Larger font
Smaller font
Looking Unto Jesus - Contents
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font


    A BRIEF survey of the earthly sanctuary has now been made. As finally embodied in the temples of Solomon, Zerubbabel, and Herod, its history has been followed to A.D.70, when it finally disappeared from the earth. No other object but these does the Bible recognize as the sanctuary for the long period from Moses to Christ. This was to the Jewish people the outward symbol of the Lord’s dwelling-place among them. But simply having the Lord with them, shrined in his sanctuary, was not enough. They still needed to know how they might acceptably draw near to him. To this end a ritual of sacrifices and offerings was ordained. For the offerings, they used five kinds of animals: bullocks, goats, sheep, turtle-doves, and pigeons; and the chief offerings included sin-offerings, trespass-offerings, burnt offerings, meat- and drink-offerings, and peace-offerings. The fact that sacrifices must have been of divine appointment has already been referred to. This is evident because the important rite appears as an established usage in the family of Adam, without any account of its introduction; and the idea of presenting an innocent victim to atone for sin could neither have originated in the minds of men, nor have been acceptable to God, and connected with his worship, had it been a human invention. Previous to Moses’s time, the burnt offering seems to be the one that had been generally used. No mention is found of any other kind, except that of Cain’s, which was rejected because it lacked the element of blood, and therefore could not alone typify the coming Redeemer. But under the Jewish economy the sacrificial system was enlarged and perfected. Especially was the sin-offering now introduced, which became one of the most prominent and important offerings of the whole service. Surrounding the tabernacle was a court, one hundred by fifty cubits. Its longer dimension was in the direction of east and west, with its door of thirty cubits closed by curtains opening to the east. In the western half of this court stood the tabernacle already described. In the eastern half, a space of fifty cubits square, stood the laver and great brazen altar of sacrifice, near the door of the tabernacle. To this point all the people had access. It was the nearest object to them as they entered the court. Into the first apartment of the sanctuary, only the priests could enter and into the holy of holies, only the high priest, and he but once a year. But all could bring their offerings to the brazen altar in the court. This was, therefore, emphatically, the meeting place between God and the people. On it were offered the whole burnt offerings, and all the parts of other animal sacrifices which were offered to the Lord. Sin-offerings were burned without the camp.LUJ 86.1

    Among the different kinds of offerings were (1) the national, or those offered in behalf of the whole nation; (2) the official, or those by the priests and rulers purely as officials; and (3) the personal, or those presented for individuals. the priesthood was the Aaronic, or Levitical, the tribe of Levi having been set apart for this work. The high-priesthood was at first confined to the family of Aaron. The national offerings embraced the serial, festal, and occasional extraordinary offerings. The serial offerings embraced the daily ministration in the sanctuary, and consisted of the regular morning and evening burnt offering (Exodus 29:38-43), the burning of sweet incense on the golden altar of incense every morning when the high priest dressed the lamps, and every evening when he lighted them (Exodus 30); the additional work appointed for the Sabbaths of the Lord; and the annual sabbaths, new moons, and feasts. Numbers 28, 29. The official offerings are sufficiently indicated by their names. But that part of the service devoted to individual offerings was the larger and more important part of the ministration, and in accordance with the scope of this work demands more particular consideration.LUJ 87.1

    The ministration in behalf of individual sinners, consisted of several impressive and solemn stages. Chief among these were the following: When a person had sinned, he procured for himself such a victim as the law prescribed, which was to be put to death in his stead. This victim he brought to the priest, to the door of the tabernacle. He then laid his hand upon the head of the victim, and confessed over him his sin. The offerer, by presenting himself and his victim before the priest, performed a solemn religious act:-LUJ 88.1

    “To come to the altar was to come to the Lord; to come with a willing and obedient mind, fulfilling the conditions of the law, was to ask for a share in the promises thereto attached. Next came the imposition of the hand. The victim having been solemnly presented, the offerer forcibly laid his hand upon its head; his hand, whoever he might be, priest or laymen, king or elder. The act was a dedication of the victim to the purpose for which it was brought.” 1CaveLUJ 88.2

    “It is impossible to separate in any case the imposition of hands on the head of the victim, from the expression and transference of guilt. The specific service the blood had to render in all the sacrifices was to be an atonement for the sinner’s guilt upon the altar; and the imposition of the offerer’s hands was the expression of his desire, through the offering, to find deliverance from the burden of his iniquity, and acceptance with God. We learn from Jewish sources that the imposition of hands was always accompanied with confession of sin. And in the only explanation which Moses himself has given of the meaning of the rite, - as connected with the service of the day of atonement, - it is represented as being accompanied not only with confession of sin, but also with the transference of its guilt to the body of the victim: ‘Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat.’” 1Patrick Fairbairn, D.D.LUJ 88.3

    By the act of placing the hands on the offering, and making confession, the sin of the penitent was considered as transferred to the victim; and the remainder of the ceremony was performed on that supposition:-LUJ 89.1

    “The solemn rite of imposition could mean nothing if it did not mean the transfer of the offerer’s guilt to a substituted victim. The sacrifices, then, continually kept before the minds of the people the necessity of expiation, and the only way in which it could be wrought, - by the sacrifice of life for life.” 2J.A. Alexander, D.D.LUJ 89.2

    This idea of the transfer of the guilt of sin to the victim which was then to be treated as the sinner, should be carefully noted. As Mr. Alexander says, If the ceremony did not mean that, it meant nothing. This supposition lay at the foundation of the whole sanctuary service; and if nothing of this kind was intended, the whole ministration was a farce. After thus confessing his sin and transferring it to the offering, it remained that the animal be slain on account of that imputed sin. This the sinner did with his own hand, thus making the most striking confession possible in his case that he was worthy of death. The work now passed to the priest. He took the blood, and in case of the sin-offering, which was the first one in the order of offerings to be presented by the sinner, he bore the blood into the sanctuary, and approaching as near to the ark containing the law as it was possible for him to do in the daily ministration, that is to the vail which divided the holy from the most holy place, he sprinkled of that blood seven times before the vail. As the blood is the life (Leviticus 17:11), and in that life was the guilt, the presence of the blood in the sanctuary was evidence that the life had been taken, and that in that blood the sin had been lodged in the sanctuary itself. It was not the case that the blood of all the different offerings was thus borne within the building of the sanctuary, but those which were so treated, stood as representatives of the whole. But in every case the priest had a ministry to perform with the blood. The receptacle of the blood he took into his own hands, and whatever he did with it, whether he bore it into the sanctuary and sprinkled it before the vail, or whether he sprinkled it on the altar of burnt offering, or put it upon the horns of the altar, or poured it into the dust at the foot of the altar, it was all equally an evidence that the sins of the offerers had passed from themselves into the custody of the ministration connected with the sanctuary, and were thus lodged in the sanctuary itself.LUJ 89.3

    In this manner the service went forward through the year. Day after day, week after week, month after month, we behold this round of service performed, the victims coming in solemn procession to the sanctuary, the work of confession going on, the crimson tide of expiation flowing, and the solemn-visaged priests in ceaseless service sprinkling this token of forfeited life before the broken law. There was thus a continual transfer of sins from the people to the offerings and through them to the sanctuary, through the year. What became of these sins? Perhaps the queries may arise, Why need anything further be done with them? Why was not this sufficient to dispose of them? Was not the sinner forgiven? and was not that all that was required? Is it not said that the priest should take the offering of the sinner, and with it make an atonement for his soul? - True, so far as the individual sinner was concerned, his sin was atoned for, as an individual, by the offering brought to the priest. But, as has been shown, that was not the destruction of the sin. The sinner was pardoned because the sin was taken from him. But it went to the offering, and then to the sanctuary; and hence some further action in reference to it was necessary. Sins could not be allowed to accumulate in the sanctuary forever. Hence the question becomes an interesting and important one. What disposition was finally made of these sins, and what became of them? A search for the answer to this question brings us to the second great division of the sanctuary work, which was-LUJ 90.1

    The Cleansing of the Sanctuary. - To this division of the ministration, one day in the year was devoted. It was the tenth day of the seventh month, and was the crowning day of the yearly service. It was called the day of atonement, because it was the great day of expiation. On this day, in contrast with the individual atonements of the year, a general atonement was made for all the people. It was a day of unusual solemnities. Its object was to take away sins from the people and from the sanctuary. It had to do with all the people; for all were to afflict their souls, and whosoever would not afflict his soul on that day, was to be cut off from among his people. Leviticus 23:27, 29. the ministrations of this day thus, in a certain sense, called up all the sins of all the people for the preceding year, for final adjudication. And to this, doubtless, Paul refers when he says: “But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.” Hebrews 10:3. The daily ministration, already examined, was the means by which sins were borne into the sanctuary; the day of atonement reversed the process, and shows us the means by which they were borne out.LUJ 91.1

    The principal feature of the service of this day was the ministry in the second apartment, or most holy place, of the sanctuary. This apartment, where the ark and the law and the mercy-seat were to be found, and where the Shekinah, or the visible display of God’s presence, was manifested, was so sacred that no man was permitted to enter therein through all the year. Even the high priest himself was forbidden, on pain of death, to enter this place, only on the day of atonement, and then only to perform the solemn service confined thereto. Leviticus 16:2. So Paul says that into the second apartment of the sanctuary, or most holy place, “went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the errors of the people.” Hebrews 9:7. When this work of atonement in the most holy place, with the exercises connected with it, was all accomplished, a complete round of service in the sanctuary had been completed. Then the most holy place was closed again to mortal presence for another year, and the work in the first apartment, or holy place, began again, and went on as before, till the next tenth day of the seventh month, when the sanctuary was again cleansed.LUJ 92.1

    The description of this special or yearly ministration in the most holy place, which constituted the cleansing of the sanctuary, is found in Leviticus 16. the reader is requested to look briefly at some of the principal feature of the scene. Through Moses the Lord gave the following instruction in reference to Aaron, the priest: “Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy-seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy-seat.” Leviticus 16:2. The Lord sometimes met with his people in other places (Exodus 29:42, 43, etc.); but in the earthly tabernacle, the place over the mercy-seat, between the cherubim, may be considered as the place where God generally manifested his presence, and from which he had ordained to commune with them. At all events, he promised to meet the priest there on the great day of atonement.LUJ 92.2

    To come thus into the immediate presence of God, was an act of fearful solemnity, and was not to be performed without suitable preparation, and certainly in no trivial or careless manner. Therefore the priest was to offer a young bullock for a sin-offering, and a ram for a burnt offering, and make atonement for himself and his house. Leviticus 16:6, 11-14. Having thus, so far as that service could go, become free from sin himself, he was prepared to act in the remaining solemn services of that day as mediator between God and the people.LUJ 93.1

    He was then to take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats, and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. Verse 5. One of these goats was to be slain, and his blood ministered in the most holy place; the other was to be the scapegoat. But which of these it should be was not left to Aaron to decide; the Lord determined that by the lot which Aaron was instructed to cast for this purpose. Verse 8. This being decided, he was to slay the goat upon which the lot fell for the Lord, for a sin-offering for the people, and bear his blood within the vail, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy-seat eastward, and before the mercy-seat seven times.LUJ 93.2

    Two special purposes are stated for which this blood was offered: (1) to make an atonement for the transgression of the children of Israel in all their sins; (2) to cleanse, or make atonement for, the holy sanctuary. These vital facts are clearly stated in Leviticus 16:15-22, a portion of which, for the benefit of the reader, is here transcribed:-LUJ 94.1

    VERSE 15. Then shall he kill the goat of the sin-offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy-seat, and before the mercy-seat; 16. And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness. 17. And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel.... 20. And when he hath made an end of the reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat: 21. And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: 22. And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.”LUJ 94.2

    The margin of this last verse reads, instead of “a land not inhabited,” a “land of separation.” This goat was separated from the people. He came no more into the camp. And with him, the sins he bore upon himself were considered as forever separated from the people, to appear no more against them. Tradition has it that this goat was hurled from a precipice, and so dashed in pieces. However this may be, beyond question he in some way miserably perished; and with him also perished the load of guilt he had borne away from Israel. The man who led away the scapegoat was obliged to wash both himself and his clothes with water before returning into the camp. The whole service was calculated to impress the Israelites with the holiness of God and his abhorrence of sin, and to show them that they could have no contact with it without becoming greatly defiled.LUJ 94.3

    With the sending away of the goat, the people were free from the effect of those sins to which the atonement related. Till then, they were not. For every man was to afflict his soul while the work of atonement was going forward; and whoever refused to do this, was to be cut off from among the people. Leviticus 23:29, 30.LUJ 95.1

    “And this shall be a statute forever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you: for on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord.” “And he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation. And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as the Lord commanded Moses.”LUJ 95.2

    The view of the subject here presented suggests some pertinent thoughts relative to the subject of the forgiveness and remission of sin. The acceptance of a substitute for the sinner was not for the purpose of making in the body of that substitute an end of the punishment due to the transgressor’s sin, but simply to provide a channel through which to remove the guilt from the sinner. The pouring out of the blood of that victim was not to cancel the sin, in itself considered, but only as its guilt attached to the transgressor, and to provide a means of its transfer to still some other object or party. Through the blood of the victim, the sin was transferred to the sanctuary. So far, the sinner’s work was an acknowledgment to the law, through blood, of his guilt, and a desire for pardon through faith in a substitute. And this pardon was thus secured, and his sins were removed, and upon certain conditions would so remain. Guilt was not imputed to him, and would not be so long as he complied with the conditions on which he could remain free. He was relatively or conditionally free. But the law follows sin with the inexorable sentence of death; and man’s only safety is secured in keeping free from its taint, till that end is secured.LUJ 95.3

    On the day of atonement, the priest, taking an offering from the people, appeared with the blood of this general offering for the people, and sprinkled it upon the mercy-seat directly over the law, to make full satisfaction for its claims. Its demands being thus met, the law released its hold of all the sins in the sanctuary, and through them of the sinners from whom they had come. Then the high priest, gathered, as it were, the sins all upon himself and bore them from the sanctuary. Placing his hands upon the head of the scapegoat, he confessed over him all these sins, thus transferring them from himself to the goat. The goat then bore them away, and with him they perished.LUJ 96.1

    Remission means a sending away. Remission of sins is that absolute disposal of them that removes them forever, so that they can no more appear against the sinner. Pardon of sin was secured through the sinner’s offering; remission, only through the atonement. Pardon was conditional; remission, absolute. More will be said on this point under another division of the subject.LUJ 96.2

    The ceremony of sending away the scapegoat on the day of atonement is a demonstration of the fact that sin is considered an entity, a body of darkness and death, abstractly considered; and as such is pursued by the avenging power of the law till it is chased out of existence. If sins were not there, considered as concrete things, and by Aaron’s hands transferred to the head of the scapegoat, and by the goat borne away and lost in the wilderness, the record is fictitious and misleading. But no ordinance of God should be charged with being of such a character.LUJ 97.1

    The question why the offering brought by the sinner under the Mosaic economy, did not sufficiently put away his sin, may be answered from another standpoint, and that is, the words of Paul in Hebrews 10:4: “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” The highest type of sacrifices available under that dispensation, were not sufficient to meet the case. The life of an animal was not equal to the life of a man. By no possibility could it atone for his sins, without degrading man, or degrading the character of God’s government. Not a sin, therefore, was really taken away by all that service. Why, then, was it maintained at the cost of so much blood and labor for the long period of fifteen hundred years? Answer: As a channel through which to manifest faith. That blood could not take away sin; but it could, appropriately to all parties, represent the fact that a better sacrifice had been provided, and was in due time to be revealed to the world; and by using, in the way prescribed, this representative blood, this figure, this type, the sinner could show that he believed in this coming Saviour, and that he laid hold upon his merits by faith as his only hope of salvation from sin. Here was all the merit of the sacrificial system. Without this faith on the part of him who brought his offering, all his efforts were a vain and useless ceremony.LUJ 97.2

    But the time at length came when men could no longer express their faith in this way. The sanctuary and its services were not in themselves an end, and to be perpetual. The more perfect condition which it foreshadowed was in the lapse of ages surely to appear. As already noticed, the sanctuary itself disappeared in A.D.70, and its service virtually came to an end when Christ declared to the Jews, “Behold your house is left unto you desolate,” and when, amid the scenes of the crucifixion, the vail of the temple was rent in twain from top to bottom, exposing the shrine, so long and so sacredly guarded, to the rude and curious gaze of unhallowed men.LUJ 98.1

    It will be in order, therefore, now to extend the inquiry into that field where we are to look for the object of all this arrangement, where we are to find, if anywhere, the meaning of the sanctuary and its services, and learn what took its place, and how, when this had served its purpose and disappeared. Like the bud dilating to the flower, this will all be found in the glorious gospel of the Son of God. While exploring this field, there will be found abundant occasion to refer to the lessons set forth in the old dispensation; but leave should not be taken of that system of worship as a leading object of study, before giving a passing glance at its instructive and magnificent symbolism.LUJ 98.2

    Larger font
    Smaller font