The Scriptures clearly teach that Moses did not invent the tabernacle but built it according to the divine instruction that he had received on the mountain (Exod. 26:30, 27:8, Num. 8:4). The earthly sanctuary was to be constructed after the “pattern” (Exod. 25:9, 40). The Hebrew word for “pattern” (tabnit) expresses the idea of a model or copy; thus, we can conclude that Moses saw some kind of miniature model that represented the heavenly sanctuary and that this model served as the pattern for the earthly.
Therefore, the heavenly temple is the original, the model for the Israelite sanctuaries. What is also obvious is that we cannot equate the sanctuary in heaven with heaven itself. The heavenly temple is “in heaven” (Rev. 11:19, 14:17, 15:5); thus, heaven contains it. The two are not synonymous.
The book of Hebrews explains in unmistakable terms that the heavenly sanctuary is real. The sanctuary in heaven is called the “true tabernacle” (Heb. 8:2, NKJV), as well as the “greater and more perfect tabernacle” (Heb. 9:11, NKJV), while the earthly is a “copy and shadow” of the heavenly one (Heb. 8:5, NKJV). As a shadow is always a mere representation of something real, and an imperfect and faint representation at that, the earthly sanctuary is a mere representation of the heavenly. Whatever its limitations, however, the earthly sanctuary does reflect the reality of the heavenly in important ways.
Notice from the editor of the Sabbath School Lessons: In the printed Sabbath School lesson, sentences in the paragraph (below this notice) in Monday’s study of Lesson 2 are incorrect in their explanation of type and antitype and should read as follows:
The relationship between the two is called typology. Typology is a divinely designed, prophetic prefiguration that involves two corresponding historical realities, called antitype (original) and type (copy). Because the correspondence runs from the antitype (original) to the type (copy), we can see in Hebrews that the heavenly model that Moses had seen is referred to as a “pattern” (Heb. 8:5) that is, the original, and the earthly sanctuary as a “copy” (Heb. 9:24).
[Incorrect printed version:] The relationship between the two is called typology. Typology is a divinely designed, prophetic prefiguration that involves two corresponding historical realities, called type (original) and antitype (copy). Because the correspondence runs from the type (original) to the antitype (copy), we can see in Hebrews that the heavenly model that Moses had seen is referred to as “type” or “pattern” (Heb. 8:5) and the earthly sanctuary as “antitype” or “copy” (Heb. 9:24). This truth presents more evidence that the heavenly existed prior to the earthly. As Seventh-day Adventists, we are on solid biblical ground when we in emphasize the physical reality of the heavenly sanctuary.