The Path to the Throne of God

 

15. THE HEAVENLY SANCTUARY


Why We Should Understand the Heavenly Sanctuary. The earthly sanctuary is important because it was God's object lesson to illustrate redemption in the heavenly. But the heavenly itself is the real sanctuary, "the great original," PP 357, where the work of redemption is actually in progress. Here Jesus is now making His final appeal before the Father in behalf of our salvation. Especially in these closing hours of ' probation, a serious study ofthis vital subject can hardly fail to awaken a lively interest in the future life, and be a strong tie that binds the earnest student to heaven.

Moreover, since the plan of salvation is the "grand central theme" of the Bible, an understanding of both the earthly and the heavenly sanctuary is fundamental to a proper understanding of the Bible. Without this, we shall lose the illumination which this subject gives to many parts of the Scriptures that otherwise seem difficult. Our present study should therefore be to visualize the heavenly, as nearly as possible, as one great unit with Christ as its central figure, and redemption the theme permeating all its parts.

A clear and definite picture of the sanctuary above will enable us to follow Christ where He is now ministering for the salvation of man. This will strengthen our faith in the closing work of the gospel; it will help us to detect and avoid error, and thus be an anchor to the soul. Without it, we shall be unable to do our part in cooperation with Christ; and especially at this time when the Judgment, which decides our eternal destiny, is in session in the courts above. Without it, "it will be impossible . . . to exercise the faith which is essential at this time." GC 488.


The Earthly Sanctuary a "Figure" of the Heavenly. When God gave Moses directions for making the earthly sanctuary, He repeatedly admonished him to make all things "according to the pattern (or model) showed (him) in the mount." Ex. 25:9,10; 26:30; 27:8; Num 6:4; Acts 7:44; Heb. 8:5. This sanctuary was to be an exact copy of that which he was shown. There was to be no deviation from the pattern because every detail represented some phase of the redemptive work of Christ. It is important, therefore, that we gain a clear understanding not only of this pattern but also its relation to the heavenly sanctuary.

Because "the holy places"in the earthly sanctuary were "figures of the true" or heavenly sanctuary, Heb. 9:24, some have supposed that the heavenly sanctuary was the pattern shown to Moses. Others have concluded that, since the heavenly sanctuary is "the great original" it must have been the pattern. However, Paul makes it plain that the pattern shown to Moses was but "a shadow" of heavenly things, and not the "very image" of those things. Heb. 10:1,5. Also "the holy places made with hands (the holy and most holy places of the earthly sanctuary) are the figures of the true." Heb. 9:11. Thus not only "the things" in the earthly sanctuary, but the "building" itself was a "shadow" or "figure" of the heavenly.

It is true that "God presented before Moses in the mount a view of the heavenly sanctuary," but this was given, not as a pattern, but that he might better understand the relation of the earthly and heavenly sanctuary, and better appreciate the sacredness of his task and the importance of making "all things according to the pattern shown him." PP 345. If it be true that God gave Moses a vision of the heavenly sanctuary As a pattern, it would necessarily follow that in heaven there is a court with a brazen altar where sacrifices were offered, for these were part of the pattern shown him. And of the brazen altar, he was specially admonished to make it "as it was shewed (him) in the mount." Ex. 27:8. But, although Moses was shown the court, it is well known that there never was a court in heaven. Rev. 11:2. This earth, where the true Sacrifice was offered on Calvary, is the court of the heavenly sanctuary. "The patterns of things in the heavens" were "purified with the blood of calves and of goats," but "the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these." Heb. 9:19,23.

Just what, then, was this pattern? As already noted, (page 21) both Greek and Hebrew translations of the word pattern as used in the books of Hebrews and Exodus, is "model."

Accordingly, the pattern God showed Moses was a model like the one he was to construct, a “miniature representation of the heavenly temple.” PP 345. Not only did God give Moses a "miniature representation" of every part of the sanctuary, but He even showed him exactly how these were to be assembled: "And thou shalt rear up the tabernacle according to the fashion thereof which was showed thee in the mount." Ex. 26:30.


No Types in Heaven. From texts stating that John saw the ark, the altar, the golden censer, and the seven-branched candlestick, Rev. 11:19; 8:3; 4:5, in heaven, some have supposed that John saw these articles as they were in the earthly sanctuary. We shall not be confused on this point if we bear in mind that in heaven there are no types - these all belong to the earthly sanctuary. In heaven are the real things, their antitypes. Everything connected with the earthly was an object lesson to illustrate the heavenly. Thus, when John saw the ''seven lamps of fire burning before the throne," antitype of the sevenbranched candlestick, he immediately states that they were "the seven Spirits of God." Rev. 4:5. If we have supposed that there is a golden candlestick in the heavenly sanctuary like the type in the earthly, we should consider that the purpose of a candlestick is to give light. Of what use, then, would a candle or candles be in heaven, where the glory of God so illuminates the entire city that even the sun, though shining with sevenfold power, is not visible? Rev. 22:5; 21:23; Isa. 30:26.

The Bible abounds in metaphor, by which some object is employed to illustrate that of which it is a symbol. For example, John declares that he saw four beasts, or living creatures, one on each side of the throne; - a lion, a calf, or ox, a flying eagle, and one having the face of a man. Rev. 4:6,7. But what were these? He explains later that they were "redeemed from the earth." Rev. 5:8,9. Therefore, what John really saw were not beasts but redeemed human beings so arranged that to him the groups resembled these creatures. Likewise, he saw the ark, the candlestick, the altar, and the golden censer, not as types but their antitypes.


Two Apartments in the Heavenly Sanctuary. As in the earthly sanctuary there were two distinct places, the holy and the most holy, so in its antitype each division of the work of Christ has its "distinctive place in the heavenly PP 357. When Christ ascended, having offered himself here on earth, He went directly within the first veil "the door into the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary where He was anointed High Priest" to begin His work as Intercessor. When at the end of the 2300 days, he moved within "the second veil " Heb. 9:3, He went into the most holy place, the second apartment of the heavenly sanctuary, where He began His work as Judge. Dan. 7:9,10,13. "He still pleaded His blood before the Father in behalf of sinners." GC 429. Thus He becomes our Judge-Advocate and continues His ministry until the close of probation. Then the decree goes forth "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; . . . he that is righteous, let him be righteous still." Rev. 22:

11. At this time the destiny of the entire human race is settled. (See GC 429 referred to in Chapter 23).


A Safeguard against Error. The safest and surest way to dissipate the darkness of error, is to throw upon it the searchlight of truth - giving a clear and Biblical understanding. This principle applies to the sanctuary. To illustrate, let us examine some of these errors. First, there are those who suppose that when Christ as our Forerunner began His work as High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary, He entered directly into the second apartment, the most holy place "within the veil ." Heb. 6:19,20. These apparently overlook the fact that there were two apartments and two veils. The veil at the entrance of the most holy place was "the second veil ." Heb. 9:3. They also forget.that the high priest entered within this veil "alone once every year," at the close of his yearly ministry, not at its beginning. Heb. 9:1,7.

Let us examine the texts that have confused some. In Hebrews 9:11,12, Paul says that Christ at His ascension, having obtained eternal redemption for us," "entered in once into the holy place." The expression here translated the holy place, is literally the holy places. It is the same word as is translated "Holiest of all" in Hebrews 9:8 and "sanctuary" in Hebrews 8:2 where it plainly refers,

not to any one apartment of the heavenly sanctuary, but to "the true tabernacle" in heaven. The earthly sanctuary was holy, the heavenly is the Holiest of all." The word translated Holiest of all" in Hebrews 9:3, is another word and refers to the most holy place of the earthly sanctuary. From this study, and remembering that the earthly high priest during the year ministered in the holy place, and not until the close of the year did He enter the most holy place, it seems obvious that Christ, the antitype of the earthly high priest, began His ministry as High Priest in the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary, not in the second.

Since in the heavenly sanctuary there is not "the very image" of the things in the earthly, others declare that there is no sanctuary in heaven. Such a statement is wholly without Biblical authority, made evidently because of a misunderstanding, or lack of understanding, regarding the nature of the true tabernacle!" A correct understanding of the significance of the earthly sanctuary as a type of the true tabernacle should help us to avoid such error. No sanctuary in heaven? Impossible! The sanctuary is indispensable to the work of redemption typified in the earthly sanctuary. But we must always remember that the true sanctuary is "a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building," which was "made with hands." Heb. 9:11,24, italics supplied. Also, the things in the earthly sanctuary were "not the very image of the things" in the heavenly sanctuary, Heb. 10:1, but only miniature representations" of those things. Instead, then, of there being no sanctuary in heaven, the heavenly sanctuary is as much greater than the earthly, as a building is greater than its shadow or its blueprint pattern. Doubtless an understanding of the spiritual significance of the earthly sanctuary and its relation to the true tabernacle would have saved the Hebrew nation from rejecting Christ and the truth regarding His work in the true sanctuary, just as it will save God's people today from error and defeat.


The "Greater and More Perfect Tabernacle." Since "the things" in the earthly sanctuary were "not the very image of the things" in the heavenly, and since "the holy places made with hands," that is, the "building" itself, was only a "figure" of the true tabernacle, what is the heavenly sanctuary like? Paul describes it as "a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands." Heb. 9:11. Not made with hands. Surely then, its walls were not made of boards carved with cherubim and plated with gold, as in "the holy places made with hands!" Heb. 9:24. Nor was this framework covered with badgers' skins, rams' skins, woven goats' hair, and linen embroidered with figures of cherubim. How utterly incongrous!


The "greater and more perfect" tabernacle, which God "pitched," - the true or real tabernacle, "the great original," was composed of real living beings - angels, not carved, not embroidered, not statues of beaten gold, but real angels pulsating with life. The "pattern" or "shadow of heavenly things" showed to Moses was as different from the "true tabernacle" as the pattern of a garment is different from the garment itself. It was a mere "shadow" of the "true," given to enable man to understand the real sanctuary in heaven. That which God showed Moses was merely a "pattern," a "shadow," a "figure," a miniature representation," a model, of the true, with explicity directions for making all parts exactly like the model shown him.


The Heavenly Sanctuary Succeeded the Earthly. The "first tabernacle," Heb. 9:2, was the one made by Moses at Sinai. The temple of Solomon, and later the temple of Zerubbabel and the temple of Herod, were, in their essential features, built after the same pattern. These were all earthly sanctuaries. The earthly sanctuary in all its parts was a type of the heavenly, the "true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man." Heb. 8:2. The type reached its antitype when at the death of Christ the veil of the temple was rent. This was Heaven's announcement that the work of the earthly sanctuary was ended, and that the service of the heavenly sanctuary was about to take its place. Christ's ministry as High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary did not begin until His sacrificial work was accomplished. When on the cross He uttered the loud cry "It is finished," John 9:30, all the sacrifices of the court met their antitype in Him, the true Sacrifice. The sacrifice of Christ, made in the court of earth, was an end of all shedding of blood for sin. Heb. 9:12. The typical sacrifices,

although continued by the unbelieving Jews for a time, automatically ceased to represent the true Sacrifice. Then was fulfilled the verdict of Christ, uttered with such heartfelt pathos shortly before His betrayal: "0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Thou that killeth the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." Matt. 23:37,38. Never again was the glory of God manifest in the earthly sanctuary. Never again was it to be the dwelling place of God on earth. The service of the heavenly sanctuary was about to succeed that of the earthly.


The True Tabernacle "Made Manifest." "Before the foundations of the earth were laid, the Father and the Son had united in a covenant to redeem man should he be overcome by Satan." DA 834. It was at that secret council that Christ, the Lamb of God, offered himself as a ransom to redeem him. Zech. 6:13; GC 416, 417. But all will agree that Christ was not actually slain until the cross.

Likewise, in this council of peace every provision was made for man's complete redemption. In His infinite love and foreknowledge the Father planned the heavenly sanctuary, in which all Heaven could cooperate, PP 63,64, and at the time appointed this sanctuary would actually function, or be “made manifest.”

While "the first tabernacle was yet standing," "the way into the holiest of all (the heavenly sanctuary) was not yet made manifest." Heb. 9:8. So long as the type (the earthly sanctuary) was fulfilling God's purpose, there was no need of the antitype; the type met its antitype and passed away at the death of Christ and the veil was rent. The Lord pitched the true tabernacle in heaven. Then "the way into the holiest of all" was made manifest;" then the sanctuary on earth gave place to the sanctuary in heaven; then the earthly priesthood was succeeded by the priesthood of Christ, and the ministration was "removed from the earthly to the heavenly temple." DA 166.

Thus while the heavenly sanctuary was conceived in the days of eternity, and in an accommodated sense might be saUto have existed from eternity, it could not actually function until after the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ when He was anointed High Priest.

On this question, M. L. Andreasen in his book, The Book of Hebrews, page 328, states, “Verse 8 (of Heb. 9) means that the way into the true holies (the heavenly sanctuary) was not manifested so long as the service in the Mosaic tabernacle (the earthly sanctuary) was still meeting the mind of God." On page 330 he further states, "the way to the heavenly sanctuary would be open when the earthly sanctuary had fulfilled its appointed mission."


The Heavenly Sanctuary Anointed. The lamb, "a male of the first year" which the priest offered morning and evening as a consecration of Israel to God, represented Christ when at the beginning of His earthly life, He entered the court of earth to become the Sacrifice which God gave for "the world." John 3:16. The "ram of consecration," Ex. 20:22, a mature male sheep, which Moses (who represented God) offered when the earthly sanctuary was set up, symbolized Christ as a Sacrifice at the close of His life on earth. As the service in the earthly sanctuary could not begin until this sacrifice had been offered and until both the sanctuary and the priests had been anointed, Ex. 40: 9-15,29, so the service in the heavenly sanctuary could not begin until Christ the true Sacrifice had been offered on Calvary, and until at His ascension, He had been anointed High Priest, and "the most Holy," the heavenly sanctuary, had been anointed. Dan. 9:24. This was the last prophetic event before the close of the 70 weeks.


The True Tabernacle Set Up. The Lord Himself "pitched" the true tabernacle. Heb. 8:2. The word here translated "pitched" is better rendered "set up," as by Moffatt., As Moses, who was a type of God, set up the first tabernacle at Sinai, so God "set up" the true tabernacle, which was its antitype. God "set up" the true tabernacle; that is, He organized and arranged all the forces of heaven to cooperate with Christ in the work of redemption, - all heaven was staged for that momentous event. This gives us a very different picture from that of a tent pitched or a building

erected. If it were a tent or a structure of some kind, how large would it have to be to enclose all the vast number of angels that surround the throne? And what would be its roof? The earthly sanctuary was but "a faint reflection of its vastness and glory," which "no earthly structure could represent." GC 414; PP 357.

This sanctuary into which Christ entered at His ascension is called "heaven itself." Heb. 9:24. “Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are figures of the true; but into heaven itself” into the heavenly sanctuary. And in this sanctuary, "not made with hands" but "set up" by God, Christ began His ministry as our heavenly High Priest.


"Heaven Itself." Let us dwell for a moment on the expression "heaven itself." Heaven is defined by Webster as the abode of God; also, the firmament or sky. When Paul speaks of "heaven itself," Heb. 9:24, he evidently refers to the abode of God. He also called this "the third heaven" or "Paradise." II Cor. 12:2,4. The "firmament" with which God surrounded this earth at creation would, then be the first heaven, (if we may number it), and the space between these two would be the second heaven. As the first heaven surrounds this earth, so the third heaven surrounds Paradise, the dwelling place of God. Just as the first heaven, the firmament, at creation was an inseparable part of the earth itself, so the third heaven is an inseparable part of "heaven itself," or Paradise. Paul was caught up "to" the third heaven, "into" Paradise. Paradise which is but another name for the city "which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God," Heb. 11:10, is the dwelling place of God. Therefore, the heavenly sanctuary (of which the earthly, His dwelling place on earth, was a type) is the real dwelling place of God.


By the law of comparison and equality, the heavenly sanctuary therefore is "heaven itself," "into" which Christ entered at His ascension, Heb. 9:24, the Paradise "into" which Paul was caught up. Whether all or only part of "heaven itself," or Paradise, or the City of God, is devoted to the work in the heavenly sanctuary, we are not told, but we do know that sufficient space is thus occupied to accommodate all the innumerable heavenly beings who assist Christ in the work of redemption.


The Priesthood of the Heavenly Sanctuary. Not only were the "holy places" of the earthly sanctuary and "the things" in it a type of the "true tabernacle," but the earthly high priest was a type of Christ, the heavenly High Priest. Up to the time of His ascension, there had been no actual priest in heaven. Till then the priesthood was confined to the earthly sanctuary. When, at His ascension, Christ began His work as High Priest, a full representative priesthood was established. They were the "multitude of captives," Eph. 4:8, margin, who "came out of the graves after His resurrection," Matt. 27:52,53, and ascended with Him. These are now acting as "priests unto God." Rev. 5:9,10.


Redemption Before Calvary. Since before Calvary there was no Priest in heaven, and since "without shedding of blood there is no remission" of sin, Heb. 9:22, how did man have redemption before Calvary and before Christ became High Priest? On this point, we should remember that Christ was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world," Rev. 13:8, - from the time of that secret "counsel of peace" between the Father and the Son, Zech. 6:13, "before the creation of the earth." PP 63. This, the promised Sacrifice, is "the mystery which . . . now (by his actual sacrifice) is made manifest to His saints," "unto our glory." Col. 1:26; 1 Cor. 2:7. It was in that secret counsel with the Father "before the foundation of the world" that Christ was "foreordained" as a sacrifice. I Peter 1:18-20. "Before the world began," salvation "Was given us in Christ Jesus." II Tim. 1:9. Then it was that Christ offered His life to redeem man if the need should arise. The need arose in the garden of Eden, when our first parents fell under the dominion of Satan. From that time to the cross, fallen man had forgiveness and redemption through faith in the promised blood of Christ; since Calvary, he has forgiveness and redemption through faith in His shed blood.

The Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary Today. Since there are no types in heaven, it seems evident that when John was given a vision of the heavenly sanctuary, he was shown the living throne of God, antitype of the ark with the mercy seat and the Shekinah; he was shown Jesus as our Intercessor, offering His righteousness as sweet incense before the throne, antitype of the golden altar and the golden censer, both of which had to do with the offering of incense which represented the righteousness of Christ; he was shown the "seven Spirits of God," antitype of the seven-branched golden candlestick "burning before the throne." Thus in the heavenly sanctuary today are united all the persons of the Godhead - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in His sevenfold power in behalf of our salvation, while angels, obeying the "voices"which like “thunderings” proceed out of the throne, speed like flashes of "lightning," Rev. 4:5, eager to be sent forth "as ministering spirits . . . for them who shall be heirs of salvation." Heb. 1:14. These angels are the antitype of the cherubim of shining gold engraved in the walls and embroidered in the ceiling and the veils of the earthly sanctuary. As time with rapid pace hastens to its close, the Spirit of God "maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Rom. 8:26. Think of it! Especially at this time, when the destiny of the human race hangs in the balance, so great is the solicitude of the Holy Spirit for your salvation and for mine, that it is beyond words. Only deep groanings can express His soul agony for sinful man. This work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, together with that of the angels, is the work now in progress in the living sanctuary, "the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands," "the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man." Heb. 9:11; 8:2.


Summary. To sum up, let us group together in a clear picture the salient features of the heavenly sanctuary as typified in the earthly. First, that there is no court in heaven, that this earth where Jesus, the true Sacrifice, suffered and bled and died, is the court of the heavenly sanctuary. Second, that "the greater and more perfect tabernacle" is "heaven itself" whose "vastness and glory" could not be represented in any "earthly structure" or "building" made with hands. Third, that the sanctuary above has two "distinctive places," the holy place where Christ began His work as High Priest, and the most holy, where He now officiates as Judge. Fourth, that there are no types in heaven, that the earthly building and the things in it are "not the very image of the "things" in heaven, but only their "shadow." Fifth, that in the heavenly sanctuary all "the things" are real and living, antitypes of "the things" made with hands. Sixth, that the heavenly sanctuary was not made with hands, but was set up by God when the earthly had fulfilled its purpose. Seventh, and most important of all, that the final work for man's redemption by the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and the angels, is now in progress in the heavenly sanctuary, and will soon close. Then, "the harvest," which Is "the end of the world," Matt. 13:39, will be past, the wheat, the redeemed, will be gathered into the heavenly garner, and the chaff will be burned up. Matt. 3:12.