Imagine for a moment that you had just come to the end of a very long jouney. Your clothes are rumpled, your money is spent, your provisions are depleted, and your tank is empty. You arrive at the door of your destination with absolutely nothing to offer as an entrance fee. Your heart sinks a little.
But then the kindly porter looks at you in tender pity, recognizes the continued and determined efforts you had made to finish the trip, and sees the weary look in your eye. His heart is touched. He reaches into the depths of his pocket and brings forth a coin he had worked very hard for; one he had sacrificed everything for. And then he hands it to you, scoops up your burden onto his own shoulders, and ushers you in.
Once inside, not only is the dust of your journey washed from your feet, but you receive a total cleansing. You never realized before just had dirty you had become or how heavy had been your baggage. Now, you see, and you are overwhelmingly thankful for the release. The gentle porter brings you into a most wonderful room and you find yourself face to face with the homeowner. His joy-filled face is lit up in love and he asks the porter where you came from and how you got in. The porter smiles and says…
“He came through the narrow gate. I recognized in him as one of your own precious children and I paid his way in. Do you know him?”
To which the homeowner turns to you and responds, “My child! I have been waiting so long for this day. I know the road to this place is rough and very few find their way. So many come to the door and insist on paying their own admission. They do not understand that the faithful porter is the only one with the currency accepted here and that he is all too eager to lay down his last coin to welcome my children back home. Because, child, you ARE home!”
That is exactly how I see the sanctuary service. It pointed those living before Christ to the cross from which He would hang. It offered a way to see the sacrifice to come. And it pleaded with every heart to understand that sacrifice was, and still is, the only currency accepted in the transaction of our salvation. We cannot pay our own way! Let’s take a closer look…
Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary, For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. (verses 1,2)
We glimpse inside the tent and we find the furnishings of the first room. Without clutter, each item contained therein carried purpose.
And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all: Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercy seat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. (verses 3-5)
Ahhhh, we get to peek behind the second veil and the holiness of the place should overwhelm us. We find the golden ark which contains the golden pot of manna, Aaron’s rod and the tablets of stone given to Moses on Sinai. And the whole thing is guarded by angels of light. But do you see the significance? The ark reminds us of His provision in every time of need; the rod is a reminder of the path of rebellion we have been on; the law is both a reminder of our need, and is a call to seek the face of the One who can meet it.
Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But unto the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying , that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure for the time when present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the services perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. (verses 6-10)
We see the sanctuary routine as it was performed by the priests. Daily they entered into the tabernacle but only once a year did the high priest go behind that second veil. But notice he most atone not only for the sins of the people; he must also offer sacrifice for his own sin. Because the fullness of time had not yet come and this system was established by God, but incomplete in nature. We needed a blameless, spotless, sinless High Priest to offer sacrifice on our behalf.
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (verses 11-14)
Only the Lamb would make it complete. And only the Lamb can save us from looking to ourselves for what we cannot do.
And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testimony is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Whereupon neither the first testator was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people. Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. (verses 15-22)
Okay, let’s pause for a moment because I think this is where so many of us get things twisted. We learn of Christ, claim His good name and then proceed to live according to His law. Those are all awesome beginning steps. But even one who has confessed and repented, walking forth in the strength of the Spirit, cannot be saved apart from the death of Jesus Christ. We are not saved because of our good choices. We are not saved because we got up early to spend time with God. We are not saved because of the amazing things we do for others or because we share the gospel from every street corner. Those things result from a relationship with Him but even they aren’t enough to “get us in”. The Lamb had to die. When we look at that truth for exactly what it is, it should break us. Because while the Porter offers to carry our baggage and burden, He also has laid down His proverbial last coin for us. The only coin that gains us entrance.
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 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 entereth 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. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (verses 23-28)
The earthly was simply a pattern after the heavenly. It was necessary because our dimmed eyes could not see what had not yet come to be. The pattern was sufficient for a time, but it wasn’t enough for eternity.
Christ came with a once and done offering and that was sufficient for all who would receive it.
But if we are to avoid missing the gift, we must understand our own wisdom, wealth or power aren’t a stepping stone, but a stumbling block. We must look to Him for every provision so we don’t miss it by trying to pay our own way.
Disclaimer: I feel like it’s important to point out, I am a Bible student and not a Bible scholar. These studies are a reflection of my own personal journey each morning through one chapter of Scripture. I open the Word only after praying for discernment but I also fully understand the Lord brings increasing light over time, as it is sought. Therefore, I recognize there is much I have not yet come to understand. I welcome Christlike discussion on any of my posts.