Cleansing of the Sanctuary Message in Christmas Carols

Image © Lars Justinen from

Image © Lars Justinen from

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born upon this day*
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy-Published by William B. Sandys in 1833. Author unknown.

There is some good theology in these older Christmas carols as well as some of the new.

The writer of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” knew the power of the gospel when he (or she) wrote, “To save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray.”  By coming to live and die for us, Jesus did way more than just save us from the penalty of sin. He saves us from the power of sin.

The author of “Away in a Manger” (Author unknown) Speaks of sanctification as well as justification.

Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven, to live with thee there.

That’s what sanctification is, fitting us for heaven and saving us from Satan’s power. (Some newer versions of this song say “take us to heaven” instead of “fit us for heaven.” Why the change?) Today as Seventh-day Adventists study and share the sanctuary message, many scoff at us when it comes to the holy place and most holy place, where sanctification takes place. They want the sanctuary to end in the courtyard where justification takes place, and not go any farther. Yet years before the Adventists ever discovered the “cleansing of the sanctuary” message, these and many other Christmas hymns had an understanding of the complete gospel, and a comprehension of all that Jesus accomplished by His life and death on the cross, and what He can accomplish in our hearts today!

“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from [From not in!] their sins.” Matthew 1:21 NKJV

This Christmas season let’s take some time to enjoy and appreciate the wonderful Christmas hymns, celebrating everything Jesus accomplished for us from the manger to the cross!

*Some versions of the song say “born on Christmas day.” When it was pointed out to me which version of the song I was using I quickly changed it to the version which says, “born upon this day” which could be any day. We all know Jesus was not born on December 25. The focus of the song and this post is not when Jesus’ birthday is, but that He came to free us from Satan’s power.



Cleansing of the Sanctuary Message in Christmas Carols — 2 Comments

  1. 'God rest ye merry gentlemen' is one of my favorite carols it offers our saviors assurance of protection from the power of satan (which is often rife during festive seasons) and this reminds me of a powerful promise of God - 'I will be with you alway even unto the end of the world'

    The song in its entirety makes us aware that there's sin and its power but that we shouldn't panic at all. there's an overpowering power of salvation through Jesus christ the lamb who has overcome the world for us.

    When we offer gifts this season let the message of salvation through Jesus christ be made manifest. IT IS THE BEST GIFT we can give to an ailing world and not a gift manifesting only festive merriment. a Good matching bible text like Matt.1:21 can be chipped in the same merry christmas card. and that will make all the difference. we are merry for christmas but more merry to see them in heaven.

  2. Jesus declared after cleansing the temple of a flurry of religious activities (Mk 11:15-17) that His "house shall be called a house of prayer for ALL nations". This is in line with the message from the angel of the Lord to the shepherds in the field, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to ALL people." (Lk 2:10). Why "ALL nations", why "ALL people"? Because God's message to humanity is that in our DNA is Adam's nature, we ALL bear "the image of the man of dust..." (1 Cor 15: 49). Scripture asserts that NO human is excluded (Rm 3:23), that it is indelibly written into our operating system (Jer 13:23), we are hopelessly imprisoned (Isaiah 44:20)! Because just like Adam's wife, Eve, humanity SEES "the tree was GOOD for food, that it was PLEASANT to the eyes, and a tree DESIRABLE to make one wise", when God declares to US the opposite!! (Gen 2:17). So Isaiah says, "ALL WE like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, EVERY ONE to HIS OWN way". Humanity's mind manifested by our many choices, views, opinions and lifestyles defaults in one direction...away from our Creator, at tremendously real personal, societal and national loss. If Adam and Eve could have only seen that their one, small choice would devolve into fratricide!
    So when Jesus cleansed the temple, it was in evidence of His ability to "save us ALL from Satan's power, when we were gone astray" because Scripture says, "Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them" (Mt 21:14). Jesus was asserting His authority to expel demons (of the mind) and establish the kingdom of God, individuals with minds under God's government for His service (Mt 12:28-29).
    I believe Adventist need to begin to look away from the understanding of the sanctuary being some structure up in heaven where Jesus is removing some commodity we impersonally call sin and bring our understanding of the sanctuary in line with the Apostles' as found in Acts 15: 13-18. Sin is not in some structure far removed from me/us. Sin is MY desires and choices outside of God's control (James 1:13-15). James, speaking at the Jerusalem Council, endorsed Peter's discourse (Acts 15:7-11) with a quote from Amos 9:11-12, effectively saying that the "tabernacle of David" is a fellowship of Jews and Gentiles who have experienced purification of their hearts, or their minds, by faith (Acts 15:8-9) and are subsequently activated for service (Heb 9:14). "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who CALLED YOU OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS MARVELOUS LIGHT" (1 Pt 2: 9). Isn't that "tidings of comfort and joy"?! "God rest ye merry, gentlemen" (Rom 4: 6-8).


Please leave a comment long enough to say something significant and considerably shorter than the original post. First and last name required.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *