A podcast presentation of this topic is available here.
Brief overview: There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle which the Lord set up and not man. In it Christ ministers on our behalf, making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross. He was inaugurated as our great High Priest and began His intercessory ministry at the time of His ascension. In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry. It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. In that typical service the sanctuary was cleansed with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the heavenly things are purified with the perfect sacrifice of the blood of Jesus. The investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection. It also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting kingdom. This judgment vindicates the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus. It declares that those who have remained loyal to God shall receive the kingdom. The completion of this ministry of Christ will mark the close of human probation before the Second Advent. (Heb. 8:1-5; 4:14-16; 9:11-28; 10:19-22; 1:3; 2:16, 17; Dan. 7:9-27;8:13, 14; 9:24-27; Num. 14:34; Eze. 4:6; Lev. 16; Rev. 14:6, 7; 20:12; 14:12;22:12.)
Why it is important to understand the truth about the sanctuary:
The Sanctuary gives us a model of the complete plan of salvation and redemption. The Sanctuary helps us see how the cross Justifies, sanctifies and glorifies us.
Justification took place when I lived a perfect life in Jesus. Jesus counts His perfect life as my prefect life, thus saving me from the penalty of sin which is death and not eternal torment in hell. Justification is my title to heaven. We do no work on the Sabbath as a sign that we are justified by the faith of Jesus and not by our works. John 3:16, Romans 6:23 Galatians 2:16-20 Hebrews 4:1-9
Sanctification takes place as Jesus lives His victorious life in us. Thus we are being saved from the power of sin as God Himself writes His law of love in our hearts. By living in us, God is transforming us and preparing us for heaven. We rest on the Sabbath as a sign that it is God who sanctifies us and not our works.Exodus 31:13 Hebrews 8:10
Glorification is when Jesus returns and saves us from the presence of sin. Those who love God and life will live in paradise never again seeing the results or consequences of sin, while those who love sin and death will be forever put out of their misery and will be no more. We will continue celebrating the Sabbath in heaven as a sign that it is God who justified, sanctified and glorified us and not our works. Proverbs 8:36, Revelation 20&21, Psalms 100:3, Isaiah 66:23
Why it is important to understand the sanctuary in light of the cross:
Everything in the Sanctuary Pointed to Christ
- Christ is the Lamb of God that took away the sins of the world [John 1:29].
- Christ is the light of the world that lightens every man [John 1:9-12; 8:12].
- Christ is the living bread who came down from heaven to give us eternal life [John 6:32-51].
- Christ is the mercy seat (propitiation), through whose redemption we have salvation full and complete [Romans 3:24, 25].
- Christ is our intercessor against the accusations of Satan [Hebrews 7:25].
- Christ is the veil that bore our sins in His flesh [Hebrews 10:19,20].
The Sanctuary Revealed the Fall and Restoration of Man
- In Adam, humanity sinned, was defiled, and condemned to death.
- In Christ, the same humanity was reconciled to God, cleansed from all defilement, and justified to life [read Romans 5:18].
- Through faith in Christ, sinners experience salvation.
This is the good news of the gospel and the truth of righteousness by faith. All this was revealed in the Sanctuary model given to Moses:
- The Sanctuary was where God met sinners [read Ex. 25:22; 29:42, 43].
Today He meets us in Christ [read 2 Cor. 5:19].
- The Sanctuary was where God revealed Himself to sinners [read Ex. 29:46].
Today He reveals Himself to us in Christ [read John 14:7-9].
- The Sanctuary was where God dwelt with sinners [read Ex. 25:8; 29:45, 46].
Today He dwells with us in Christ [read Matthew 1:23; John 14:23].
- The Sanctuary was where God spoke to sinners [read Ex. 29:42; Lev. 1:1].
Today He speaks to us in Christ [read Hebrews 1:2; John 8:43, 47].
- The Sanctuary was where God accepted sinners [read Lev. 1:4].
Today He accepts us in Christ [read Ephesians 1:6].
- The Sanctuary was where God forgave sinners [read Lev. 4:20, 26, 31, 35].
- Today He forgives us in Christ [read Ephesians 1:7].
Further Study on the Sanctuary
What was to happen at the end of the 2300 days?
The other replied, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the Temple will be made right again.” Daniel 8:14 NLT
And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. Daniel 8:14 KJV
Note: The Bible refers to two sanctuaries, one on earth and the other in heaven.
After what, was Moses to build the sanctuary?
“Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them. You must build this Tabernacle and its furnishings exactly according to the pattern I will show you. Exodus 25:8- 9 NLT
Where is the location of the original?
Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle,the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands. Hebrews 8:1-2 NLT
They serve in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in heaven. For when Moses was getting ready to build the Tabernacle, God gave him this warning: “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.” Hebrews 8:5 NLT
How many apartments did it have?
Hang the inner curtain from clasps, and put the Ark of the Covenant in the room behind it. This curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.Exodus 26:33 NLT
When these things were all in place, the priests regularly entered the first room as they performed their religious duties. Hebrews 9:6 NLT
How frequent was it in the second apartment?
But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. Hebrews 9:7 NLT
When did the high priest do this?
“On the tenth day of the appointed month in early autumn, you must deny yourselves. Neither native-born Israelites nor foreigners living among you may do any kind of work. This is a permanent law for you. Leviticus 16:29 NLT
What was he doing?
On that day offerings of purification will be made for you, and you will be purified in the Lord’s presence from all your sins. Leviticus 16:30 NLT
How did he do it?
Then he must take the two male goats and present them to the Lord at the entrance of the Tabernacle. He is to cast sacred lots to determine which goat will be reserved as an offering to the Lord and which will carry the sins of the people to the wilderness of Azazel. Aaron will then present as a sin offering the goat chosen by lot for the Lord. Leviticus 16:7-9 NLT
What did he do with the blood?
“Then Aaron must slaughter the first goat as a sin offering for the people and carry its blood behind the inner curtain. There he will sprinkle the goat’s blood over the atonement cover and in front of it, just as he did with the bull’s blood. Through this process, he will purify the Most Holy Place, and he will do the same for the entire Tabernacle, because of the defiling sin and rebellion of the Israelites. Leviticus 16:15-16 NLT
What did he do with the sins?
“When Aaron has finished purifying the Most Holy Place and the Tabernacle and the altar, he must present the live goat. He will lay both of his hands on the goat’s head and confess over it all the wickedness, rebellion, and sins of the people of Israel. In this way, he will transfer the people’s sins to the head of the goat. Then a man specially chosen for the task will drive the goat into the wilderness. As the goat goes into the wilderness, it will carry all the people’s sins upon itself into a desolate land. Leviticus 16:20-22 NLT
Note: The live goat represents Satan who is responsible for introducing sin to the people. The goat was led into the wilderness which represents Satan roaming the world for a thousand years while the planet is uninhabited, and gets to think about where his rebellion has led to. While Jesus atones for our sins by dying our death, Satan atones for his shared guilt by dying eternally. For more on this, see the study on the Millennium
What were the people to be doing?
“Be careful to celebrate the Day of Atonement on the tenth day of that same month—nine days after the Festival of Trumpets. You must observe it as an official day for holy assembly, a day to deny yourselves and present special gifts to the Lord. Do no work during that entire day because it is the Day of Atonement, when offerings of purification are made for you, making you right with[the Lord your God. All who do not deny themselves that day will be cut off from God’s people. Leviticus 23:27-29 NLT
What happened to those living in sin?
All who do not deny themselves that day will be cut off from God’s people. And I will destroy anyone among you who does any work on that day. Leviticus 23:29-30 NLT
Note: Jesus has begun the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary or the blotting out of the record of confessed sins there, as well as from our lives here.
What pronouncement will Jesus soon make?
Let the one who is doing harm continue to do harm; let the one who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is holy continue to be holy.” “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. Revelation 22:11- 12 NLT
What happens to those still sinning willfully?
And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 NLT
What happens to the righteous?
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NLT
Which group will you be found in?
“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”
What should we be doing in this time of judgment?
“Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.” Revelation 14:7 NLT
What assurance do we have?
So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT