Did you know that God has a sanctuary?
Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary [in holiness, away from sin and guilt]; who is a great God like our God?
God's way is in the sanctuary so this must be an important subject to study.
Actually the Bible teaches us about two different sanctuaries, one on the earth, and the other in heaven.
Just after the Israelite exodus
from Egypt the Lord desired to
His people an object lesson about the plan of redemption and the office
and ministry of the coming Messiah. He instructed Moses
... have them make me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them.
Basically this consisted of a
tent structure with two rooms
When an Israelite sinned, he
could bring an offering
to the sanctuary. This would be of cattle or sheep or goats or fowls
(Leviticus 1:2,10,14). A priesthood was instituted to minister these
offerings to the Lord for the people.
The sinner would confess his sin,
placing his hand on the victim's head, symbolically transferring his
sin to the sacrifice. Leviticus 4:4, 15; Numbers 5:7. The sacrifice was
killed. All these animal sacrifices pointed forwards to Jesus "... the
Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" John 1:29. Jesus
told His disciples at the last supper "... this is my blood of the
covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."
26:28. And of the sanctuary service, we are told "... almost everything
is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no
forgiveness of sins." Hebrews 9:22.
So the sacrifice had to be
killed. The priest would then take
of the victim's blood into the first room of the sanctuary and put some
of it upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the Lord.
Sometimes the flesh of the victim was instead to be eaten by the priest. Leviticus 6:30; 10:18. Both actions symbolized the transfer of sin from the sinner to the sanctuary. When this had been done for the sinner, it was said that the priest had made atonement for that person.
This round of affairs would go on day by day for Israel with all their sins being transferred to the sanctuary. What was the Lord going to do with all these sins accumulating in the sanctuary?
Once a year, on the tenth day of
the seventh month was the day
Thus he shall make atonement for the sanctuary, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel, and because of their transgressions, all their sins; and so he shall do for the tent of meeting, which remains with them in the midst of their uncleannesses.
The sanctuary was cleansed from
all the year's accumulated
This was the work of the high priest on this day. He went into the
second room of the sanctuary containing the ark of the covenant. This
was a box overlaid with gold containing the ten commandments. Exodus
25:10-21; 26:33; Deuteronomy 10:1-5. On top of it was the mercy seat--a
flat gold lid--with an angel of
gold at both ends. The high priest took the blood of the special
sacrifice this day into the second room and sprinkled it upon and
before the mercy seat. Leviticus 16:15.
This now symbolized the reverse process with the sins accumulated in the sanctuary being transferred to the high priest, who then came back out and the transferred sins were then eliminated:
... that Aaron may take away any sin arising from the holy things ...
verses clearly show that sin was transferred from the sanctuary to
Aaron and symbolically this was considered to be also on his sons and
his father's house.
Was this the end of the matter?
Is this where it ended--with Aaron and his house? Apparently not. What
happened next is a little hard to understand but the Bible is very
When he has finished atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat.
So where did this goat come from?
Previously in Leviticus this goat is mentioned:
He shall take from the congregation of the people of Israel two male goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering.
Now before we read on we need to make one point very clear. All these sin offerings pointed forwards to Jesus' death on the cross. This is clear from the following verses in Hebrews:
For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified,
Jesus died. His blood was shed on
calvary. And we are told that
Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
So without Jesus' blood we can have no forgiveness of sins. The point is that the goat that is offered to the Lord as a sin offering is symbolic of Jesus' death and sin offering. Now we read on...
but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazelt shall be presented alive before the LORD to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel.t
This goat was presented ALIVE. It
was NOT a sin offering. This means that this goat IS NOT symbolic of
Jesus. This goat's only use in the process of atonement is the final
transfer of sin. And no blood was involved in this transfer. Some
Christians believe that this goat is symbolic of Satan and that this
part of the cleansing of the sanctuary is an allegory of the final
eradication of sin from the universe.
There is very good reason for
accepting this view of the scapegoat--that it is a symbol of Satan:
The symbol of Baphomet was used by the Knights Templar to represent Satan. Through the ages this symbol has been called by many different names. Among these are: The Goat of Mendes, The Goat of a Thousand Young, The Black Goat, The Judas Goat, and perhaps most appropriately, The Scapegoat.
And contrary to the popular
view of his being the overseer of an eternally burning place of
torment, the Bible tells us that Satan will eventually be destroyed
along with all these sins. The Scriptures are very clear on the final
elimination of Satan:
Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
According to the last verse here Satan also has a sanctuary, or sanctuaries, and these are defiled by iniquity. It appears that a sanctuary is
something that is defiled by and accumulates sin. Something to think about.
This eliminating of the sins of
the sanctuary, or cleansing of
sanctuary, was the same as the blotting out of the sins of the people
from the sanctuary:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
The day of atonement was then
also a day of judgment for
... the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, ... the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the LORD your God.
having his sins symbolically transferred to the sanctuary and blotted
out on the day of atonement was left to bear his own iniquity and be
cut off from Israel:
... yet he is guilty and shall bear his iniquity.
The earthly sanctuary was a copy
of the one in heaven:
And have them make me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them.
We are told that Jesus is our
high priest in the heavenly
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
We now see that an understanding
of the earthly sanctuary will
us insight into the work of Jesus as our high priest in the heavenly
Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary.
As the earthly priests offered
sacrifices with spilt blood, so
For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; hence it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer.
But Jesus has a far better
to offer than the blood of bulls and goats:
But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come,o then through the greater and perfectp tentk (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation),
The first room of the earthly
sanctuary, beyond the first
known as the Holy Place. The second room, beyond the second veil,
containing the ark of the covenant, or testament, was known as the Holy
of Holies. So here we have a description of Jesus entering the first
apartment, or room, of the heavenly sanctuary, after His ascension, to
begin His priestly ministry as our great high priest in the heavenly
For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
is, Jesus did not enter the earthly sanctuary to be our priest there,
but He went to heaven to be our priest in the heavenly sanctuary:
Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, ...
How are we now to understand the priestly ministry of Jesus Christ from the earthly priesthood of the earthly sanctuary? In Isaiah and other verses we read;
Out of his anguish he shall see light;a he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge. The righteous one,b my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.
The Bible sometimes refers to the cross of Christ as a tree. But the thought can be seen that our sins were borne by Christ as our sacrifice on the cross. However, as with the earthly, the atonement for us by Christ would not be complete unless the sins He bore were transferred to the sanctuary, in this case the heavenly. This He began to do after His ascension to the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary.
If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
By His shed blood offered in the
first apartment, our sins
transferred by Jesus to the heavenly sanctuary and we can say as did
... being now justified by his blood ... we have now received the atonement.
THE FINAL ATONEMENT
The Passover pointed forward to the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Following this, began Jesus' work of ministry as our great high priest in the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary. Similarly the earthly day of atonement must point forward to a time when Christ, as our great high priest, would begin a ministry in the second apartment, cleansing the heavenly sanctuary from the accumulated sins of God's people. That this would eventually happen is alluded to in the book of Revelation;
... I saw seven golden lampstands,
Here John is shown first apartment imagery. The earthly sanctuary first apartment had a seven branched candlestick and an altar of incense and a table of shewbread. The verses previously quoted refer to the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary. In chapter 11 we eventually come to the opening of the second apartment and the beginning of Jesus' work of final atonement;
Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.
The ark of the covenant or
testament containing the ten commandments was
second apartment of the earthly sanctuary so this verse is clearly a
reference to the second apartment of the heavenly sanctuary. The second
half of verse 19 refers to the finishing of the seven last plagues (See
Revelation 16:17-21). These plagues are poured out on the earth at the
of Jesus' second apartment ministry. Revelation 15:5-8; 16:1. Note that
11:18 also connects Jesus' work of final atonement with a time of
... and the time for judging the dead, ...
From the book of Daniel we can
determine just when the second
apartment ministry of Jesus begins--
And he answered him,l "For two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state."
This is the prophet Daniel who was given a dream of an image outlining the kingdoms of this world till the the end of time. The second coming of Jesus was represented by a stone smashing the image to pieces. Later for his faithfulness to God Daniel was thrown into a den of lions. But the Lord sent an angel to preserve his life and the lions did not hurt him. Now we have this wonderful time prophecy relating to the sanctuary given to Daniel.
This vision was continued in chapter 9;
yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, ... he informed me, and talked with me, and said, "O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand.
This was all part of one vision,
though Daniel was shown parts
at different times. Two time periods are here mentioned - 2300 days and
70 weeks (=490 days). Being part of the same, they both must start at
the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem.
From the commandment to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem there would be a period of 69 weeks to the coming of the Messiah the Prince.
The third and final
decree which brought this into effect is recorded in Ezra:
Artaxerxes, king of kings, to the priest Ezra, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven: Peace.i And now
This was in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king (See verses 7 and 8). Artaxerxes' reign was from 464-424 BC (Joan Oates, Babylon, pp. 138, 202). This places his seventh year in 457 BC.
Were the days given in vision literal days? The Messiah was to be cut off, or killed, after 69 weeks. Jesus' death brought the earthly sanctuary services to a meaningful end (See Matt 27:50, 51; Mark 15:37, 38; Luke 23:45, 46). The sanctuary sacrifices would no longer have any meaning and cease to be of any use--the vision puts this in the middle of the last or seventieth week. So the Messiah would appear after 69 weeks and after 69 and a half weeks or 486 and a half days, would die. 486 and a half days from 457 BC doesn't get us anywhere near when Jesus came.
Similarly for the 2300 days. When this vision was given, God's people were captive in Babylon. Jerusalem had been destroyed and the temple (earthly sanctuary) wasn't rebuilt for many more years. But when it was, they never again had the ark of the covenant with the 10 commandments to place in the second apartment. Hence from the Babylonian captivity there could never have been a proper day of atonement service for the earthly sanctuary to cleanse it. So for Daniel to be told "then shall the sanctuary be cleansed" it must have been a reference to the heavenly sanctuary. But its ministration did not begin until after Jesus had died, approximately 490 years later.
So again, the prophetic days
cannot be literal days. The Bible
solves this problem for us by the mentioning of substitution of years
for days (See Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6). The prophecy of the
now fits. 69 prophetic weeks or 483 literal years from 457 BC [from the
autumn of 457 BC. See Ezra 7:8. The decree came into effect in the
Jewish fifth month (Ab) which was approximately July 23 to August 21,
457 BC] brings us to 27 AD.
Note: 483 = 457 + 26. From the
457 BC to the end of 26 AD gives us the 483 years. But since the decree
did not go into effect until the later part of 457 BC, the 483 years
dated from then will end so many months past the end of 26 AD, or in
other words, the later part of 27 AD. Then Jesus began His ministry as
the Messiah, and was baptized by John.
This occurred "in the fifteenth
year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar .." Luke 3:1 (See also verses
21 to 23). Although Emperor Augustus died in 14 AD, Tiberius was
associated with him before he died -
So 27 AD is a reasonable date for
Jesus' baptism and fits the
prophecy. The middle of the seventieth week, 3 and a half years later,
brings us to 31 AD (from the autumn of 27 AD), when the Messiah would
die. From Jesus' baptism there are 4 Passovers mentioned, on the last
of which He was crucified (See John 2:13; 5:1; 6:4; 13:1).
His ministry in the autumn of 27 AD, His first Passover was the
following spring 28 AD, then 29, 30, and His last in the spring of 31
AD. This gives His ministry period as 3 and a half years and also fits
the prophecy. The end of the 70 weeks bring us to 34 AD and the
martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7:59, 60), the final rejection of the gospel
by the Jewish Nation, with the apostles turning to the gentiles--
Then both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken first to you. Since you reject it and judge yourselves to be unworthy of eternal life, we are now turning to the Gentiles.
This part of the prophecy (the
weeks) seals up the whole vision as correct and we can now date the
time when Jesus' work of final atonement begins in the heavenly
The 70 weeks of 490 years ending in 34 AD leave 2300 - 490 = 1810 years remaining. Adding 1810 to 34 we arrive at 1844 AD as the commencement date for the beginning of Jesus' work of final atonement in the heavenly sanctuary.
IT HAS ALREADY BEGUN!
For over 150 years now
has been officiating in the second apartment of the heavenly sanctuary,
cleansing the sanctuary from the sins of God's people which were
transferred there during His first apartment ministry. We are now
living in the days when our sins may be blotted out -
Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,
Soon, none know how soon, Jesus'
work in the second apartment
end, and He will leave the sanctuary, the plagues will fall on the
earth, every case being decided for eternal life or eternal death. The
decree will go forth
Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.
In these last days of earth's history, how are we to prepare?
Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.
Bible texts from:
Religion in the Home or
Captivating Bible Stories
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Last revised: 13 Apr 2014.