[Thought questions for Lessons From the Sanctuary October 23, 2013]
1. “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them.” Exodus 25:8 NASB. Just a dozen words, but think of the answers we would have found to the following questions if we’d been in the group: Who are we building this sanctuary for? Why? Who’s going to build it? Why do we need it? Why do we have to build it? Couldn’t God just create a sanctuary? In what ways are many Adventist churches built in a way that reflects the gospel message or the presence of God?
2. God living with His people. How hard is it for you to imagine God as Jesus living with a group of people he had called from Egypt to the hot windy desert? Do you wonder how He made His presence known? Did the children of Israel enjoy a face-to-face relationship with God on their journey? Or was it a heart-to-heart relationship? Or do we know? The tabernacle was placed in the center of the encampment that enclosed the sanctuary. What did this symbolize? What can it mean to us?
3. The holiness of the sanctuary. Is it a bit of a twist of the mind to think of objects of worship as holy? How could the oil used in anointing various vessels and the tabernacle itself be holy? What does it mean for something to be holy? Or for a human being to be holy? When in your life do you feel most holy? How can we adapt the lesson’s description of holiness as being separate and unique, yet belonging wholly to God to our daily lives as Christians?
4. Instruments of the sanctuary. After being warned about not making false images, do you think the Israelites looked askance when God asked them to create numerous representations including a “mercy seat,” cherubim on its cover, lampstands and many other items? Or do you think they sensed immediately the significance of the symbols and began to understand them in terms of salvation?
5. Significant prayers. How many types of prayers are offered at the church where you worship every week? What are they? Have you ever been to a cathedral or enclosure of some kind and were not allowed into the innermost parts of the building because you couldn’t prove you were a member? Has anyone ever come to your church and been escorted out the door because of his or her looks that seemed to indicate irreverence or some other violation of worship decorum? Do you use opportunities in the church service to pray? Whether in church, at home, or on the job, how much time do you give to prayer? How important is that?
6. Asaph. Do you find it striking that “He who knew no sin, became sin for us”? 2 Cr. 5:21 The concept of transferring the guilt from one to another is seen in the sanctuary service, beginning with the walls and ultimately at the door of the tabernacle where the white linen of Chris’t's righteousness confronts the sinner. There was only One who could substitute for the sinner so all that he could do was symbolic. It was the sinner who would confess his sin and put his hand on the head of the lamb, lay his weight upon that small lamb and quickly take its life. He had done all he could, as a sinner. It was now up to the priest to transfer the blood until it finally reached the veil. The sanctuary itself now has received this man’s sin. Do I have a personal sense of my own guilt? What are my sanctuary thoughts during communion, prayer, or conversations with others? How often do we pray the Pharisees’ prayer: “Lord, I thank you that I am not like other men…?” What should our prayers convey instead?