Our Father's Longing Desire. "Let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them. Ex. 25:8. How lightly we read the pathetic words, "that I may dwell among them." Yet what a volume of pent-up love and yearning for His wayward children do they contain! A simple little story may help us to feel the depth of tenderness wrapped up in these few words - â€œthat I may dwell among them."
Bobby had been a very naughty boy. For three successive days he had absented himself from school without his parents' permission or knowledge. Fearing he might be ill, the teacher called to inquire. The parents were amazed and deeply grieved that their child had deceived them. They were at their wits' end to know how to train him so that eventually he would grow up to noble manhood. Some punishment must be administered. The parents talked it over and decided to deprive him of his liberty for three days, the same length of time that he had abused his liberty. During this time he was confined in the attic, where he could think quietly by himself. There he was given a comfortable bed, and at meal times Daddy carried his food to him. Night came, and Bobbie was tucked into bed. Then the parents retired; but not to sleep. The father tossed from side to side. He was thinking of little Bobbie alone in the attic.
'What's the matter, John?" asked the mother; 'Why don't you go to sleep? "â€I can'tâ€ said the father. â€œI think I'll go up and stay with Bobbie."
So up the attic stairs he went. He opened the door. There was Bobbie wide awake, sobbing softly to himself. The father crept under the bed covers by the side of his child. He put his arms around him and kissed the tears away. All he could say was:
"Daddy loves you, son; Daddy wants you to be a good boy." Their tears mingled. The naughty but now penitent child began to realize that wrongdoing does not pay. Each night the fond father chose Bobbie's bed in the attic to his own comfortable bed. He could not enjoy his own pleasant room while Bobbie must stay in the attic. At last the three days were over; Bobbie had learned his lesson, and was restored to his place in the family.
So it is with our heavenly Father. Because of the leprosy of sin we have been Isolated - separated from His presence. But His great heart of Father love yearns after His wayward children. "All heaven took a deep and joyful interest in the creation of the world and of man. Human beings were a new and distinct order. They were made â€˜in the image of God'â€. Gen. 1: 27. R&H Feb. 11, 1902. Quoted in S.D.A. Commentary, Vol I, P.1081. Though sin had marred the Creator's work, the Father cannot endure to be separated from those whom He created in His own image. He must be with them. But how? In the person of His Son, Jesus our Redeemer, He Issues the loving command, â€œLet them make Me a sanctuary, that I my dwell among them" - a sanctuary that will show them the way back to the Father's throne.
What Is a Sanctuary? A sanctuary is a place set apart for a sacred purpose. Sometimes a person reserves a room in his home for his own personal use, a place where he may get away from the distracting activities and cares of life and be alone for quiet thought and study. He calls this room his sanctum. The word "sanctuary" contains the same thought as "sanctum, " which literally means '"holy." If the person wishes to emphasize the fact that his sanctum is strictly private, he speaks of it as his sanctum sancto Rom, which literally means â€œholy of holies.â€ Webster says: "A sanctuary is a sacred place of refuge and protection." God invites us to make Him our Sanctuary, our place of refuge and protection, where we may flee for quiet communion with Him.
A "Little Sanctuary" in Our Hearts. As the setting up of the sanctuary at Sinai marked a new era in Israel's experience, so when the sanctuary is set up in our hearts, it will mark a new era in our Christian experience. Indeed, the Lord has promised that in all our heart wanderings far off
among heathen, He will be to us "as a little sanctuary" in the countries of our captivity and sojourn. Eze. 11:16. How beautiful the figure, that with God's sanctuary in our hearts as "the chapel of His presence," we shall be safe from the snares and pitfalls of the enemy!
Oneness with God. "That I may dwell among them." Ex. 25:8. The actual thought in this text, we are told, is that I may dwell in them. God's desire is to dwell in His followers. "As thou, Father, art in me, and I in them, that they also may be one in us." John 17:21. "Christ became one flesh with us, in order that we might become one Spirit with Him." DA 388. Even as in Christ "dwe Heth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily," so God longs to dwell in His people, "that they may be made perfect in one." John 17:23. This is the very closest relationship possible, a relationship found in the expression, "that I may dwell among them."
In the sanctuary building, this unity of God and His people is illustrated by the fact that its various parts symbolize not only Christ but also what His followers should be. And so, as we study, â€œwe walk together, My Lord and I." Enoch walked with God until God took him to heaven, and the sanctuary teaches us that we must walk with Him on earth before He can take us to live with Him in Heaven. The language of our heart must be:
â€œO let me walk with thee, my God, As Enoch walked in days of old.â€
"He that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren." Moreover, "God is not ashamed to be called their God." Heb. 2:11; 11:16.
Rainsford, an old English writer, speaks of the sanctuary as a pledge of God's purpose to dwell with man; a representation of the true believer as "the temple of the Holy Ghost;" I Cor. 3:16; 6:19; of the church "which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all" Eph. 1:23; a vivid and unmistakable representation of the way of access for sinners to God" - The Path to the Father's Throne.
Dwelling with God Eternally. This wondrous object lesson, both as a whole and in its parts, is designed to teach this lesson of oneness with the Father, to illustrate God's everlasting purpose to make the human soul His dwelling place, His temple, His sanctuary. "It is by virtue of this union that we are to come forth from the grave, - not merely as a manifestation of the power of Christ, but because, through faith, His life has become ours. Those who see Christ in His true character and receive Him into the heart, have everlasting life... DA 388. The Spirit of God received into the heart by faith, is the beginning of the life eternal. Then will be completely fulfilled the victorious words of inspiration: "Behold the tabernacle (dwelling place) of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God." Rev. 21:3.