The question – What is the Sanctuary? – is clearly answered in Scriptures. The term sanctuary refers to the:
- “True tabernacle” in Heaven, to which the earthly Sanctuary pointed
- Inner Sanctuary of the soul
- Tabernacle on earth as a pattern of heavenly things
The “true tabernacle” in Heaven
Moses made the earthly Sanctuary after a pattern which was shown him. Paul declares that that pattern was the true sanctuary which is in Heaven. Christ, our great High Priest, is a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. Hebrews 8:2. And John testifies that he saw it in Heaven. He beheld there seven lamps of fire burning before the throne. Revelation 4:5
In the temple in Heaven, the dwelling-place of God, His throne is established in righteousness and judgment. In the most holy place is His law, the great rule of right by which all are tested. The ark that enshrines the tables of the law is covered with the mercy-seat, before which Christ pleads His blood in the sinner’s behalf. Thus is represented the union of justice and mercy in the plan of human redemption.
Furthermore, the heavenly temple, the abiding place of the King of kings, where “thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him, Daniel 7:10, is filled with the glory of the eternal throne, where seraphim, its shining guardians, veil their faces in adoration.
Isaiah’s vision about the Heavenly Sanctuary
In the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah was permitted in vision to look into the holy place, and into the holy of holies in the heavenly sanctuary.
In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Isaiah 6:1-4
Cherubim were on either side of the mercy-seat, as guards round the great king. They glowed with the glory that enshrouded them from the presence of God. As their songs of praise resounded in deep, earnest notes of adoration, the pillars of the gate trembled, as if shaken by an earthquake. These holy beings sang forth the praise and glory of God with lips unpolluted with sin. The fervid praises of the seraphim astonished and humiliated the prophet.
As they cried – Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory, the glory, infinite power, and majesty of the Lord passed before his vision, and was impressed upon his soul.
At the death of Christ the typical service ended. Furthermore at the termination of the 2300 days, in 1844, there had been no sanctuary on earth for many centuries. Thus the prophecy – Unto two thousand three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed of Daniel 8:14 unarguably points to the Sanctuary in Heaven.
The revelation of the Divine character stands out in contrast to inward soul defilement
In deep humiliation Isaiah exclaimed:
Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Isaiah 6:5
The conviction of the prophet was genuine. As humanity, with its weakness and deformity, was brought out in contrast with the perfection of divine holiness and light and glory, he felt altogether inefficient and unworthy.
Thus when the servants of God are permitted to behold the glory of God and realize the purity of the Holy One of Israel, they will confess of the uncleanness of their soul, rather than proud boasts of holiness. How can anyone who is brought before the holy standard of God’s law, make any boast of holiness? His or her acts of disloyalty in making void the law of God, are exposed to their sight, and their spirit is stricken and afflicted under the searching influences of the Spirit of God. They are not able to stand themselves as they view the pure and spotless character of Jesus.
Christ is our High Priest
All that was done in type in the ministration of the earthly sanctuary is done in reality in the ministration of the heavenly sanctuary. Such was the service performed unto the example and shadow of heavenly things. Hebrews 8:5. After His ascension, our Savior began His work as our high priest.
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
As a high priest, Christ is now set down with the Father in his throne. Revelation 3:21. Upon the throne with the eternal, self-existent One, is He who:
- hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows – Isaiah 53:4
- was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin – Hebrews 4:15
- might be able to succor them that are tempted – Hebrews 2:18
Thus If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father. 1 John 2:1. His intercession is that of:
- pierced and broken body
- a spotless life.
The wounded hands, pierced side, and the marred feet plead for fallen mankind, whose redemption was purchased at such infinite cost.
Seeing by faith the Heavenly Sanctuary
God’s people in the last days are privileged to see by faith the work that is going forward in the heavenly sanctuary. They look by faith into the holy of holies and see the work of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary. Thus they perceive that:
- they are a people of unclean lips often spoken vanity
- their talents have not been sanctified and employed to the glory of God
- their own weakness and unworthiness in contrast with the purity and loveliness of the glorious character of Christ.
Thus when we see and perceive the importance and holiness of the work there being done, everything of a selfish nature will be abhorred by us. Sin will appear as it is – the transgression of God’s holy law. The atonement of Christ will be better understood. Thus by living faith we shall see that whatever of virtue humanity possesses, it exists only in Christ – the world’s Redeemer.
If believers, like Isaiah, will humble their souls before God, there is hope for them. The bow of promise is above the throne, and the work done for Isaiah will be performed in them. God will respond to the petitions coming from the contrite heart.
Likewise another prophet looked within the inner veil, upon the holy of holies. Here he beheld “the ark of His testament” Revelation 11:19, represented by the sacred chest constructed by Moses to contain the law of God.
John says that he saw the sanctuary in heaven. That sanctuary, in which Jesus ministers in our behalf, is the great original, of which the sanctuary built by Moses was a copy.
What is the cleansing of the Sanctuary?
Scripture teaches that there was such a service in connection with the earthly Sanctuary. But can there be anything in Heaven to be cleansed? In Hebrews 9 the cleansing of both the earthly and the Heavenly Sanctuary is plainly taught.
Almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these (the blood of animals); but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. Hebrews 9:22, 23
even the precious blood of Christ – but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Hebrews 9:26
Inner sanctuary of the soul
All who are partakers of the divine nature will realize that the Holy Spirit works with them, taking the truth from the sacred Word, where Christ has placed it, and stamping it upon the soul. We are in great peril if keeping the truth in the outer court, neglecting to bring it into the sanctuary of the soul. Earnestly and solemnly we should prepare ourselves for the cleansing of the soul-temple, remembering that we are a spectacle to the world, angels, and humanity. This work will cleanse the heart from all disunion, strife, and desire for supremacy.
Religion in the heart, planted there by the Spirit of God produces beauty in the character. It is not as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. The Spirit of truth, the righteousness of Christ, produce beauty in the soul. It is that inward adorning of great price. The Spirit of holiness when received God into the inner sanctuary of the soul will:
- pervades the soul-temple
- work fruits of Spirit
- mold and fashion the character after the divine pattern.
Thus the Spirit, the life from Jesus Christ, flows from the soul. It is represented as a well of water springing up unto everlasting life.
The temple of the Lord
Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord. Zechariah 6:12
By His sacrifice and mediation, Christ is both the foundation and the builder of the church of God. The apostle Paul points to Him as:
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord; In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. Ephesians 2:20-22
And He shall bear the glory
To Christ belongs the glory of redemption for the fallen race. Through the eternal ages, the song of the ransomed ones will be:
Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, . . . to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Revelation 1:5, 6
He shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne. Zechariah 6:13. Furthermore, upon the throne of his glory. The kingdom of glory has not yet been ushered in. Not until His work as a Mediator shall be ended, will God give unto him the throne of his father David,” a kingdom of which there shall be no end. Luke 1:32, 33.
And the counsel of peace shall be between them both. Zechariah 6:13
The love of the Father, no less than of the Son, is the fountain of salvation for the lost race. Jesus assured His disciples, before He went away: I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you; for the Father himself loveth you. John 16:26, 27. God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself. 2 Corinthians 5:19.
God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16
You are the temple of the living God
For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 2 Corinthians 6:16
A power above and outside of mankind is to work upon believers, that solid timbers may be brought into their character building. In the inner sanctuary of the soul the presence of God is to abide. And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20
For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord; In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. Ephesians 2:18-22
Believers do not build themselves into a habitation for the Spirit
On the other hand, unless there is a co-operation of individual’s will with God’s will, the Lord can do nothing for him or her. The Lord is the great Master worker. Yet humans must co-operate with the divine worker, or the heavenly building cannot be completed. All the power is of God and all the glory is to redound to God. Yet all the responsibility rests with the humans.
When one believes in Jesus as his or her personal Savior, and accepts His righteousness by faith, he or she becomes a partaker of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:4. They escape from corruption through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Without divine nature, without the influence of the Spirit of God, humans cannot work out their own salvation. Christ said:
Without me ye can do nothing. John 15:5. When human effort does not combine with divine, the influence becomes deficient. Believer, who is endowed with divine power can present Christ to the world as one who is able to save unto the uttermost all who come unto God through Him.
As Christ is, so will His followers be in this world
We are in the day of atonement. Furthermore, we are to work in harmony with Christ’s work of cleansing the sanctuary from the sins of the people. Let no one who desires to be found with the wedding garment on, resist our Lord in His work. Those who do not cleanse the soul temple of every defilement, but who engage in activities not in harmony with this work, are leading minds away from the truth and work for this time.
The Spirit of truth has a refining, elevating, heavenly influence upon mind and character. We are to study the mind of Christ, and to receive the truth as it is in Jesus. We are to watch, pray and consult the living oracles of God.
Earthly dwelling-place of the Most High
The earthly sanctuary was built by Moses according to the pattern shown him in the mount. It was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices. Hebrews 9:9. Its two holy places were “patterns of things in the heavens. Hebrews 9:23.
Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; Hebrews 9:1-5.
The whole ceremony was designed to impress the Israelites with the holiness of God and His abhorrence of sin. Furthermore, to show them that they could not come in contact with sin without becoming polluted. Every individual was required to afflict his or her soul while this work of atonement was going forward. All business was to be laid aside, and the whole congregation of Israel were to spend the day in solemn humiliation before God, with prayer, fasting, and deep searching of heart.
The tabernacle built by Moses
He did that at the command of God – Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. Exodus 25:8. This was the direction given to Moses while in the mount with God. The Israelites were journeying through the wilderness, and the tabernacle was so constructed that it could be removed from place to place. Yet it was a structure of great magnificence.
The tabernacle itself consisted of two apartments called the holy and the most holy place. They were separated by a rich and beautiful curtain, or veil. In the holy place, on the south was the candlestick with its seven lamps giving light to the sanctuary both by day and by night. On the north stood the table of show-bread. The golden altar of incense was before the veil from which the cloud of fragrance, with the prayers of Israel, was daily ascending before God.
In the most holy place stood the ark, a chest of precious wood overlaid with gold. She was the depository of the two tables of stone upon which God had inscribed the law of ten commandments. Above the ark, forming the cover to the sacred chest was the mercy-seat surmounted by two cherubim, one at each end.In this apartment the divine presence was manifested in the cloud of glory between the cherubim.
It was made after a pattern
The Lord directed Moses:
According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it. Look that thou make them after their pattern, which was showed thee in the mount. Exodus 25:9, 40.
And Paul says, that the first tabernacle was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices. That its:
- holy places were patterns of things in the heavens
- the priests who offered gifts according to the law, served unto the example and shadow of heavenly things
- 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 9:9, 23; 8:5; 9:24.
The matchless splendor of the earthly tabernacle reflected to human vision the glories of that heavenly temple where Christ our forerunner ministers for us before the throne of God.
The temple of Solomon
After the settlement of the Hebrews in Canaan the tabernacle was replaced by the temple of Solomon. Though a permanent structure and upon a larger scale, it observed the same proportions and was similarly furnished. In this form the sanctuary existed, except while it lay in ruins in Daniel’s time, until its destruction by the Romans at A. D. 70.
This is the only sanctuary that ever existed on the earth, of which the Bible gives any information. This was declared by Paul to be the sanctuary of the first covenant.
Important truths concerning the atonement are taught by the typical service. A substitute was accepted in the sinner’s stead. But the sin was not canceled by the blood of the victim. A means was thus provided by which it was transferred to the sanctuary. By the offering of blood, the sinners:
- acknowledged the authority of the law
- confessed their guilt in transgression
- expressed their desire for pardon through faith in a Redeemer to come.
Christ is in the heavenly sanctuary. He is there to:
- make an atonement for the people
- present His wounded side and pierced hands to His Father
- plead for his Church that is upon the earth.
Christ is cleansing the sanctuary from the sins of the people.
What is our work?
It is our work to be in harmony with the work of Christ. By faith we are to work with him, to be in union with him.
We do the cleansing work in us with Christ. Thus we clean our soul temple as we renounce sin and applying the remedy. We do that as we give more room of our harts to be a habitation and indwelling place of the Holy Spirit. We must become partakers of the divine nature. By beholding, we become changed into His image.
The image of Christ in spirit and character – restoring it or cleansing of the sanctuary. This is the work we must now set before the people, which by faith we see our great High-priest is accomplishing in the heavenly sanctuary.
We are looking for new heavens and a new earth wherein the righteous shall dwell throughout eternity.
Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. 2 Peter 3:14
Humanity ceased to be a temple for God after the fall
Darkened and defiled by evil, the heart of mankind no longer revealed the glory of the Divine One. But by the incarnation of the Son of God, the purpose of Heaven is fulfilled. God dwells in humanity. Moreover, through saving grace the human heart becomes again His temple.
In cleansing the temple at Jerusalem from the world’s buyers and sellers, Jesus announced His mission to cleanse the heart from:
- the defilement of sin
- earthly desires
- selfish lusts
- evil habits
- all that corrupts the soul.
The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver. Malachi 3:1-3
Only Christ can cleanse the soul temple
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17
No one can cast out the evil pile that have taken possession of the heart. Only Christ can cleanse the soul temple. But He will not force an entrance. He comes not into the heart as to the temple of old. He says:
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him. Revelation 3:20
Jesus will come to dwell. For He says:
I will dwell in them, and walk in them; . . . and they shall be My people.” “He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. 2 Corinthians 6:16; Micah 7:19
His presence will cleanse and sanctify the soul, so that it may be a holy temple unto the Lord, and an habitation of God through the Spirit. Ephesians 2:21, 22.
In three days I will raise this temple up
In these words Christ referred not only to the destruction of the Jewish temple and worship, but to His own death – the destruction of the temple of His body. After He had risen from the dead, their meaning would be made plain. To many they would be conclusive evidence of His divinity.
Christ was the foundation and life of the temple. Its services were typical of the sacrifice of the Son of God. The priesthood was established to represent the mediatorial character and work of Christ. The entire plan of sacrificial worship was a foreshadowing of the Savior’s death to redeem the world. There would be no efficacy in these offerings when the great event toward which they had pointed for ages was consummated.
Having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them. Colossians 2:15
By virtue of His death and resurrection He became the minister of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. Hebrews 8:2. The sanctuary above, of which the earthly was a type, was built by no human architect.
Behold the Man whose name is The Branch; . . . He shall build the temple of the Lord; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne. Zechariah 6:12, 13
We are living in the Day Of Atonement
The announcement – The temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament, Revelation 11:19, points to the opening of the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, at the end of the 2300 days prophecy in 1844. At that time Christ entered there to perform the closing work of the atonement. Those who by faith followed their great High Priest, as He entered upon His ministry in the most holy place, beheld the ark of the testament.
The command is given: Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; Philippians 2:12. To this an encouragement is added: “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12.
We, then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. 2 Corinthians 6:1
For Christ said: I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:2
- RH, Oct 1892; GC88 411-420; RH, Jan 1890; DA 161-165; RH, Dec 1896; CCh 347; RH, Oct 1888; GH, Aug 1906; RH, Nov 1905 – The Ellen G. White Estate
- King James Version (KJV) Bible – BibleGateway
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