God's Three Books. From the creation of the world to the present time, the one outstanding purpose of Heaven has been to make known to man the character and work of our Creator and Redeemer. To accomplish this, God has given three books to the human family: first, the book of creation, His word in nature; second, the sanctuary, His word visualized in an object lesson; and third, the Bib1e the written Word. The grand central theme of each of these books is the plan of salvation. To study any one of them with any other object in view than to understand God's character and His plan for us is to miss His purpose entirely.
God's First Book, the Book of Creation. The book of nature was given to man while he lived in the Garden of Eden. Through the things that God had made, he was to learn of His omnipotent power, His infinite wisdom, His boundless love and goodness. Before sin marred God's plan, these lessons on His character were perfectly revealed in the beauty and fragrance of the flowers, the singing of the birds, the gorgeous butterflies, the fruitful trees, the beautiful landscape, the clear, healthful air, the life-giving water, the happy contented beasts of the field, and above all in man, made in God's own perfect image. In earth and sea and sky God's character was manifest. 'On every leaf of the forest or stone of the mountains, in every shining star, ... God's name was written." "God's glory in the heavens, the innumerable worlds in their orderly revolutions, 'the balancings of the clouds,' the mysteries of light and sound, of day and night, - all were open to the study of our first parents." PP 51. And all revealed the divine character of man's adorable Creator and his marvelous Teacher.
The book of nature is still a parable to teach us of heavenly realities, for "as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations." Isa. 61:11.
After sin marred this fair world, nature everywhere revealed the presence and character of the evil one. "The atmosphere, once so mild and uniform in temperature, was now subject to marked changes." PP 61. Satan had become "the prince of the power of the air" Eph. 2:2, and the terrible conflict between good and evil, between Christ and Satan, was on, This conflict is still on, and this book of nature plainly reveals in death and decay on every hand. To understand this conflict so that we shall line up on God's side is the real objective of true nature study. Unless in our study and teaching of nature, the work of Christ not only as Creator but as Redeemer, is made plain, it cannot truthfully be called Christian education, even though it be so labelled.
When Adam and Eve witnessed signs of decay in drooping flower and falling leaf, we are told that they â€œmourned more deeply than men now mourn over their dead." PP 62. But they were not left without hope. The book of nature still revealed the love and character of God. In His mercy He has left many of nature's beauties. While nature reveals the presence of the enemy, it also teaches the lesson of redemption. Although death and decay are everywhere manifest, the trees shed their leaves only to put forth new ones in the freshness of the springtime. The plants die only to rise again in fresh verdure at the appointed time. Even man himself as he lays down his life, looks forward to the resurrection, when he shall come forth in immortal youth and glory. Each yearly round demonstrates the spring, summer, autumn, and winter of life, and the resurrection morning. And all show God's gracious care and imperishable love toward all the works of His hand.
"The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse." Rom. 1:19, 20; 2:13-16; Ps. 19:1-3. In fact, so fully is the plan of redemption made known in the book of nature, that some will be saved who have never known any other book of God. "Among the
heathen are those who, .... though ignorant of the written law of God .... have heard His voice speaking to them in nature, and have done the things that the law required.... and they are recognized as the children of God." DA 638. Some have never known of the great Sacrifice made for their salvation, and when they see the nail prints in the hands of Christ, they ask, â€œWhat are those wounds in Thine hands?â€ Then He shall answer, â€œThose with which I was wounded in the house of My friends.â€ "My harlot's house." Zech. 13:6. See also PK 376,377.
The Sanctuary God's Second Book. For about 2500 years the book of creation was man's only lesson book. During this time, he gradually failed to discern the spiritual lessons in nature, until at last the Creator was lost sight of. Then he deified and worshipped the things of nature - the sun, moon, stars, water, earth, and even the animals that God had made for his use. He worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator," and as a result, his "foolish heart was darkened." Rom. 1:25,21.
Then God called Abraham away from his idolatrous kindred, that through him and his seed He might reveal to the world His character and His divine purpose. As time went on, the descendants of Abraham were for generations held in Egyptian bondage, where they were fast losing sight of the character of the true God, the Creator, and of the wondrous plan of salvation. Their manner of life made it difficult for them to grasp the grand truths of redeeming love. How were they to be prepared to fulfil Heaven's plan for them?
The Master Teacher knew how. He would teach them through the most marvellous object lesson ever conceived and ever used - the sanctuary. He who knew that nearly ninety percent of what we remember comes through the eyes and the hands, while only about ten percent comes through the ears, emphasized the importance of clearly understanding His plan by appealing first to the ear in giving the most minute and explicit directions for the construction of the sanctuary, next to the eye by showing Moses the pattern, and finally to the hand by instructing the people to unite in its construction. In this masterpiece of true Christian education, this comprehensive textbook of visual education, God demonstrated in perfect detail all the various stages of the plan of redemption, not only for the world as a whole, but for each individual for whom the Lamb of God has given His precious life.
Every step of the way from the moment we enter the gate of the sanctuary and experience justification by accepting the offering made for our sins, typified in the court, through the lifelong process of sanctification, typified in the holy place, into the glory room, the most holy place, where are typified the blotting out of all sin and the granting of life's reward - the entire work of Christ for our salvation is made clear and simple and beautiful and deeply impressive in the book of the sanctuary. It is indeed The Path to the Throne of God. And, as in the book of nature each yearly round represents the full span of life, so in His second book, the sanctuary, the complete plan of redemption was repeated in type every year.
Like the book of nature, the book of the sanctuary is for all ages and for people in all walks of life. By means of this divinely planned object lesson, that which otherwise would be a complicated study suited only to the learned, is made plain and simple even to a child.
To the mature Christian student a knowledge of the sanctuary is of inestimable value, because it makes the entire plan of salvation visible in one magnificent view. Through this study he is able to organize and classify his Bible knowledge so that he can see its parts in their proper order and perspective. Indeed, the sanctuary may be compared to a mammoth and limitless filing case, where every essential Bible doctrine has its own place into which it fits perfectly in God's great plan.
When viewed in the light of the sanctuary, the Bible thus becomes a great system of truth, not a scrapbook of disconnected and unrelated fragments. When considered in its fullness, the sanctuary is like a wonderful mosaic of divine revelation; one truth omitted spoils its symmetry; one error introduced mars its perfection. Thus the sanctuary not only illuminates truth, but it reveals error. For this reason the importance of understanding the lessons portrayed in the sanctuary can hardly be overestimated.
A spiritual study of the sanctuary is sure to awaken in the Christian student an insatiable longing to delve more deeply into the inexhaustible mine of Bible truth. It will inspire him with a profound love of the truth for these last days. How quickly and how vividly, and how truly will a study of this book of God - the sanctuary - reveal the importance and the eternal perpetuity of the Creator's divine law-the Ten Commandments! Such a study will give the student an experience that will be his anchor through earth's final crisis.
God's Third Book - The Written Word. For about fifteen hundred years the sanctuary was the main book through which God taught His people of His character and the plan of salvation. Not until after the sacrificial lamb met its antitype in the death of the Lamb of God was God's third book, the Bible, completed. Even then it was another fifteen hundred years before the printing press came into use, and the Bible began to be printed in the language of the people, and thus made aveil able to the world.
As in the book of nature and of the sanctuary, so the "grand central theme" of the Bible is Christ and redemption. The Bible is a divine commentary which throws the searchlight of Heaven on the other two books, giving a brilliant illumination to their theme - redemption. While the Bible illuminates the truths worked out in God's wondrous object lesson, the sanctuary, on the other hand the sanctuary is the substructure of the entire Bible. It is not merely a golden thread running throughout the Bible, but it is a complete golden network of truth entering into and binding together into one harmonious whole all parts of the Sacred Volume - history and prophecy, poetry and song, law and gospel. It is a visible illumination of all its essential doctrines, giving to each a new and deep significance.
These three books make a vast and complete library of divine revelation, and with them at his command, the student will be enabled to interpret with accuracy not only God's plan for the world as revealed in prophecy, but His plan for himself personally, so that we even more than those who have gone before, shall most surely be "without excuse" Rom. 1:20, if we neglect to study God's three books, and be benefited by their truths.