The True Sanctuary

(Part 6 of the Cleansing of the Sanctuary Series)

This verse strongly suggests that there is one sanctuary in particular that heaven is especially concerned about:

“A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” (Heb 8:2)

This verse seems to equate sanctuary and tabernacle. Jesus is a minister in one place not two. “The true tabernacle” implies that there is only one tabernacle and any other “tabernacles” are not true.  We saw that there is actually very little in scripture about a physical temple or sanctuary in heaven (see part 4 The Heavenly Sanctuary). It is also possible that the two terms are distinct in that Jesus is a minister of the sanctuary in the sense of ministering in behalf of the sanctuary (function) while, at the same time, he is a minister of the true tabernacle in the sense of ministering in the location of the true tabernacle (location).

This could make sense as it seems almost silly to say that He ministers in the sanctuary of the mind of man which man did not pitch – of course man did not make himself!

Note that I do believe there is a physical place called heaven which is basically God’s dwelling place, His throne room. We know very little about it and are not given much physical description. It would be where the meetings in Job occurred:

“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.” (Job 1:6, also Job 2:1)

We could call it the headquarters of the universe but does it correspond to the sanctuary Moses built in the wilderness or is the true tabernacle/sanctuary referred to in Hebrews 8:2 something else? Scripture actually has much to say about a sanctuary we have not yet looked at.

Location of the True Sanctuary

“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” (Isa 57:15)

We need to look carefully at that. It is describing where God lives in terms of time: “eternity” meaning no beginning or end. Also, in terms of location: “the high and holy place.” But note that “place” is a supplied word so the location He inhabits could be a physical location or a person as suggested by the next phrase – “with him also that is of a contrite.” All those eight words are from the one word “dakka” (Strong’s H1793) meaning “contrite.” The word “also,” in some versions, is “even;” so not indicating two distinct places. Here is an interesting translation:

“The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.” (Isa 57:15, NLT)

We could have something like:

“I dwell in the high and holy, contrite and humble spirit,”

So He dwells with those (persons) having certain characteristics; for what purpose?

“to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”

Here is a passage that reinforces this idea:

“Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” (Isa 66:1-2)

The LORD here asks a question and provides the answer. The question is where is His place of rest, His house? The answer is that He will look to him that is of a contrite spirit matching Isaiah 57:15 quoted above.

To “restore” and “revive” is starting to sound like a work of cleansing a sanctuary (place to dwell). Does “revive the heart” sound kind of like:

“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;” (Eph 4:23) ?

Here is an interesting transition going from Old Testament to New Testament:

“And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. 12  And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.” (Lev 26:11-12)

“And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (2 Cor 6:16)

While 2 Corinthians is quoting Leviticus, it changes the picture from dwelling “among” to dwelling “in.” It is not speaking of dwelling in a structure such as a building but in people. Is there evidence in scripture of God dwelling in or wanting to dwell in people?

Ye are the Temple

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (1 Cor 3:16-17)

Some notes about that passage:

  • How God destroys needs to be correctly understood.
  • The last use of “temple” in verse 17 is supplied so “which ye are” could refer to “holy” although Paul was writing to the Corinthians who seemed to have their problems.
  • The words “defile” and “destroy” in that passage are from the same Greek word which is translated as “destroy” only in this instance. All other cases are “corrupt” or some variation. The meaning could be if any man defiles his earthly temple, he is defiling himself (and God, honoring man’s free will, allows it – the consequences).

Here are two passages that, when compared, further establish the connection:

“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.” (Heb 9:11-12)

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Cor 5:1)

A Prophecy of Building the True Sanctuary

“And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD:  Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” (Zech 6:12-13)

Jesus is “the Branch,” who “will branch out from his place” in heaven in order to “build the temple of the LORD” which obviously did not already exist or He wouldn’t have had to build it. As there was a temple (the second temple) in existence when Zechariah wrote (about 500 years before Christ) the prophecy could not be referring to that. It was also not referring to a temple in heaven as He was leaving heaven to build it.

So this prophecy was about bringing forth the BRANCH:

“Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.” (Zech 3:8)

Who would “grow up” (as in Zech 6:12):

“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” (Isa 53:2)

And build the house:

“For this man [Christ Jesus] was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house (Heb 3:3)

Which is directly referred to as not a physical structure but one built of people:

“But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” (Heb 3:6)

“For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” (1 Cor 3:9)

We are Each a Temple

There are many verses that say or suggest that the temple/sanctuary referred to is ourselves. God wants to dwell in us through His Spirit:

“He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” (John 6:56)

“Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” (John 14:17)

“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.  And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (Rom 8:9-11)

“For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” (1 Cor 3:9)

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1 Cor 6:19)

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20)

“And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Eph 2:20-22)

“That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.” (2 Tim 1:14)

“But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” (Heb 3:6)

“Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.” (2 Pet 1:13-14)

Was Peter in a tent? No, he was referring to the “tabernacle” of his body.

“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet 2:5)

“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?” (1 Pet 4:17)

“No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:12)

“Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:15-16)

“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.” (Rev 3:12)

“Go no more out”? What? – Never leave? Will the saved be restricted to a temple, a building for eternity? – No, the temple is built of living beings. Where they are, the temple is present.

The Focus of God’s Work of Cleansing

There are plenty of verses indicating that God’s people themselves are the temple He is most concerned about. He wants us to be cleansed so that He can dwell within each one of us. Here is one commentator’s comparison of Jesus cleansing the temple during His ministry on earth to the cleansing of His people:

“In the cleansing of the temple, Jesus was announcing His mission as the Messiah, and entering upon His work. That temple, erected for the abode of the divine Presence, was designed to be an object lesson for Israel and for the world. From eternal ages it was God’s purpose that every created being, from the bright and holy seraph to man, should be a temple for the indwelling of the Creator. Because of sin, humanity ceased to be a temple for God. … In cleansing the temple from the world’s buyers and sellers, Jesus announced His mission to cleanse the heart from the defilement of sin …” (The Desire of Ages, 161)

But does Him dwelling in us refer to our body in general or a specific part thereof? How can He dwell in us?

This is Part 6 of the Cleansing of the Sanctuary Series

Return to Daniel 8:14 (the master page of the series) to continue

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