Wednesday, June 4, 2014



Though more popular in past centuries some seek to escape the law by claiming ‘sanctuary’ upon entering a church building. The Old Testament Tabernacle and then the Temple contained a room called the ‘sanctuary’ or the ‘Holy of Holies.’ This was where the presence of God was. It was where God ‘dwelt.’ In the sanctuary was the ark of the covenant. The ark was a box containing the tablets with the Law, i.e., the Ten Commandments. The lid of the box was the ‘Mercy Seat’ attached to which were two angelic beings with wings outspread looking down on the seat. God dwelt between these cherubs.

It will help us to understand what the ‘Holy of Holies’ represented if we keep in mind the picture of a human being fleeing into a church building to escape justice, i.e., by seeking ‘sanctuary.’ Now, before we get into the thick of it let us remember what Jesus said to Nicodemus, ‘If I have told you earthly things and you cannot believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?’ John 3:12. We are about to talk about heavenly, i.e., invisible or spiritual things.   

The Old Testament ‘sanctuary’ ‘was a copy and shadow of heavenly things’ (Hebrews 8:5). Therefore, God, by giving instruction for the building of the Tabernacle/Temple, used physical things to illustrate spiritual truths. God, ‘the Judge of all the earth,’ (Genesis 18:25b) dwelt in the Sanctuary. How do we escape the condemnation of His Law? Now that the Temple is gone is there a sanctuary to which we can flee for protection from His justice upon our sins? Let us look again at the physical things in the Temple's Holy of Holies.  

God cannot look upon evil (Habakkuk 1:13), yet, with the cherubs, He looked down on the Mercy Seat under which were the Ten Commandments (which all of us have broken), in the ark of the covenant. Therefore, once a year only one man, the high priest, was allowed to come behind the veil into the sanctuary. However, he, after he had been washed, had to bring the blood of sacrificed animals with him and sprinkle the blood on the Mercy Seat. ‘Without the shedding of blood there is no remission’ Hebrews 9:22b. The shed blood covered the sins of the people each year, that is, until the One being pictured entered the sanctuary with His own blood.

We have God’s Law written on our heart, which is to say that our conscience tells us that we have broken His Commandments. We all have lied and lusted, cursed and coveted. God looks upon the heart. Our hearts are calloused and corrupt and the Law He wrote upon them when we were conceived and born is hardly discernable. God cannot live with us or in us. Our sin separates us from God. We need to flee the wrath to come. We need to find the shed blood. We need ‘sanctuary’!

The Temple and everything in it pointed to Jesus. The physical pointed to the heavenly. We need to come to Jesus. ‘Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new a living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.’ Hebrews 10:19-22.

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