The Sanctuary and Worship
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This week we are looking closely at the holy sanctuary, a subject that is fascinating to all Christians who base their faith on the whole Bible. Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself as you read and study the workings of the sanctuary in the desert as told in Exodus and Deuteronomy. First some thoughts about Sunday’s topic, “That I may dwell among them.”

1. What was the purpose of establishing the Sanctuary? The God who made all creation, who rules the sun and the stars, why did He need a special place to “live” on earth? Or did He? Was the Sanctuary for God or for His children? Explain. In what sense did God “live” in the sanctuary whose construction He directed? Did He sleep there? Did He take His meals there? Did anything about God’s closeness to His children change because of the sanctuary? Discuss.

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The Sanctuary and Worship — 12 Comments

  1. Joyce, here are a few more questions you may wish to add.

    2. Since Moses modeled the sanctuary he built according to the one God showed him which is in Heaven (Heb 8:1-5) do they both have the same purpose or are they entirely different?

    3. If the sacrifices that were made in the sanctuary on earth couldn't cleanse or make anyone perfect (Heb 10:1-4) then what was the use in having them?

    4. Why did Jesus say what He did when speaking of the temple (Ref. John 2:18-21)? What relationship was He establishing? Is there a relationship between the temple, Jesus, and the church (See Eph 2:19-22; 2 Cor 6:16)?

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  2. Amazing, I thought of several more questions:
    This week we are looking at the sanctuary in the context of worship.

    5. There have been times when God used the Ark of the Covenant to perform miracles (Josh 3:15-17; 4:18) and He certainly had it as a central object in the affairs of those people (Num 10:33; Josh 6; Josh 8:33; Judges 20:27; 1 Sam 4, Etc.). Did that contribute to idol worship (worshiping the created instead of the creator)? Give a reason for your answer.

    6. There have been many other times throughout biblical history when other objects were used in the same way (the rod of Moses Ex 4:17; 7:9, 15-20; 8:5-17; 9:23; 10:13; 14:16; 17:5-6, 9-11; Elijah and his mantle 2 Kings 2:8, 13-14; Paul and articles of clothing Acts 19:11-12; To an extent, even Peter’s shadow Acts 5:15). Do you think there is a lesson God would have us to learn through those accounts in scripture, I mean, wouldn’t have been easier for people to do those things without the use of those objects?

    7. There are Christian churches that seem to promote the use of trinkets, icons, and images of all sorts. Are they following the example set in scripture where objects were used? Is the use of objects good or bad?

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  3. dear beloved
    i just want to ask a single but tricky question, i ask this question because sometimes i found it complecated to answer especially to the outside world when sharing.
    Now that Jesus died for us what happened to our sins? This question comes from the fact that in the earthly sanctuary, the priest would get in the Most Holy place once in a year. Now Jesus has gone back to heaven (to the heavenly original sanctuary) .
    I understand that He has not laid His hands onto the azazel

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    • There are many different ways to view the sanctuary and because of that there are many different interpretations given for the various parts and services of the sanctuary. What I am going say here is one of my views that I have which I believe is an answer to your question. Because others will have different views generating different answers, each one in all likelihood will be no better or any worse than any other.
      I think we can all agree that the sanctuary doctrine concerns something that is highly symbolical and very theological. That makes it theologically more metaphorical and allegorical than physical (literal). For good background everyone should read Joyce Griffith’s article, “The Sanctuary as a Model” and the quotation in Friday’s lesson from Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 367–373.
      In order to understand why I believe what I do we will of necessity have to look at a few associated issues so that you see where I am coming from.
      When war broke out in Heaven and Satan took with him a third of the angels (Rev 12) it was because there were so many questions and deceptions raised by Satan that the angels were forced to choose a side based more on faith and loyalty than on fact (PP 42-43). At that point God entered upon a plan to educate the entire universe and prove that how He set up His creation along with all the laws involved was the correct thing to do, that everything He did was for the good of His creation (PP 155.2; Fundamentals of Christian Education 238.1; My Life Today 360; Testimonies to Ministers 116.3, 4). It is for this reason that Paul said, “we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men” (1Co 4:9 NKJ) and why Peter stated that the gospel had, “things which angels desire to look into” (1Pe 1:12 NKJ) “For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2Co 11:14 NKJ). We often think that the angels have perfect knowledge but that is not so, in fact, Satan was not unmasked until the cross and even then there were things beyond that that angels needed to understand (DA 761.2-3).
      All of this is important in order to understand the main purpose of the sanctuary. Once we realize that what God has been doing these last six thousand years or so was to educate the universe which includes the inhabitants of earth then the reason for the sanctuary becomes clear. Furthermore, the reason for the existence of a Heavenly sanctuary from which the earthy one was modeled also becomes clear. Both sanctuaries then become teaching aids that present the various issues involved in the controversy, specifically the plan of redemption.
      The sanctuary is not a singular lesson plan nor does it deal with only one problem. It gives different views from different reference points. The one that we are most familiar with is the representation of Christ. There have been books devoted to this one theme alone but if we stop there we will only have half the picture. In a sense then what I am now going to present will be a sort of “the rest of the story” at least from my point of view.
      In scripture Christ’s relationship to the church is such that often He is considered as part of it or perhaps we prefer to think of the church as part of Christ. In the three metaphors employed in the New Testament, the vine (John 15), the body (1 Cor 12; Col 1:18), and the temple (Eph 2:19-22) Jesus is consistently pictured as the base and the church members are dependant entities connected to Him. The point is that both Jesus and His church becomes one unit. When Jesus answered the Pharisees with the statement, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19 NKJ) John was obviously thinking of Christ’s resurrection but Jesus wasn’t the only thing resurrected. The fledgling church (parts of the temple) was also resurrected from a depressed, despondent bunch of disciples to a group to be reckoned with (Acts 4:14). Therefore Christ’s statement incorporated both Jesus and the church as one resurrected body from death to life.
      When we consider the sanctuary as a representation of Christ we should, therefore, include the church as well. In fact, there is a complete view of the sanctuary that looks at the ministry of the church and how it gets there. All of this has a profound implication on our understanding about the typical blood transfers within the sanctuary.
      Typically, our pat answer for the blood is that our sins are transferred to the Heavenly sanctuary waiting to be finally disposed of during the Day of Atonement exercises. I would like to propose that that is an inadequate explanation.
      Every time a church member commits a sin that becomes public knowledge the black eye on the church gets a little darker and a bit bigger. Even the angels at times have to deal with situations in which it isn’t clear exactly who did what. That is the reason why the official start of the investigative judgment had to be put off for two thousand years after the cross. The angels simply didn’t have enough understanding about the involvement of the two sides of the controversy in the affairs of man to make a fair judgment. After the cross they understood the philosophy of both sides of the controversy and from that point on viewed things from a different perspective but they needed to see how that all plays out in real time. This means for all intents and purposes that the sin of the individual becomes the sin of the church which includes Jesus.
      When we get to the Day of Atonement and the judgment has ended the entire universe will then see their Lord as fully justified along with His church. To me that is what we see when the high priest took off all those extra articles of clothing and wore only pure white during the Day of Atonement. He went from a state of implication in the sinful acts of man to 100% innocence. So the controversy ends with Jesus and His church cleared of all of Satan’s charges and the cause of all the problems identified and indicted as the root of all evil.
      The bottom line then as far as I am concerned is that God’s kingdom which includes the extended church carries the sins transferred to it symbolically until “a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom” (Dan 7:22 NKJ).

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      • I like your explanation, Tyler. I still believe that our "pat answer" is correct. However, I see your ideas as a fuller explanation of its meaning, which really ties a lot of Biblical ideas into one harmonious whole.

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        • I understand, R. G. I just want you to know the reason why I called our standard explanation "inadequate." Usually, but not always, that explanation reduces the sanctuary model to a piece of architecture rather than God's instruction concerning His ministry.
          That way of thinking also tends to bring us to such conclusions as the idea that Jesus was in the Holy Place for a bit over 1800 years and then in 1844 walked into a yet smaller room for the last 167 years (rather confining).
          As I view it, the sanctuary is not about what room Jesus is in - it is about what those rooms symbolize in ministry. Besides there is overlap in the functions symbolized.
          We like to think that judgment began in 1844 but I have found some six judgments in scripture, some of them happened before the cross including the fact that Satan was already judged with respect to that event (John 16:11). Besides what do we do with those born after 1844. Do they go directly into judgment at birth? (the Day of Atonement exercises provide for the same daily ministry done during the year before the business of the scapegoat is done) Because of these things I prefer to look at the whole thing from a spiritual standpoint rather than a literal one. While I do that I don't ignore the more literal view either because there are aspects of it that are true as well.
          May you and your family have a wonderful Sabbath.

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        • Thank you, Tyler. Best to you and yours as well. I appreciate your point about going deeper into the subject, and not losing sight of the essential spiritual meaning. Honestly, I doubt that a full explanation of the difficulties is possible. Only so much has been revealed. Guess that's why they call it faith.

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  4. dear brotheren
    first of all praise be to GOD Almighty for openning our eyes.these comments are truely from above.Then thanks to you guys for helping me&the rest who had such question.Lets us keep watching because HE is about come, have a wonderful Sabbath.

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  5. am very greatful unto our heavenly lord for his long loving and caring hands,no matter how far we seem to be ,he is always around to provide for us.
    the above coversation has really filled my empty mind with the facts that exist!
    i wish to be following up untill the coming back of our saviour!

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  6. happy sabbath
    am grateful for the above explanation.it has really help me relise the loving hand of our almighty GOD
    be blessed looking for some more!

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