16. The Sanctuary in Heaven

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WHEN Moses was commanded by God to build Him a sanctuary, he was told to make “all things according to the pattern showed to him “in the mount.” Hebrews 8:5. This Moses did. When the work was finished, “Moses did look upon all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the Lord had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them.” Exodus 39:43.

God not only gave directions for the building of the sanctuary but also selected the priests to serve in it, and directed their preparation for the holy office which they were to occupy. He gave directions for the anointing of the sanctuary, the purification of the tabernacle and all its furniture and vessels with blood, and through Moses superintended every detail of the dedicatory service. This we have already discussed.

The anointing of the tabernacle and its sprinkling with blood purified and purged the sanctuary, its furniture, and its vessels. (Hebrews 9:22; Exodus 30:26-29; Leviticus 8:15) In this respect the dedicatory ceremonies were like those on the Day of Atonement which also effected cleansing. (Leviticus 16:19) Previous to the time of the dedication of the sanctuary there had, of course, been no service through which the tabernacle or any of the vessels had become defiled. No one had brought any sin offering or any other kind of offering. No man except Moses had entered the sacred apartments. Yet the tabernacle was both sprinkled with blood and anointed with oil for the purpose of purification. This was part of the dedication ceremonies, and through them the “tabernacle and all that was therein” became sanctified.” Leviticus 8:10. Of the altar it is specifically mentioned that Moses “purified the altar. . . . and sanctified it, to make reconciliation upon it.” Verse 15.

We now inquire whether there was a dedication of the heavenly sanctuary corresponding to the dedicatory services of the earthly. As Aaron was inducted into holy office, as he was invested with mediatorial powers for the ministry of reconciliation, as a public inauguration preceded Aaron's assuming priestly duties, was there a like inauguration and installation into office of our great High Priest in heaven? Is there any intimation of a dedication of the heavenly sanctuary, and is there any intimation of a purifying of heavenly things preparatory to their use in the work of the real atonement? We know that there was such a dedication and inauguration on earth. What are the facts as to heaven?

At first the mind may revolt at the thought that there should be anything in heaven that might need purification. Note, however, the statement of the apostle: “It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.” Hebrews 9:23. We do not at this time discuss the reasons for the heavenly purification, but merely affirm that according to the quotation above from the book of Hebrews such purification was “necessary.”

At the time of the dedication of the earthly sanctuary the whole tabernacle, including the ark, the table, the candlestick, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering, the laver, and all the vessels, was purged and sanctified, made holy, dedicated to God. (Exodus 50:26-29) It was made not only holy, but “most holy,” and ready for use. (Verse 29) But after the service in the tabernacle began-the ministration that had to do with sin and blood-it became necessary to cleanse the sanctuary yearly “because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins.” Leviticus 16:16. This took place on the Day of Atonement. These two ceremonies of cleansing are recorded as separate events. The one sanctified, purified, and dedicated the sanctuary as a necessary condition for the ministry of reconciliation; the other provided a yearly recurrent cleansing of the sanctuary after it had been defiled with the sin of the people. Both were necessary, and we believe that both find their counterpart in the sanctuary above. Though separate in time as well as in purpose, they both have to do with purification.

The Incarnation

As it was “necessary” for the things in heaven to be cleansed and dedicated, so it was also necessary that the One who was to officiate as High Priest be prepared for, and dedicated to, His ministry. Of this preparation and dedication the Bible speaks in definite terms.

Christ existed in the form of God; He was equal with God. (Phil. 2:6) He did not, however, consider 'this a thing to be eagerly held on to, but voluntarily look upon Him the form of a servant and came to this 'world in the likeness of man. (Verses 6, 7) Being found in the fashion of a man, He humbled

Himself still further and became obedient unto death. (Verse 8) Because of Christ's willingness thus to humble Himself, to stiffer and die that man might be saved, God highly exalted Him and gave Him a name above every name, that to Hint every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. (Verses 9).

“In all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren.” Hebrews 2:17. The word behooved has deep significance in this connection. It is used in Matthew 18.28, when the servant took his fellow servant “by the throat, saying, Pay rite that thou owed.” Paul uses it in Romans 13:7: “Render therefore to all their dues.” In Luke 17: 10 the servants say, “We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duly to do.” From these uses of the word it is clear that it denotes an obligation incurred, a debt to be paid, a duty to be performed.

Christ came to this world voluntarily. He need not have come. He might have remained in heaven. But His love for man led Him to decide to pay the cost, to endure whatever was necessary to save man. Having once decided upon His course of action, He found it necessary to do certain things. He could not become the Savior of men or be. a merciful and faithful high priest, nor could He make reconciliation for the people, unless He was willing to stoop low, take man's place in all respects, be tempted, suffer, and at last die. These were the conditions upon which depended His fitness for the work He set out to do.

As Aaron was washed, so must Christ go down into the water with John in baptism. (Matthew 3:13-17) As Moses put the glorious garments on Aaron, so God “hath clothed Me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered Me with the robe of righteousness.” Isaiah 61:10. As Aaron was anointed, so “the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” Verse 1. As Aaron was crowned with “HOLINESS TO THE LORD,” and at the same time bore “the iniquity of the holy things,” so Jesus was “crowned with glory and honor,” while God “laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Hebrews 2:9; Isaiah 53:6. Step by step Christ was prepared for His work as priest, and at last, when all was ready and He had finished His work on earth, He offered Himself, a sacrifice well pleasing to God.

Because Christ was tempted in all points like as we are and yet did not sin, He is able to succor them that are tempted. (Hebrews 4:15; 2:18) Because He learned obedience by the things He suffered, He can have compassion on the ignorant and on them that are out of the way. (Hebrews 5:8, 2) He knows by experience the temptations to which men are subject, and the fearful struggle they have with sin, and-because of this He can have compassion on them. Because these experiences fitted Him for His work, God highly exalted Him and named Him “high priest after the order of Melchisedec.” Hebrews 5:10. He has earned the right to be intercessor. He has fulfilled the conditions. And God approved of the work done, and appointed Him high priest.

Our High Priest in Heaven

“And again, when He brings the First Begotten into the world, He said, And let all the angels of God worship Him.” Hebrews 1:6. In heaven Christ was worshiped. Angels bowed in adoration before Him. Why, then, is the command given for the angels to worship Him? Why should any question arise?

Christ had become man, had assumed humanity. Was it proper to worship Him after He had thus humbled Himself? As a babe in the manger, was He still God? God supplied the answer, “Let all the angels of God worship Him.”

This same question arose at the time of Christ's resurrection and ascension. Christ had died. When He rose from the dead, was He God or man? Might angels thenceforth worship Him? Might man worship Him? When Mary attempted to do so, she was promptly told, “Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father.” John 20:17.

Christ's Sacrifice Accepted

Why did Christ refuse the worship of Mary? And what bearing did His answer, “I am not yet ascended to My Father,” have on the question of worship? Are we warranted in believing that He did not wish to be worshiped until He had consulted His Father? Was there some question to be decided before

Christ would feel free to receive worship? In any event, Christ refused worship, and gave as a reason that He had not yet ascended to the Father.

In view of His refusal to receive worship in the morning of the resurrection day, how are we to explain the fact that the evening of the same day “they came and held Him by the feet, and worshipped Him”? Matthew 28:9. If Christ did not permit Mary to worship Him, giving as a reason that He had not yet ascended to the Father, why did He the same evening permit others to worship Him? The only possible conclusion is that between the two events Christ ascended to the Father and received some word or assurance from God that warranted His accepting worship.

It is not hard to find a reason for Christ's desire to ascend to the Father. In the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross Christ had passed through the deep waters. He had taken the place of man and paid the penalty for man's transgression. He must pass through the soul agony of one who is forsaken of God and deserted by man. This experience Christ tasted to the full. While darkness covered the earth, despair filled the heart of the Son of God. In agony He cried out, “My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me?” and “when He had again cried with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.” Matthew 27:46, 50.

It was under circumstances such as these that Christ died. Is it any wonder that after the resurrection He wanted first of all to consult His Father? He had died with the wrath of God directed against Him because of the sins of men which He bore. Had His sacrifice been acceptable? Christ must know of a surety. He must hear the words from the Father Himself. He must make sure not only that He would be received by God but also that His sacrifice would be accepted. Until that was settled Christ would not accept worship.

Jesus therefore ascended to His Father, and returned the same day. He heard from the Father's own lips that the sacrifice had been accepted, that He had done all things well. He then received power, returned to earth, and accepted the worship of the disciples. All this is in complete agreement with the Biblical record.

This first meeting of the Father and the Son after the resurrection was in the nature of a private interview. Not until forty days later did the official ceremony take place. Then Christ ascended to heaven in full view of the disciples, taking with Him a multitude of captives who had been raised at the time when “the graves were opened” at the death of Christ. At that time “many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” Matthew 27:52, 53. These are the ones mentioned by the apostle, who says that “when He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” Ephesians 4: 8.

This home coming of Christ to glory with the first fruits of earth must have been a glorious occasion. Christ returned in triumph, bringing His sheaves with Him.

“All heaven was waiting to welcome the Savior to the celestial courts. As He ascended, He led the way, and the multitude of captives set free at His resurrection followed. The heavenly host, with shouts and acclamations of praise and celestial song, attended the joyous train. . . . All are there to welcome the Redeemer. They are eager to celebrate His triumph and to glorify their King.

“But He waves them back. Not yet. He cannot now receive the coronet of glory and the royal robe. He enters into the presence of His Father. He points to His wounded head, the pierced side, the marred feet; He lifts His hands, bearing the print of nails. He points to the tokens of His triumph; He presents to God the wave-sheaf, those raised with Him as representatives of that great multitude who shall come forth from the grave at His second coming. He approaches the Father, with whom there is joy over one sinner that repents; who rejoices over one with singing. Before the foundations of the earth were laid, the Father and the Son had united in a covenant to redeem man if he should be overcome by Satan. They had clasped their hands in a solemn pledge that Christ should become the surety for the human race. This pledge Christ has fulfilled. When upon the cross He cried out, 'It is finished,' He addressed the Father. The compact had been fully carried out. Now He declares, “Father, it is finished. I have done Thy will, 0 My God. I have completed the work of redemption. If Thy justice is satisfied, “I will that they also, whom Thou has given Me, be with Me where I am.”

“The voice of God is heard proclaiming that justice is satisfied. Satan is vanquished. Christ's toiling, struggling ones on earth are 'accepted in the Beloved.' Before the heavenly angels and the representatives of unfallen worlds, they are declared justified. Where He is, there His church shall be. 'Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.' The Father's arms encircle His Son, and the word is given, 'Let all the angels of God worship Him.” The Desire of Ages, page 833, 834.

This was the official welcome. Before receiving the coronet of glory and the royal robe, Christ must have the assurance from the Father that not only He but humanity in Him had been accepted. This assurance He received in the command, “Let all the angels of 'God worship Him.”

“When Christ passed within the heavenly gates, lie was enthroned amidst the adoration of the angels. As soon as this ceremony was completed, the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples in rich currents, and Christ was indeed glorified, even with the glory which He had with the Father from all eternity. The “Pentecostal outpouring was Heaven's communication that the Redeemer's inauguration was accomplished. According to His promise He had sent the Holy Spirit from heaven to His followers, as a token that He had, as priest and king, received all authority in heaven and on earth, and was the Anointed One over His people.” -Acts of the Apostles, page 38, 39.

At this time the Redeemer's inauguration was accomplished, and He was officially installed as priest and king. This is the heavenly parallel to the consecration and inauguration of the high priest on earth. As upon Aaron's head was placed “the holy crown of pure gold,” so Christ was crowned king. (Exodus 39:30; Leviticus 8:9) As Aaron was inaugurated and placed in holy office, so Christ was “called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.” Hebrews 5:10. As Aaron was called the head of the royal priesthood, so Christ was crowned king and priest; as Aaron was given authority, so Christ was given authority.

Christ “Sat Down”

It was on this occasion that Christ was officially seated at God's right hand. Christ, “when -He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Hebrews 1:1 The Greek word used here for “sat down” does not mean the act of sitting but rather, “took his seat.” Christ resumed His seat and the glory He had had with the Father from eternity. M. R. Vincent, discussing the Greek word for “sat down” in his Word Studies in the New Testament, says: “The verb denotes a solemn, formal act; the assumption of dignity and authority. The reference is to Christ's ascension. In His exalted state He will still be bearing on all the things toward their consummation, still dealing with sin as the great high priest in the heavenly sanctuary.” -Volume 4, page 384, 385. In his commentary on this same text, Lange says: “This sitting of the exalted Christ at the right hand of the Majesty, which is to continue without interruption until His Second Coming, must be conceived, therefore, not as a state of repose, or of mere security, as of one rescued from his enemies, but of Messianic activity in the accomplishment of redemption.”

The seating of delegates at a convention is a good illustration of the meaning of the word. A delegate may be officially seated, but this does not mean that he remains sitting down. He may walk around the hall, he may be standing or lying down, he may even be absent for a while; yet he is seated within the meaning of the word. So with Christ.

Those who think that Christ merely “sat down” and continues to sit, fail completely to understand the significance of the word. The Greek word ekathisen indicates an official installation into office, an investing with authority. It means that God accepts Christ in His new official position as King and priest, and salutes or addresses Him as high priest after the order of Melchisedec. (Hebrews 5:10.) It is the beginning of His official ministry, not the end.

It will be remembered that at the inauguration of Aaron as high priest “Moses took of the anointing oil, and of the blood which was upon the altar, and sprinkled it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon his sons' garments with him. And sanctified Aaron, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons' garments with him.” Leviticus 8:30. In this connection ponder the following statement: “Still bearing humanity, He ascended to heaven, triumphant and victorious. He has taken the blood of the atonement into the holiest of all, sprinkled it upon the mercy seat and His own garments, and blessed the people. Soon He will appear the second time to declare that there is no more sacrifice for sin.” - ELLEN G. WHITE in Signs of the Times, April 19, 1905.

As Aaron's garments were sprinkled at the time of the dedication of the sanctuary, so Christ sprinkled His own garments and the mercy seat. He dedicated Himself and the sanctuary to the work of redemption. He had been officially installed into office. He had been seated at the right hand of God and invested with all power. His blood had been shed but not yet ministered. His first official act as high priest was to sprinkle the blood on His own garments and on the mercy scat, dedicating Himself and the heavenly sanctuary. As Aaron, after being sprinkled with blood, began his work in the first apartment of the sanctuary (Leviticus 9:23), so did Christ.

From this study it becomes clear that on Christ's ascension to heaven an inauguration took place. The Father set His seal of approval upon Christ's work installed Him as high priest and seated Him at His right hand. It is evident that “if He were on earth, He should not be a priest,” for He was not of the tribe of Levi, “but now bath He obtained a more excellent ministry,” and has become “a priest forever, after the order of Melchisedec.” Hebrews 8:4,6; 7:21. The priests were ordained of God “to offer gifts and sacrifices,” and therefore “it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.” Hebrews 8:3. But, as it is not possible “that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins,” and as Christ's purpose is to “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself,” He entered not “by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood” “into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” Hebrews 10:4; 9:26, 12, 24. The apostle sums up the matter thus: “We have such a high priest, who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.” Hebrews 8:1,2, ARV.

Christ's Ministry

The temple in heaven is not, as some would have us believe, shadowy, unreal, or merely a mental conception. It is not the temple in heaven that is a “shadow.” It is the tabernacle which Moses built that is the “shadow of heavenly things.” No one will contend that either the original Mosaic sanctuary or the later temple of Solomon was not a real structure. Yet they are spoken of as shadows, the reality of which is in heaven. The heavenly sanctuary is the true temple, so real that Moses was given a pattern of it and told, “See . . . that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.” Hebrews 8:5.

Not only was the earthly sanctuary a shadow of the heavenly, but its services also were a shadow. This is true even to the cleansing of the sanctuary, which was a shadow of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary. We have before noted that it was “necessary” that the earthly sanctuary be “purified” or “purged with blood of animals, but that “the heavenly things themselves' were to be cleansed “with better sacrifices than these.” Hebrews 9:22, 23. This affirms definitely that it was necessary that the heavenly things be purified with better sacrifices than the blood of calves and goats. The only blood that can do this is the blood of Jesus Christ, our Lord. For this reason Christ, by virtue of His own blood, entered the heavenly places, there to appear before the face of God for us. (Hebrews 9:24)

We noted above that before the -service in the earthly tabernacle was begun, Moses anointed the “tent of meeting, and the ark of the testimony” (Exodus 30:26. A.R.V.), as well as the other furniture of the sanctuary, and that he also “took of the anointing oil, and of the blood which was upon the altar, and sprinkled it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon his sons' garments with him.” Leviticus 8:30. In like manner it is said of Christ that “God, even Thy God, bath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows.” Hebrews 1:9. Not only was Christ thus anointed, but He has taken the blood of the atonement into the holiest of all and sprinkled it upon the mercy seat and upon His own garments. As Christ “offered Himself,” so Christ dedicated Himself. (Hebrews 9:14) This dedication of Himself to the service of the sanctuary was part of the inauguration and preceded His actual ministry.

We now come to the consideration of the statement that it was -necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.” Verse 23. Does this have reference only to the inauguration ceremonies before Christ began His official ministry, as some contend, or does it refer also to the yearly cleansing of the sanctuary on the Day of Atonement, or both?

We have already noted that there was a cleansing in connection with the dedication of both the earthly and the heavenly sanctuaries. The question therefore really concerns itself with this: Is there a cleansing of the sanctuary in heaven corresponding to the cleansing of the earthly sanctuary on the Day of Atonement, as recorded in Leviticus 16? We answer unqualifiedly in the affirmative.

Let us at the outset note the statements referring to this in the book of Hebrews. “It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. Nor yet that He should offer Himself often' as the high priest entered into the holy place every year with blood of others. For then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” Hebrews 9:23-26.

The subject here dealt with is the purification of “the heavenly things themselves.” As “necessary” as was the purification of earthly things, so necessary is the purification of the heavenly. This purification was accomplished on earth “as the high priest entered into the holy place every year with blood of others.” Verse .25. In contrast with this, Christ does not “go into the holy place every year. . . . But now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” Verses 25, 26.

The contrast here is between the high priest, who enters “every year,” and Christ, who enters, “once” only. The only service that was done “every year” for cleansing was the service on the Day of Atonement. This, therefore, is what Hebrews speaks of. “The priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood.” Verses 6, 7.

While it was “necessary” that the heavenly things be purified, it was not necessary that this be done every year, as on earth. Christ need do this only once, at the close of His work in the first apartment of the sanctuary above. Following the ministry in the holy place, in harmony with the, type on earth, He would enter - the most holy and there perform a work corresponding to that which the high priest did on earth. It is to this the angel refers when he says to Daniel, “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Daniel 8:14.

The considerations make it clear, not only that there is a sanctuary in heaven, but that there is a work going on there of which services on earth were a type. While these services were alike in many respects, in others they were dissimilar. The earthly sanctuary was cleansed every year; the heavenly only once. In the earthly sanctuary the blood of bulls, goats, and calves was used; in the heavenly only the blood of Jesus sufficed. In the earthly a sinful man who needed atonement for himself officiated. In heaven our High Priest need not offer first for Himself and then for the people. On earth the high priest went in with the blood of a dead animal. In heaven Christ went in by virtue of His own blood, by a new and a living way which He has consecrated for us, “to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” (Hebrews 10:19, 20; 9:26)

 

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