There are few subjects more important than that of the sanctuary. In it is contained the gospel in embryo. And as it is gradually unfolded in types and ceremonies, a clearer view is had of what was done on Calvary as well as of the work now going on in the sanctuary above. Ponder well the following statement:
"The subject of the sanctuary and the investigative judgment should be clearly understood by the people of God. All need a knowledge for themselves of the position and work of their great High Priest. Otherwise, it will be impossible for them to exercise the faith which is essential at this time, or to occupy the position which God designs them to fill. Every individual has a soul to save or to lose. Each has a case pending at the bar of God. Each must meet the great Judge face to face. How important, then, that every mind contemplate often the solemn scene when the judgment shall sit and the books shall be opened, when, with Daniel, every individual must stand in his lot, at the end of the days."—"The Great Controversy," p. 488.
Furthermore, it is stated: "It is of the utmost importance that all should thoroughly investigate these subjects and be able to give an answer to everyone that asketh them a reason of the hope that is within them."—Id., pp. 488, 489. It is with this object in view that the table of sacrifices, appearing in the center spread of this issue, has been prepared. This work has been done at the expenditure of much effort and study by one of the students of the Theological Seminary, and is here presented for the benefit of all. It might be said in passing that all students in the sanctuary class prepare such a chart, and that they find it of much worth in all subsequent study.
There may be those who "know all about the sanctuary" and hence will not be interested in the chart. But there are others who are still desirous and able to learn, and it is to such that we are addressing ourselves. Read again the foregoing inspired statements on the importance of being thoroughly conversant with the sanctuary question, and you will see why we need not make any excuse for calling attention to this subject.
A study of the sanctuary must be grounded in an understanding of the sacrificial system. Not that it is important in itself to understand the difference between this and that kind of offering, but if this difference is illustrative of the all-comprehensive work which Christ is now doing, if it gives a better perception of the plan of salvation, and if it is given for that purpose, then it becomes important. We are assured that it is for this reason that the Bible devotes pages, yes, whole books, to the subject of the sacrificial offerings. The uninformed novice will not be interested in burnt offerings and offerings for sins and trespasses. He will not care to know the disposition of the blood in the different cases, and it is immaterial to him whether the flesh was eaten by the priest or burned without the camp. To him the blood means very little, for he does not see in it a clear symbol and object lesson of the precious blood of Christ. But to the student of the truth for this time, to those who are ministering in sacred things and who belong to a people whose great contribution to Biblical knowledge is an understanding of the work of Christ in the sanctuary above, the subject will be of absorbing interest.
The Chief Lesson Intended
The chief lesson which God intended to convey to Israel through the sacrificial system was that sin meant death. That lesson was stamped on every sacrifice that had to do with sin, and it met the sinner at every turn. And doubtless that lesson was needed then as it is needed now. Men think too lightly of sin. "It is only a little matter, only a slight fault," we are likely to reason. But even the smallest sin demanded a sacrifice; in fact, most of the sin offerings were for things done "unwittingly" or in ignorance, things that the sinner did not know were sin at the time they were done. Note the different cases mentioned in Leviticus 4. We are therefore safe in concluding that God intended to teach Israel that they could not with impunity transgress the law of God, and that every transgression demanded a ceremony of expiation. Sin, however small, demanded the giving of life. This is an important lesson for all to learn. Thoroughly learned, it should cause greater carefulness in small matters.
The interested student will learn much from the accompanying chart. He will carefully study the ritual of the burnt offering. He will learn that this is the most representative of all offerings, and that the sacrifice offered morning and evening in the temple was a burnt offering. He will learn that it stood for complete consecration and dedication, that its blood was not carried into the sanctuary as was the blood of some of the other offerings, but was sprinkled "round about" upon the altar of burnt offering, and that the carcass was burned wholly on the altar for a sweet savor unto God.
He will want to know—and he will study until he finds out—why all this was done. He will carefully read the first chapter of Leviticus and will there learn precious lessons of dedication to God.
Perhaps the student will wish to spend most of his time on the sin offerings. If he does, he will find a rich field, and will be amply repaid. There are veins of truth which will reveal sin to him as he has never seen it before, but which will also reveal to him a Saviour who will appear more precious than ever. Leviticus 4, 5, 6, deals especially with sin and trespass offerings. As the student reads these chapters, he will note that a difference is made between the sin of a priest and that of a common man. While the blood of the sin offering for a common man is sprinkled on the altar of burnt offering outside the tabernacle, the 'blood of the priest's offering is carried into the sanctuary. This shows that such transgression comes much nearer to God and is considered more serious. This does not mean that God thinks lightly of sin when it is committed by a common man, but it does mean that sin is much more abhorrent in the sight of God when it is committed by one to whom precious light has been communicated.
The observant student will note carefully the principles laid down in Leviticus 6:25-30. He will note that, according to verses 26 and 3o, there were times when the sin offering was eaten by the priests, and there were times when it was not eaten, and that the difference lay in whether the blood was carried into the sanctuary or sprinkled on the altar outside. He will note that when the blood was carried into the sanctuary and there sprinkled, the flesh was not eaten, but that in cases in which the blood was not carried into the sanctuary, the flesh was eaten by the priest, who thus took the sins upon himself and carried them in his own body. (Lev. 1o:17, 18.) And he will not rest content until he has clearly perceived the significance of this.
The student will note that the blood of the sin offering was not sprinkled "round about" upon the altar as in the case of the burnt offering, but was placed on the horns of the altar, there to remain as a record, according to Jeremiah 17 He will also note carefully what was done to the blood when it was carried into the sanctuary in the first two cases mentioned in Leviticus 4. He will be especially interested in the fact that the only sins provided for were sins done in ignorance, and that presumptuous sins, or sins done "with a high hand"—knowing, willing sins—were not contemplated. Not until he comes to the trespass offerings are there any indications that willful sins are considered, and then only certain kinds are provided for. Having noticed this, he will wish to study more into this interesting phase of the subject.
As the student goes deeper into the subject, he will want to know how sins were provided for in the sacrificial service when they were done knowingly and willfully. This will lead him eventually to a consideration of the Day of Atonement, and of the special expiatory services on that day. He will want to know how the regular morning and evening services were conducted on that day. He will want to know how many animals were used in all on the Day of Atonement, and he will carefully assign each its place. New and fresh views of truth will come to him as he contemplates the work of the high priest, and compares or contrasts that with the work done on Calvary and in the sanctuary above. He will then know that there is a reason for the Lord's having had recorded minutely all the details of the ministration here on earth. And he will also begin to understand the statement of the Spirit of prophecy that unless the ministry study these things, "it will be impossible for them to exercise the faith which is essential at this time, or to occupy the position which God designs them to fill."
The accompanying chart will not explain everything, but it will lead the interested student into fruitful fields of research. It will open new avenues and new vistas, which the student may enter if he so desires. We are persuaded that there are mines of truth of which we have only perceived a little, and that diligent research will pay large dividends.
New Testament Application
Having finished his work in the Old Testament, the student will not rest satisfied. He will want to make excursions into the New Testament field, and will find the complementary field in the book of Hebrews. In the author of that book, he will find a man deeply versed in the knowledge of the Old Testament and in the application of Old Testament types to New Testament conditions. With Paul, he will leave behind the more obvious of the teachings of the faith as applied to and intended for the immature, and will go on to some of the deeper things of God, to what the apostle calls "strong meat." (Heb. 5:12 to 6:3.) He will plunge into the subject of the sanctuary as considered from the viewpoint of the gospel, and he will find that his former study will stand him in good stead. Indeed, he will find that it will not be possible for him to follow the apostle or understand his arguments unless he is well versed in the teachings of Leviticus.
It may safely be said that there is no more profound study than that of the book of Hebrews. It was written to prepare the people of God in the time of the apostles for the transfer of their affections from the temple on earth to the temple in heaven. The people loved the temple. Around it the worship of Israel had centered for centuries. Here God had revealed Himself, here the sacred ark had had its resting place, here the white-robed priests ministered in behalf of God and men. But soon the whole service would cease. The temple would be broken down, there would not remain one stone upon another, and God's people would be scattered to the ends of the earth. Even the early Christian believers were bound to the temple with bands not easily severed. What would happen to them when the temple was no more? Would their faith by that time be anchored within the veil in the sanctuary above, and would they know of a surety that they had a minister in the heavenly sanctuary who would carry on the work though all things earthly decay? The Christians had accepted Christ as their King and prophet. Would they also accept Him as their priest? Did they know that there was a sanctuary in heaven, and that Christ was there ministering as their Advocate?
It is doubtful that the average Jew had any clear perception of a temple in heaven. He was perfectly satisfied with the temple on earth. And if he had a perception of a heavenly sanctuary, had he any clear knowledge that the priesthood on earth was only a type of a higher service in heaven? May we carry the question farther, and ask if the average Christian of that day had this clearly in mind? We have reason to doubt that he had. It was to meet such conditions that the book of Hebrews was written. It must be made very plain to the church that Christ had become the anointed of God, that His death on Calvary was part of the plan of God for the salvation of the world, and that as the lamb was slain in the temple service, so Christ as the Lamb of God was slain on Calvary. This explained the death of Christ, which was a stumbling block to so many of the Jews. When they understood that Christ was the Lamb of God, they could understand why it was necessary for Him to die. Their sacrificial service explained this.
But an explanation of the death of Christ was not sufficient. Why had He gone away, and when would He come back again? This also needed amplification. And again the type gave the necessary explanation. Christ was the Passover lamb. But it was well known to every Jew that the death of the Passover lamb was not sufficient. There must be an application of the blood. After the lamb was slain, the blood must be smeared on the doorpost. Let it be repeated: The death of the lamb was not enough. The blood must be applied. The apostle would not need to argue this with any Jew. He knew it to be the truth. It were well if Christians knew as much.
Having arrived at this point, it would be easy for the apostle to show that it was necessary for Christ not merely to die, but also to make an application of the blood. How did the priests make this application in the sanctuary on earth? The Jew knew the answer to this question also. In the ordinary services the priest took the blood and disappeared from the sight of the people into the sanctuary. There he ministered the blood, and only when the ministration was ended did he again appear. On the Day of Atonement the high priest did the same, only at that time he went into the innermost part and ministered the blood before the mercy seat.
So likewise Christ must do with His blood.