In 2014, the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine was shared between a British scientist and two Norwegian scientists. They discovered our own internal GPS system that shows: Who we are, how to find our way from one place to another, and how we store that information to find the way the next time we trace the same path. These are interesting facts about our brain, which is very complex!
The book of Psalms tells us about God’s GPS: “Thy way, O God, is in the Sanctuary…” (Psalms 77:14)
God has given us a GPS. God’s GPS (Gospel Plan of Salvation), is found in the Sanctuary.
The Sanctuary shows us who we are (sinners in need of repentance), and how to find our way from earth to heaven (the Plan of Salvation).
About 4,000 years ago, Moses was on Mount Sinai, where he received the Ten Commandments of God. But what many do not know is that at the very same place, God gave him instructions to build a Sanctuary. God gave the Ten Commandments to His people, showing what sin and righteousness is. However, the law cannot save us. For this reason, we also got the instructions of the Sanctuary, God’s GPS.
If we take a closer look at the Sanctuary, we are going to make some amazing discoveries about God’s GPS.
The Bible tells us that man sinned, he used his free will and went against God. By God’s grace He instituted the sacrificial system. God said, “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3:15).
This is the first prophecy of the Bible! God put enmity between the devil and man. Someone was prophesied to bruise the devils head. The devil was going to get destroyed one day. This prophecy gave hope to man. Before we look at the fulfillment of this prophecy, let us remove the veil and enter the Sanctuary.
What is the Sanctuary?
“And let them make Me a Sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.” (Exodus 25:8-9)
One reason why God instructed Moses to set up the Sanctuary was that He was to dwell among His people. Another reason is that God wanted to show the plan of salvation to all people.
If you are wondering what God wants to do with your life, go and look in the Sanctuary! If you want to know what the future will hold, study the Sanctuary! There is deep knowledge in the Sanctuary! The Sanctuary also serves as a key to understand several prophecies. God showed Moses a pattern – a blueprint for how the Sanctuary was to look like.
In short, the Sanctuary consists of 3 parts:
- A courtyard of approx. 46 x 23 meters surrounded by a fence of fine linen.
- Inside the courtyard we find the tabernacle – a tent of approx. 5 x 15 meters. (See Exodus 26:15-19, 29 and 27:9-16,18).
- The tabernacle had two rooms: the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place.
All things that we find in the Sanctuary, including the smallest details, are related to God’s Gospel Plan of Salvation, and what He wants to reveal to His people. To understand the Plan of Salvation, we must understand the symbolism we find here.
Let’s start the journey right from the beginning, outside the Sanctuary and the courtyard.
When the people of God sinned, they had to sacrifice an animal without spot and blemish, following God’s instructions. They took the sacrificial animal with them and met the priest at the entrance of the courtyard. Here they had to kill the animal with their own hands. They got a knife and a basin from the priest. The sinner confessed his sins by putting his hand upon the animal’s head. The priest then took the blood and sprinkled it around the altar of sacrifice, where parts of the animal was to be burnt (See Leviticus 1:4-5,11 and 4:27-29). Instead of man dying, as we all deserve because of our sin, the people of God were promised a Savior who was willing to take their penalty.
The sins were thus transferred to the sacrificial animal, and then to the priest. The priest atoned for the sins of the people – on behalf of each individual. He carried sin into the Sanctuary. The Sanctuary then got unclean. This service of the Sanctuary happened every day.
The priest is a symbol of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us (Hebrews 3:1). Jesus serves as our High Priest in the heavenly Sanctuary, from which the blueprint of the tabernacle is based upon (See Hebrews 8).
In the courtyard there was an entrance, and in the Sanctuary itself we find a curtain. This represents Jesus and His body (See Hebrews 10:20, John 10:9)
Jesus is the door. He is the only Way to salvation.
The sacrificial animal also symbolizes Jesus. John the Baptist said “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) This language was understood by the people of God, who had knowledge about the Sanctuary, and waited for a Savior.
The altar of sacrifice symbolizes the cross that Jesus died upon.
In the laver, the priests washed their hands and feet before sacrificing or entering to the Sanctuary (see Exodus 30:17-21 38:8). They were to be clean – from blood and guilt.
This is what baptism is all about – getting free from sin and starting a new life in Christ. The water represents the cleansing from sin, and the rebirth (See Titus 3:5).
Jesus himself fulfilled this through His baptism – an example to all His followers.
Jesus, and His death upon the cross is our only way to salvation! This message is well known by Christians. But God’s way (that is in the Sanctuary) does not stop here. This is only the beginning!
The Holy Place
God’s GPS takes us further into the Sanctuary – now entering the first room. Here we find three objects.
- The table of show bread. Bread is a symbol of Jesus who said, “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:51)
The Bible, God’s Word, is also compared to bread: “But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)
- The candlestick is a symbol of several things. The Bible says that Jesus is the Light of the world (John 9:5) and that we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). This candlestick contained olive oil that was burning. The oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:1-6, Revelation 4:5).
- The altar of incense – was lit morning and evening (Exodus 30:7-8) and symbolizes the prayers of the saints (Revelation 5:8).
When we have accepted Jesus and His perfect sacrifice in the courtyard of the Sanctuary, and have followed His example of being baptized, He will take us into the Holy Place. He wants us to read God’s Word daily. God’s Word is alive and available to us, so that we may have life. Just as we need physical food to survive, He wants us to eat every day of the Bread, the Word of God, which He has given to us.
Furthermore, we need daily to surrender, and pray for God’s leading in our own and other people’s lives. We need help for sanctification and help to be the light in this world, and to testify of what Jesus has done for us. God wants us to talk with Him every day in prayer.
In the life of a converted Christian, who has accepted Jesus and His death upon the cross, you will be able to see these fruits of sanctification, which we have just learned from the objects of the Holy Place.
The Most Holy Place
We continue to go where God’s GPS is leading us. In this inner room of the Sanctuary, behind the curtains, we find the ark of the covenant. The ark was coated with gold, having two angels leaning over the mercy seat where God’s presence was. Inside this ark, we find the Ten Commandments, which is the foundation of God’s throne (Hebrews 9:1-5, 2 and Genesis 40:1-8).
The Ten Commandments is not to be a burden for a follower of Jesus. These fruits are visible to every disciple who has followed the way of Jesus, because the Ten Commandments reflect the character of God, and will be valid in the end time as well (see Matthew 5:17-19, Revelation 14:12).
Some think that it is awful that so many animals had to die in this sacrificial system. Death came with the sin. Sacrificing animals helped man to understand how terrible sin is. Our sins took the life of Jesus!
The symbols in the sacrificial system all pointed to a Savior, Jesus Christ. His blood was needed so that our sins could be forgiven. The truth is that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Jesus said, “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:28). “Without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). Jesus, our ultimate sacrifice, died so that we could have life.
There is no doubt that sacrifice is central in God’s Gospel Plan of Salvation. God not only wants us to accept Jesus and His sacrifice, but that we also follow His example. He wants to save us from sin and restore us to His image.
In the beginning we looked at the first prophecy of the Bible, about one who would crush the devil’s head (Genesis 3:15). Jesus died on Golgatha, which means the place of a skull. Through His death, Satan’s head was crushed. Jesus won victory! He is atoning for us as the High Priest of the Heavenly Sanctuary – on behalf of each and every one who receives Him. God’s GPS (God’s Gospel Plan of Salvation) is deep, and we have only scratched the surface. There are many more “hidden” treasures to be found.
Do you want to accept Jesus as your sacrificial Lamb and as your High Priest?
Stay tuned for part 2.