Where was Christ in the ancient Israelite sanctuary? I Cor. 10:3, 4; Exod. 25:21, 22.
First Corinthians 10:4 may be translated: "They drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ" (NIV). Christ accompanied the Israelites in their wilderness sojourn. He was present in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. When the cloud stopped, they stopped and erected the tabernacle. Then the cloud descended upon the tabernacle, and Christ's presence was manifested above the mercy seat in the Most Holy Place. "For throughout all their journeys the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel" (Exod. 40:38, RSV).
"Christ was their instructor. As He had been with them in the wilderness, so He was still to be their teacher and guide. In the tabernacle and the temple His glory dwelt in the holy shekinah above the mercy seat. In their behalf He constantly manifested the riches of His love and patience."-Christ's Object Lessons, p. 288.
Christ was represented by every priest who ministered in the court and the Holy Place during the daily service (Heb. 10:11,12). But all throughout the day-by-day services conducted in the court and the Holy Place, Christ Himself was present in the glory above the mercy seat in the Most Holy Place. He was present in the Most Holy Place while His ministry was only in the Holy Place. His Most Holy Place ministry, represented by the work of the earthly high priest, did not take place until the Day of Atonement.
Where did Christ go when He ascended to heaven after His death and resurrection? Mark 16:19; Eph. 1:20; Heb. 8:1; 12:2.
"We have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent which is set up not by man but by the Lord" (Heb. 8:1, 2, RSV). The only throne in the wilderness tabernacle and in Solomon's temple was in the Most Holy Place, where Christ dwelt continually. As Christ's ministry was only Holy Place ministry until the Day of Atonement, so His heavenly ministry was only Holy Place ministry until the antitypical Day of Atonement, which began in 1844. Just as Christ was present in the Most Holy Place during the daily service in the ancient tabernacle, so He occupies the throne with His Father during His Holy Place ministry prior to 1844.