THE history of the typical service, of which the earthly tabernacle was a visible representation, began at the gate of the garden of Eden, where our first parents brought their offerings and presented them before the Lord. Abel showed his faith in the promised Saviour by bringing an animal. He not only presented the shed blood of the sacrifice, but he also presented the fat to the Lord, showing faith in the Saviour and a willingness to put away his sin. (Gen 4:4, Heb. 11:4)
Before the people of God went into Egypt, their worship was simple. The patriarchs lived near the Lord, and did not need many forms or ceremonies to teach them the one grand truth that sin could be atoned for only by the death of One who was sinless. They needed only a rough altar and an innocent lamb to connect their faith with the infinite Sin-bearer.
As the patriarchs journeyed from place to place, they set up their altars and offered their sacrifices, and God drew near to them, often showing His acceptance of their offerings by sending fire from heaven to consume the sacrifices.
Of all the sacrifices recorded in the book of Genesis, none comes so near the great antitypical offering as the one required of Abraham when God called him to offer his only son. The test of faith was not simply in the fact that Isaac was his only legitimate son, but Abraham understood that through Isaac's posterity the long-promised Messiah was to come; and in offering Isaac, Abraham was cutting off his only hope of salvation, as well as that of the world. But his faith wavered not. He believed that the same God who had performed a miracle in giving him a son, could bring that son from the dead to fulfil the promise that He had made. (Heb 11:17-19)
The Lord chose the exact spot for the offering of Isaac. He said to Abraham, “
Get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” (Gen. 22:2) As Abraham and Isaac went on that memorable journey, they were directed by the Lord to Mount Moriah; and when they came to the place, Abraham built an altar and bound Isaac upon it, ready to sacrifice him; but the Lord stayed his hand.
The spot where such loyalty to God was shown was ever afterward honoured by the Lord. But the devil as well as the Lord watched over this place. He knew it was sacred to Jehovah, because there God had tested the faith of the man He honoured by calling him. His friend. (James 2:23)
For more than four hundred years after the children of Israel entered the promised land, Satan held this place. It was a stronghold of the enemy in the midst of Israel. But it was finally captured by David, who made it the capital of his kingdom; afterward Jerusalem was called the “
City of David.”
The threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite, where the angel of the Lord appeared to David, was on this same spot. The prophet told David to erect an altar on the threshing-floor, and there David made a special consecration to the Lord. A few years later the temple, which was erected without sound of hammer, occupied this same plot of land. (2 Chron. 3:1) God had conquered, and He designed the place should ever be hallowed by His presence. But His people were unfaithful, and when the Lord of light came to His own temple, He was despised and crucified, and the holy city and the site of the sacred temple passed into the hands of the Gentiles.
Satan is guarding this spot vigilantly at the present time, intending never again to relinquish his hold upon it. But the time is coming when, in spite of Satan and all his host, the same Saviour who was rejected in His own temple shall place His feet upon the Mount of Olives, (Zech 14:4-11) and the Mt of Olives shall be split in two, making a very large valley and the entire site of old Jerusalem will be purified; then the New Jerusalem will come down from heaven (Rev. 21:2-3) and rest upon that spot made sacred by the consecration of God's chosen people. God's glorious heavenly temple will be upon Mount Zion [Moriah], never-more to fall into the hands of the enemy. God says, “
I...will set My sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.”
Subjected to a life of incessant toil and surrounded by heathen darkness, the children of Israel lost sight of the significance of their simple sacrifices. On account of their servitude, they were deprived of the privileges enjoyed by the ancient patriarchs, of spending much time communing with God, and they drifted very near to Egyptian idolatry. When God brought them out of Egypt, He proclaimed His law from Sinai, and then gave them the same system of worship the patriarchs had followed. But He had to deal with them as with children. Because they could not grasp the truths without the simple illustrations, God gave them the system of worship that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had followed, but in kindergarten form, just as we would use the kindergarten methods to teach children lessons which adults can easily comprehend.
They had drifted so far away that they could not comprehend how God could live with them, being-invisible, so God said, “
Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” (Ex. 25:8) The pillar of cloud above the tabernacle and God's visible presence manifested within, helped the Israelites more easily to comprehend the real abiding presence of the Lord with them.
This sanctuary was a shadow, or model, of the heavenly sanctuary; and the service was so planned by the Lord that all the work was a type, or representation, of the work the Son of God would do on earth and in heaven for the redemption of the lost race. It was the most wonderful object-lesson ever given to mankind.
The sanctuary was completed, while the Israelites were encamped at Sinai, and during their forty years' wanderings in the wilderness they carried it with them. When they reached the promised land, it was set up in Gilgal for a few years, and then removed to Shiloh, (Joshua 5:10:11; 18:1; 19:51) where it remained for many years. When David was fleeing from Saul, the tabernacle was in Nob, (1 Sam. 21:1-6) for there the priests set the show-bread before the Lord each Sabbath day. It was next set up in the high place at Gibeon. (1 Chron. 16:39; 21:29) The tabernacle remained in Gibeon until removed by Solomon to Jerusalem. Josephus tells us that Solomon had “
the tabernacle which Moses had pitched, and all the vessels that were for ministration to the sacrifices of God,” removed to the temple.
David desired to build a house for the Lord; but on account of his many wars the Lord directed that his son should build, the house. When Solomon was established on his throne, he erected a magnificent structure, and dedicated it to the Lord. God showed His acceptance by His glory filling the temple. Solomon did not plan the temple himself; God revealed the plan to David, as He had that of the tabernacle to Moses. David was not to see it built, but when he delivered the plan for the building to Solomon, he said, “
The Lord made me understand in writing by His hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern.” (1 Chron. 28:11-19)
The history of Solomon's temple is really a history of the religious experience of the children of Israel. When they departed from the Lord, the temple was neglected, and sometimes even suffered violence. It was pillaged by Shishak, king Egypt. (1 Kings 14:25,26) At the instigation of Jehoiada it was repaired by Jehoash, (2 Kings 12:4-14) who himself afterward robbed it of its treasures to propitiate the Syrians. (2 Kings 12:17,18) Ahaz a little later not only spoiled it of its treasures, but also defiled its holy precincts. (2 Kings 16:14,18) Under the reign of the good king Hezekiah the temple was purified and its worship restored; (2 Chr. 29:3-35) but even Hezekiah stripped it of its treasures to procure a treaty with the Assyrians. (2 Kings 18:13-16) Again it was polluted by the idolatrous worship of Manasseh. (2 Kings 21:4-7) The “
good king Josiah,” when but a youth of eighteen repaired and purified the temple, and again restored its worship. (2 Kings 22:3-7) Finally, on account of the unfaithfulness of the chosen people of God, the holy temple was burned to the ground, and its treasures carried to Babylon. (2 Kings 25:13-17)
It was nearly seventy years before the rebuilding of the temple by Zerubbabel was completed and the house dedicated with great rejoicing. (Ezra 6:16-22) Herod spent forty- six years in repairing Zerubbabel's temple, until in the days of Christ it was a magnificent structure. (John 2:20)
God's presence abode with His people in the dwelling-places they prepared for Him, from the time the tabernacle was erected in the wilderness, all the way down through the history of their spiritual wanderings until that memorable day when the types celebrated for four thousand years met their Antitype on the cross of Calvary. Then with a great noise the glorious veil of Herod's magnificent building was rent from the top to the bottom, as the Lord departed forever from His temple. (Matt. 27:50) Previous to this, the services were directed of God; henceforth they were but a hollow mockery, for God had left the sanctuary, (Matt. 23:37,38) The temple remained standing until 70 A. D., when it was destroyed by the Romans. To-day the sacred spot is covered by a Mohammedan mosque.
The Epistle to the Hebrews shows that the leading apostle clearly taught the antitypical fulfilment of the types and shadows celebrated for so many years. It should not be forgotten that the gift of the Spirit of prophecy and the Sabbath of the Lord Were always connected with the sanctuary service. We have no reason to doubt that during the early history of the Christian church, the subject of the sanctuary and the antitypical work of Christ in heaven was clearly understood by the Christians; but when the Bible was taken from them, when the Sabbath of the Lord was hidden, and the voice of the Spirit of prophecy was no longer heard directing the church, then they lost sight of the beautiful antitypical work represented by the ancient sanctuary service.
But the time arrived for the, opening of the great judgement in heaven, when the Father and the Son, with their retinue of holy angels, passed in state into the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary. No earthly pageant could ever compare with that majestic cortege. God designed that it should be recognised on earth, and He caused a message to be proclaimed to the inhabitants of earth, directing their attention to the movements of the Son of God. This is known as the first angel's message of Rev. 14:6, 7. A large company accepted the message and their attention was centred on the Saviour; but they did not understand the antitypical work of the sanctuary, and hence they expected the Saviour to come to the earth. Instead of coming to the earth, however, He went into the second apartment of the heavenly sanctuary, to take up the work of the judgement.
This company, who had been gathered out by the message of the first angel, loved their Lord; and in their longing desire to find why He had not come to the earth, they drew so near to Him that He, in answer to their earnest prayers, directed their attention to the heavenly sanctuary. There they saw the ark of God's testament containing His holy law, and they acknowledged its claims upon them, and began to keep holy the Sabbath of the Lord. The sanctuary service, the Sabbath, and the Spirit of prophecy were ever united in olden times; and when light from the antitypical sanctuary service came to the people of God, He gave them the Spirit of prophecy again, to reveal to them the solemn truths in regard to Christ's ministry in heaven, which otherwise they would not have comprehended.
Built by Solomon, 2 Chron. chap. 2-5.
Destroyed by the Babylonians, 2 Chron. 36:17-19.
Rebuilt by Zerubbabel, Ezra 6:13-15.
Repaired by Herod, John 2:20.
Forsaken by the Lord, Matt. 23:37, 39.
Destroyed by the Romans, Matt. 24:2, fulfilled 70 A. D.