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The Moment of Truth - Lesson 12

The Two Sanctuaries

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Welcome to this new Bible lesson! Let us pray:

O Lord our God,

We come to You with gratitude, wishing to thank You for giving us salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

We would like to study more thoroughly this invaluable salvation through the subject of the two sanctuaries.

Please help us to understand Your Holy Book through the presence of Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus Christ.


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Genesis 3:21

To Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.


In the lesson «Why Does Evil Exist?», we saw how Adam and Eve were deceived by Satan and disobeyed God.

To replace their handsewn clothes of fig leaves, God sacrificed an animal and covered them with its skin.

In this way, God introduced them to the sacrificial system they had to practice, foreshadowing the death of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

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Exodus 25:8

And let [the children of Israel] make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.


As time passed, the meaning of this sacrificial system was lost.

Paganism transformed it into idolatry, even adding human sacrifices to it...

So God wanted to restore the original meaning of this system, through which men could demonstrate their faith in the Savior to come.

So He instructed Moses to build a sanctuary so that He might dwell among His people.

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Hebrews 9:1-5 : Description of the earthly sanctuary.

Then truly 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 show bread; which is called the sanctuary.

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 were (...) the tables of the covenant.

And over it the cherubim of glory shadowing the mercy seat.

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Plan of the Earthly Sanctuary

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Numbers 1:51

And when the tabernacle sets forward, the Levites shall take it down: and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up.


The first sanctuary, or tabernacle, was portable. Later, a permanent Temple in Jerusalem replaced it.

The sanctuary was made up of three parts:

1. The courtyard;

2. The first part of the tabernacle, called the Holy Place;

3. The second part of the tabernacle, called the Most Holy Place (the Holiest of All).

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First, let’s see the courtyard:

It was an enclosure approximately 164 feet (50 meters) long and 82 feet (25 meters) wide, surrounded by a fence 10 feet (3 meters) high.

Within the courtyard were placed:

- the altar of burnt offering, where sacrifices were offered for the sins of the people;

- the laver of bronze, where priests washed their feet and hands before entering the tabernacle to officiate.

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Then, the Holy Place:

It was the first part of the tabernacle, whose entry was made up of a linen veil. A second veil separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.

Within the Holy Place were placed:

- the table of showbread, on which were placed the twelve showbread which were replaced each Sabbath;

- the seven-branch lampstand, which supplied with oil seven lamps burning day and night, thus continually lighting up the tabernacle;

- the altar of incense, where incense was burned every morning and evening. Once a year, a ceremony was performed to purify it.

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And finally, the Most Holy Place (also called the Holiest of All):

It was the second part of the tabernacle where only the High Priest, once a year, on the Day of Atonement, was allowed to enter, to perform the annual service.

Within the Most Holy Place were placed:

- the ark of the covenant, a chest of acacia wood, overlaid with pure gold inside and out, containing the two tablets of stone on which God had written the Ten Commandments;

- the mercy seat, serving as a lid to the ark of the covenant, surmounted by two cherubs of solid gold, facing each other and each spreading one wing over the mercy seat, with the other pointing at the ground.

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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.


Two religious services were regularly held 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 thereof 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, foreshadowing the death of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, for the repentant sinner’s salvation.

Now, let us see the annual service.

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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, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojournes among you.

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.

It shall be a sabbath of rest to you, and you shall afflict your souls.


Each day, the people confessed their sins, 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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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 as the first tabernacle was yet standing, which was a figure for the time then present (...) until the time of reformation.


The Bible teaches us that the earthly sanctuary’s services were given until the time of reformation: what would replace them thereafter?

Let us note first that the above verses describe the earthly sanctuary as «the first tabernacle». We must then conclude that a second one exists.

Where is that second sanctuary, according to the Word of God?

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Exodus 25:9

According to all that I show you, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall you make it.


Acts 7:44

Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as [God] had appointed, speaking to Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen.


To instruct Moses in how to build the sanctuary, God showed him a pattern already existing.

What was that pattern?

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Hebrews 8:4,5

For if [Jesus] were on earth, He should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: who serve to the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle.

For He said, «See that you make all things according to the pattern showed to you in the mount.»


The earthly sanctuary was thus the copy and shadow of a sanctuary located in heaven: the heavenly sanctuary.

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In his vision of heaven, John recognized the earthly sanctuary’s furnishings:

«I saw seven golden candlesticks.» (Revelation 1:12)

«There were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne.» (Revelation 4:5)

«Another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints on the golden altar.» (Revelation 8:3)

«And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament.» (Revelation 11:19)

«I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened.» (Revelation 15:5)

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John 1:29

The next day John saw Jesus coming to him, and said,

«Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.»


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.

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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.


At His ascension 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)

«This 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, Jesus makes intercession for us.

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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.


The Word of God says that the heavenly sanctuary will also have to be purified, 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 about the 2300 days, which will be the subject of a future lesson.

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Let us thank God for His presence among us:

Our Father,

In times past, You asked men to sacrifice innocent animals, not because You are a cruel and bloodthirsty God, but because You wanted people to realize the horror of sin, and because of 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 12 is waiting for you!

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