Result of Misunderstanding the Sanctuary. For many years after the time of the apostles, the study of the sanctuary, God's divine lesson book, was almost entirely neglected, and even those who gave it some attention did not understand its significance.
Had the sanctuary been understood when the second coming of Christ and the cleansing of the sanctuary began to be preached in 1844, God's people would have been saved the consequent ridicule and ignominy that were cast upon it. And, it is safe to add that a revival and correct understanding of this subject in these closing days of the gospel will save God's truth and His people from still further error and disappointment.
The Sanctuary to Be Understood by All. Frequently through the years the importance of giving special attention to a study of the sanctuary has been repeated and emphasized. Take for instance the following, published in 1882: "Such subjects as the sanctuary, in connection with the 2300 days, the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus ... are the principal subjects on which the messengers should dwell." EW 63, italics supplied.
Another published in 1888: "The subject of the sanctuary and the Investigative Judgment should be clearly understood by the people of God. All need a knowledge for themselves of the position and work of their great High Priest," GC 488.
Such instruction led a few outstanding Bible students, notably Uriah Smith, S. N. Haskell, F.
C. Gilbert, M. L. Andreasen, and a few others, to give the church valuable publications that have illuminated the sanctuary of the Scriptures, and unfolded many precious truths.
But for the past half century or more, with few exceptions, a serious study of the sanctuary by church members generally has received but little attention, and in the education of children and young people it has been almost entirely neglected. Therefore, by the church as a whole, it is but dimly understood, and its vital significance but feebly comprehended.
Even Children Should Study the Sanctuary. A study of the sanctuary contains spiritual food for all ages. This subject to which God has given so many chapters in the Scriptures is part of the "all Scripture" which is profitable "that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." 2 Tim. 3:16,17. It is profitable not only to the "man of God" but also to the child. Desire of Ages, page 78, gives us this picture for the children:
"At the age of 12, for the first time the child Jesus looked upon the temple. He saw the
white-robed priests performing their solemn ministry. He beheld the bleeding victim upon the altar of sacrifice, With the worshipers He bowed in prayer, while the cloud of incense ascended before Godâ€¦ Day by day He saw their meaning more clearly. Every act seemed to be bound up with His own life. New impulses were awakening within Him. Silent and absorbed, He seemed to be studying out a great problem. The mystery of His mission was opening to the Saviour,"
Even thus in a study of the sanctuary, especially in these closing days of probation, should we who are older contemplate our â€œgreat problemâ€ that the â€œmysteryâ€ of our â€œmissionâ€ may open to us, and "new impulses" awaken within us, It is not to be expected that the child will grasp the full meaning of the sanctuary, but as the consecrated teacher presents the subject in its simplicity, the Holy Spirit will interpret its spiritual truth to his heart, often even more clearly than to the heart of
the adult. Let us therefore not deprive the children of a knowledge of the sanctuary truths according to their ability to understand, which is usually greater than grown-ups credit them.
The Sanctuary Points the Way. Why is a correct and more nearly complete understanding of the sanctuary so vital to those who are preparing for the second coming of Christ? Because here, in visible and tangible form, easy to be understood by young and old, learned and unlearned, God has given us in type a symmetrical and complete view of His â€œwayâ€ - the way of salvation, Ps. 77:13, The Path to the Throne of God. In the sanctuary David, that hero of faith, that man after God's own heart, saw God's power and glory Ps 63:1,2; and he calls upon us to bless God and to praise Him in His sanctuary. Ps.134: 2; 150:1. Asaph, a Levite who wrote several of the Psalms, was one of King David's choir leaders, I Chron. 6:31,39, and "chief of the singers." Neh. 12:46. Although an inspired seer, 2 Chron. 29:30, he had his perplexities even until his "steps had well nigh slipped," but his problems were solved and his faith restored when he â€œwent into the sanctuary of God.â€ Ps. 73:2,17. If more people would follow the example of Asaph and King David there would be fewer backsliders in the church today.
Essential to Faith in Christ. Another authority on this subject says that without a knowledge of the sanctuary "it will be impossible for the (church members) to exercise the faith which is essential at this time, or to occupy the position which God designs them to fill. Every individual has
... a case pending at the bar of God. Each must meet the great Judge face to face. How important, then, that every mind contemplate often the solemn scene when the Judgment shall sit and the books shall he opened, when, with Daniel, every individual must stand in his lot, at the end of the days!" The same writer, continuing says: "The sanctuary in heaven is the very center of Christ's work in behalf of man. It concerns every soul living upon the earth. It opens to view the plan of redemption, bringing us down to the very close of time, and revealing the triumphant issue of the contest between righteousness and sin. It is of the utmost importance that all should thoroughly investigate these subjects.... The intercession of Christ in man's half in the sanctuary above is as essential to the plan of salvation as was His death upon the cross. By His death He began that work which after His resurrection He ascended to complete in heaven. We must by faith enter within the veil, whither the Forerunner is for us entered. Heb. 6:20. There the light from the cross of Calvary is reflected. There we may gain a clearer insight into the mysteries of redemption. Jesus has opened the way to the Father's throne, and through His mediation the sincere desire of all who come to Him in faith may be presented before God." GC 488,489, italics supplied. This "way to the Father's throne" which Jesus has opened for us - The Path To The Throne of God - is symbolized in His marvelous object lesson of redemption, the sanctuary, each part of which is like an illuminated signboard pointing the way.
Sanctuary Study Develops Faith. Moses, that great leader of Israel, whom God divinely instructed to build the earthly sanctuary, had such a faith, for of him it is written, "By faith Moses... refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter...esteeming the reproach of Christ greater than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward ... By faith He forsook Egypt...for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible." Heb. 11:24-27.
Through a spiritual study of the sanctuary, we too may have the faith that will enable us to see â€œhim who is invisibleâ€ for He is revealed in all its sacrifices. And as we continue its study we shall be enabled more and more to understand and properly evaluate "the recompense of the reward." With such a faith it will not be difficult to refuse the riches, the honors, the fame of the world, "choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." Without it, "it will be impossible to exercise the faith which is essential at this time, or to occupy the position which God designs us to fill."
Lack of Spiritual Intelligence, a Hindrance. Andrew Jukes, an old English writer, puts it this way in his book, The Law of the Offerings, pages 5, 6:
"I have often been surprised that he inspired parables of the Old Testament (referring to the sanctuary) should have been so neglected. The types (of the sanctuary) are in fact a series of pictures directly from the hand of God, by which He would teach His children things otherwise all but incomprehensible... These vast and infinite objects He brings before us... with the accuracy of One who views them as they are seen and understood by Himself, and in a way in which they may be seen and understood by us."
This writer ventures further to say that the neglect of a full and earnest study of the sanctuary is due to the fact that this subject "requires more spiritual intelligence than many Christians can bring to it; we know so little (of the things of God) and, what is worse, we do not know our ignorance." Our "infancy in Christ, our lack of growth, hinder our understanding," and we excuse ourselves "under the plea that these things are not important or at least not essential."
What an indictment not only against Christians in general, many of whom are still in darkness regarding the present position and work of our High Priest in the sanctuary above, but even against many - altogether too many - Christians who profess to be looking for His soon return to this earth when His work as Intercessor is finished. To such it is not only an indictment but it should be a challenge.
A Key to Important Prophecies. The relation of the sanctuary to important prophecies is thus expressed by another reliable writer: The sanctuary "is a key to the interpretation of some of the most important prophecies pertaining to the present time. Neglecting to use this, an expositor can hardly come to right conclusions; using it, he can scarcely go astray. It shows our present whereabouts in the world's history.... It places the law of God in its true light, draws out the heart in practical Christianity, points the inquirer the way to Christ, shows on what lines the Judgment proceeds, how and when the work of mercy for this world will close, Christ appear, redemption be completed, and the blessings of the everlasting covenant be secured. Strange (strange indeed) that a subject occupying so important a position in the divine economy should have been so long overlooked. Strange that so few even now are found to give it in any degree their attention, still less their study." Uriah Smith in Looking Unto Jesus, pp. 57, 58.
It Illuminates God's Last Message. The sanctuary illustrates not only the plan of salvation in general, but it points out the great gospel truths that pertain particularly to our own time and on down to the very end of time. It makes clear God's last message to the world:"The hour of His Judgment Is come." Rev. 14:7. It points out both the time and the event that marked the beginning of this message - the time was the end of the 2300 days, the event is the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary, or the beginning of the Investigative Judgment. Dan. 8:14
In this movement only - the proclamation of the third angel's message of Revelation 14:6-12 - is it made a prominent feature, and by those only who accept and proclaim this message, is it regarded as vital to Christian experience and to a full and broad comprehension of almost, if not entirely, all Bible truth. As a correct understanding of the sanctuary opened up God's last message, and shed a flood of light on all lines of Bible truth due at that time, so at its close a revival of sanctuary study will vitalize Christian experience and strengthen our faith in the closing work of God.
In the sanctuary are revealed all the truths that characterize the Remnant church. Here are found the perpetuity of God's law, and the eternal character of the Sabbath, the gift of the Spirit of prophecy, the Judgment of the human family, the second coming of Christ to this earth to take His people to their eternal home. "The recovery of the truth concerning the sanctuary and its cleansing
has been the most unique and outstanding contribution of the Remnant church, because in it is brought to view a complete system of truth into which every doctrine of the Bible is integrated and made very present truth to this closing generation of earth's history. When taught in its relation to the sanctuary service, each doctrine will be seen in the light that streams from Calvary and will contribute to a better understanding of Jesus as the central theme of the Scriptures." B. P, Hoffman, in R&H, Feb. 3, 1949. Indeed, as someone has concisely stated, â€œThe sanctuary is not so much a doctrine as it is a system of standards by which to evaluate the validity of the many accepted beliefs to be found in the Christian church. â€œ
A Safeguard against Satan's Deceptions. "Satan, â€¦the arch deceiver, hates the great truths that bring to view an atoning Sacrifice and an all-powerful Mediator,â€ and he "invents unnumbered schemes to occupy our minds that they may not dwell upon the very work with which we ought to be best acquainted. " GC 488.
"In the future, deception of every kind is to arise, and we want solid ground for our feet. The enemy will bring in false theories that there is no sanctuary. This is one of the points on which there will be a departure from the faith." E Hen G. White in R&H, May 25, 1905, page 17.
Because the sanctuary so fully reveals the work of Christ in these last days, therefore, as J. E. Fulton has well stated in his book, The Sanctuary, page 10: "At no point does Satan seek to obscure our vision and confuse our minds more than in the sanctuary." In a correct understanding and spiritual appreciation of the sanctuary in all its many phases, the subtle work of the enemy is completely unmasked so that none need be deceived. Certainly no hazy knowledge, no indefinite idea, of this most important Bible truth is sufficient now.