Part 1: How Can YOU Be God’s Sanctuary?
by Stephanie H.
“And let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them.” ~Exodus 25:8
Oh, the dear Old Testament. It can be so easy for me to learn only the “usual” lessons from the Old Testament, especially the books of the Law, and reserve my real growth for Psalms, the Prophets, and mainly the New Testament. Usually, if I think about Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, I may remember a few stories that take place in there, an a lot of grief between God and the Israelites, but I most often approach these books as being full of things to learn that I no longer need to worry about, since I am under the blood of Jesus. I am an avowed student of knowledge, so it fascinates me to know that the Israelites were not to seek to model heathen cultures who would wear cloth made from plant fibers, and from animal skin, while wearing pins of precious stone, in order to worship nature by representing animal, vegetable, and mineral in their garments. Fascinating! I devour that kind of knowledge on a regular basis, but I know the Lord does not require me to be picky about what blend of wool, cotton, or polyester my t-shirts are. I love to study the books of the Law, but sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with the information once I have it.
Enter the book of Hebrews. This letter is written to the Christians who have been worshiping God since their ancestors left Egypt, over fifteen hundred years before this letter was penned. Jesus had only come, at most, a few decades ago. Can you imagine? Now all of these lifelong believers need to know: what do we do with our faith? How are we to continue in our faith as Jews, but still give our full devotion to Jesus, without neglecting the commands given from God the Father to Abraham, Moses, and the fathers?
With pen in hand, and plenty of notebook paper, I was ready to document all of the contrasts between the old and new covenants. Of course, I was also willing to compare the things that hadn’t passed away, but I honestly wasn’t expecting to be blown away by the straightforwardness of the religion found in the books of the Law.
“And let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them.” ~Exodus 25:8
The Lord did not give His people a building project so that they would stay out of trouble. He also wasn’t involved in intimate relationships with all of His people until He decided they should have to come into His house in order to see Him. God is so pure and holy that if any sin is in the presence of His radiant, blinding, infinite purity, the sinner will die instantly. God never wanted us to be separated from Him like that. The tabernacle He commissioned, and the Law He gave His people were a lot of work, but it would mean they could be near to Him again.
“‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us.'” ~Matthew 1:23
Jesus’ purpose for coming is the same purpose God had from the beginning. Building the tabernacle and the temple were just previous steps to that plan.
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” ~John 1:14
I just love it when the Lord shows me something new in familiar places!
“Jesus therefore answered and said to them, ‘Destroy this temple [or sanctuary], and in three days I will raise it up.’ … But He was speaking of the temple of His body.” ~John 2:19, 21
But wait! There’s more! The writer of Hebrews tells us that the tabernacle is a shadow of what it will be like in Heaven.
“…who serve as a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for ‘See,’ He says, ‘That you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.'” ~Hebrews 8:5
So everything that the Lord told Moses was so that His people would know what it will be like when we are all with Jesus for eternity. So if Heaven is the true sanctuary, and Jesus is now our High Priest, what does that mean for us today?
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” ~1 Peter 2:9
“Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” ~1 Corinthians 3:16
Do you hear that? If you are in Christ, you are a new creation, and that creation is the temple of God! You don’t have to wait for a priest to burn incense before the Lord on your behalf. You are a priestess! Your prayers are set before Him like incense! (Psalm 141:2) You can come into His presence whenever you pray, because the Holy Spirit dwells in you, and Jesus is your High Priest. You are the temple of the Most High.
As I sit here and write, that is enough to baffle me. The fact that God has gone to such great lengths and depths just to dwell with me is astounding. Now what do I do? How do I construct the sanctuary, that God may dwell with me? If we no longer burn incense and offer sacrifices to be near to the Lord, what does a priestess do to prepare for life in Heaven?
I’m so glad we’re asking the same questions.
Prepare the Sanctuary.
“For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place.” ~Hebrews 9:2
Sometimes individual words just stand out to me. What did it mean that the tabernacle was prepared? That means the Israelites had to be expecting something to happen. They were making the sanctuary ready for the purpose it would fill. That purpose was the one God gave them: “Construct a sanctuary, that I may dwell with you.” The Israelites believed, and obeyed. That is the first step in constructing your sanctuary.
Believe, and obey.
God dwelling among us is not a naturally occurring state. Sometimes we expect that we will be stumbling through the desert of life, and that if God is real, we will just trip and fall into an oasis. That is probably why mirages of worldly happiness so often deceive us. True, the Lord does offer more peace and joy than anything in this world. It is like finding a river surrounded by shade palms in the middle of a parched land. But we are priestesses. We play an active role in our relationship with the Lord. Even when the Lord chose to meet Moses by surprise through the burning bush, it was not God’s dwelling place. It was a command, and a promise. Moses believed the Lord and acted accordingly. The tabernacle was not discovered like the burning bush. It was prepared for God to dwell in it among His people. Our relationships with the Lord today are built on the same faith. We come before the Lord, and He will tell us what to do to prepare for His blessing and His work in our lives. We believe, and do as He tells us in His Word, and in prayer, and we grow in our faith when we see that His promises are true. God is infinite, so we will be spending an eternity discovering Him! So prepare yourself, sister. Your walk with the Lord will be a series of preparations to meet with Jesus, and to receive His promises, all in preparation to be with Him forever, just as He promises!
Follow the Plan.
“Then you shall erect the tabernacle according to its plan which you have been shown in the mountain.” ~Exodus 26:30
There was no room for artistic license in building this sanctuary. Not in the architecture, not in the lighting, not in the interior decorating. God still employed the talents of incredible craftsmen and weavers for the building of the tabernacle, and later the temple, but their job was to follow the plan. As God’s temple, it is the same for you and me. We follow Jesus first. He has given us a plan in the Bible, and it is our duty to follow it so that we will be made pure and holy temples that can dwell in His presence. That always means there will be some things we have to give up, even some hobbies that aren’t sinful in themselves, but have become idols in our lives. For me, a big part of my life that had to be removed was my writing. I wanted to be a fantasy novelist. For the most part, I even wanted to use it for the Lord. I had plans to write stories that would show good triumphing over evil, and hoped they would teach good lessons. But God had better plans for me than I had for myself. The more closely I follow His plan for my life, the more He shows me things I had never even thought of before! Not all hobbies will be things He asks us to remove. He let me keep all of my field guides, and He has given me joy in discovering more rare birds than I usually see, but it is something I must still be willing to leave behind if it does not fit with the pattern on the mountain. Many times, we decide who we want to be, and then want to look for ways to adapt our sanctuary to be more like the things we like, but the Lord desires obedience, not sacrifice. A priestess cannot have her own agenda. She is to serve the Lord with her whole heart.
….To Be CONTINUED….