The Path to the Throne of God

 

2. THE SANCTUARY, THE GOSPEL IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

 

The Gospel Preached Unto Israel. Speaking of the Israelites that came out of Egypt by Moses," Paul says, “Unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them," or, "the gospel was first preached unto them" Heb. 3:16; 4:2,6, margin. Let us not forget that the Israelites had the gospel of Christ preached unto them centuries before it was given to us in the Christian dispensation by New Testament gospel writers.

 

By Whom and How Preached? Who preached the gospel to Israel? It was preached by Moses. How did he preach it? By means of the sanctuary and its services, a complete system of truth given by God Himself to Israel at Sinai. The sanctuary was for the sole purpose of revealing Christ not only to the Hebrew nation in times past, but to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people to the very end of time, at which time it reaches its climax and reveals the everlasting gospel in its fullness and beauty. Let us ever remember that while the sanctuary was given to ancient Israel, God's truth there revealed was written for modern Israel, especially for us "upon whom the ends of the world are come." 1 Cor. 10:11.

 

The Sanctuary a Prophecy of Christ. The fact that the gospel was given to Israel through Moses is made plain by Christ Himself as He walked with the two disciples on the way to Emmaeus after His resurrection, when, "beginning at Moses ... He expounded unto them the things concerning Himself." And later to the eleven He said, "All things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses concerning Me." Luke 24:27, 44, italics supplied. Yes, the gospel revealed in the sanctuary was a prophecy concerning Christ, a prophecy that was "fulfilled" in the New Testament gospels. "Through Christ was to be fulfilled the purpose of which the tabernacle was a symbol." Ed.36. The New Testament is an inspired commentary on the sanctuary of the Old Testament; on the other hand, a spiritual understanding of the sanctuary is essential to a spiritual understanding of the New Testament.

 

The Sanctuary a “Compacted Prophecy. This prophecy of the gospel, illustrated in the sanctuary and its services, is a complete revelation of the gospel of salvation through Christ. .'Christ was the foundation of the Jewish economy. The whole system of types and symbols was a compacted prophecy of the gospel, a presentation in which were bound up the promises of redemption." AA 14, italics supplied. “In every sacrifice Christ's death was shown. In every cloud of incense His righteousness ascended. By every jubilee trumpet His name was sounded. In the awful mystery of the holy of holies His glory dwelt." Truly, the sanctuary is not only a prophecy of the gospel, but it is a "compacted prophecy." It is literally packed with the truths of the gospel.

 

Spiritual Significance of the Sanctuary Building. Some have thought that, although Christ and the gospel are symbolized in all the service,, of the sanctuary, it is "absurd" to suppose that the building itself has such significance. Is it absurd? Let us see. F. G. Gilbert, an authority on the Jewish economy, says: "Every part (of the sanctuary building) had a special function, and in every way it must be made according to the pattern. Nothing was left for conjecture or supposition; not even the smallest minutia was passed by unheeded.” Practical Lessons from the Experience of Israel, p. 172.

 

Here is another, from the Review and Herald, June 9, 1949, p. 10: "In types and shadows, each article of furniture, each hanging, every detail of fixture, typified the atonement. Nothing was without spiritual significance." Louise C. Kleuser, Associate Secretary of the General Conference Ministerial Association.

Another: "There was nothing superfluous in its construction,...everything was typical of the heavenly." W. G. C. Murdoch of the Washington Theological Seminary, in Our Firm Foundation, Vol. I, p. 317.

 

As we continue our study, this truth will become more and more apparent for we shall find that the boards, the bars, the pillars, the coverings, the embroidery, and the materials used - the fine linen, the blue and purple and scarlet, the wood, the brass, the silver, the gold, the precious stones - all either directly or indirectly represent Christ in some phase of His work for fa Hen man, and all combine to make the plan of salvation clear, and beautiful, and wonderful.

 

David had no question on this point. He says, "In His temple every whit of it uttereth His glory." Ps. 29:9, margin. Another inspired writer says, “The sanctuary itself (as well as the ministration of the priests) as to serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things.” PP 351-352. "Through Christ was to be fulfilled the purpose of which the tabernacle was a symbol - that glorious building, the walls of glistening gold reflecting in rainbow hues the curtains inwrought with cherubim." Ed. 36. And again, "God designed that the temple at Jerusalem should be a continual witness to the high destiny open to every soul, But the Jews did not understand the significance of the building they regarded with so much pride." DA 161, Let us beware lest, like the Jews, we do not understand the significance of the sanctuary building. In fact, a spiritual understanding of the sanctuary building as described in the book of Exodus is the true foundation of all sanctuary study. Without this foundation, we cannot so well appreciate the significance of the offerings as recorded in the book of Leviticus, nor can we so well understand the force of the many allusions to the sanctuary which pervade the entire Bible.

 

Individual Christian Experience Taught in the Sanctuary. Not only was Christ symbolized in all parts of the sanctuary but in it "God desired His people to read His purpose for the human soul." Ed. 36. Another writer puts it this way: "The sanctuary is a dramatized parable of God's dealings with men. To study it is to think God's thoughts after Him.. To understand its every detail is to realize to some extent the depths of His wisdom." Robert B. Thurber in Bible Truth Series, No.

38. In it is illustrated the complete experience of every true Christian, his reconciliation and justification by faith symbolized in the court, with its imputed righteousness, his sanctification by faith in the holy place as a life-long experience, with its imparted righteousness, and his glorification by faith in the most holy place, with its eternal righteousness - all are there. The Sanctuary in its fullness is a complete revelation of the gospel of Christ, symbolized for the entire human family, The more fully we understand its details, the more easily and completely shall we comprehend the important closing events now in progress in the heavenly sanctuary - events that most deeply concern our own personal salvation.

 

The Sanctuary and the Holy Spirit. The sanctuary was not merely the skilled efforts of men who constructed this most wonderful work of art; it was the inspiration of the Holy Spirit working through human Instrumentalities. Men called of God were filled "with the Spirit of God" to do this work. Ex. 31:3. Because this work was inspired, we shall find inspired truth not only in the sanctuary as a whole, but in all its parts.

 

The Sanctuary Shows Revelation a Harmonious Whole. In his book "Looking unto Jesus," pages 56 and 57, Uriah Smith says: "No man can look unto Jesus, and properly understand His position and work, without viewing it in the light of this tabernacle of God, built by Moses in the wilderness - this shadow cast on earth to show forth “heavenly things.... This sanctuary is ... the great central object in the plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. There is no one object connected with the plan of salvation ... in which we see the different subjects of revelation blended together in such a harmonious whole.” He further says: The sanctuary "unites the two great dispensations, the Mosaic and the Christian, and shows their relation to each other. It divides with no other subject the

high honor of explaining the position and work of our Lord Jesus Christ." The books of Moses, illuminated by this "brilliant lamp," become "animated with life, and radiant with consistency and beauty." Everything connected with the Hebrew worship was suggestive of Christ the Messiah.

 

More than any other subject, a study of the sanctuary will enable the student "to view the Word as a whole, and to see the relation of its parts." More than any other subject, it will enable him to comprehend "its grand central theme, God's original purpose for the world, the rise of the great controversy, and the work of redemption." Ed. 190.

 

The Sanctuary a Key to Every Doctrine of Salvation. All the doctrines of salvation through Christ are symbolized in the sanctuary - the gift of God's only begotten Son to the world, His crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and ascension; His work as High Priest, as Judge, and as King Eternal; the work of the angels and of the Holy Spirit.

 

"There is no other subject which so fully unites all parts of the Sacred Volume into one harmonious whole as this subject of the sanctuary. Every gospel truth centers in the sanctuary service, and radiates from it like the rays of the sun." J. L. Shuler, in "The Great Judgment Day," P. 51.

 

The Sanctuary Truth Permeates All Scripture. To every Israelite in Old Testament times and to every true Israelite in the Christian dispensation, the sanctuary was and is the great central object in the plan of salvation. In it, like the spokes of a wheel, all the truths of revelation center in Christ as the hub, thus making a complete circle of gospel truth.

 

The subject of the sanctuary ramifies and permeates all parts of the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. In the Garden of Eden God Himself offered the first sacrifice pointing forward to the sacrifice of His own precious Son on cruel Calvary, and in the skins of which He wrapped His guilty children to protect them from the chill air of transgression. Gen. 3:21. In Revelation, John in his wondrous vision saw the heavenly sanctuary where was revealed the law of God that humanity has violated, Rev, 11:19, while "in the volume of the Book," in Solomon's "Song of songs," - Solomon carries us forward into eternity, representing the sanctuary as a palanquin, or sedan, in which the "daughters of Zion" go forth to meet their King. Cant. 3:6-11. The science of redemption, so marvellously symbolized in God's great object lesson, the sanctuary, is "the key that will unlock the whole treasure house of God's Word." "He who grasps this thought has before him an Infinite field for a study, "… the study of God's redeemed throughout endless ages." Ed, 126.

 

A full and spiritual understanding of the sanctuary is the basis of a fundamental and comprehensive knowledge of the Bible, without which we grasp only dimly its great theme - salvation. Is not such a subject worthy of our best mental and spiritual effort?

 

Four Gospels in both Old and New Testaments. We usually think of the gospels as the first four books in the New Testament. And these books do present the principles of salvation as demonstrated in the earthly life of Christ. Together they feature His four-fold character:

 

Christ as King - The Gospel according to Matthew, Christ as Servant - The Gospel according to Mark,

The humanity of Christ - The Gospel according to Luke, The divinity of Christ - The Gospel according to John.

 

But while it is true that the gospel is clearly revealed in the New Testament, we should not lose sight of the fact that it is revealed with equal clearness in the Old Testament. With the book of

Genesis as a background and introduction, the next four books written by Moses present in type the work of salvation through Christ. This, The Gospel According to Moses, is also in four books:

 

Christ our Sanctuary - The Book of Exodus, Christ our Sacrifice - The Book of Leviticus, Christ our Guide - The Book of Numbers, Christ our Reward - The Book of Deuteronomy.

 

In Exodus, the gospel is illustrated in the sanctuary itself, - its arrangement, its furniture, and all its parts; in Leviticus is illustrated in all the services of the sanctuary; in Numbers it is revealed in the wanderings of Israel as Christ in the pillar of fire and cloud guided them through the wilderness to the promised land; in Deuteronomy, which, in Smith's Bible Dictionary, article Pentateuch, is called "the spiritual interpretation and application of the law,” is given, as its name indicates, a "repetition of the law” for special emphasis. This final pronouncement of the teachings of the "Gospel according to Moses" was given to prepare Israel to enter the earthly Canaan, and it is typical of the final “repetition” and “special emphasis” now given to God's law as a preparation of the Remnant church to leave earth's wilderness and enter the heavenly Canaan.

 

Through the sanctuary of the Old Testament, the gospel is presented in type; the New Testament presents its antitype. The New Testament has its roots deep down in the Old Testament, from which it draws its nourishment and out of which it grows. To belittle or neglect the Old is to cut the New from its root system, and thus deprive the New of its source of life and power.

 

“The law (the Old Testament) is the gospel embodied, and the gospel (the New Testament) is the law unfolded. The law is the root, the gospel is the fragrant blossoms and fruit which it bears.: COL 128. Without the Old Testament it is impossible to gain a full and correct understanding of the New Testament, - its gospels, the teachings of Paul and the other apostles, or the prophecies of John the Revelator, for all these abound in allusions and references to the sanctuary of the Old Testament. Let us, therefore, beware how we treat this life-giving relationship, for the Old and the New Testaments are God's "two witnesses," which, on severe penalty, we are warned not to "hurt," Rev. 11:3,5.

 

The Everlasting Gospel. Many think the books of Moses are uninteresting and monotonous, intended only for ancient Israel, and of no particular value to Christians. Why is this? It is because they have not discerned the life and teachings of Christ in these books that God inspired Moses to write "concerning Himself." Luke 24:27. As we look more closely into this "Gospel According to Moses," as we advance along this Path to the Throne of God we shall see that

 

Moses preached the same gospel that John preached: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29. This is the everlasting gospel, the theme of all Scripture, the gospel of salvation for all people in all ages.