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If I Were Told the Future - Lesson 14

The Sanctuary’s Services

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Let’s pray together:

Almighty God,

May the understanding of the symbolic meaning of the sanctuary’s services be added to our toolbox, so that we may better grasp the wonderful message You want to give us through Bible prophecy.

May those services also help us to know You better, and to walk with You day after day.

In Jesus Christ we pray.


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Psalm 73:16,17

When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; until I went into the sanctuary of God.


In this last of three lessons about the sanctuary, we will study the services taking place there.

Just like its furnishings, the services of the sanctuary carry a wonderful symbolism necessary to the understanding of Bible prophecy.

Before beginning, let’s look at a short summary of the last two lessons.

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Plan of the sanctuary, showing the arrangement of its furnishings

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The furnishings of the sanctuary show the stages of the Christian life

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Exodus 29:38,39,42

Now this is that which you shall offer on the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually.

The one lamb you shall offer in the morning; and the other lamb you shall offer at even. (...)

This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord.


Two religious services were regularly performed in the sanctuary:

- the daily service;

- the annual service.

The daily service, described here, took place only in the courtyard and the Holy Place. It consisted of sacrifices offered twice a day for the sins of the people.

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Leviticus 4:30

And the priest shall take of [the sin offering’s] blood with his finger, and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar.


During this daily service, sins were transferred to the sanctuary through the lamb’s blood.

The sinner, having disobeyed God’s law, was deserving death, but God accepted in his place the death of an animal.

This service foreshadowed the death of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, for the salvation of repentant man.

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The sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb, is symbolized by the daily service:

«The next day John saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.”» (John 1:29)

«You were not redeemed with corruptible things (...) but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.» (1 Peter 1:18,19)

«In the middle of the throne (...) stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having (...) the seven Spirits of God.» (Revelation 5:6)

«And they overcame [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.» (Revelation 12:11)

«He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opens not His mouth.» (Isaiah 53:7)

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Hebrews 10:21,22

Having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.


The first stage of Jesus’ ministry, that is, His work of sacrifice, thus corresponds with the first part of the sanctuary, that is, the courtyard.

Indeed, Jesus offers us the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins (the altar of burnt offering), and then, He cleanses our heart (the laver of bronze).

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1 John 1:7

The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleans us from all sin.


Romans 5:9

Being now justified by His blood (...).


Hebrews 10:19

Having therefore, brothers, boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus (...).


In a word, the first stage of Jesus’ ministry offers us JUSTIFICATION, erasing our sins and making us righteous before God.

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1 Chronicles 23:13

Aaron was separated, that he should sanctify the most holy things, he and his sons for ever, to burn incense before the Lord, to minister to Him, and to bless in His name for ever.


Hebrews 9:6

Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.


Besides the sacrifices of the daily service, the priest, through the offering of burning incense, had to make intercession in the Holy Place.

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Matthew 27:50,51

Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom.


At the very moment Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, was sacrificed, the earthly sanctuary became useless.

God clearly transmitted this message by tearing the veil of the temple at the moment of Jesus’ death.

The veil being torn, the work of intercession of the priest gave way to the work of intercession of Jesus, our perfect High Priest.

This constitutes the second stage of Christ’s ministry.

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Hebrews 9:11,12

Christ came a 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.


When He ascended to heaven, after His resurrection, Jesus became both our High Priest and, as the Lamb of God, our atoning sacrifice.

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Jesus Christ now serves as our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary:

«We have such a High Priest, who is set 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, and not man.» (Hebrews 8:1,2)

«Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters into that within the veil; where the Forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made a High Priest for ever.» (Hebrews 6:19,20)

«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.» (Hebrews 9:24)

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1 Timothy 2:5

For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.


Romans 8:34

It is Christ that died, yes rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.


Hebrews 7:25

[Jesus] is able also to save them to the uttermost that come to God by Him, seeing He ever lives to make intercession for them.


As our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary, Jesus makes intercession.

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1 Timothy 2:3-6

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all.


Interceding for us in the Holy Place, Jesus desires that we «come to the knowledge of the truth». To do that, the furnishings of the Holy Place are useful:

- the light of the Spirit (the candlestick and its oil);

- the study of the Word of God (the table of showbread);

- and prayer (the altar of incense).

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2 Corinthians 4:16

Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.


As we grow in our Christian experience, the powerful work of God’s Spirit within us progressively brings about a change of our values, our priorities, our way of seeing things.

We reflect more and more the character of Jesus Christ.

This continuous work of the Holy Spirit within us is called: SANCTIFICATION.

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Philippians 4:6,7

In every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.


Matthew 4:4

[Jesus] answered and said, «It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”»


Let’s remember: prayer, study of God’s Word and the light of the Spirit within us are the tools God gives us to favor our sanctification.

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1 Thessalonians 4:3

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification.


Hebrews 12:14

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.


Justification and sanctification are two essential steps of salvation, possible only through Jesus’ grace within us.

But let’s take courage, «being confident of this very thing, that He which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.» (Philippians 1:6)

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Leviticus 16:29-31

In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all. (...)

For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord. (...)

You shall afflict your souls.


Now, let’s look at the last service: the annual service.

As we have just seen, the people confessed their sins each day, transferring them to the sanctuary.

It was therefore necessary, at the end of the religious year, to purify the sanctuary during a service on the Day of Atonement.

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Leviticus 16:7-9

[Aaron the High Priest] shall take the two goats, and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

And Aaron shall cast lots on the two goats; one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat.

And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the Lord’s lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering.


The first goat, representing Christ, was sacrificed as a sin offering.

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Jesus is definitely the sin offering symbolized in this annual service:

«[Jesus] is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.» (1 John 2:2)

«God has set forth [Jesus] to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness.» (Romans 3:25)

«Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood [Jesus] entered in once into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.» (Hebrews 9:12)

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Leviticus 16:10,21,22

But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness. (...)

And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness.

And the goat shall bear on him all their iniquities to a land not inhabited.


The second goat, symbolizing Satan, bore the responsibility for the people’s sins (hence the expression «scapegoat»).

That goat was sent away into the wilderness, foreshadowing the exile of Satan on the desolate earth during the millennium (this will be the subject of a future lesson).

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Hebrews 9:21,22

[Moses] 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.


The aim of the sacrifice of an innocent animal was to show the sinner the horror of sin, and the amazing love of the Savior who was willing to die for repentant man.

The Day of Atonement was thus the opportunity to examine one’s conscience, each one having to admit the gravity of his sins, and the price of God’s forgiveness: His Son Jesus.

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Hebrews 9:6,7

The priests went always into the first tabernacle [the Holy Place], accomplishing the service of God.

But into the second [the Most Holy Place] the high priest went alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people.


These verses summarize well the two services of the sanctuary:

- the daily service, performed by the priests in the Holy Place;

- the annual service, performed by the high priest alone in the Most Holy Place, on the Day of Atonement (also called Day of cleansing of the sanctuary).

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Hebrews 9:8-10

The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest, while the first tabernacle was yet standing, which was a figure for the time then present (...) until the time of reformation.


Just like the other services of the earthly sanctuary, the annual service (the only one giving access to the Most Holy Place) was given «while the first tabernacle was yet standing», «until the time of reformation».

Which stage of Jesus’ ministry is then symbolized by this annual service, this cleansing of the sanctuary?

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Hebrews 9:21-23

[Moses] 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.

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.


First, let’s note that, according to the Bible, the heavenly sanctuary has to be purified too, just as the earthly sanctuary did.

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Daniel 8:13,14

«How long shall be the vision concerning (...) the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?»

And [the angel] said to me,

«To two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.»


Many centuries ago, the prophet Daniel had a vision concerning the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary: it is the prophecy of the 2300 days, which will be the subject of a future lesson.

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1 Peter 4:17

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.

And if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?


Romans 14:10

For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.


Hebrews 10:30

The Lord shall judge His people.


The third stage of the ministry of Jesus, the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary, corresponds with a judgment work concerning the people of God.

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John 5:24

[Jesus said,]

«Truly, truly, I say to you, he that hears My word, and believes on Him that sent Me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation.»


Hebrews 9:24

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.


Fortunately, Christ will act as an Advocate for all those who accept Him as their Savior and Lord, thus granting them eternal life.

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Matthew 7:21

[Jesus said,]

«Not every one that said to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven.»


On the day of the cleansing of the earthly sanctuary, each Jew who had persisted in his sins was cut off from the people of God, even if he had sacrificed lambs all the year long.

Likewise, many people claim to be converted and to follow Christ, but the judgment, through the examination of each believer’s case, will identify those whose conversion is genuine.

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2 Thessalonians 1:11,12

We also pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power: that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.


Jesus’ work of judgment, the third stage of His ministry, will lead the faithful believer to the third step: GLORIFICATION.

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Ephesians 5:25-27

Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church.


These verses sum up Jesus’ ministry and its effects on the Church:

1. Sacrifice (altar of burnt offering) and cleansing (laver of bronze), giving us justification.

2. Intercession (incense) and teaching by the Word (table of showbread), with the help of the Spirit (candlestick), giving us sanctification.

3. Judgment (ark of the covenant) and grace (mercy seat), giving us glorification.

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The sanctuary’s services illustrate the stages of Jesus’ ministry

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Let’s thank God for His presence among us:

Our good Father,

In times past, You asked men to sacrifice innocent animals for their sins, not because You are a cruel and bloodthirsty God, but because You desired that people realize the horror of sin, and Your great love for men, revealed in Jesus Christ.

We thank You for Your Son, who is not only our Lamb but also our High Priest, our Mediator before Your throne.

We will be forever thankful for Your love, in Jesus Christ.


The test of Lesson 14 is waiting for you!

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