The Sanctuary

Hebrews 8:1-2 “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.”

The Sanctuary has always been known as a place that carries significance. Revered as Holy, the term derives from the word Sanctuarium implying a container for keeping something in—in this case holy things or perhaps cherished people.

The sanctuary has been revered as a place that is holy but it has also implied a place of refuge and security. Within the ancient Tabernacle was where Moses met with God. Eventually the Tabernacle became the Temple and the Holy of Holies was the inner sanctum where the High Priest brought gifts before God and demonstrated the rituals of penance before God’s judgement.

Looking at the symbolism of the sanctuary gives a reminder of what that symbolism has meant to mankind for thousands of years.

If a person murdered someone and then ran to the church to claim sanctuary, no one could could come in and harm, arrest or remove him for punishment. Even after the Western Roman Empire fell in 476, churches maintained their authority to protect people who had broken major secular laws.

It’s interesting how a place of judgement became known as a place of refuge.

Psalm 26:8 “O Lord, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells.”

There has always been security for those who come to God in righteousness and truth. For those who love Him, His presence represents security.

Holy Articles

Contained within the Sanctuary or Tabernacle were articles that served as priestly ornaments representative of the Holiness of God.

The Ark (Aron) – A cedar-wood chest plated with gold on both the inside and the outside. It had gold-coated staves on either side with which it was carried. The Ark was covered by the cover (Kapporet), with the two cherubs (K’ruvim) on the top. Inside the Ark contained the 2 copies of the 10 commandments, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and a gold jar of manna.

Under the judgement seat of God remained not only the covenant agreement of the commandments for both man and God’s but this meant that God bore the weight of responsibility for keeping this covenant by himself—Jesus fulfilled the covenant of death.

The budded staff of Aaron revealed the Levitical line of priests that began with Aaron. The staff not only gave forth buds but produced fruit—Jesus represents the order of priesthood and through Him all have been blessed.

The manna represented God’s supply and provision. The Lord sustains His people with bread from Heaven and only Christ alone can fulfill that hunger.

The Show-bread Table (Lechem HaPanim) – A cedar-wood table plated with gold on which the twelve loaves of the Show-bread were placed. It also had gold-coated staves positioned at its corners. The twelve tribes of Israel represented all of Israel. The Lord God used Israel to exalt His name to the nations. Ultimately, Jesus is the Bread of Life and it was His glory that Israel was supposed to exalt.

The Golden Altar – The incense altar (Mizbeach HaK’toret) had two golden coated staves positioned at its corners. The fragrant aroma was a symbolic offering of worship and repentance. God’s people are a fragrant aroma unto the Lord as they walk in obedience and trust.

The Menorah – A candelabra was made of pure gold with seven lamps. The number seven is a sign of ordinal perfection. The three candles on each side represent the days of Creation while the center candle was reserved for the Sabbath day of rest.

The Priestly Garments – Four garments were worn by an ordinary priest and eight garments worn by the High Priest. The priestly vestments were for use in the Temple, they were symbolic for righteousness and purity. The only way for people to approach God’s throne is by perfection. The authority, power, perfection, and presence of God was not to be trifled with, a high priest had to be prepared to enter the tabernacle otherwise he forfeited his life.

The Temple items represented not only mankind’s relationship to God but ultimately they represented Jesus. Coming before God was sacred and holy. It must have been a terrifying experience to stand in His presence, knowing that perfection was an impossible task to accomplish.

True Worship

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

Today, God’s people are His Temple. The artifacts of the old Temple are symbolically represented in His people today. As Jesus transforms broken and sinful people into temples of righteousness, He prepares His people to be a light to the nations.

Isaiah 8:13-14 “The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow;
Let Him be your fear,
And let Him be your dread.
He will be as a sanctuary,
But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense
To both the houses of Israel,
As a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”

In ancient Israel, the dread of God’s judgement was motivation for appointing a High Priest. His unique privilege of entering into the Holy of Holies(inner sanctum) once a year on Yom Kippur the Day of Atonement, to burn incense and sprinkle sacrificial animal blood to expiate his own sins and those of the people of Israel was a great privilege. On this occasion he wore only white linen garments, forgoing the elaborate priestly vestments worn during the year whenever he chose to officiate at services, he would enter the Holy Sanctuary and give offerings on behalf of himself and the people.

Today, before the judgement seat of God we have a Sanctuary, it is Christ the Lord. If we want to enter into His presence, we must enter by the purity of Holiness that He alone offers on behalf of His anointed. To be sanctified is to be washed by His blood and made white, to come before God’s throne requires perfection.

Hebrews 9:24 “For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.”

The distinguished rank of the high priest was apparent and the fact that his sins are regarded as belonging also to the people, He wore upon His chest the Urim and Thummim which contained 12 gemstones representing the 12 tribes of Israel. He alone entered the Holy of Holies barefoot, he alone wore the priestly garments of white and made atonement for himself and for the people.

Today, there is no need for a high priest, Jesus bore our sin upon the cross, barefoot and naked, He suffered immeasurable pain and humility on behalf for us. For those who believe, they have been grafted into His vine, a spiritual heredity through Abraham that allows His people to be counted among the righteous.

Hebrews 4:15-16 “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

The High Priest went before the Lord and offered up 5 levitical offerings.

The Burnt Offerings–The burnt offering was a sacrifice that was completely burnt. None of it was to be eaten at all, and therefore the fire consumed the whole sacrifice. It is also important to note that the fire on the altar was never to go out.

The Meal Offerings—The purpose of the meal offering was an offering of gifts and speaks of a life that is dedicated to generosity and giving.

The Peace Offerings—The peace offering was a meal that was shared with the Lord, the priests, and sometimes the common Israelites. Jacob and Laban offered a peace offering when they made their treaty (Gen 31:43 ff). It was required to make offerings while making a vow of one’s life to God and thanking Him with praise while free-will offerings were voluntary.

The Sin Offerings—The sin offering expiated (paid the debt in full) the worshippers unintentional weaknesses and failures before the Lord.

The Trespass Offerings—The trespass offering was very similar to that of the sin offering but the main difference was that the trespass offering was an offering of money for sins of ignorance connected with fraud.

Hebrews 8:3 “For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer.”

Jesus completed all of these offerings by the life that He gave for us.

Jesus–Our High Priest

Hebrews 7:17-19 “For He testifies:“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.”For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.”

Jesus is no longer on the cross. His sacrifice was one that only He could bear. His perfection modeled the priestly cleansing, His blood sacrifice was sufficient to cover all sin and separation, His robe is white and He now stands in the Heavenly sanctuary making atonement continually for us today.

Wherever we go, the sanctuary of the Lord goes with us. God’s people have now been made His temple, He dwells in and among them. When the enemy brings accusation, our High Priest stands there as a bulwark of God’s grace.

God’s people have been made white through the greatest act ever known, the redemption of sinners from death. Jesus stands between you and judgement. He is a Priest forever. His people need not fear reprisal or grow concerned that they might err again, the Holy one of all Creation has anointed them as His own and His sacrifice is complete.

Today, I want to lift up Jesus…..for all He is and all that He has done. This is where true strength lies. This is the Savior and He will be yours if you give your life to Him.

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