SDA Sabbath School Lessons
Sunday July 14, 1996

The ancient Israelite sanctuary
(Exodus 26:30)

What two items of furniture were contained in the court of the sanctuary, and what was their significance? Exod. 27:1-8 (compare Lev. 4:27-31); Exod. 30:17-21.

The altar of burnt offering was an outdoor fireplace or grill on which the remains of animals were burned after being offered as sacrifices. All animal sacrifices were offered near this altar in the court of the sanctuary. Every morning and evening, burnt offerings were offered on the altar of burnt offering (Lev. 6:8-13). Israelite males offered sin-offerings for themselves and their families at the altar of burnt offering at least three times a year (Exod. 23:17; Deut. 16:16, 17).

The laver was a large washbasin at which the priests washed their hands and feet before entering the Holy Place. Physical washing at the laver illustrated the higher spiritual cleansing necessary for one who was about to enter into the presence of God. (See Psalm 5 1:1,2.)

Briefly describe the two rooms of the sanctuary. What was the purpose of the three items of furniture in the Holy Place? Exod. 26:31-35; 25:23-32; 30:1-8.

The tabernacle (later Solomon's temple) consisted of two rooms, the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. The Holy Place was exactly twice the size of the Most Holy Place. The Holy Place contained a seven-branched candlestick (menorah), a table on which twelve loaves of bread were placed each Sabbath (Lev. 24:5-9), and an altar of incense. The seven lamps were trimmed morning and evening so that the light never went out (Exod. 27:20, 2 1). Israel's light for the world, which originated in God, was never to be extinguished. The bread on the table was not food for God; it was food from God, representing both His physical and spiritual provision for His people. Morning and evening at the altar of incense a priest offered incense (Exod. 30:7, 8). The smoke of the incense ascended over the top of the veil separating the two apartments, entering the very presence of God in the Most Holy Place. The incense represented the daily prayers of God's people (Ps. 141:2).

Before looking at the New Testament, what gospel parallels to the ancient sanctuary can you immediately detects The three parts of the sanctuary (the court, the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place) symbolize the three phases of Christ's ministry: sacrifice, mediation, and judgment. The sanctuary provided a preview of the gospel.