Sanctuary

Sanctuary

Scripture: Hebrews 9:22, Exodus 25:40, Psalms 77:13
There is no remission for sin unless there is death to pay for transgression. This broadcast looks at the sacrificial system that was instituted in the wilderness temple by God through Moses. The lamb that was slain represented Jesus Christ's death on Calvary for our sins.
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Have you ever wondered why Jesus was called, "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world"? How was Jesus able to take away sin anyway? We know that death passed upon all mankind as a result of transgression. Somebody had to pay the supreme penalty for sin: in fact, the Bible tells us clearly, "without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin." Hebrews 9:22. This was just as true in the Old Testament as it is in the New. God had a plan by which those people were impressed that sin means death. The sacrificial system was instituted from the earliest days of the world's history, after sin had come in. We have evidence that Cain and Abel understood the meaning of the sacrifice they were commanded to offer. God accepted the offering of Abel because it was the lamb which symbolized the coming Saviour. Abraham also erected altars wherever he traveled, and offered sacrifices to God. It cannot be imagined that those people believed that the blood of animals could take away their sins. They were simply exercising faith in One who should come later to bear the sins of the world.

Soon after the Exodus, God called Moses into the mountain and talked to him about the Israelites. He said to Moses. "Let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them." Exodus 25:8. God wanted His people to have a special place where He could meet with them from time to time. The specifications of that tabernacle had to be so exact, that Moses was shown the pattern of the sanctuary in Heaven. God said to Moses, "And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount." Exodus 25:40. After many weeks and months of work, the beautiful temporary structure was completed. Its handiwork was the most exquisite that skilled technicians could produce. It was a portable structure made mostly from the skins of animals; and the main building of the tabernacle was only about 15 by 45 feet in diameter. Then there was a wall surrounding this structure and quite a large open court. After it was finished, God expressed His approval by allowing the cloud and the fire to come and stand over the place of His presence.

Now you may be wondering why we are considering the subject of the Sanctuary tonight. I believe we have the answer in Psalms 77:13. "Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary." If this text is true, friends, we certainly should be interested in understanding about the sanctuary. First of all, let us consider the articles of furniture and their meaning. In the outer court were located just two articles: the altar of burnt offering, and the laver for washing. See Exodus 40:29, 30. The main building contained two apartments or rooms: the first was called the holy place, and the second was the most holy or the holy of holies. These two rooms were separated by a heavy, beautiful veil. In the first apartment could be found the seven candlesticks, representing Jesus, the perpetual light of the world. In front of the veil was the beautiful golden altar of incense from which the cloud of smoke arose, representing the prayers of the saints. Every day the priest would go into the first apartment to minister for the transgressors. But into the most holy place no man could enter, save the high priest; and he could only go in one day during the year. The only article of furniture in the holy of holies was the ark of the covenant, containing the table of the Ten Commandment law. On top of the ark was the mercy seat overshadowed by two carved angels, or cherubims, of solid gold. Over the mercy seat, God's presence was to be manifested. This explains why this apartment was such a holy place.

Now let us consider just exactly how the people could get remission for their sins through the services of the tabernacle. What happened when an Israelite sinned? He had to bring a lamb without spot or blemish, confess his sins over the animal, and slay it in the outer court. The lamb, of course, represented Jesus, and the transgressor was continually reminded that sin means death. By slaying the animal with his own hand, he came to understand that his own sins would cause the death of Jesus upon the cross. By placing his sins upon the animal, in type he was consenting for Christ to bear his sins upon the cross. Then the priest would take the blood of this animal and carry it into the first apartment of the sanctuary. There he would sprinkle it before the veil, symbolically transferring the sins of the individual into the most holy place of the sanctuary. Everyday this type of service was carried out as the people transgressed. Gradually the record of the sins of the people accumulated in the sanctuary itself. Once each year, a special day of atonement was observed. At this time, the sanctuary was to be cleansed. "And this shall be a statute forever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you; 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." Leviticus 16:29, 30. Upon this day, the high priest alone went behind the veil, into the most holy place, to make atonement for the accumulated sins of the people. The record of their sins was to be blotted out.

Let us consider, for a moment, how this was done. Two goats were brought into the outer court, upon which lots were cast. One was to be the Lord's goat, and the other lot was for the scapegoat. See Leviticus 16: 7, 8. The Lord's goat was to be taken and offered as an atonement for the sins of the people. Aaron took the blood of that goat into the holy of holies and sprinkled it upon the mercy seat. While this was being done, the people waited outside in prayer and fasting; to them it was the day of judgment. If any man in Israel had not come to confess his sins by the end of the day of atonement, he would be forever cut off from salvation. We can well understand what a solemn occasion it was to those people. The blood taken by the high priest represented the blood of Jesus which is shed for the remission of sin. As soon as that blood was sprinkled upon the mercy seat, atonement was made and reconciliation was completed. As he came out of that most holy place, the high priest paused to make provision for those who had come while he had been ministering behind the veil.

At this point we should understand this wonderful truth that the blood of the Lord's goat has completely cleansed the people and made the atonement a reality. The scapegoat did not have anything to do with the atonement or reconciliation. It is true that the high priest placed his hands upon the head of the scapegoat afterwards, and symbolically placed the sins of the people upon it. Why did he do this? Remember that every sin committed reflects a shared responsibility. Let us illustrate it by a story. Suppose a man and woman in Israel had committed adultery. Each of them would share in the guilt of that sin; and Satan also would be guilty, because he tempted them and caused them to sin. In this case there are three parties to the sin of adultery. Each of them must share the responsibility for that sin. Suppose the woman brings a lamb and confesses her sin at the sanctuary; atonement for her sin will be made on the day of atonement, through the blood which represents Christ. She accepts a divine substitute, and Jesus bears in His own body the penalty for her transgression. Now, suppose that the man does not come to the sanctuary with an offering at all. He must bear the penalty in his own body; he is cut off. He has not accepted the Saviour's substitute. But what about Satan and his share in the sin? He must bear the penalty for his share in the sin of every individual. The scapegoat represents Satan, and the sins which are placed upon him represent his own personal share in the sins of all men. He does not and cannot bear the confessed sins of the people. Those sins have been blotted out through the reconciliation of Christ. Atonement has been completed for them. The scapegoat does not even shed his blood. He is led off by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness to die alone. Christ is our Sin-bearer. Satan simply bears his own sins and perishes. This picture of God's great confessional system was at work year by year in the camp of Israel.

Now let us span the years and come down to the sad day when Jesus died upon the cross. The real Lamb of God had finally appeared in the world. Everything in the Lord's sacrificial system had pointed forward and had been a shadow of Jesus, the Lamb of God. When Christ died upon the cross, every other sacrifice came to an end. The shadow had finally met the substance; type had met anti-type; the blood of animals was no longer needed, because Jesus had shed His own precious blood for the sins of the whole world. The very moment that Jesus died upon the cross, a strange and wonderful thing happened in the temple. "Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent." Matthew 27:50, 51. The heavy veil between the holy and most holy place was ripped in half from top to bottom, exposing the holy of holies to public view. There was to be no more sacrifice of animals.

Now let us ask the question, why did Jesus go back to heaven, and what is His work in the sanctuary above? "Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: 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 8:1, 2. Remember that Moses was shown a pattern in heaven by which the earthly sanctuary was to be built. It is to that real heavenly pattern that Christ has gone with His own blood as our high priest. "But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." Hebrews 9:11, 12. He did not go into the heavenly tabernacle with the blood of animals as our intercessor. He pleads His own blood to the Father on our behalf. Is it not a wonderful thing that we have an advocate by the side of God tonight? "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." Hebrews 9:24. Can we not understand why we approach the Father in the name of Jesus, as we accept His death in our stead, confessing our sins in Jesus' name. Christ stands surety for us before the Father.

Is there any relationship between the earthly and heavenly sanctuaries? We know that the earthly was a copy of the heavenly. We also know that Christ entered the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary at His ascension. John the Revelator saw Him among the candlesticks in Revelation 1:13. "And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle." And there was to come a time when Jesus would pass through the first apartment into the second apartment of the heavenly sanctuary for the cleansing of the sanctuary. There was to be an anti-typical day of atonement in heaven, even as the earthly services. You may ask, why should the heavenly sanctuary need cleansing? Read Hebrews 9:23. "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." Here we are told that the heavenly did need cleansing and purifying. Just as surely as the record of the people's transgressions were recorded through the sprinkling of the blood in the earthly sanctuary, so the record of our sins are recorded in the books of heaven. Every man will be judged according to those things that are written in the book. Revelation 20:12. That record of sin must be examined and either blotted out, or retained.

We don't have time today to deal with this phase of our subject, but shall continue it on the next broadcast. At that time we shall consider the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary and what significance it has for us. Today we want to be sure that His blood has been applied to our hearts. In the great confessional above, He is the only priest. He died for the sins of all. His blood is sufficient to meet the needs of every man. But you must receive it in full; you must take Him as your personal Saviour. Are you willing to do this right now?

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