To every voyager on the storm-tossed sea of life, the Lord has given a compass which, if rightly used, will safely guide him into the eternal haven of rest. It was given to our first parents at the gate of Eden, after they had admitted sin into this beautiful earth as well as into their own lives. The compass consists of the following words, which were spoken by the Lord to Satan: “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed” (Genesis 3:15). In every heart God has planted an enmity to sin, which, if heeded, will lead to righteousness and eternal life. Any man, whatever his station in life, who will absolutely follow the divine compass placed in his heart, will accept Christ as his Saviour and be led out into the sunlight of God’s love and approval.
As the result of our first parents’ eating of the forbidden fruit, over all the earth hung the gloom of the divine decree, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). The marks of death and decay were soon seen in the falling leaves and withered flowers. There was no escaping the decree, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). But a ray of light pierced the darkness when God spoke the following words to Satan: “It (the seed of the woman) shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15). These words revealed the fact that for those who would cherish the enmity against sin which God had placed in the heart, there was a way of escape from death. They would live, and Satan would die; but before his death he would bruise the heel of the seed of the woman. This was necessary in order that the death of Satan might be made sure, and that mankind might escape eternal death.
Before man was placed on trial, the love of the Father and the Son for him was so great that Christ pledged His own life as a ransom if man should be overcome by the temptations of Satan. Christ was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). This wonderful truth was made known to our first parents in the words spoken by the Lord to Satan, “It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.”
In order that man might realize the enormity of sin, which would take the life of the sinless Son of God, he was required to bring an innocent lamb, confess his sins over its head, then with his own hands take its life, a type of Christ’s life. This sin-offering was burned, typifying that through the death of Christ all sin would finally be destroyed in the fires of the last day.
It was difficult for man, surrounded by the darkness of sin, to comprehend these wonderful heavenly truths. The rays of light which shone from the heavenly sanctuary upon the simple sacrifices were so obscured by doubt and sin, that God in His great love and mercy, had an earthly sanctuary built after the divine pattern, and priests were appointed, who “served unto the example and shadow of heavenly things” (Hebrews 8:5). This was done that man’s faith might lay hold of the fact that in heaven there is a sanctuary whose services are for the redemption of mankind.
The prophet Jeremiah grasped this great truth, and exclaimed, “A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary” (Jeremiah 17:12). David knew of God’s dwelling place in heaven, and when writing for the generations to come, he said, “He (God) hath looked down from the height of His sanctuary; from heaven did the Lord behold the earth” (Psalm 102:19). The faithful ones have always understood that when they sought God with all the heart, “their prayer came up to His holy dwelling place, even unto heaven” (2 Chronicles 30:27).
All the worship in the earthly sanctuary was to teach the truth in regard to the heavenly sanctuary. While the earthly tabernacle was standing, the way into the heavenly tabernacle was not made manifest (Hebrews 9:8); but when Christ entered heaven to present His own blood in man’s behalf, God revealed through His prophets much light in regard to the sanctuary in heaven.
To John, the beloved disciple, were given many views of that glorious temple. He beheld the golden altar, on which, mingled with fragrant incense, the prayers of earthly saints are offered up before God. In vision he saw the candlestick with its seven lamps of fire burning before the throne of God. The veil into the most holy was lifted, and he writes, “The temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament” (Revelation 11:19).
It is in this “true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man,” that Christ pleads His blood before the Father in behalf of sinful men (Hebrews 8:2). There is the throne of God, surrounded by myriads of the angelic hosts, all waiting to obey His commands; and from there they are sent to answer the prayers of God’s children here on earth.
The heavenly sanctuary is the great power-house of Jehovah, whence all the help necessary to overcome every temptation of Satan is sent to each one who is connected with it by faith.
The heavily laden electric car, with its slender arm reaching up to the wire above, through which it receives strength from the power-house miles away, is a fitting illustration of the Christian. As long as the connection is unbroken, through the darkest night, the car runs smoothly up and down hill alike, not only shedding light on the immediate track ahead, but casting its bright rays of light into the darkness far and near. But the instant the connection is broken, how great is the change! The car remains in darkness, unable to go forward.
So it is that Christ, our great High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary, reaches His hand down over the battlements of heaven to clasp the hand of everyone who will reach up by faith and take hold of the proffered help. The one whose faith lays hold of that help, can pass securely over the steepest hills of difficulty, his own soul filled with light while diffusing light and blessing to others. As long as he by faith keeps a firm hold of God, he has light and power from the sanctuary above; but if he allows doubt and unbelief to break the connection, he is in darkness, not only unable to go forward himself, but a stumbling-block in the way of others.
The one who allows nothing to break his connection with heaven becomes an earthly dwelling-place for the Most High: “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit” (Isaiah 57:15). He who separates from sin and puts it far from him, becomes a temple of the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20). God loves to dwell in the hearts of His people (Ephesians 3:17–20), but sin cherished in the heart prevents His Spirit from abiding there. Christ knocks at the door of every heart, inviting all to exchange sin for righteousness, that He may come in and abide with them (Revelation 3:20).
There are three temples brought to view in the Bible—the heavenly temple, the dwelling-place of the Most High, where Christ intercedes in our behalf; the temple of the human body, where God’s Spirit rules and reigns; and the earthly temple, with its typical services designed to teach mankind how to receive divine help from the great storehouse above, so that God can honor them by abiding with them continually.
The earthly sanctuary with its types and symbols is like the powerful lenses of the telescope, which make it possible to view heavenly bodies that otherwise would be invisible. To the eye of the ignorant those wonderful lenses appear like ordinary glass; but the astronomer, who longs to know of the wonders of the heavens, is filled with rapture as he gazes through them.
In like manner the Christian who will study the typical service of the earthly sanctuary, not as a collection of dry, lifeless relics of ancient worship, but as a wonderful art gallery, where, by the hand of a master-artist, the different parts of the marvelous plan of redemption are portrayed, will be astonished at the beauty revealed. The figures fairly speak to him, as it were, from the canvas. They tell the beautiful story of the Saviour’s love until his very soul is filled with rapture as he gazes upon them. He sees the vivid picture of the priest in snow-white robe leading the red heifer out to the rough uncultivated valley, there to offer it a sacrifice for sin. He sees him sprinkle its blood on the rough stones of the valley, to teach that Christ died for the most worthless, for the veriest outcast. Who can gaze on that picture without having his heart filled with love for such a compassionate Redeemer?
Again he views a picture of the destitute sinner, longing to be free from sin; and beholding his wealthy brethren pass with their lambs for sin-offerings, the poor ones with their pigeons and doves, he sinks back into despondency, for he has no living thing to offer. Then the light of hope springs into his face as one tells him, “Only a handful of flour will answer.” And as the sinner watches the priest offer the crushed wheat as an emblem of the blessed body to be broken for him, and hears him say, “Thy sin is forgiven,” his heart leaps for joy, as did the heart of the poor man by the pool of Bethesda, who had no one to help him, when the blessed Master told him to take up his bed and walk (John 5:2–9).
If the one who longs to know more of Christ and His infinite love, will study the types and symbols of the earthly sanctuary, connecting each with its glorious antitype, his soul will be filled with rapture. Like the lenses of the telescope, they reveal wondrous beauties in the character of our blessed Redeemer, beauties that are revealed in no other way.
There is a separate and distinct heavenly lesson taught by each of the different types and symbols of the earthly sanctuary service; and when they are all viewed together, they form a wonderful Mosaic painting of the divine character of Christ as none but a heavenly artist could portray it.