The Temple of God

Date: 11/02/2023 
To teach His people the way of salvation, God instructed them to build a sanctuary. This temple had three main areas: a courtyard, a holy place, and a most holy place. What the priests did in each compartment illustrates what our High Priest is doing today to eradicate sin from our lives.

A Divine Design - Paper or Digital Download

A Divine Design - Paper or Digital Download
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Doug: The Bible tells us about a sanctuary. There's actually three of them. Now, when I say sanctuary, you've got different words. One is the word tabernacle, that's typically assigned to the sanctuary they had in the wilderness. Then you've got the word sanctuary. And then you've got the word temple. In the Middle East right now, there is a major conflict, at the time of this recording, and, if you boil it down, a lot of it has to do with some sacred real estate on top of a mountain called Mount Moriah. It's sacred real estate for three major-- you could argue four major-- religions of the world. There are about 2.2 billion Christians in the world; that's including Protestants and Catholics, orthodox Christians. There's about 1.7 Muslims in the world. And there is about 16 million Jews. And that mountaintop is a holy spot.

Now, to give you a little quick overview of why this is such an interesting piece of real estate goes all the way back to the time of Abraham. It's first mentioned when Abraham wins a battle against these kings of the North. His name was Chedorlaomer, up by Damascus. Still in the news today, right? Battle between Abraham and the people of Syria, the North. And he rescued Lot, that had been captured from Sodom, and Abraham got all this bounty from the war. And, on his way back, he stopped in a small town called Salem where there was a king priest named Melchizedek. It's the first time Salem is mentioned. The word Jeru Salem, Jeru Shalom, it means city of peace. But this is the place.

Later, God says to Abraham, "I want you to take your son, your only son who you love, and I want you to bring him to the mountains of Moriah and offer him there for Me." Abraham went from Hebron, or wherever he was at the time, and he went to the mountains of Moriah, Mount Zion, same place, the vicinity of Salem. And he went up the mountain to offer Isaac. And it's a story, really, of the plan of salvation. The father and son go up the mountain. Abraham places the wood on Isaac's back; the cross was placed on Jesus's back. And, on the way up the hill-- Isaac's gone to sacrifice before with his father. He says, "Father, I see that we've got the wood, and we've got the fire." What it would take, the tinder and flint to make the fire. He said, "But where is the sacrifice? Where's the lamb?" And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide Himself a lamb."

They got to the top. Abraham told his son what God had asked him to do. Isaac willingly offered himself as a sacrifice. Just before the knife came down, God stopped him and said, "Abraham, Abraham do not harm the lad. Now I know that you trust Me." This was an allegory of what the Father and Son would do for you and me. "God so loved the world He gave His Son." Abraham is the father of the faithful. He was willing to sacrifice his son and obey God.

Years later, David, who is a descendant from Abraham, an angel of judgment's going through the land of Israel, and thousands were dying from a plague because of their pride. And David had instigated their pride. And David looked up, and he saw an angel with a drawn sword over Mount Moriah, the very place where Abraham offered Isaac. It was owned by a Jebusite named Oran back then, or Ornan. And David prayed and said, "Let this punishment be on me. But what have these sheep done?" Again, you see there's a judgment, and they're sheep, and God stops, and David goes, and he offers sacrifice. He buys the threshing floor and offers sacrifice, and the judgment is stopped. The angel of judgment is stayed. That, again, is on Mount Zion. Later, David tells Solomon, "This is the place that God has chosen to build His house." And so, why is this coming from our Revelation study? "Then another angel came out of the temple that was in heaven, also having a sharp sickle." This is part of the harvest of the earth that's going to happen.

So, with that background, what did God ask Moses to build, and why? You read, in Exodus 25, verse 8, "And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I might dwell among them." Now, Jesus is with us everywhere we go. But God wanted them to have a place that was a physical presence that they could see because we kind of live in time and space. This was so important to the Lord that, when the plagues fell on Egypt and they crossed the Red Sea, instead of going north up to the promised land, God said, "No, I want you to go south down to Mount Sinai." And they went to Mount Sinai, and there, not only did they get The Ten Commandments, but Moses stayed on the mountain 40 days and 40 nights. It doesn't take 40 days and 40 nights to write the 300 words of The Ten Commandments.

While he was there on the mountain, God gave him instructions about building an edifice. He says, "Let them make Me a sanctuary." From where did these sanctuary blueprints originate? Where did Moses get the plans? Did he just dream it up? The Bible tells us, Exodus 25:40, "And see to it that you make them according to--" the what-- "the pattern--" the design-- "which was shown you in the mountain."

Now, this sanctuary, this earthly sanctuary, is like a miniature of a very real sanctuary that God has in heaven where He dwells. Like on the sanctuary on earth, they had a room with golden angels carved in the walls. In heaven, God's got a living wall of angels. Sanctuary on earth, they had angels on the right and left of the Ark of the Covenant. In heaven, they're real angels.

In fact, friends, the subject of the sanctuary is all through the book of Revelation. We need to understand it. A lot of the Bible, you will not understand. The subject of the sanctuary in the temple goes from Exodus to Revelation. That's a lot of Bible, yet a lot of Christians never study the subject, and it is filled with meaning that helps us understand the plan of salvation. Revelation, chapter 1, where does Jesus first appear? Standing among seven candlesticks, that was in the sanctuary. You read later, it talks about the angel took coals from the altar of incense, that was in the sanctuary. He said, "I saw the Temple of God open in heaven; I saw the Ark." That was in the sanctuary.

So, the context of this vision is in the sanctuary. And, if you look in, like, Isaiah chapter 6, and you read the first few verses there, "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. And on the right and the left were Seraphim, and they cried one to another. And they each had six wings: with two wings, they covered their face; with two wings, they covered their feet; with two, they did fly. And they cried one to the other and they said, 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!'"

Here you have a picture of God on His throne, between two living Seraphim, and the little Ark that Moses made on earth with those angels on top, that was a symbol of the dwelling place of God. And, when God would meet with Moses, he would meet with him in the Holy of Holies between the Shekinah glory, they called it, the glory of God, between those two angels. And so this teaching, if you read the last eight chapters in the book of Ezekiel, you know what it's talking about? The temple. So it's all through the Bible. And we need to understand this. "There are priests who serve--" the what-- "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 in the mountain.'" They were to make it according to a specific pattern that had been given. Pattern given by who? By God.

And you can also read here where it says, in Revelation 14:17, the verse we covered, "And then another angel came out of--" the what-- "the temple--" which is in? Does God have a temple in heaven? Why did Jesus say, "Think not that I've come to destroy the law and the prophets. I've not come to destroy but fulfill, for I say unto you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle will in any wise pass from the law til all is fulfilled." By the way, when He said fulfilled there, doesn't mean done away with, it means filled full.

Why does heaven have to pass away? Because the original Ark is in heaven with God's law. The Bible tells us there is a temple in heaven, and the law is a reflection of God's character we studied the other night. All right, question number three. What did God teach through the sanctuary? What was the object of this? Notice this, Psalm 77, verse 13, short verse but very important, "Your way--" King James says it, "Thy way." I like that better, "Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary." The way of God, that means the way that He saves us, He expresses himself. Now, the earthly sanctuary was built around a sacrificial system.

And I know, when I first started reading the Bible, learning these things, I thought, "I don't understand all the blood and the purpose for the sacrifices." And then, as I continued studying, Revelation talks about the lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world. And then I read where Adam and Eve, when they sinned and their garments of glory went out and they saw their nakedness, they tried to cover it with fig leaves, symbol of self-righteousness. Remember, Jesus cursed a fig tree, and God said, "That won't do it." And God gave them skins.

Now, where did the skins come from? God established a sacrificial system. The penalty for sin was death, not for Adam, but the whole creation suffered. Adam was like the ruler of the world, and, when death went to Adam and it went to Eve and their children, it went to the whole planet, became corrupted because of sin. All the creatures suffered. So God said to cover your nakedness. "Someday My Son is going to come to take away your sins, and His robe of righteousness will cover your sin." But He began the sacrificial system; He showed them how.

Now we're going to put a little sanctuary up on the screen here. This is an overview; this is sort of an aerial view of the temple. There were three principal places in the sanctuary. You had what they called the courtyard. You had the holy place. Then you had the inner sanctum called the Holy of Holies or the Most Holy Place. There are three phases in salvation. The three phases are, it's big theological terms; it's justification, sanctification, glorification. Justification took place in the courtyard where you had the altar and the laver. Sanctification took place in the holy place. Glorification was when you came into the presence of God in the Holy of Holies.

I might also mention at this point that the priests would go and they would offer the sacrifices in the courtyard, and the high priest and sometimes others might go into the Holy Place. But only the high priest was to go into the Holy of Holies, and it only happened two times in the Hebrew economy. Once when the temple was built and inaugurated. Don't forget that. When they finished building the temple, obviously, builders had to be in there when they built it. Moses went in; when they finished it, he sprinkled everything with blood to sanctify it, and then they activated it. But, from then on, the only time a high priest went in was the end of the year on the day of atonement. And so, only the high priest could go in there because it represented the presence of God. So it's just good for you to have that overview.

Now, there are three phases. The children of Israel, their history follows this as well, as you'll see when we proceed. You come out of Egypt; Egypt was, you know, on the outside, and they went through the Red Sea. First, they were baptized in a pillar of fire, that was the altar. Then they went through the Red Sea, that was the laver, was filled with water. Then they entered the wilderness, that's where they were sanctified. Then they entered the promised land, that was when they were glorified. Three phases in the Hebrew experience.

Number four, notice. What were the objects in the courtyard? I already touched on them, and there'll be some repetition here because I want to have this sink in. First thing you saw when you went in is, who knows? Is the altar of offering. It says, "And you will burn the whole ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the Lord." First thing that came through the door, and there was a sacrifice. What begins our journey? It's a sacrifice, the first step. When the children of Israel came out of Egypt, what began their journey? They were to eat the Passover sacrifice with their shoes on their feet, their staff in their hand, their unleavened bread on their backs. That's why they eat unleavened bread. And, so, first thing was the sacrifice, that was the altar.

Then you had, also in the courtyard, you had the laver. So this represents, the sacrifice was the fire, and then you add the water. Now, what does Jesus say? "Unless you are born of the water and the Spirit, you cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven," John chapter 3. Does he say you might not be able to or you cannot? You cannot; you need both baptisms. And I know a lot of churches, they brag about how many people were baptized in water, but they don't care much about baptized in the fire. You remember what John the Baptist said, "I baptize you with water. But there's come one coming after I who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." You need both. The children of Israel were baptized in a pillar of fire, and then they went through the Red Sea; it's another kind of baptism. So you have the fire and the water there in the courtyard.

Number five. What sanctuary symbol did Jesus fulfill in the altar of sacrifice? The Bible tells us, 1 Corinthians 5, verse 7, "For indeed Christ is our Passover, which was sacrificed for us." John 1:29, "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, 'Behold! The Lamb of God that takes away the sin--'" of three people, that takes away the sin of how much? How many of you live in the world? Everybody in the world can take advantage. There is enough sacrifice in Jesus's sufferings to cover all of your sins and the sins of everyone who's ever lived. How can He do that? He's God. We can't figure it out, but He could do it.

Number six. What does the laver represent? It says, "Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." We need to be baptized in the Spirit, the altar; we need to be baptized in the laver, the water. You can even read in 1 Corinthians. Here, this one's from Romans chapter 6, verse 3; it says, "Or do you not know that as many of you as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in--" what-- "a newness of life." After baptism, you're born again; you walk in a newness of life; all the old sins are gone. 1 Corinthians chapter 10 is where Paul says, in verse 1 and 2, "Moreover, brethren, I don't want you to be unaware of our fathers who were under the cloud--" pillar of fire-- "and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea." Jesus said, "We must be born of the water and the Spirit."

Little amazing fact I think you'll find interesting. The world was all washed with water in the days of Noah. The Bible says, "When Christ comes, the world's going to be washed in fire," 2 Peter chapter 3, "And then God's going to make a new heaven and new earth." Before the world is born again, it goes through a water and a fire baptism also. So everybody and everything must go through those baptisms. And that's what baptism is a symbol of, the washing. You hold your breath momentarily. It's a new birth, new beginning.

Number seven. What were the other items that were in the holy place? We're making our way through the sanctuary. You can read here, and, "On the--" say it-- "the table of showbread, they shall spread a blue cloth, and put it on the dishes, in the pans, and the bowls, and the pitchers pouring; and the showbread shall be on it." They had a table with bread. And so that was always, when you went in the sanctuary, that'd be on the left side. You go straight towards the altar, would be the, Ark of the Covenant, rather, would be in front of you, and the altar of incense on the right. Then you would-- I'm sorry, on the right, you'd have the bread; on the left you would have the candlestick.

That leads us to the next thing. In Numbers 8, verse 2, it says, "When you arrange the lamp, the seven lamps shall give light in front of the lampstand." So, so far we've got two articles of furniture. You've got the bread, and you've got the light. What's next? "And you shall make in altar to burn incense on." They had an altar of incense.

Now we're going to talk about, what do these things represent? They're very important. We've got the bread. How many loaves of bread were there? Twelve, one for each one of the tribes of Israel. Who is the bread? Who is the bread that came down from heaven? Jesus is the bread. And this is saying that the people of God were to be fed with the bread of life. Then you come over here, and then you've got the light. Who is the light? Jesus said, "I am the light of the world." But, not only did Jesus say, "I am the light of the world," He said, what? "You are the light of the world." Now, we don't have light of our own, but we reflect his light. And how many lights were there? Seven. And what kept the light burning? It was pure virgin oil. And that was because it was a symbol for the Holy Spirit. It was a special oil they use in the sanctuary, but it was olive oil. And it's a symbol for the Spirit that keeps the light burning. We need that Spirit to keep the light burning. You are like the light of the world. You are not to put your light under a bush but to be set upon a hill. But we are reflecting the light of Jesus. We have no light in ourselves.

He is the bread. But you know what else Jesus did with the bread? Jesus not only said, "I'm the bread of life." He said to the disciples, "You give them something to eat." Jesus broke the bread, gave it to the disciples, they gave it to the people, it multiplied in their hands. So, all of these things that God does for us, He also wants us to do for Him, as his representatives. Jesus said, "As the Father sent me, so send I you."

So, you've got the bread, and you've got the light. And then the third thing is what? It's the altar of incense. Now, it was on the horns of the altar that the priest would come in, and he would spread blood for the daily sacrifices. It wasn't until the day of atonement that they went into the Holy of Holies. What does this altar represent? It's a symbol for the prayers of God's people. They would put incense on it, and the incense, often frankincense, and they might have myrrh, some other essence, it would waft over the curtain into the presence of God in the Holy of Holies. And it represented the prayers of the people. In these three articles of the altar of incense-- You've got prayer, you've got the light, and you've got the bread. This represents the three disciplines in the Christian life. All right, we're going to keep going.

Where did Jesus go after his resurrection? Answer, "Christ has not entered into the holy place made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." Where is Jesus now? Now, you know, Christ may appear to you in a dream. He might speak to you through the Holy Spirit. Jesus did speak to Paul even after his ascension. Jesus is not handcuffed to one spot in heaven. He is God; He's free to go where He wants. But His principal place of work and ministry is as our High Priest in heaven at the right hand of power, the Ruler of the universe. He is enthroned, and you just read some of the beautiful statements Paul makes regarding Christ in the beginning and end of his letters, makes it clear about his position and his deity with God. Again, Hebrews 9, verse 11, "Christ came as high priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation."

All right, is it clear to you that there is a tabernacle in heaven? Is it clear to you, from what we're reading in the New Testament, Jesus is our High Priest? He is our Mediator. In the same way Moses would go from the people to God and from God to the people, Christ is the ladder between heaven and earth. Even on the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus was glorified, and God said, "This is my Son," and Moses and Elijah said, "He is the one." And then you had Peter, James, and John. So you had three humans, Peter, James, and John. And you had three divine, God, Elijah, Moses. Then you had Jesus who is the bridge between the earthly and the divine. Christ said to Nathaniel, "You're impressed because I said I saw you under the fig tree. You'll see greater things than these. Hereafter, you will see the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." Jesus is the escalator through which the angels come to and from heaven and earth. He is the bridge. He is our High Priest.

Have you ever noticed, in life sometimes, it's not what you know, it's who you know? Have you ever found it beneficial to have a friend in high places that got you out of a fix or had connections? You're not going to find any friend in higher places. You're not going to find any friend that is better connected with Jesus, your High Priest, that is at the right hand of God Almighty of the infinite cosmos. And He is there pleading your name. When you pray, say, "Lord, forgive me." Jesus holds out His nail-pierced hands and pleads His own blood for you. And He says He will forgive you and give you power and lead you and transform you. How many of you want that experience?

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Doug: God is offering you peace and eternal life. How? Well, it all begins by simply turning towards the lord. The Bible promises that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. You can turn to Him right now and ask for forgiveness and a new heart and he’s ready to forgive and receive you. That’s why Jesus came; whether do you know it or not, He’s always been your best friend. A new life is only a prayer away. Just ask Him now.

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