Helps For Understanding the Sanctuary

As we continue studying this quarter’s Sabbath School lessons, on the sanctuary, people are telling me that there is so much they don’t understand or even know yet about the sanctuary. I say, do not be discouraged. Remember the sanctuary is a model of the plan of salvation. This is something we will be studying and looking into for all eternity.

 You may study that love for ages; yet you can never fully comprehend the length and the breadth, the depth and the height, of the love of God in giving His Son to die for the world. Eternity itself can never fully reveal it. Yet as we study the Bible and meditate upon the life of Christ and the plan of redemption, these great themes will open to our understanding more and more. -Ellen White, The Faith I Live By, Page 43.

I have to admit, I grew up Adventistand never really understanding a lot of the themes of the sanctuary or cleansing of the sanctuary. Instead of my teachers teaching it to me, they just told me I knew it. Interesting teaching method there! So, in my early twenties I still had lots of questions but did not dare ask because I was already supposed to know it all. Well, I realized I was not going to learn any younger, so I started asking questions anyway and reading and studying the sanctuary and the plan of redemption. I would like to share some books that have really helped me. Just click on the title for a PDF format of the book online, or info on how to purchase the book.

1844 Made Simple 


In his book 1844 Made Simple, Clifford Goldstein, a converted Jew and current editor of the Adult Bible Study Guide, does a remarkable job of making the judgement and cleansing of the sanctuary so….well…simple! He also makes it very clear how biblical this teaching is, though it is unique to Seventh-day Adventists.

The Cross and Its Shadow


Stephen N. Haskell, an early Seventh-day Adventist pioneer and a contemporary of Ellen White, brings alive all of the imagery of the sanctuary and brings understanding to their applications. His approach is devotional.

He clearly explains the feast days as well. While some wonder why many Seventh-day Adventists do not celebrate the feast days, Elder Haskell helps us see that we are observing the literal feast days. For example, ever since 1844 we have been in the literal day of atonement.

The Sanctuary Service


In this book, M.L. Andreasen, who was a young man in Ellen White’s old age, illustrates how the sanctuary service illuminates Christ as our High Priest, Sacrifice and Intercessor.

This is probably the best source for a detailed summary of all the sanctuary offerings and various services.

Then Shall the Sanctuary be Cleansed 


When I was in my early 20′s and began studying the sanctuary, this book, by Donald Short, brought many things to life for me. It also helped me understand the work our High Priest is doing in the sanctuary of my heart.


Happy studying!

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Helps For Understanding the Sanctuary — 8 Comments

  1. Hi William,

    Thanks for the references. My favorite that you have posted is Elder Short's book. H e reaches the heart and gets at the meaning of the sanctuary as no one else does.

    My personal favorite resources are Pastor Jack Sequeira's books: The Sanctuary and The Sanctuary: God's Show and Tell. Some of the studies are online:
    or they are available in book, CD, DVD or MP3 format:

    Pastor Sequeira's studies are Bible based, practical, easy to understand and most of all give meaning the various aspects of a topic. He explains our doctrine but goes further.

  2. Hi William,
    Today's lesson is like renewed life to me.Every time I read the sanctuary truth I wonder at the overwhelming love of God. I gasp with astonishment as God took upon himself our entire blame and gave us in its place his own blamelessness even to the point of dying our death and giving us a second chance...I am speechless! O!, what a perfect example for true love! The sanctuary truth is a vivid illustration on how a wretched mortal like me can be made to access and enjoy the unmerited favor of a truely Loving GOD

  3. Thanks for the references.

    To be perfectly honest, while I understand and appreciate the intent of the symbolism-- I am always puzzled when others express earth-shattering joy over it.

    Maybe it's my personality.

    I also think that this doctrine must (in a way) be still in its infancy in the sense that I don't yet see its impact in the church beyond being a fancy way to describe what Jesus is doing to save us. That's an improvement, by the way, over the fear it induced in the past. That fear was very real for me. Also, I think sometimes it is easy to get lost in the symbols. But--and I speak for myself-- I think we have to take up the meaning of the symbols and run so to speak.

    It is not yet integrated. It's sort of still standalone. My question is: Do you long to tell your friends and neighbors about the sanctuary?

    All this is my opinion and experience. God bless.

    • I kind of agree with you Andrew. I was frustrated with it for a while (I did read the 1st book mentioned) as to me it was not 'simple'. It still isn't. I put it aside for a long time, because like you say, this same truth of salvation can be understood through the gospels and NT in general as well. What I take from it is the fact that God has had a plan for a long time and it is both simple and intricate -because He is God. It is fascinating, though we have to let go if/when we don't fully understand. I'm glad there is a quarterly devoted to it, but no earth-shattering joy here either :-) Just a sense of peace maybe?

      • Andrew and Caroline, the Sanctuary and it's services was an expanded "view" of the sacrifice brought by Abel and the ram that took the place of Isaac on Abraham's altar. The details were given to help a forgetful (result of unbelief) people to remember the grace of God "given in Christ Jesus before the world began". I too have never felt "earth-shattering" joy, but it does bring perfect peace. Peace seems to be the ultimate goal in scripture, and the remnant will have this perfect peace, while it eludes the wicked, and as described by Zephaniah, the remnant "shall eat and lie down, and none shall make them afraid". When all our guilt is removed, what is left to bring fear upon the soul? This is the essence of the sanctuary. Complete forgiveness with the promise that we will be presented "faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy." Perhaps that is when all will experience the earth-shattering joy as we stand face to face with our Heavenly Father at last, and witness HIS exceeding joy over us.

        • I don't believe the Sanctuary study is for your neighbors. They may only be ready for you to share with them John 3: 16 and the love of Jesus for them and the sacrifice He made for them on the cross and that they are forgiven. That's the gospel that we are called to carry. The Sanctuary can only become clear to us as we depend upon the Holy Spirit to "leads us into all righteousness" and a love for the deeper understanding of the process of our salvation. The Holy Spirit must help us to understand Daniel, Revelation and Hebrews as we grow in grace. He will help us to understand the Sanctuary system and claim a deeper understanding and appreciation of what our Saviour did for us on Calvary. I appreciate my Lord's love for me the more I study this quarter's lessons.

        • That might depend on your neighbor Kathryn. I think the basic understanding would be needed to comprehend the meaning of the prophecies in Daniel, and it can be made very simple. We should trust that God will lead in each case and give understanding to those who need it. It's really not that complicated, though rather "ornate". We simply need to tailor our teaching to the level of the learner involved. It can be taught to children on a basic level.

  4. Thank you William for sharing these references. Truly, these are very helpful to me in further understanding the lessons re Sanctuary and aid me in teaching my Sabbath School class.

    May God always bless you and use you for the furtherance of His work.


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