Build Me a Sanctuary
Carlton Foster – August 7, 2019
God said to Moses in Exodus 25:8-9, “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.” God wants to show mankind what it will be like to dwell, live with us here on this sinful earth. The all-knowing God, who is everywhere, wants to live in the sanctuary that we should build? What kind of Sanctuary is this that God will live in?
So Moses got an object lesson from God which he hopes that mankind will see and know the true meaning of this lesson. God gave Moses these specific instructions in Exodus 25:17-22, “Then make the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—from pure gold. It must be 45 inches long and 27 inches wide. Then make two cherubim from hammered gold, and place them on the two ends of the atonement cover. Mold the cherubim on each end of the atonement cover, making it all of one piece of gold. The cherubim will face each other and look down on the atonement cover. With their wings spread above it, they will protect it. Place inside the Ark the stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, which I will give to you. Then put the atonement cover on top of the Ark. I will meet with you there and talk to you from above the atonement cover between the gold cherubim that hover over the Ark of the Covenant. From there I will give you my commands for the people of Israel.”
These object lessons will play a major role in our lives, but for us to experience them, God gave us these exercises – a way of life, so we will know what it is for God to live with us in this sinful world. So when the Sanctuary configurations were completed, the people saw how God would dwell with them. Exodus 40:34-38 says, “Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. Moses could no longer enter the Tabernacle because the cloud had settled down over it, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. Now whenever the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out on their journey, following it. But if the cloud did not rise, they remained where they were until it lifted. The cloud of the Lord hovered over the Tabernacle during the day, and at night fire glowed inside the cloud so the whole family of Israel could see it. This continued throughout all their journeys.”
This was a practical experience with God which will solidify their belief that God is for them and that they will know how to live as God’s people. The sanctuary was a tent and throughout the journey, they had to move the tent and the furniture, so in another generation after Moses, David the king wanted to relocate the mobile sanctuary and erect a fixed structure. It was recorded in 1 Chronicles 17, “When David was settled in his palace, he summoned Nathan the prophet. ‘Look,’ David said, ‘I am living in a beautiful cedar palace, but the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant is out there under a tent!’.” Continuing with verse 3 said, “But that same night God said to Nathan, ‘Go and tell my servant David, ‘this is what the Lord has declared: You are not the one to build a house for me to live in. I have never lived in a house, from the day I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until this very day. My home has always been a tent, moving from one place to another in a Tabernacle. Yet no matter where I have gone with the Israelites, I have never once complained to Israel’s leaders, the shepherds of my people. I have never asked them, ‘Why haven’t you built me a beautiful cedar house?’”
The mobile experience of moving with the people is the main object lesson and the idea of placing God’s sanctuary in one fixed location will nullify the lesson. Later you will see the meaning for these object lessons. The Lord’s message to David in verse 11 was, “I will rise up one of your descendants, one of your sons, and I will make his kingdom strong. He is the one who will build a house—a temple—for me. And I will secure his throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my favor from him as I took it from the one who ruled before you. I will confirm him as king over my house and my kingdom for all time, and his throne will be secure forever.’’’
Some thought that this promise was for Solomon, David’s son, but for a son to have a “kingdom for all time” was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. We see this in Luke 1:30, “’Don’t be afraid, Mary,’ the angel told her, ‘for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David, and he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!’”. Jesus is the one that will build a temple for God. But where will this mobile temple be located?
In John 1:19, Jesus shows us where this temple is located, “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Verse 21 explained, “But when Jesus said ‘this temple’, he meant his own body.” So when God said let them build me a sanctuary, he was referring to the soul of mankind where God will dwell, but now Jesus came and built a kingdom of believers where each person has God dwelling in their heart- the mind and soul. The Apostle Steven confirmed this when he said in Acts 7:48-50, “… the Most High doesn’t live in temples made by human hands. As the prophet says, ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Could you build me a temple as good as that?’ Asks the Lord. ‘Could you build me such a resting place? Didn’t my hands make both heaven and earth?” So the temple or sanctuary of God is not a building, but it is in the body of each human who will let Jesus into their ‘heart’.
After Jesus ascended to heaven, the scripture reported in Acts 2:2, “Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.” This shows that God wants to dwell with his people; with each person, as he or she moves from day to day; the people will have the Holy Spirit dwelling with them. Jesus affirmed this in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”
Just like the configuration of the Sanctuary that Moses built, our ‘hearts’ are to be fashioned with similar configuration: we must always have a mind for atonement, we must cherish love for others as pure gold. We must have the Bible (old and new testament) as two cherubim with their wings spread above our mind and to protect us from false doctrines. We must make the commandments of God like stone tablets inscribed on our hearts. We must meet with God on Sabbath and talk to him with reverence and with the spirit of atonement for sinners. If we make this the sanctuary, then God will dwell with us.