[Thought questions for The Heavenly Sanctuary October 2, 2013]
Portrait of Love. Two German brothers in the 15th century planned to rise above the poverty that threatened to destroy their dream. With 18 children, parental help was highly unlikely. The plan sent Albert to work in the mines to support Albrecht, who would attend a fine art school. When Albrecht completed his studies, he would return the favor by supporting Albert’s education; however, when the time came to send Albert to Art school, he could not go. His hands had been smashed and abused so greatly by the work in the mines, that he knew he could never be an artist. Filled with emotion and gratitude Albrecht Durer painted a picture of his brother’s hands. Known as the “Praying Hands” it is a portrait of love, sacrifice, and gratitude. How does the cross give us a picture of love and sacrifice? How does the sanctuary broaden our understanding of the cross as a model or teaching tool? How does God use the sanctuary as a living picture to show love and sacrifice?
Dwelling. Most job applications request your address, the place where you can be found when needed. 1 Kings 8:49 tells us where God dwells, He hears our prayers, including our supplications or requests, and maintains our rights as His people. “Dwelling” can take on a broader meaning than mere “living.” Dwelling may include lingering over or thinking very hard about something. Does thinking of God as ‘dwelling’ where He may hear our audible or inaudible prayers, dwelling on them to our benefit broaden or diminish our concept of His abilities? How excited the first persons to have a telephone in their homes and businesses must have been! We have marched along quickly from that moment. Presently, we can be contacted anywhere in the world, at any time, with the swipe or touch of the finger. No longer is communication limited to our “dwelling.” It travels with us in our pockets, hands, ears, purses, etc. We are accessible on a boat, in a home, in an airplane, a church social, or wherever we are. However, we do have limits. Do the limits of earthly technology apply to God? How do the advances in technology in the past, present, and predictable future help us to come to terms with a God who lives, dwells, and yet is accessible everywhere?
The Throne. Appearing before an earthly king always comes with risks. She knew this and yet she had to go. How different it was to appeal to this king, than to the King she’d prayed to for the last few days. She trusted that King, but this one? He’d taken the wrong counsel before., so she wasn’t so sure. Her attitude was, ‘If I perish, I perish!’. The Eastern Group encountered a superior King after having an audience in the throne room of King Herod. Their directions were changed., so they did not return to King Herod, but went home a different way. How does the character of God who is robed in majesty, holiness and righteousness compare with earthly kings’ characters? Ahasuerus, Herod, Manasseh, Ahab, and others? Ps. 146:3 tells us which king is trustworthy. In terms of authority and fairness which king would it be?
God’s church in heaven. Do you call the place where you worship every week a “sanctuary”? How do you think the ancient Jewish people felt when they approached the literal tabernacle for Sabbath services? Does it sometimes seem that God went to great lengths to reveal Himself and His plan for dealing with sin to his desert family? Does God need a throne? Or should the question be, Why do we need for our God to have a throne? What does the throne symbolize? The descriptions in Revelation 4 and 5 describing the heavenly sanctuary point back to the Old Testament sanctuary. Since that time period has ended, what importance does the sanctuary have for us today?
God’s heavenly judgment. What is the difference between the throne room and the court room in heaven? You’ve been caught speeding and decide to go to court, hoping for a lighter sentence. After describing in almost tearful tones why you were in such a hurry and how careful you were, the officer who pulled you over adds his testimony to yours. Then the judge issues his ruling. “Case dismissed,” he barks, and the judgment is over. Does that experience bear any resemblance to the final judgment? What are the major differences? If you know Jesus has forgiven you, how fearful should you be at the judgment? Do you ever worry about that final judgment? Should you?
Salvation is here. Does God ever leave the heavenly sanctuary? Does God inhabit a single bit of space marked clearly by boundaries? Can He minister to our needs in the heavenly sanctuary even as He continues His ministry to those who still stumble in darkness? As you “walk” through the passages of Revelation 1:12-20, 8:2-6, 11:10 and 15:5-8, can you put on your “imagination glasses” and “see” the symbols on display there for you to review? Who invented the imagery? Can you obtain a blessing from each symbol there described? How much symbolism will there be in heaven? Or do you know?