For what purpose did God give Israel the sanctuary? What special light does the 1888 message cast on the meaning of the sanctuary for us today?
The sanctuary teaches the lesson that God temporarily takes responsibility for all sin. This rescues mankind from death. It gives him a second probationary period and lifetime. In exchange for our death God gives us His life in the Son.
As our High Priest the Son gives us the atonement with God. The sanctuary in heaven is cleansed of sin when God's people on earth by faith appreciate Christ's atonement. When their hearts and lives are cleansed, then the gospel of Jesus has achieved the victory.
Thus God is victorious over sin. "The hour of His judgment is come" (Rev. 14:7). Satan has accused God of being the author of sin and aiding and abetting sinners. Now God is vindicated in the great controversy with Satan. "The power of God unto salvation" is demonstrated in him that overcomes "even as I [Christ] also overcame" (Rom. 1:16; Rev. 3:21). God no longer takes the blame for sin. Satan, sin's rightful author, is clearly revealed to all.
The earthly sanctuary is an object lesson. It teaches the practical truth that God the Father is the sanctuary in heaven (John 14:10). When God created man, He said, "Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness" (Gen. 1:26).
The correspondence of the heavenly sanctuary on this earth is the soul temple. God's purpose is to dwell within our hearts by faith. "Ye are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you" (1 Cor.3:16). We may be "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4).
God gave Moses a blueprint of the sanctuary in the mount. The Holy Spirit imparted wisdom to men in order to know how the sanctuary was to be built. The earthly sanctuary was a carbon copy of the original.
God sent His own Son from heaven, that we might see the dwelling place that He wants on this earth. "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt [tabernacled] among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).
God the Father is the true heavenly Sanctuary. Jesus said, "I can of Mine own self do nothing" (John 5:30). "The Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works" (John 14:10). "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father doing: for what things soever He doeth, these the Son also doeth in like manner" (John 5:19).
Man through sin lost the beautiful image in which he was first made. Then Jesus, who is "the image of the invisible God," (Col. 1:15) came down to earth to show us again the pattern which God would have each of His human temples grow. All that the Father is, and all that He does, Jesus showed to men, that we might know what we may be and do, when God dwells in us. Jesus could do this only because He was the Son of God, and the Spirit of His Father dwelt in Him.
So God has shown us the Pattern. He has shown us His own glory and beauty in the life of Jesus Christ His Son. He left us an example--a pattern--"that we should follow His steps, who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth" (1 Peter 2:22).
In the tabernacle which God taught the Israelites to build in the wilderness, there were two apartments. The larger was called the Holy Place, and the inner was the Most Holy. The space for a certain distance around the tabernacle was curtained off, and this was also holy.
What was it that made the tabernacle and its surroundings such a holy place? It was the presence of God. He did not dwell in it because it was a holy place, but His dwelling there made it holy.
"The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are" (1 Cor. 3:17). So we do not to make ourselves holy for God to dwell in us. His dwelling in us by faith, is what makes us holy. Our body is to be a holy place, because God makes it for His own dwelling place, and He fills it with His own Spirit of life?
The Most Holy Place is the innermost apartment, the secret chamber. It is here that none but God and the high priest ever met together. The Most Holy Place teaches us that the heart should be the center of God's dwelling place in the human body. It is where He is to be enthroned.
But this inner apartment was not the only place that was holy. The first apartment and the outer court were made holy by God's sacred Presence in the Most Holy Place. So God dwelling in our hearts by faith, makes the whole being holy. The mind, all the thoughts, the motives, are activated by God's love, to be His; and every member of the body is to be set apart for His service.
When Jesus came to the Temple, He found in the sacred court, merchants, and money-changers, making confusion. And He sent them all out, saying, "My house shall be called an house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves" (Matt. 21:13).
Do we have an idol in the Lord's holy temple? Is self allowed to take God's place upon the throne of our heart? If so, we are defiling the temple of God. Are thoughts and things of this world allowed to fill our minds, and take up our time and use the powers of mind and body that He has given us for His service? Is the thought of God shut out by other things? If so, we are making God's temple a den of thieves that are robbing God, and profaning His holy place.
Ellen White was overjoyed when she heard the message of justification by faith from the lips of A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner. To her this clear teaching was consonant with the message of the three angels: "The hour of His judgment is come" and our Priest is cleansing the heavenly sanctuary. What connection was there between justification by faith and the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary by Jesus our High Priest?
The answer is that since 1844 Jesus has been performing the Day of Atonement ministry--the final blotting out of sins. But before the sanctuary could be cleansed in heaven, the temple of His people on earth must be cleansed. The source of sin pollution must be ended in His people. The honor of God and the integrity of His covenant were at stake. God has the solution to the problem of sin. The gospel of Jesus Christ can forgive sins and His righteousness has the power by virtue of the Holy Spirit to cleanse the soul temple. This God has promised in His everlasting covenant (Jer. 31:33).
So when she heard this message she recognized in it the power and force of the gospel which would prepare God's people to stand with a pure character in the day of Christ's second coming. They would be a living testimony for God through the crisis hour. They would be part of the 144,000 who would be translated without seeing death at His return. They would be a living testament to the power of God unto salvation from sin. Living in sinful flesh, tempted, tried and afflicted, the mystery of godliness would be revealed in them--"Christ in you the hope of glory" (Col. 1:20).
--Paul E. Penno
Note: "Sabbath School Today" and Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson are on the Internet at: http://1888mpm.org
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