Jumat, 30 Januari 2009
God's Sanctuary And Dwelling Place
GOD’S SANCTUARY AND DWELLING PLACE
Eternity can never fathom the depth of love revealed in the cross of Calvary. It was there that the infinite love of Christ and the cruel and unbounded selfishness of Satan stood face to face. The entire religious system of the ancient Israelites, with all its shadowy types and symbols (see Hebrews 8:5, 10:1; Colossians 2:17), was but a compacted prophecy of the gospel of Jesus Christ revealing His sacrifice on the cross and His ministerial work for mankind.
Even though Christ's death abolished forever the performance of these rites and ceremonies, yet symbolic truths are still clearly seen. In every animal sacrifice, Christ's death was shown. In every cloud of incense His righteousness ascended. By every jubilee trumpet His name was sounded. In the awful mystery of the holy of holies His glory dwelt.
In the light shining from the sanctuary, the books of Moses, with their detail of offerings and sacrifices, their rites and ceremonies, usually considered so meaningless and void of interest, become radiant with consistency and beauty. There is no other subject which so fully unites all parts of the inspired Word into one harmonious whole, as the subject of the sanctuary. Every gospel truth centers in the sanctuary service, and radiates from it like the warm rays from the sun.
Every type used in the sacrificial system was designed by God to bear resemblance to some spiritual truth. The value of these types consisted in the fact that they were chosen by God Himself to shadow forth the different phases of the complete plan of redemption, made possible by the death of Christ. But why did a sacrificial system become necessary in the first place?
Disobedience to God's commands by Adam and Eve opened the flood gates of woe upon our world. It plunged the whole human family into impenetrable darkness, and death was the future destiny of all living things. But divine love had conceived a plan whereby man might be redeemed from sin and death. This plan was revealed in the promise:
"I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." Genesis 3:15.
Since the divine law is as sacred as God Himself, only One equal with God could make an atonement for its transgression. Hence, the seed of the woman could refer to none other than the Lord Jesus Christ (see Galatians 3:16). In this promise to our first parents a gleam of hope penetrated the gloom that enveloped the minds of the sinful pair. Then, when a system of sacrifices was made known to them that demanded the life of an innocent victim (see Genesis 4:4), they could see more clearly the fact that the death of God's dear Son was necessary in order to atone for their sin and meet the claims of the broken law. Through this system of sacrifices, the shadow of the cross reached back to the beginning, and became a star of hope, illuminating the dark and terrible future, and relieving it of its utter desolation and unknown terror.
Let us examine some of these rites and ceremonies and see what spiritual truths glimmer. In order that man might realize the enormity of sin, which would take the life of the sinless Son of God, he was required to bring an innocent lamb, confess his sins over its head, then with his own hands to take its life--a type of Christ's life. This sin-offering was then burned, typifying that through the death of Christ all sin would finally be destroyed in the fires of the last day (see Malachi 4:1-3; Revelation 20:9-10, 13-15).
The simple system of sacrifices instituted by the Lord in the beginning to symbolize, or prefigure, Christ, was almost totally lost sight of during the bondage of the children of Israel in Egypt. Upon leaving Egypt in the Exodus, Moses, by divine direction, gave them a more elaborate system, designated in the Scriptures as the "sanctuary and its services" (see Exodus 25-38; Leviticus 4-27). This earthly sanctuary, with every article of its construction and material, every form, ceremony, and detail of its services, had a spiritual significance, and was designed to give the worshiper a more complete understanding of the great plan whereby humanity might be redeemed from sin and death through Christ and His great sacrifice.
The Christian who will study the typical service of the earthly sanctuary, not as a collection of dry, lifeless relics of ancient worship, but as a wonderful collection of different divine parts which portray the marvelous plan of redemption, will be astonished at the beauty revealed. He sees the beautiful story of the Saviour's love. He sees the vivid picture of the priest in snow-white robe leading the red heifer out to the rough uncultivated valley, there to offer it a sacrifice for sin. He beholds the heifer slain and its blood spilt on the rough stones of the valley, to teach that Christ died for the most worthless, for the veriest outcast (see Numbers 19:1-22; Deuteronomy 21:1-9). Who can gaze on that scene without having his heart filled with love for such a compassionate Redeemer?
Again he views a picture of a destitute sinner, longing to be free from sin. He sits helplessly and watches his wealthy brethren passing by with their expensive lambs for sin-offerings, the poor bringing their less costly pigeons and doves, and he finally sinks into despair for he has no living thing to offer for his sins. Then the light of hope springs into his face as one tells him, "Only a measure of flour will answer" (see Leviticus 5:11-13). As the sinner watches the priest offer a handful of this crushed wheat as an emblem of the blessed body of Christ to be broken for him, and hears him say, "Thy sin is forgiven," his heart leaps for joy. Oh, there is much divine and glorious truth to be discovered by studying the sanctuary and its services!
The sanctuary or tabernacle built by Moses at the command of God was the earthly dwelling place for the Most High. God stated: "And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them" Exodus 25:8.
As the Israelites were journeying through the wilderness, the tabernacle was so constructed that it could be moved from place to place; yet it was a structure of great magnificence. Its walls consisted of upright boards heavily plated with gold and set in sockets of silver, while the roof was formed of a series of curtains or coverings, the outermost were of skins, while the innermost were of fine linen beautifully constructed with figures of cherubim or angels (see Ex. 26:2-30). Besides the outer court, which contained the altar of burnt offering, and a brazen laver or wash basin (see Ex. 27:1-8, 30:17-21), the sanctuary itself consisted of two apartments called the holy and the most holy place (see Ex. 26:33; 1 Kings 6:16-17, 8:6-10; Hebrews 9:2-3). These two apartments were separated from each other by a rich and beautiful curtain, or veil (see Ex. 26:31-34), while a similar veil was as a door at the entrance into the first apartment from the outer court (see Ex. 26:36-37).
In the holy place was the candlestick, on the south, with its seven lamps giving light to the sanctuary both by day and by night (see Ex. 25:31-40, 26:35, 40:24-25). On the north side of this first apartment stood the table of shewbread (see Ex. 25:23-30, 26:35, 40:22-23). Directly before the inner veil which separated the holy from the most holy place was the golden altar of incense, from which the cloud of fragrance, with the prayers of God's people, was daily ascending before Him (see Ex. 30:1-10, 40:5, 26-27).
In the most holy place stood the ark, a chest of precious wood overlaid with gold, in which was deposited the two tables of stone upon which God had inscribed His law of Ten Commandments (see Ex. 25:10-22, 40:20-21; 1 Kings 8:9). Above the ark, and forming the cover of this sacred chest, was the mercy seat, which was surmounted by two cherubim--one at each end, and all made of solid gold. In this second apartment God's divine presence was manifested in a cloud of glory from the space between these cherubim and directly above the mercy seat. This was arranged just so to teach that when we are guilty of breaking God's law and thereby committing sin (see 1 John 3:4), we could still obtain forgiveness and mercy through Christ which would be accepted by God so we could appear before His holy presence without being destroyed.
Picture yourself looking from above at how the sanctuary and its furniture was arranged: beginning at the outer court and looking through both apartments of the sanctuary, you would first see the brazen altar of sacrifice (see Exodus 40:6), and in a straight line up from this you would see the brazen laver (see Exodus 40:7, 30-32). Then through the outer veil and into the first apartment you would see the candlestick on the left and the table of shewbread on the right, and directly before the inner veil you would see the golden altar of incense. Past this inner veil and into the most holy place you would see the ark directly before you. In viewing this complete picture of the sanctuary, notice that a perfect cross is plainly visible.
Indeed it is true that in the sanctuary and its services, the cross of Christ is seen to be the great center of the whole scheme of human redemption. Around it clusters every truth of the Bible. From it radiates light from the beginning to the end of both the old and the new dispensations. It also penetrates the great beyond, and gives the child of faith a glimpse of the glories of the future eternal reward to God's faithful saints. The cross also manifests the love of God to the entire universe. The prince of this world is cast out. The accusations which Satan brought against God are refuted, and the reproach he cast upon heaven is forever removed. Also the justice and immutability of God's law are sustained, and angels, as well as men, are drawn to the Redeemer.
This is the only sanctuary of God that ever existed on the earth, of which the Bible gives any information, and was the one which God commanded Moses to build. This was declared by Paul to be the sanctuary of the first covenant (see Hebrews 9:1). But has the new covenant no sanctuary?
"Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man." Hebrews 8:1-2.
Here is revealed the sanctuary of the new covenant--a heavenly tabernacle. The earthly sanctuary of the first covenant was pitched by man and built by Moses. But this heavenly sanctuary is pitched by the Lord and not by man. In the first covenant sanctuary the earthly priests performed the service. In the second covenant heavenly sanctuary, Christ our great High Priest, ministers at God's right hand. Thus, one sanctuary was on the earth, the other is in heaven.
The sanctuary built by Moses was made after the pattern of the temple in heaven. The Lord directed Moses: "According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it....look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount." Exodus 25:9, 40 (see also Hebrews 9:23, 8:5).
This was done so that our faith might lay hold of the fact that in heaven there is a sanctuary whose services are performed for the redemption of mankind. This heavenly temple in which Jesus ministers in our behalf, is the great original, of which the one built by Moses was only a copy.
All the worship in the earthly sanctuary was to teach the truth in regard to the heavenly sanctuary. While the earthly tabernacle was standing, the way into the heavenly tabernacle was not yet made manifest (see Hebrews 9:8). But when Christ was crucified, the veil of the earthly sanctuary was rent in two signifying that a new and better way was being instituted (see Matthew 27:51; Luke 23:45). The first was being taken away that the second, based upon better promises, might be established (see Hebrews 8:6). While Christ was on earth, He could not be a priest (see Hebrews 8:4), and thus could not offer His spilt blood and atone for our sins. But Christ rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, and then became our High Priest so that He could present before God His own spilt blood in our behalf, and thereby make an atonement for sin. So the atonement for sin could not have been accomplished or completed on the cross, but could only begin after Christ ascended to heaven and began His ministerial work in the heavenly sanctuary as our High Priest. Christ’s sacrifice, which was necessary for the atonement to take place, was completed on the cross, but not the atonement itself.
This great change from the earthly sanctuary to the heavenly was not to be left unnoticed. God revealed this great change through His prophets--especially through the beloved disciple John (see Revelation 4:1-5, 8:3-4, 9:13, 11:19, 14:17-18, 15:5-8).
But not only does Christ plead His precious blood before the Father in behalf of sinful you and me in this heavenly sanctuary (see Hebrews 9:11-14, 24-28), but there is also seen the majestic throne of God, which is surrounded by myriads of the angelic host, all waiting to obey God's commands (see Psalms 103:19-20). From this dwelling place of God these angels are sent to answer the prayers of God's children here on earth (see Daniel 9:21-23; Hebrews 1:7, 14). Thus the heavenly sanctuary is seen to be the great center of activity from whence all divine power necessary to overcome every temptation of Satan is sent to each one who is connected with it by faith.
Christ, our great High Priest who is ministering for us is willing to reach His mighty hand from this heavenly sanctuary to lovingly grasp the hand of every one who reaches up by faith and takes hold of the Help offered them. The one whose faith lays hold of that Mighty Help, can pass securely over the steepest hills of difficulty, his own soul filled with light while diffusing light and blessing to others. As long as he by faith keeps a firm hold upon God, he has light and power from the sanctuary above; but if he allows doubt and unbelief to break this vital connection, he is in darkness, not only unable to go forward himself, but blocking the way of others as well.
The Bible reveals that there are not only these 2 different sanctuaries; the heavenly temple, or the dwelling-place of the Most High where Christ intercedes in our behalf, and the earthly temple, with its typical services, designed to teach mankind the great spiritual truths on the plan of redemption from sin. But there is also a third temple which is extremely important to understand. This is the temple of the human body, where God's Spirit desires to rule and reign.
"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
This is the new covenant experience which God was referring to through Jeremiah and Paul: "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people." Heb. 8:10; Jeremiah 31:33.
What a thought! God desires to have you to be His temple in which He can dwell and rule!
Yes, friends, both the Father and Jesus Christ love you so much that they do not want to remain trillions of miles away from you in heaven, but desire to dwell directly with you through the Holy Spirit--the Spirit of truth! This is indeed a mystery, but one in which is rich and glorious!
"Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily." Colossians 1:26-29.
But the big question you must ask yourself is: Do I love God enough that I am willing to clean up my life and act in such a way that the Godhead can dwell and live and rule in me as Their holy sanctuary and dwelling place on this earth? What immense blessings can be ours if we will just offer our life to God and allow Him to reign in and through us! Or are you going to decide to continue to live in wickedness and sin, continue to defile your body-temple by intemperate habits, reject God's gracious and merciful offer, and allow the devil to make you his synagogue and dwelling place to live and rule in on this earth? It is either one or the other, for you cannot serve both (see Matthew 6:24).
WHICH WILL YOU CHOOSE?
"But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house (dwelling place) are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts.)...Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." Hebrews 3:6-8, 12.
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, 7:1.