Preparation for the Holy Place. With Christ we have been crucified at the brazen altar. On the altar we have placed all our evil habits and everything that would tend to draw us away from Him, these to be utterly consumed in the altar fires. Here we have dedicated to His service all our time and talents - all that we have and all that we are, all that we shall ever possess and all that we ever hope to become - all have been consecrated to the service of our Redeemer. At the laver we have been cleansed, our past sins have been buried in the watery grave, and we have risen with Christ to walk in newness of life. As we advance to the holy place of the earthly sanctuary, we must ever look unto Jesus, who is not only the author but the finisher of our faith. As our great Leader, after His resurrection and entrance into the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, was anointed with the Holy Spirit, so when we, His followers, enter the holy place on earth, the words of Peter to the early Christian believers apply: "Repent, and be baptized . . . for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Acts 2:38. Let us weigh this matter well, lest our experience be like those who had been baptized "unto John's baptism," "the baptism of repentance," but who had "not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost." Acts 19:2-5.
Then, "forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before," we are to "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Phil. 3:13,14. This is another forward move on The Path to the Throne of God, the Christian's goal. On this path, we do not walk alone, for His promise still holds: "Lo, I am with you alway" - all the time, Moffatt. Matt. 28:20. "1 will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Heb. 13:5. It is our part to deny self, take up the cross, and follow Him. Matt. 16:24. Shall we not from the heart respond:
Though I meet with tribulations, Sorely tempted though I be,
I remember Thou wast tempted,
And rejoice to follow Thee." - James Lawson.
Pressing Toward the Prize. What does this pressing toward the prize involve? It means that we have now enlisted in God's army; we are His soldiers, volunteers in a life-long warfare, with Christ and Satan as opposing generals. In this warfare, âWe wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Eph. 6:12. To be victorious, we must "put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand (to hold your ground, Moffatt) against the wiles (the "sly tricks," Webster) of the devil." Eph. 6:11.
General weapons are not employed in this warfare. Instead of guns and bombs, the Captain of our salvation has provided every soldier with an armor, complete from head to foot, every part of which is needed if we are to "stand our ground" against the "sly tricks" of our adversary, the devil. "Stand therefore,
Having your loins girt about with truth,
And having on the breastplate of righteousness;
And your feet shod with the preparation ("the stability," Moffatt), of the gospel of peace;
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
And take the helmet of salvation,
And the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God; Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, And watching thereunto with all perseverance." Eph. 6:14-18.
Clad in this armor, "let us run with patience the race that is set before us," ever "looking unto Jesus," Heb. 12:1,2, our Mighty Captain, who has never lost a battle.
Thus equipped, our conversation will be in heaven, Phil. 3:20, because âyour citizenship is in heavenâ A.R.V. because "we are free citizens of heaven" Weymouth; because "we are a colony of heaven" Moffatt; because "the empire to which we belong is in heaven." Twentieth Century.
Forward, ever forward, is to be our watchword, remembering that "No man, having put his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Luke 9:62. "After that ye . . . are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?" Gal. 4:9. Or, as Moffatt has it, "How is it ye are turning back again to the weakness and poverty of the elemental spirits? Why do you want to be enslaved all over again by them?" Having "put off . . . the old man, which is corrupt," Eph. 4:22, "let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ." Phil. 1:27. "Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that whereas they speak against you as evil doers, they may by your good works . . . glorify God." I Peter 2:12.
"Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works." Heb. 6:1,2. "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Let us not "give place to the devil . . . and grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." Eph. 4:27-32. With our feet firmly planted on these principles, we are ready to enter the holy place, which is a type of the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary into which Jesus has entered.
At the Door. Cleansed and having on the whole armor of God, we advance to the door, the entrance to the holy place. The door is a fine linen hanging of "blue, and purple, and scarlet" - all royal colors. On it cherubim are richly embroidered in shining gold - "figure" or "shadow" of the angels who met Jesus as He approached the "everlasting doors" of the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary. Ps. 24:7.
The Door and Its Pillars as Symbols. The door hanging was suspended on five pillars made of shittim wood, completely covered with pure gold. Ex. 26:37. Jesus says, "I am the door of the sheep." "He that entereth not in by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber." John 10:7,11. As elsewhere, the wood in the pillars represents humanity. Gold is a symbol of Divinity: "Yea, the Almighty shall be thy gold." Job 22:25, margin. So, having surrendered all, and being hid in Christ, as the wood is within the gold, we are to be pillars in His temple. Rev. 3:12.
Why was the door hung on five pillars instead of four as was the gate, which also represented Christ? No one symbol can fully represent Him; each symbol represents some special phase of His character or work. The number of its pillars is five, doubtless for the same reason that the boards of the wall, of which the door was a part, were held together with five bars. One writer has said that these pillars may reprdsent the name or character of Christ in its five parts: âWonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.". Isa. 9:6. If so, how appropriate that they were of gold, a symbol of the Almighty. As brass represents victory through suffering, another writer suggests that the five brass sockets in which these pillars were set, symbolize the five wounds which Jesus bears in His body from Calvary as He entered the holy place above. Ps. 22:16; John 19:34. These brass sockets are also a fitting symbol of our earthly struggles and our victories, which precede our entrance into the holy place. As all the articles in the court were of brass, so as we step beyond these sockets of brass at the door, we leave behind us the last trace of our former experience, our longing after earthly things, and if we hold to Him who "is able to keep us from falling," if we "stand fast . . . in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free," we need never again be "entangled with the yoke of bondage" and overcome by worldly lusts, which war against the soul. Jude 24; Gal. 5:1.
Within the Holy Place. Justification, obtained in the court, is our passport into the holy place. This room is ten cubits wide and twenty long, or at least fifteen by thirty feet. And what a
room! On all sides we see, not brass but pure gold. At the further end is the veil which separates the holy place from the most holy. Like the door and the gate, it is of blue, and purple, and scarlet. In it, figures of cherubim are richly embroidered in gold. The ceiling above is of the same, with cherubim inwrought with threads of pure gold. All along both sides are boards covered with glittering gold, and having angel figures engraved, or reflected, in their shining surfaces. We are literally encompassed with angel figures, even as Christ was surrounded with real angels when He entered the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary. As before stated, these angel figures represent the â1nnumerable companyâ of angels who are connected with the work of the heavenly sanctuary, "ministering spirits sent forth" to this earth "to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation." Heb. 12:22; 1:14; PP 347.
Nearest to the second veil is the golden altar, sending forth the fragrance of its sweet smelling incense. On our right is the golden table, with its twelve loaves of life-giving bread, its flagon and other dishes of gold. On our left without the veil of the testimony," Lev. 24:3, is the golden candlestick, the soft lights from which add to the sacred atmosphere of the room. The rich colors in the ceiling and in the veils, reflected in the yellow of the golden walls, give the effect of a rainbow surrounding us, similar to the raipbow around God's throne. Such is the gorgeous place in which we are to develop true Christian character.
Three Essentials to Winning the Prize. The three articles of furniture in this apartment symbolize the three essentials to character perfection, the goal toward which we press. At the golden table with the bread is represented Bible study, at the golden altar with the sweet incense is typified prayer, at the golden candlestick is symbolized service. Because of the feast spread on the table, the holy place has sometimes been called "The Banqueting Room;" because of the sweet incense offered on the altar with our prayers, it has been called "The Prayer Room." But in reality it is more than both these; it is "The Sanctification Room" - the room where, as Webster defines this word, we experience âthe act or process of God's grace by which the affections are purified, or alienated from sin, and exalted to a supreme love to God and righteousness.â
Growing Up Into Christ. The court experience, that of being freed from past sins, - is called the new birth, or the second birth. Then, as "new born babes" I Peter 2:2, - without active sin - we enter into the holy place where we are to spend the rest of our mortal life. Here we are to "grow up into Him in all things." Eph. 4:15. Of what does this growing up process consist?
First, as babes we "desire" - cry out after, hunger and thirst for the sincere milk of the word," illustrated at the golden table that we "may grow thereby." I Peter 2:2. It is through a study of the Word, and obedience to it, that we "grow in grace and in the knowledge of. . . Christ." II Peter 3:18. Of equal importance to our spiritual growth is prayer, "the breath of the soul," symbolized at the golden altar. As we thus grow, we become fitted to let our light shine in service for others, an experience represented by the golden candlestick. God "worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." Phil. 2:13. The result of this three fold experience in Christian growth is sanctification which follow justification in the court. It is not a theory; it is a life - not a life of idle dreaming, but one of earnest effort to overcome temptation, and bravely meet daily duties and trials.
Heaven is not reached by a single bound, Christ is the ladder by which we rise
From the lowly earth to the vaulted skies, And we mount to its summit round by round.
- From Gradatim by J. G. Holland (Variations in Italics). While justification - the second birth - is the work of a moment; sanctification, this "growing up" process, is the work of a lifetime, the result of battles fought and vicotries won.
The Trysting Place. Moffatt translates the holy place as the trysting place. Webster defines tryst as engagement for marriage. The Hebrew rendering of the expression tabernacle of the
congregation, that is, the holy place or the trysting place, a place where lovers meet to make engagement for marriage; and in some countries, the engagement is regarded just as sacred and binding as the marriage itself. How beautiful is the figure that in the holy place, the place where we spend our entire Christian life, the place where we grow up into Christ, - here, day by day, hour by hour, as life's shuttle goes back and forth, we are weaving the garment of righteousness, the garment of "fine linen (or silk, Eze. 16:10), clean and white," our wedding garment, that we may be ready to be accepted as the bride of the Lamb. Rev. 19:7,8.
With this thought in mind, can we not understand the shamefulness of being untrue to Him to whom we have given our hearts, by going back to the beggarly elements of the world? Now that we have entered the Trysting place, shall we not remain true to the One we have promised, that we be not found without the wedding garment?
"O Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end;
Be Thou forever near me, my Master and my Friend: I shall not fear the battle if Thou are by my side;
Nor wander from the pathway if Thou wilt be my Guide."
- John E. Bode