Summary: History of the sanctuary and how we should reverance and worship in church today.
WHAT IS THE SANCTUARY?
Every week we come to this holy place of worship. We call it a church, but in reality it is the Lord’s Sanctuary. Do we really know the significance of this building and more importantly, this particular room? Do we know what God’s design was for the sanctuary as well as its purpose? Do we understand exactly how we should reverence this building and this room? Do we enter it reverently? This is what we shall discuss today.
First let us start of with a definition. What is the definition of Sanctuary: SANCTUARY (saynk’ tew ehr ee) Place set aside as sacred and holy, especially a place of worship. It is also a place set aside for protection. (Holman’s Bible Dictionary)
Let us turn to Exodus 25: 8. 8"Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. This Sanctuary is the abode of God. Its importance should be of paramount interest to us. In the Bible there are 169 references to the "Sanctuary", and another 109 references to "Tabernacle." It is obvious that the Bible puts a great deal of importance to this structure. It becomes more important when we realize the Sanctuary on earth emulated the one which we will find in heaven. I hate to disappoint you, but when we get to heaven we will still be going to church. Of course, in heaven as opposed to earth, we will gladly go to church and be happy that we are.
The famous theologian, Calvin stated, "So highly does the Lord esteem the communion of His church that He considers everyone a traitor and apostate from religion who perversely withdraws himself from any Christian society which preserves the true ministry of the word and sacraments."
From the time that God gave Moses the blueprints for the Sanctuary until the time of Christ, God’s presence among men was associated with the Sanctuary. It was in the Sanctuary that God revealed Himself and communicated with His people. Let us turn to Exodus 25:22. There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites. Further in Exodus in chapter 29 we are told that God talked with Moses "at the door of the tabernacle."
Just how important was the Sanctuary to the Hebrews? We can get an idea of that when we consider that David was very hurt when he wasn’t allowed by God to build the Temple. That honor fell to his son Solomon. David was allowed however to gather the material and men to build the Temple. He even initiated trade agreements with neighboring countries to bring in specific supplies and men to help build the temple.
Solomon’s temple was magnificent even though it wasn’t very large. Only 30’ by 90’ with a porch in front and had tiers of chambers on the other three sides which were used as sleeping quarters for the priests as well as storerooms. The Temple was lined on the walls, floor and ceiling with cedar which was then overlaid with gold. The gold was engraved with figures of cherubims, palms, and flowers. The Most Holy was separated from the rest of the structure by a chain which was also made with gold.
Inside the Most Holy was placed the Ark of the Covenant. The ark had two cherubim made of gold. Solomon added two more cherubim carved from olive wood and overlaid with gold. Each of these cherubim stood fifteen feet high and had a wingspread of fifteen feet.
The furnishings of the Temple, that is the altar of incense, the candlesticks, the snuffers for the candlesticks, the bowls, basins, spoons, and censers were all covered in gold. The pots, shovels, hooks and basins used in the courtyard for the altar of burnt offering was made of brass. The laver used for bathing the animals was fifteen feet in diameter and made of pure bronze and held 20,000 gallons of water. It rested on twelve figurines carved to represent oxen. These also were made of bronze. There were also ten smaller lavers built on wheels so that they can be moved about as needed. Each of these held 400 gallons of water. They were made of brass, including the wheels and axeltrees. Each of the lavers, including the large one were ornamented with figures of animals and trees.
From this brief description we get an idea of the splendor of Solomon’s Temple. We also get a picture of the importance the Lord’s House was to the Hebrews. I am sure that a pilgrim visiting Jerusalem and seeing the Temple for the first time would stop and look at this building with awe and amazement. I am also sure that he was impressed enough to want to worship at this temple. He would probably make a quick trip to the market, purchase his sacrificial offering and head back to the temple to present his offering to the priest.