As Easter is fast approaching, I’m sure we are all reflecting about what this holiday means and the sacrifice that Jesus made for each and every one of us. He would have made it if there were even just one, what a God we serve! It makes me appreciate the sanctuary service and its symbolism. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to go over not only the building of the sanctuary, but the furniture inside and out and the meaning of it all.
So let’s start with what the word sanctuary means. It is a haven for the restless. A consecrated place of the refuge for the repentant. When we think in terms of what the sanctuary represents, that seems to be a perfect description. The sanctuary is God’s earthly representation of the heavenly sanctuary. It was made for a cleansing, a washing away of sin and renewing us to our heavenly Father. Hebrews 8: 1-2 says “Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.”
What is the purpose of the sanctuary? I’ve already touched on the earthly sanctuary being used for a comparison to the heavenly one. It is also meant to point to the plan of salvation through Jesus’ sacrifice for us. I still study the sanctuary and learn something new every time. It’s such a beautiful way to walk through the plan of salvation.
Who designed the blue prints for the sanctuary? You can read the story starting in Exodus 24. The Lord spoke with Moses and called a meeting. Moses asked the people and they agreed that he should meet with God. So Moses woke early the next day and built an alter. He also built 12 pillars to signify the 12 tribes of Israel. Moses sent men to offer burnt offerings to the Lord. The men also offered young bulls as a friendship offering to God, in which Moses took half the blood and placed it into bowls and the other half was sprinkled on the alter. Moses read from the book of the covenant (Exodus 20-23) to the people. The people agreed to do everything they were asked to do, then Moses sprinkled the people with the blood, which symbolized their sealing covenant with the Lord. God called Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and 70 of the elders of Israel to worship. The men went up the mountain and saw God standing on a clear sapphire stone. Not only did the men see Him, but they ate a meal with Him as well. Moses was called further up to speak with God and he was the only one who was allowed to approach God, the others were told to stay back. God spoke with Moses. while Aaron and Hur were left in charge for 40 days while Moses was speaking with the Lord.
Once up the mountain, the people witnessed a cloud of smoke for six days and on the seventh day Moses was called into the cloud. Suddenly, what appeared to be a devouring fire was seen. The people did not see Moses for 40 days, they thought he had died. Meanwhile, the Lord gave him the ceremonial laws, the instructions to build the sanctuary and the 10 Commandments. The blue prints were to be followed exactly as God commanded.
At the end of the 40 days, Moses came down the mountain to find anarchy. The people had made a golden calf as they had learned to do in Egypt while in captivity. Understandably furious, Moses threw down the tablets of stone that God had written with his finger. So quickly the people forgotten the miracles the Lord had already performed in their behalf: parting the Red Sea, delivering them from bondage in Egypt, producing water from a stone, raining manna for food, shading them during the day and leading them by fire at night. Moses took that golden calf and burned it and he grounded it into a powder and added it to water and made them drink it.
In closing, we today are much like the Israelites of old. No matter how much God shows us proof of his love and faithfulness we let fear get in the way of our faith. We forget what God has already delivered us from and will continue to do. As we go through this next week let’s try and remember what God has done for us. Let us not be like the Israelites and make a graven image because we have lost our faith and think that God will not come through for us. Just like Moses came back down that mountain and was heart sick at the fall of the people, God is coming back for us as well. Let us pray we are all ready.