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The Sanctuary

Lesson Number Fourteen

Parallel and Purpose

A "sanctuary" as the word suggests, is a consecrated place of refuge for the repentant—a haven for the restless.

Just after the fall of man, God sought to illustrate the way back to Him by providing object lessons involving altars, fire, and the blood of animals. By this system the Lord taught salvation through faith in the promised Redeemer. God accepted Abel’s offering because it fulfilled the requirement to shed blood which represented the eternal sacrifice which would he made for all the world. God said that “without shedding of blood is no remission” of sin (Hebrews 9:22). Adam, Eve, and their children were told that the Lamb was a type or symbol of the promised Saviour. Christ Himself was to be as a sanctuary for the repentant sinner.

This plan of redemption has been formulated “from the foundation of the world.” Revelation 13:8.

The lessons to be learned from these sacrifices were made clearer at Mt. Sinai. At this time Moses was given the more elaborate system of sacrifices and services of the wilderness “sanctuary.” This system more perfectly illustrated the purpose of Christ’s complete sacrifice as well as His future ministration in the heavenly sanctuary (Hebrews 8:1, 2; 9:24).

Later, king David desired to build a permanent structure for God’s tabernacle, but due to His hands having shed much blood, this task was passed on to his son. The sanctuary was firmly established in the building of Solomon’s temple.

Purpose of the Sanctuary

The result of sin is death (Romans 6:23), but God intended to teach that the sinner’s death sentence could be pardoned, and the death penalty could revert back upon the sin’s instigator.

The purpose of the sanctuary was to teach that salvation centered in Christ’s sacrifice as well as by His ministration in the heavenly sanctuary. Confession and faith were required in this sole provision by God.

The sanctuary lessons taught God’s perfect and complete plan for man’s salvation. The symbolism of the sacrifice was fulfilled when Jesus lived the perfect life of sacrifice and service, and then was slain as the unblemished “lamb of God.” The importance of these lessons was daily reenacted in the earthly sanctuary. The services also became a reality when these types were continued by Jesus Himself in the heavenly sanctuary as our High Priest (Hebrews chapters 8 and 9). 

Let us look at the basics of this sanctuary as given by God.

The Sanctuary

God had commanded Moses, “let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” Exodus 25:8. The sanctuary was built according to the pattern given by God to Moses (Hebrew 8:5).

This pattern was identical to “the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man” Hebrews 8:2. The earthly sanctuary was patterned after the heavenly sanctuary.

Surrounding the tabernacle was an area called the “courtyard,” bordered by a beautiful linen fence (Exodus 27:9-18). This courtyard, where the animals were slain, represented the earth where Jesus was to die (John 12:32, 33). The congregation could see the tabernacle over this courtyard enclosure which had one doorway at the eastern end. This singular doorway represented Christ as the only means of entering into covenant with God (John 10:1, 9).

The altar of burnt offering (Exodus 27:1-8) and the  laver of water (Exodus 30:17-21) stood between the courtyard doorway and the door of the tabernacle. The altar of burnt offering represented acceptance of the sacrifice of Christ’s blood as the only acceptable offering to be taken into the sanctuary (Hebrews 10:19, 20). The washing in the laver offers the cleansing by water (baptism) as a renunciation and cleansing of sin before appearing in the presence of God (John 3:5).

The tabernacle itself, which was located within the enclosure, had two rooms, the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place (Exodus 26:33).

The Holy Place or first apartment contained certain pieces of furniture (Hebrews 9:1, 2):

a) Golden candlestick (Exodus 25:31-40) represented the work of the Holy Spirit and the light of life manifested through God's church (John 8:12; 1:9; Revelation 1:13, 20).

b) Table of shewbread (Exodus 25:23-30) represented Jesus as the bread of life (John 6:51, 33). 

c) Altar of incense (Exodus 30:1-7) represented the continual fragrance of Jesus’ intercession (Revelation 8:3, 4; Hebrews 7:25), which mingled with the prayers of the saints.

The Most Holy Place (Holiest) or second apartment also contained special furniture (Hebrews 9:3-5), however only the High Priest officiated in this apartment. There was the 

Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:10-22), which contained:

1. Two tables of stone on which God Himself had written the  Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 10:4, 5).

2. Mercy Seat (Exodus 25:17-21), which symbolizes the mingling of God’s mercy with His justice.

The Services and Ministration of the Sanctuary:

The Daily Services (reference Leviticus chapter 4).

The daily services were administered in the first apartment (Holy Place) of the Sanctuary. These services pointed the sinner to the Sacrifice of the promised Redeemer at Calvary. (The same as the altar and sacrifices of Adam’s day.)

1. The common priest performed the daily services (Hebrews 9:6).

2. The sinner was required to bring a sin offering of an innocent, young, unblemished animal (Leviticus 4:3, 22, 28).

3. The sinner laid his hands on the head of the animal confessing his sin showing the transferring of his sin to the innocent sin-bearer.

4. The sinner personally killed the animal in the courtyard. The priest took the blood, and then, depending on the situation either:

a) sprinkled some blood on the horns of the altar of the burnt offering in the courtyard and poured the remaining blood at the base of the altar (Leviticus 4:7); or

b) sprinkled the blood in the first apartment (Leviticus 6:30);  or

c) the priest ate a portion of the offering then entered the first apartment (Leviticus 10:17, 18).

Each application symbolized the transferal of the sins from the sinner to the sacrifice, the sacrifice to the priest, and then the priest transferred the sin to the sanctuary. Thus the sinner was pardoned by the blood sacrificed in his behalf. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” Leviticus 17:11.

However, the lessons from these services were the same. Although “the wages of sin is death,” God has provided a lamb to take away the sins of the world. This is similar to the prophetic words of Abraham, spoken when Isaac noticed they had no lamb for the burnt offering. He answered “. . . God will provide himself a lamb. . . ” Genesis 22:8.

From the inauguration of the services, Israel knew that the sanctuary symbols pointed forward to the fulfilment of God’s promise. But the Jewish nation through self security and pride, lost the significance of the beautiful ceremonies and gradually the ceremonies became a mere form. How sad, for when the temple curtain was “rent in twain” (Matthew 27:50, 51) from top to bottom, the Jewish nation did not comprehend that “the law of ceremonies was done away with,” and that the prophesied reality of Christ’s crucifixion had fulfilled the symbols. Rejecting the true Passover lamb, Israel was unaware that the services of the earthly sanctuary were now at an end and were to be continued by Jesus, not only as a perfect sacrifice, but as our high Priest in the heavenly temple. The "Shadow" had met the True, the "Type" met the Antitype.

The Yearly Service (Reference: Leviticus Chapter 6)

As the days and weeks passed, the end of the year found the Earthly Sanctuary symbolically filled by the transferal of sin and defilement.

God’s plan was not only to forgive sin, as demonstrated in the daily services, but to separate His people from sin and to finally destroy it and its originator. This is seen in the yearly services. By faith the people were to see this work of judgment going on in heaven through both the daily and the yearly services. Christ’s life and death fulfilled the first part of this plan as carried out in the daily services, but the final part of the plan is to be fulfilled in this our day—the Day of Atonement. The yearly cleansing of the sanctuary on the 10th day of the 7th month of the Jewish calendar (Leviticus 16:29, 30), has its prophetic fulfillment in the prophecy of Daniel 8:14. The most striking points of this yearly service are:

1. On this high day only the High Priest (Hebrews 9:7) performed the service of cleansing in the second apartment, but only after he had made an atonement for himself and his family. The high priest symbolized the work and ministry of Jesus to take place in the Heavenly Sanctuary (Hebrews 8:1, 2).

2. All Israel were to be prepared for the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:29). All sins were to be confessed and transferred to the sanctuary in preparation for the final destruction of their sins.

3. After the High Priest made an atonement for himself and his household, two goats were brought to the tabernacle and lots were cast. The first goat was the Lord's, and the second was the scapegoat (Leviticus 16:5-8).

a) The Lord's goat was slain. The blood was then taken by the High Priest and sprinkled in the Most Holy Place before the Mercy Seat (Leviticus 16:15). Once a year, the blood, symbolizing the accumulated sins of the congregation (Hebrews 10:3), was carried in by the High Priest (as the sin bearer), and placed before the Mercy Seat of God, thus to cleanse the sanctuary of its defilement and sin.

After reconciling or cleansing the sanctuary of sin, the sin was destroyed.

The scapegoat:  the High Priest, symbolically bearing the sins from the inner apartment, stepped to the second goat at the door of the sanctuary. Laying his hands upon the scapegoat’s head, the High Priest confesses all the sins of the people (Leviticus l6:10, 20, 21), thus transferring all registered sins onto the scapegoat. This occurred after the judgment was completed and every person’s case had been settled.

The scapegoat (also called “Azazel”) was then led off by a fit man into the wilderness, to wander and die, thus separating the sins from the  sanctuary and from God’s people forever (Leviticus 16:21, 22).

This yearly day of judgment was symbolic, referring to the final judgment and destruction of sin.

As the priest, in removing the sins from the sanctuary, confessed them upon the head of the scapegoat, so Christ will place all confessed sins upon Satan, the originator and instigator of sin. The scapegoat, bearing the sins of Israel, was sent away “into a land not inhabited” Leviticus 16:22; so Satan, bearing the guilt of all the sins which he has caused God’s people to commit, will be for a thousand years confined to the earth, which will at that time be desolate, without inhabitant (Revelation 20:1-3).

In Israel the Day of Atonement was regarded as a yearly Day of Judgment. If any one chose to be absent or refused to participate, that person was cut off from God’s people (Leviticus 23:27-29).

“But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. . . . Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.” Hebrews 7:24, 27.

“For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us . . . but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Hebrews 9:24, 26, 27.

In the ministration of the wilderness tabernacle, and of the temple that afterwards took its place, the people were taught every day of the year the great truths relative to Christ’s death.  Then once each year their minds were carried forward to Christ’s ministration and the closing events of the great controversy between Christ and Satan and then the final purification of the universe from sin and sinners.

“Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?” Psalm 77:13.

Quiz For Lesson Number Fourteen

Please Fill in All the Answers

1. What did God first institute as a lesson of His plan to restore the rift caused by Adam's fall?


2. When was the plan first made known to mankind? (select the correct answer)

at Mt. Sinai

at the cross of Calvary

in the garden of Eden


3. What additional system was given to the children of Israel to teach man about the plan of salvation?


4. Where is the true tabernacle?


5. Match the items listed below with their correct symbolic meaning.

1. The courtyard
2. The laver of water
3. The single door
4. The golden candlesticks
5. The altar of incense
6. The table of showbread
7. The altar of burnt offering

6. Name two items of furniture found in the Holy Place.



7. Name the item found in the Most Holy Place.


8. What is the significance of the position of the mercy seat?


9. What was so special about the 10th day of the 7th month each Jewish year, and what was this day a symbol of?



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