These were our Adventurers who are also students here at Vienna Adventist Academy. I love being with them every Tuesday as I go to each of their classes to talk about Jesus. It’s so much fun spending time with them, because they are so open and eager to learn about Jesus. And if I enjoy being with them on Tuesdays, can you just imagine how much God wants to be with us everyday! Since the beginning, when sin broke our face to face relationship with God, He has longed to be with us. So as the story unfolds in the Old Testament, God decided to give His people something that would daily reveal that He loves us, wants to be with us and saves us by His grace. He gave them the Sanctuary, which later would be the Temple. He said that His name would dwell in the Sanctuary, which means His character of love would be daily revealed there. This is beautifully captured in Exodus 25:8 when He tells Moses, “…let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” Then through it’s daily and yearly sacrificial services, the Sanctuary was literally a vivid illustration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; continually telling the story of how Jesus saves us by grace through faith.
In essence, the Courtyard, where the blood of all the sacrifices were offered, was daily pointing you to the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice, which justified you by grace, thus making you right with God. This is the secure basis for your salvation. The blood of sacrifices was also applied to the next two compartments of the Sanctuary, revealing that at every stage of your growth in Christ, His atoning blood covers you, giving you complete assurance of salvation! The second compartment was the Holy Place, which showed what our lives need to daily grow in Christ, which is the word, prayer and the indwelling Holy Spirit. The third compartment was the Most Holy Place where the ark of the covenant was, carrying in it God’s Law of Love, which He daily writes on our hearts through the Holy Spirit and the mercy seat above which the presence of God dwelt. Thus, from start to finish, Jesus shows us the journey He takes us on to restore us back to the presence and image of the Father, who longs to be with us. Yet, the Sanctuary was also significant because it revealed the redemptive work of Jesus in history through prophetic time.
The longest time prophecy given in Scripture, which we are very familiar with in our history as a movement, is centrally focused on Jesus and ultimately His work in the Heavenly Sanctuary, of which the earthly sanctuary and temple was just a small copy. So in the spirit of our current series on the “End Times”, this 2300 year prophecy was given to Daniel as a message of hope, initially for the Jewish exiles who would soon return to rebuild Jerusalem, including a new Temple. This would begin in the year 457 BC as a period of grace until 483 years later the Messiah would appear to be baptized and anointed by the Holy Spirit, as this prophecy pinpoints in the year 27 AD. Jesus would then begin His Kingdom movement as Messiah and do His “Courtyard” work, until 3 1/2 years later in 31 AD He would be “cut off” on the cross for our salvation and then rise again on the 3rd day. Jesus would then ascend to heaven to begin His work as our representative and High Priest in the Holy Place of the Heavenly Sanctuary. This Gospel of Jesus Christ would then be preached by the followers of Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit, initially to the Jews. Yet tragically, 3 1/2 years later in 34 AD, at the stoning of Stephen, the Jews as a nation would officially reject Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah and the Gospel would then go to the nations of the world. This work would continue until 1844 AD, in which Jesus’ High Priestly ministry of grace would take on a new and final phase in the Most Holy Place, which we are still living under today, until His soon return. This is the last time prophecy in Scripture, which removes all speculation for time setting on Jesus return. All we know is next is the soon return of our Savior. I share all of this with you so you can know that the Temple and all that it taught about God’s faithful love revealed in Jesus, was a big deal for God’s people in the Bible and was designed to keep them continually focused on Jesus!
It should have helped them recognize Him when He came as John describes in John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory…” When John says that Jesus “dwelt among us” in the original language it means He “tabernacled” with us, like God did in the wilderness sanctuary. God has now come in the flesh, as a human, so He can be with us and reveal His glory to us. And as Jesus began His ministry, guess where He decided to go? The Temple. The very place that was to keep His people focused on Him. When He sadly discovers that they had lost sight of Him, He does something so startling, that we’ll soon see He does again, and then describes Himself as the Temple, which if they destroy it, He would raise it up again, referring to His death and resurrection! Watch this, then He starts His ministry as a One Man, mobile temple, doing the work of forgiving sins, teaching the Scriptures and healing, all of which the Jews expected from the Temple! Then as He concludes His earthly ministry, 3 and a half years later, on the Monday of the final week before His crucifixion, He returns to the Temple. As He walks in, where do you think the focus was being placed? What did He see?
Today, the Bible teaches us that their is no longer a need for an earthly Temple ministry in light of what Jesus has accomplished for us and His continued ministry in the true Temple in Heaven. However, the Bible is also clear that we, individually and collectively, are the temple where the Holy Spirit dwells. So I ask you, should Jesus personally show up in our lives, homes and worship today what would He find? Would He find us focused on Him? And What happens if we’re not focused on Him? Let’s find out in Matthew 21:12-17.