“God’s Day in His Sanctuary” is one coherent and consecutive chapter and best read from the beginning. But in order to find later more quickly the single sequences the Subtitles are listed here, and in the last line as well at the end of the chapter stands the next chapter to reach this certain chapter’s page by a click:
Moses looks for a moment at God's Sanctuary, which has been erected as a tent in the desert. Finally he steps into the Sanctuary’s courtyard. His brother Aaron, the highest priest, stands there and they embrace each other. Then he walks past the altar to the Sanctuary and the water basin beside the entrance of the tent. The people gathered for the Sabbath celebration watch him as he folds back the sleeves of his garment, slips out of his sandals and washes his hands and feet.
After that he pulls aside the heavy curtain at the entrance and enters the first compartment, the Holy Place. He passes between the golden lampstand and the table of shewbread, and pauses for a quiet moment at the golden altar of incense, which has been set up in front of the second curtain. The splendor of God's glory penetrates through this curtain to him.
The time has come; He will step through the richly embroidered curtain to the other side into the Most Holy Place. There stands the Ark of the Covenant, on which two golden statues of angels bow down. Moses as God’s most intimate companion is the only one besides the High Priest who has been called by God to enter this compartment. God had promised to meet him there, between the golden angels.
Moses draws a deep breath and lays his hand at the soft curtain fabric to pull it aside ...
Back then in Moses time God had told the Israelites to build Him a Sanctuary. That was thousands of years ago. And the question arises whether this Israelite Sanctuary has anything to do with us today. God said about it:
“Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.’ - ‘I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be my people.“ (Ex25,8;Ezek37,26-27Nkjv)
The reason God gave for building the Sanctuary already begins to reveal us his intention: He wanted to dwell among them. And He does not change, and so even today He still wants to live among us.
Also the New Testament tells us that the Sanctuary wants to illustrate us something more, ‘for Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, which is an image, but into heaven itself.’ (i. Heb 9:24). According to this the earthly Sanctuary was an image of heaven itself, and it explains us something about God’s working and his Salvation for us. So, what can the holy objects in the Sanctuary still show us, and how are they related to us? In order to answer these questions, we will like Moses walk through the three divisions of the Sanctuary: the courtyard, the first compartment in the Sanctuary – called the Holy Place – and finally the second compartment – called the Most Holy Place.
As we enter the courtyard, the priest receives us. What does he signify for us? How was he dressed? And what does this tell us?
The holy garments of the High Priest consisted of a white linen tunic, on top a purple robe, a colorful sash, a white turban and a piece of clothing similar to a vest covering chest and back, embroidered with gold, red and purple, and in the middle of the front part a square pocket with precious stones was attached, which was called the breastpiece.
“Make the robe all of blue. Make on its hem pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet material, and bells of gold between them all around. It shall be on Aaron when he ministers; and its tinkling shall be heard when he enters the holy place. Take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel. Put the two stones on the shoulder pieces, and Aaron shall bear their names on his shoulders. Make a breastpiece of judgment, mount on it four rows of stones. They shall be like the engravings of a seal, each according to his name for the twelve tribes. Aaron shall carry the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment over his heart when he enters the holy place. You shall also make a plate of pure gold and shall engrave on it, like the engravings of a seal, 'Holy to the Lord.' It shall be on Aaron's forehead.” -
“Now this is what you shall do to them to consecrate them to minister as priests to me: Bring Aaron and his sons to the doorway of the tent of meeting and wash them with water. Take the garments, and put on Aaron the tunic and the robe, and set the turban on his head and put the holy crown on the turban. Then you shall take the anointing oil and pour it on his head and anoint him, to consecrate him.” (from Ex 28:4 to 29:7; Lev 8:12 Nasb)
As a High Priest Aaron was to bear the names of the tribes of God’s people on his shoulders and over his heart, and he should administer justice. When he was in the Sanctuary, the worshipping people outside could hear the bells on his robe tinkling while he served for them in the Sanctuary. On the golden plate, the ‘holy crown’, attached to the turban on his forehead, the inscription was visibly engraved that he was holy to God. At his ordination he was to be washed, clothed in the holy garments and then anointed.
In the New Testament we find a surprising parallel to this: Jesus is called our true High Priest.
‘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 true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.’ (Heb 8:1-2 Nkjv). ‘We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a High Priest forever.’ (Heb 6:19-20 Esv).
As it was in Bible times, when the people heard the tinkling of the bells on the High Priest’s robe while he served, we in our earthly ‘courtyard’ can ‘hear’ Jesus while serving in the heavenly Sanctuary ... that is, through the voice of the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Spirit who speak to our hearts. And as the priests of old Jesus, too, was ordained to his service with water and anointed with the Holy Spirit:
‘Jesus also was baptized. And while He was praying, the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my one dear Son; in you I take great delight.“ (Lk 3:21-22 Net).
That is ‘what happened after the baptism: God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power.’ (Acts 10:37-38 Net). And about his mission Jesus said, “For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world – to testify to the truth.” And “Now this is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You sent. I glorified You on earth by completing the work You gave me to do.” (Jn 18:37; 17:3-4 Net).
Jesus is our High Priest and He is a witness of God’s love. After his ascension He went – in symbolical terms – within the ’curtain, into the Most Holy Place of the heavenly Sanctuary’, that means into heaven itself, where God dwells. In the Book of Revelation the Apostle John met Jesus as our High Priest in priestly garments, and he writes about it:
‘When I turned, I saw among seven lamp stands someone who looked like the Son of Man. He was wearing a robe that reached down to his feet. He wore a golden belt around his waist. And his face was shining like the sun in its brightness.’ This was ‘Jesus Christ, the faithful witness.’ (i. Rev 1:12-13,16,5).
And in the same way Jesus as our High Priest is there for us today as well. He carries us on his shoulders and over his heart, as in former times the high priest carried the people of God over his heart and on his shoulders by the names of the tribes. Thus, the priest of the earthly Sanctuary is an image for Jesus, the Son of God.
Jesus in turn consecrates us who are united with Him as priests to God. “You are his chosen family, a royal priesthood, his sanctified people who belong to Him, so that you may proclaim the good character of God, who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.“ (i. 1Pet 2:9). To serve God means to serve the people and as a witness to proclaim his love in word and deed to them. We serve like Jesus did, because He came to serve. (s. Mt 20:28). And He has united us with Him in this service of witnessing.
Next in the courtyard we see the altar of burnt offering. What does the Bible say about it? And what is it an image for?
“Make the altar of acacia wood, make horns for it on its four corners; and overlay it with bronze.“ (Ex 27:1-2 Esv) “Present my offering, my food for my offerings by fire, of a soothing aroma to me.“ (Num 28:2 Nasb) And the priest “shall approach my table, to minister to me.“ (Ezek 44:16 Esv)
“If anyone sins, then he shall bring his offering for his sin. He shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and slay the sin offering.“ (Lev 4:27-29 Nasb) “And the priest is to take some of the blood of the guilt offering and put it on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot.“ (Lev 14:25 Nasb)
The horns of the altar stood for strength and power. (s. Num 23:22). Thus they could represent God’s redeeming power. And when a sinner believed in God’s salvation by the promised Savior, he handed his sins over to God through the sacrificial lamb and could now begin a new life with God. So when someone had sinned, he laid his hand on the head of the lamb, thus symbolically transferring his sins to the lamb, and slew it. Sin separates us from God who is the only source of life, therefore the result of sin is death. (s. Rom 6:23). Sin kills, and this God had to show clearly by the death of the sacrificial lamb as a sin-bearer, which had to be slain by the hand of the sinner. It was to discourage people from committing sins. Sin can be symbolized with ‘leprosy’. And if someone was purified from real leprosy, some of the blood of the sacrificed lamb was put on his earlobe – for listening to God – and on his thumb – for acting in God – and on the big toe of his foot – for walking with God, that is for living with God.
Whom does the lamb represent? When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming, he exclaimed, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!“ (Jn 1:29 Nkjv). ‘He himself bore our sin of godlessness in his body on the cross so that we, died to sin, might faithfully live in a righteous relationship with God.’ (i. 1Pet 2:24). ‘Live in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.’ (Eph 5:2 Net). For Christ ‘said, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ.’ (Heb 10:9-10 Nasb). ‘The wages of sin in death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Rom 6,23 Nasb). He is the 'sacrificial lamb on the altar’. He testified on the cross to us, that separation from God through sin really causes death, and that it is not God who kills, but sin. He therefore has delivered us from fear and guilt and convinced us of God's love. He has drawn us to God.
Back then in the Sanctuary a sacred fire was continually burning on the altar. (s. Lev 6:13). What does this fire illustrate?
‘God is like a purifying fire’, (i. Heb 12:29), for He says, “I will refine them like silver is refined. They will call on my name and I will answer; I will say, 'These are my people,' and they will say, 'The Lord is my God.'” (Zech 13:9 Net).
The Lord said, “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!“ (Lk 12:49 Nkjv). ‘For love is as strong as death, its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord.’ (Song 8:6 Nasb). Since ‘God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ (Rom 5:8 Net). And He ‘will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.’ (Mt 3:11 Nkjv).
God himself and his Holy Spirit are like a fire of love. God transforms us though his love by which He was willing to suffer death for us. May his love also kindle us and burn in our hearts. May we bring Him our 'offerings' which are our repentance, our thanks, praise and our doing good deeds. (s. Ps 51:19; 50:14; Heb 13:15-16). And ‘by the compassionate love of God, I urge you to dedicate yourselves completely to God as a living sacrifice, which is a joy to Him – this is your spiritual, intelligent and well understood service to God. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by a renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what the will of God is, namely, that which is good and brings joy and has been understood with maturity.’ (i. Rom 12:1-2). And so ‘we are a fragrance of Christ to God.’ (2Cor 2:15 Nasb).
The altar was called 'the Lord's table’ and the sacrifices his ‘bread’ – as correctly translated – which was a fragrance of joy for Him. And by handing our lives over to God, we are united with Him and we, too, will be a ‘fragrance of joy’ for Him.
When we then approach the Sanctuary, we see in front of it the water basin with water. What can we read about water in the Bible?
‘The Lord said to Moses, “Make a basin of bronze for washing. Put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it, with which Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet. When they go into the tent of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister to the Lord, they shall wash with water.“ (Ex 30:17-20 Esv)
This reminds us for example of the water of life and of the baptism. Also ‘Jesus was baptized.’ (Mk 1:9 Nkjv). ‘This is He who came by water and blood; not only by water, but by water and blood’ (1Jn 5:6 Nkjv), since ‘Christ died for us’, and ‘one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.’ (Rom 5:8; Jn 19:34 Nkjv). ‘In that day there will be a fountain opened up to cleanse them from sin and impurity.’ (Zech 13:1 Net). And ‘with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.’ (Is 12:3 Esv).
John ‘baptized with water, but’ Jesus ‘will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’ (Mk 1:8 Nkjv). ‘Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’ (Jn 3:5 Nkjv). But ‘all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.’ (Gal 3:27 Nasb).
The prophet Ezekiel saw, that ‘water was flowing from under the threshold of the temple.’ (Ezek 47:1 Net). This water will be on the new earth ‘the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God. – Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.’ (Rev 22:1,17 Esv). Since God ‘is the fountain of life.’ (Ps 36:9 Nkjv).
Water cleanses us and the true source of life is God. The water He gives us will in turn become in us a fountain of water, that springs up to eternal life. (s. Jn 4,14).
And there is even something additional: When Jesus celebrated the last supper with his disciples, He ‘knew that his time had come to depart from this world to the Father. But as He has loved his own who were in the world, He would always love them. And knowing that the Father had handed all things over to Him, He got up from the meal, poured water into the water basin and began to wash the disciples' feet. But Peter protested, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with me. The one who has bathed certainly is clean, but his feet need to be washed the dust off.” (i. Jn 13:1-10). When we are stained with sin in everyday life and we come to Him, Jesus takes the ‘water basin’ and cleanses us daily so that we have a part with Him – so that we stay connected to Him. He has always loved us, and He will always love us.
Finally we enter the Sanctuary, the first compartment – the Holy Place. There the light of the golden lampstand with its 7 branches shines on us. What is the lampstand a picture for, and what does the Bible say about it?
God said to Moses, “Make a lampstand of pure gold. Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand (Ex 25:31-33 Net), and on it golden almond blossoms. And make seven oil lamps, and set them up on the lampstand.” (i. Ex 25:34.37)
God is our light, (s. in 2Sam 22:29 and Rev 21:23), and his Word is our lamp. (s. Ps 119:105). His light is also the knowledge that Jesus is a testimony of the character of God. (s. 2Cor 4:6).
The Apostle John on the island of Patmos ‘saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet, saying, ‘The seven golden lampstands are the seven churches.'’ (Rev 1:9-10,12-13,17,20 Nkjv). Since ‘you are the light of the world. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.’ (Mt 5:14-16 Nasb). “John has testified to the truth. He was the lamp that was burning and was shining.“ (Jn 5:33,35 Nasb). And “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.“ (Mt 24:14 Nasb). “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses.“ (Acts 1:8 Net). And also ‘you will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard.’ (Acts 22:15 Net). Since we have ‘the testimony of Jesus’, who is ‘the faithful and true witness’ and ‘who loves us and freed us.’ (Rev 12:17; 3:14; 1:5 Esv). He is our light of life. (s. Jn 8:12).
The almond tree was called watchman, it blossomed first in spring in Israel. Thus the almond blossoms remind us of God saying: “I am watching over my word to perform it.” (Jer 1:12 Nasb). And the oil in the lamps reminds of the Holy Spirit we are anointed by. It is Him giving us light and enlightening us.
Thus the 7-branched lampstand and its light are an image of God and his church in their connection to each other. Through Jesus, the light and the true witness of God’s character, and through the Holy Spirit we also will become a light to the world, a witness for God and for his Word He watches over, and of his love. And through the Book of Revelation we know: Jesus, the true witness and our High Priest is in the midst of the lampstands – He is among us.
Next, we see in the Holy Place the table with the 12 loaves of bread. What do we read about it in the Bible?
God told Moses, “Make a table of acacia wood. And you shall set the showbread on the table before me always.“ (Ex 25:23,30 Nkjv) “Bake twelve cakes. Set them in two rows, six in a row, on the pure gold table before the Lord. Put pure frankincense on each row, that it may be on the bread for an offering by fire to the Lord.“ (Lev 24:5-7 Nkjv)
Already in the courtyard the altar with the fire offerings has been called the ‘the table of the Lord’ and ‘his bread’ which was a sweet fragrance to Him. So here in the Holy Place stood a real table with loaves of bread. And with the frankincense thereon it was a fire offering and a sweet fragrance to God.
About the bread, Jesus says, “The bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats from this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.“ (Jn 6:33,51 Net). And ‘He took bread, and after giving thanks He broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body which is given for you.” (Lk 22:19 Net). So Jesus is our bread of life.
On the shewbread table were 12 loaves of bread, and of the number 12 it is written: ‘These are the twelve tribes of Israel.’ (Gen 49:28 Nkjv). ‘Moses arranged twelve standing stones – according to the twelve tribes.’ (Ex 24:4 Net). And out of his disciples Jesus ‘appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach.’ (Mk 3:14 Nasb). On a later occasion, when a great multitude was gathered around Him, ‘He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets.’ (Mt 14:19-20 Nasb). God says to us, too, “If you give of your food to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in the darkness.“ (i. Is 58:10). Since ‘he who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking on evil, he will dwell on the heights; his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks; his bread will be given him; his water will be sure. Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty’ when He returns from heaven. (Is 33:15-17 Esv).
Even today, ‘is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.’ ( Cor 10:16-17 Nasb).
Because we are one body with Jesus, who gave himself as the bread for the world, and because we live with God and by God, we can share with others God's Word, the bread that really satisfies hunger.
In the Old Testament 12 stones were repeatedly erected as a symbol for the tribes of Israel. If we connect that point with the 12 loaves of bread on the shewbread table, suddenly the first temptation with which Satan approached Jesus in the desert takes on a whole new dimension for us: Since ‘the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread.”
But He answered, “It is written, 'Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Mt 4:3-4 Net).
Can Jesus transform stones – hearts of stone – into bread that serves Him and the world? This is something He doesn’t do by force or by commanding arbitrarily, ‘That stone shall become bread!' He does it through the Word of God, which is able to transform. By God's Word of love we are transformed. And if we receive Him as our bread, we are united with Him.
After the lampstand and the shewbread table, we reach the golden altar of incense, which is placed at the curtain in front of the Most Holy Place. What was the altar of incense used for? What does it mean for us today?
God instructed Moses, “Make an altar as a place for burning incense, make it of acacia wood, its horns shall be of one piece with it. Overlay it with pure gold. Put this altar in front of the veil in front of the mercy seat that is over the ark of the testimony, where I will meet with you. Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it; he shall burn it every morning. When Aaron trims the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense. There shall be perpetual incense before the Lord. This altar is most holy to the Lord.“ (Ex 30:1-3,6-10 Nasb)
“Take spices with pure frankincense. With it you shall make incense, a perfume, salted, pure, and holy.“ (Ex 30:34-35 Nasb)
The priest “shall take a firepan full of coals of fire from upon the altar before the Lord and two handfuls of finely ground sweet incense, and bring it inside the veil. He shall put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the ark of the testimony.“ (Lev 16:12-13 Nasb)
In the Book of Revelation John saw an ‘angel holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers on the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers, went up before God.’ (Rev 8:3-4 Nasb). David prayed, “Let my prayer be counted as incense before you.“ (Ps 141:2 Esv). For ‘the Lord is near to all who call on Him in truth.’ (Ps 145:18 Esv). ‘The same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on Him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ (Rom 10:12-13 Esv). Therefore ‘do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God’, (Phil 4:6 Net), thus may ‘intercessions be offered on behalf of all people.’ (1Tim 2:1 Net).
‘Deshalb beuge ich meine Knie vor dem Vater: Durch seinen Heiligen Geist festige Er euch in eurem Innersten. So wohne Jesus durch das Vertrauen in euren Herzen. Ich bete, dass ihr die Liebe Christi erkennt, um mit ihr erfüllt zu werden zur Fülle der Liebe Gottes. Ihm, der mit seiner Kraft, die in uns wirkt, viel mehr zu tun vermag, als wir je erbitten können, Ihm sei alle herrliche Ehre in seiner Gemeinde und im Zeugnis seines Sohnes! Amen.’ (i. Eph 3,14- 21).
Our daily prayers connect us with God. But beyond that there is something written about incense in the Bible, which gives it an even deeper meaning. For God says to us in the Bible and through Jesus:
‘Scented ointment and incense make the heart rejoice. But even sweeter is the affection of a friend coming from his well-grounded and reasonable heart’, (i. Prov 27:9), and “this is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you,’ I have explained to you.” (Jn 15:12-13,15 Esv). And so Jesus prayed, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.“ (Jn 17:3 Nkjv).
‘Therefore we do not cease to pray for you and to ask that with all wisdom and spiritual understanding you may know his will, so that you will live and act in a way that it will be a joy for the Lord, and that you may grow by the knowledge of how God is like. For He rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.’ (i. Col 1:9-10,13).
Our daily prayers connect us with God, who is now behind the ‘veil of invisibility in the Most Holy Place on his throne’. But through the Holy Spirit He dwells in our hearts, too. And when we realize his character of love, it transforms us into loving people who in turn pass on his love and pray for other people.
The horns of the altar of incense represent might and power, and there lays a power in being connected with God on a daily basis. True worshipers are connected to the source of power. And as the golden altar was most holy to God, so the time we spend with Him and He with us is a sacred time to Him. He loves us and will always love us ... as already Jesus put it when He ‘took the water basin’ to clean us, so that we may remain united with Him daily.
A little later He prayed: “Father I glorified You on earth. Sanctify them in the truth (sanctify them for You, that they by the truth become ever more like You). Your word is the truth (about You). My prayer is not dedicated to these alone, but also to those who believe me through their testimony. As we both are one as much may be also those united with us. Thus the world will know that You always have loved them.” (i. Joh 17). And so Jesus already back then thought of us.
‘For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, who has the fatherhood of all in heaven and on earth:
He may grant you power through his glorious love, which is rich unto all. By his Holy Spirit He may make you firm in the inner being.
Thus Jesus may dwell in your hearts and minds through trusting faith, that you may be rooted and grounded in love being able to grasp it ever more perfectly in all its breadth and length, and height and depth, in order to know this love of Christ which yet goes far beyond any knowledge. May you be filled with it up to all the fullness of God’s love.
Glory be to Him who, by his mighty power that is working within us, is able to do infinitely far more than we ever might ask or even can conceive, to Him be all glory and honor in his church and in the testimony of his Son for all time and eternity! Amen.’ (i. Eph 3:14-21).
So far we have passed through the courtyard and the Holy Place. We saw that God as a priest and as a sacrifice came out into the courtyard to meet us there – He came from his heavenly Sanctuary to earth where we are, so that He might reach our hearts. He sacrificed himself for us, transforms us and purifies us. He came to us, so that He might be able to bring us into the Sanctuary, where He is. He laid the foundation for this to happen. And He appointed us to be priests and witnesses for his light. He, who is the bread of life, wants to give us eternal life.
And He has still more in store for us. He reveals his Mystery to us ...
Having passed the other holy objects in the Holy Place we are now in front of the veiling curtain. If we pull it aside, we see the Most Holy Place and the Ark of the Covenant which contains the two tablets of stone. What kind of Mystery does God want to reveal to us through the Most Holy Place and the Ark of the Covenant? What do we read in the Bible about them?
God ‘declared to you his covenant, the ten commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone’ (Deut 4:13 Nkjv), ‘the two tablets of the testimony, the tablets of the covenant written by the finger of God.’ (Ex 31:18; Deut 9:11,10 Nasb)
And God said to Moses, “Make an ark of acacia wood, overlay it with pure gold. Make an atonement lid of pure gold. Make two cherubim of gold from the lid on the two ends. The cherubim are to be spreading their wings upward, overshadowing the lid with their wings, and the cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the lid. Put the lid on top of the ark, and in the ark put the testimony I am giving you. I will meet with you there from above the lid, from between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you.“ (Ex 25:10-11,17-22 Net)
And “this is the covenant that I will make, says the Lord: I will put my law in their minds, and write it on their hearts.“ (Jer 31:33 Nkjv). Until now, “the sin is written with a pen of iron; with the point of a diamond it is engraved on the tablet of their heart.“ (Jer 17:1 Nkjv). But “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.“ (Jer 24:7 Nkjv). Thus ‘you show that you are a letter from Christ, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.’ (2Cor 3:3 Esv).
And this is the realization of what the tablets in the Ark of the Covenant indicate: God wants to place his principles of love in our hearts and dwell in us, so that our hearts may be his throne. He wants to refine us, gild us, make us beautiful in glory.
And about the Lid of pure gold on top of the Ark of the Covenant – which is also called the Mercy Seat – God tells us in his Bible:
‘Christ as the High Priest passed through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, and He entered once for all into the most holy place.’ (Heb 9:11-12 Net). ‘Him has God shown to be the Mercy Seat, the golden Lid of the Ark.’ (i. Rom 3:25). ‘He is the image of the invisible God. And He is the head of the church. He was God in all the fullness, and through Him and his death on the cross God draws all to himself, may it be on earth or in heaven. And you, who once were enemies, He now has drawn to himself by his sacrificial death. So don’t move away from the hope of the Gospel, this mystery, which has been hidden but now has been revealed to his people. To them God wanted to make known what is the abundant glory of this mystery: This is that Christ lives in you.’ (i. Col 1:15,18-27). ‘It is indeed a pleasure to Him to let us know the mystery of his will, which He has laid out as a plan for his government in Jesus when the time is fulfilled: namely to unite in Jesus what is in heaven and on earth.’ (i. Eph 1:9-10).
Thus ‘you have come to the city of the living God, and to the general assembly of ten thousands of angels.’ (i. Heb 12:22). ‘For we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one.’ This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.’ (Eph 5.30-32 Nkjv). ‘God is able to strengthen you through the Gospel of Jesus, which is this mystery that was hidden for long ages past, but now has been revealed and made known by the prophetic Scriptures, so that people in all nations follow and obey Him by trust.’ (i. Rom 16:25-26).
‘Recognized powerful is the mystery of a joyful life of faith:
He appeared in human nature,
was confirmed by the Holy Spirit,
watched by the angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,taken up in abundant glory.’ (i. 1Tim 3:16)
‘And they will call him Immanuel,
which means, 'God is with us’’. (i. Mt 1:23)
‘So the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.’ (Mk 2:28 Nkjv)
This is God's Mystery: Through Jesus He reveals his character of love, and by Jesus’ testimony – which is Jesus’ Gospel, his good news – He wants to unite all to himself. Jesus has revealed this unlimited love, a love that went beyond limits, a love which does not want anything to separate us from Him like a limitation or border.
In the Most Holy Place was the Ark of the Covenant, and in the Ark the 10 Covenant Words were placed with the 7th Day as a covenant sign and seal – indelibly engraved in stone by God himself. They are an illustration for how God desires to write his love into our hearts and to dwell within us, in order to be as closely connected with us as the golden Lid with the Ark. Thus the Most Holy Place and the Ark of the Covenant reveal God’s Mystery: He would like to gather us and all the angels into his family, just like the Ark and the Lid with the cherubim angels are combined to be an Ark of the Covenant.
The Most Holy Place and the Ark of the Covenant make visible God’s supreme desire: to unite with Him all who believe in Him in heaven and on earth. That is what the 7th Day in its essence was and is: God together with his earthly and heavenly children. He gives himself to us.
Also in the Sanctuary can be found a special order by which the Holy Objects can be combined into pairs. The priest and the lampstand both serve as a witness, and in the Book of Revelation we see Jesus as our High Priest together with the seven lampstands. Likewise, the altar and the burnt offerings, which were called the ‘table and the bread of the Lord’, complement the real shewbread table with the loaves of bread. And the water basin and the golden altar of incense include a daily communication and connection with God.
When we have walked through all these stations we have reached the Most Holy Place with the Ark of the Covenant – we have reached the summit, the visual representation of the connection of God with his family. It is the essence of the Sabbath: the communion of God with his human children together with his angels.
God wants to be united with us. The Sanctuary shows in so many pictures how God gives himself to us. The Sabbath, too, reveals God’s character of love and his humbleness. Already on the Sabbath of Creation He gave himself to men. And his Sabbath is sign of his Covenant, by which He always reminds us that He as our Creator is our Father and that all of us are his children, (s. Mal 2,10), – his children He feels closely united to.
And more over, in Jesus He came to earth and lived among men. When Jesus – after his work of redemption at the cross – rested during the Sabbath in the sepulcher He once more showed humbleness. “And if you see me”, He said, “you see the Father.” (i. Jn 14:9). He testified of God’s character of love and humbleness. Therefore He reveals the essence of the Sabbath and of the Ark of the Covenant, and that in a very special way – since in Him is combined what God desires: Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, He is the embodiment of this desire, He is the revelation of God’s Mystery, since
Jesus is God and Man in one!
He united both in Him himself. Therefore, in the Book of Revelation He is called the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and end – the origin and the completion, the perfection. Therefore the Sabbath is also the completion of creation, therefore it is in the center of the Ten Covenant Words in the Ark of the Covenant: The Sabbath represents communion with God, it represents God, who in Jesus has united himself inseparably with the human race.
This is boundless unlimited love.
© 2014, Jaimée M. Seis