cleansing the Sinner:
The Tabernacle pt 4
“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16 NKJV). We have been identified by God as His own Sanctuaries. Paul mentions this idea again, in 1 Corinthians 6:19.
If we are a fulfillment of the Old Testament Sanctuary—fine. But what does it mean for me on a practical level? What can and should I take from this astonishing idea?
Let’s start at the bronze altar.
Jesus’ sacrifice alone saves me. That work is done, but I must accept it. When I accept His sacrifice, I am forgiven and free from the condemnation that I justly deserve. This work of forgiveness happens at the cross, symbolized by the bronze altar, where the lamb was sacrificed.
Then I go to the laver. I am baptized by water. I am immersed in the waters and cleansed. I figuratively am dying with Christ and leaving behind my old sinful self in the grave and becoming a new creation (Romans 6).
Then I enter the Sanctuary itself. When Christ is in me, I have the Light of the world shining forth from my heart. Jesus said that we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). We can’t help but reveal Jesus to the world. This is symbolized by the Menorah. When I look at the Table of Showbread, I see the presence of Christ in my life. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life" (John 6:35). I, thus, “eat His flesh” (John 6:54), which means that I abide in Him. I read His Word, I pray, and I continually accept His grace. As I do these things, Christ abides in me and I abide in Him. My prayers are the golden altar of incense. Christ mingles His blood with my prayers as they ascend to the throne of God. This means that my prayers will be heard because of the power and presence of Christ (Revelation 5:8).
King of My Heart
In the Most Holy Place of my life, I find my greatest fulfillment. Through Jesus, I have direct access to God’s throne, and I put Him on the throne of my heart. The Ark of the Covenant was the throne or mercy seat of the Shekinah glory. God’s actual dwelling place, or home, was in the Most Holy Place. When I surrender my life entirely to God, I am letting Him sit upon the throne of my life. Not only is He my High Priest, but He is also my King, and my Lord, who guides me through my life. I become a dwelling place of the Shekinah, or light of Heaven. "...God lives in us and His love is made complete in us" (Read 1 John 4).
Inside of God’s throne are three things that find expression in my life.
First, there was the law of God. With God as the King of my heart, and as I submit to His authority, it becomes a natural thing to keep His law. In the Old Testament Tabernacle, the law in the Ark was the Ten Commandments. These tablets of stone were an expression of the character of God. 1 John 4 tells us what God's character is, "God is love." Therefore, we see that these commandments are an expression of love. Jesus sums them up in the two great laws: Love God with all that you are, and love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:29-31). Out of God's character flows God's great law which is LOVE! All the other laws that are given in the Bible are examples, descriptions, and evidence of that single greatest law. This love becomes a joy, not a burden. The longer I abide with Christ and surrender to Him, I am transformed into the image of Christ. I surrender the precious things in my life to Him, and I give Him praise for the work that He has done and will do in and for me.
The second thing that was in the Ark of the Covenant is Aaron’s rod that budded, which shows that he was the High Priest of Israel. When I make Christ the High Priest of my heart to sit on the throne of my heart and work within me to change me, He leads me by the hand. Revelation 1:6 says that Jesus has made us kings and priests. According to 1 Peter 2:9, we have been given a royal priesthood. Our priesthood is to join hands with God in the divine work of transformation.
Left to ourselves, we can do nothing; but, in Christ, we can do all things! (Philippians 4:13). Our first job is to accept Christ’s gift and surrender our will to Him. Christ then purifies our will and afterward gives it back to us, but with a divine connection to God. As we maintain that connection with God, and continually abide and surrender to Him, we are given the gift of working in coordination with our divine High Priest in order to experience transformation and growth. Paul says that we will work out our own salvation as God works in us (Philippians 2:12, 13).
The third thing in the Ark was manna from heaven. As priests with Christ, we are taught to reflect the image of Christ. As Christ is the Bread of Life, we look to His life in order to have our characters remade into His image (2 Corinthians 3:18). The Holy Spirit partners with Jesus, and us, in order to redefine morality, holiness, righteousness, and love in our hearts and minds according to God’s understanding of these truths. The manna in the Ark is the gift of Christ’s grace in our life, which has saved us and, continually, sustains us. It is through faith that we partake of this Bread. It’s a symbol of just how dependent we are upon God for life, for existence, and for salvation.
All this (and there’s more) is what it means for me to be a fulfillment of the Old Testament Sanctuary.