? God has a Sanctuary in heaven! This so-called true tabernacle was the original!
Sometimes we can see miniatures of old buildings or real size copies of a building. It gives us a picture of what the original looks like. The earthly Sanctuary was a shadow of the heavenly Sanctuary. Moses saw the pattern, or blueprint, of the heavenly Sanctuary where God’s throne is found. It was only a “shadow of the heavenly things”.
Why is this important? Because the Sanctuary shows us what Jesus is doing now, what He is going to do, as well as what plan God has for our lives! It reveals the complete Gospel Plan of Salvation. After Jesus won the victory at the cross, He resurrected, and then went to heaven and served in the true Sanctuary as our high priest. (See Hebrews 9:11-12).
Jesus – Our High Priest
That which the earthly priest did with the blood of the sacrificial animal to cleanse the Sanctuary, represents Jesus when He wipes out our sins from the book of life. The antitypical Day of Atonement in the old testament, was a picture of the coming judgment when Jesus judges the world. God even told us when the judgment would begin, which Daniel 8:14 reveals.
Fortunately, we can come like we are to God, to ask for forgiveness, and He will give us grace to live a life in Him. “But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:24-25)
Praise God that Jesus serves as our High Priest in the heavenly Sanctuary, the true tabernacle! We have a Savior who intercedes for us, and who claim His own blood for us, so that we shall receive life and power.
Have You Washed Yourself?
Personal hygiene and washing goes without saying for many of us today. Hygiene is important. This can prevent both illness and death. But this has not always been the case.
In the early 1800s, Dr. Semmelweis discovered the importance of hygiene. It was common for doctors in the hospital to go from autopsy, to assist at birth. Without washing their hands! Dr. Semmelweis began to wash his hands before going to the delivery room. The death rate dropped from 1/6 to 1/50, of those giving birth. What a difference!
“Wash me”, said King David. “Wash yourselves” was the message of John the Baptist.
Jesus said to Peter, “If I do not wash you, you have no part in me.” (John 13:8)
In order for us to be cleansed from sin, we must let God wash us. When we afflict our souls and surrender everything to God, He will cleanse us from all sin, as He has promised in 1 John 1:9. The Sanctuary helps us to understand the necessary cleansing that God wants to do in us, and the plan He has for the world.
An End to Sin
“Your way, O God, is in the Sanctuary” (Psalms 77:13) What happened to the sin that was cleansed, you might ask? What does the Sanctuary, God’s GPS. teach us?
Leviticus chapter 16 explains that after the Sanctuary was cleansed from sin, on the Day of Atonement, all the sin was placed on a scapegoat, which was then taken into the wilderness to die. This symbolizes what God will do with the sin. Satan, the father of sin, will one day have to answer for all sin and evil – which he is guilty of. “He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and…cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up…”(Revelation 20:2-3)
What a day this will be, when sin will be gone forever! God has promised that sin will not return again (See Nahum 1:9). Praise God!
A carpenter worked at the roof of a church. His safety line broke and he fell down. The area below was full of large cliffs. Those who watched him fall, ran to see if he survived. A lamb was eating grass in the area. The carpenter had landed right on top of this lamb.
The lamb died, but the carpenter survived.
The Lamb of God died so that we can live. When John the Baptist saw Jesus, he exclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
Jesus humbled himself so that we could have eternal life. Soon He will come. Soon He will put an end to all sin. Let us search ourselves, and lay aside every weight and all sins which so easily ensnares us, so that Jesus may fully work in us.
Stay tuned for more articles in this series.
Written by Christian Hjortland