MsDora, former teacher and Christian counselor presents practical Scriptural principles for joyful everyday living.
The reference is to the Old Testament sanctuary, but nothing could be more appropriate for a modern-day Christian devotional than the application of its symbolisms. The purpose for this devotional is the same as was the Israelites’ purpose for the sanctuary – to experience the presence of God.
Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them.
— Exodus 25: 8, NLT
We know that God is always present, but sometimes in the hustle of bustle of everyday living, we become distracted and disconnected. One sure way to reconnect and tighten our bond is engaging in personal devotions.
The Hebrew sanctuary or tabernacle consisted of three parts—the Courtyard, the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place and we symbolically journey through each one.
The Sanctuary (Tabernacle) Layout
For the entrance to the courtyard, make a curtain . . . from finely woven linen, and decorate it with beautiful embroidery in blue, purple, and scarlet thread. (Exodus 27:16)
Anyone could enter the courtyard. Near the entrance was a Bronze Altar on which the people offered their animal sacrifices in atonement for their sins. Today, we offer up our sinful selves and whatever hinders our communion with God, whatever distracts our focus. Our worries, our anxieties about employment and paychecks, our idols of fame and status are all hindrances which we must give up at this altar. Our dependence on ourselves or anyone human must be abandoned here. We want to be free for a spiritually intimate encounter with God.
Between the altar and the door to the Holy Place stood a Brass Laver where the temple priests washed their hands and feet in preparation for their entrance. This is where we seek cleansing of our thoughts, intentions and desires. “No one needs to be told about the things in his own mind of which he would like to be purified, because each person knows his own inner being better than does anyone else.”
The Table of Showbread
The Holy Place
Aaron [the priest] will carry the names of the tribes of Israel on the sacred chestpiece over his heart when he goes into the Holy Place. (Exodus 28:29)
The Holy Place was accessible only to the priests back then, but the rituals became obsolete with the arrival of Jesus the Messiah, who inducted all believers into the priesthood. Thanks to Him, we can all enter.
On the north side, there was a wooden table—the Table of Showbread on which lay twelve loaves of unleavened bread divided into two piles. The bread symbolized God’s presence, His sufficiency and His grace. Its symbolism became actual in Jesus, the Bread of Life. Here we meditate on God’s Omnipresence and His ever present source of supply for all our needs. Not only for food, but also for healing, wisdom, forgiveness, progress, and all that God wants us to have. We realize that our lack is not supplied by begging, but by receiving from God's abundance.
The Golden Candelabra (candlestick or lampstand) stood on the opposite side, across from the table of showbread. It had seven lamps and was the only source of light in the Holy Place. Seven, a symbol of completeness reminds us that in Christ, who is our light, dwells the completeness of the Godhead; and Christ dwelling in us shares the fullness of His illuminating wisdom, power and strength. The oil which continually fueled the light symbolizes the influence of God's Holy Spirit through whom we maintain our spiritual connection. Now we realize that we have the complete force of the Godhead empowering us for whatever God assigns us to do and for whatever struggles we will encounter. With minds illumined by divine grace, we move forward without fear, and watch the darkness around us disappear.
The Golden Altar of Incense
The Golden Altar stood near the entrance to the Most Holy Place, and on it incense burned continually. We have sacrificed and been purified in the outer court. We contemplated the goodness and indwelling power of God in the Holy Place. Here at the golden altar, we allow our praise and worship to rise like incense. We make no requests. We do not take back the burdens we left in the courtyard. We surrender ourselves in lavish praise and thanksgiving. We are grateful for the privilege of close communion with God, and we worship Him with all our heart.
The Ark of the Covenant
The Most Holy Place
Then put the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—on top of the Ark of the Covenant inside the Most Holy Place. (Exodus 26:34)
This was the most sacred spot in the sanctuary and the priests entered there only once a year. In this space was the Ark of the Covenant, a chest including the ten commandments, the description of a godly character. If we have performed our “rites” with sincerity, we realize God’s presence. We rest and we listen. He assures us of His love. We hear Him tell us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light; that He will keep His promise to be our provision and protection; that we need not fear, since He will fight our battles. It is here that we receive understanding about what we read in His Word. It is here that our convictions are deepened. In the Most Holy Place with God, He impresses our hearts with whatever truths we need to increase our faith for the journey. The joy of the Lord becomes our strength, and we are blessed.
No matter what the circumstances are, or how urgently they need our attention, our priority is fellowship with God. A daily visit with Him in the Most Holy Place is one sure way to nurture our relationship with Him.
Commentaries on the Sanctuary
"Because in the wilderness they dwelt in tents, this royal palace was ordered to be a tabernacle, that it might move with them."-- Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary
"Worship means that God is meeting us and drawing us to Himself."-- F. D. Maurice
"All the time that the history of the Jews was going on, the mercy-seat and the cherubim that covered it were still witnessing to the children of Israel that God was in the midst of them. So the words, "There I will meet with thee," stood from generation to generation." -- Ibid.
"When God comes to dwell among us, which can only be by dwelling in us individually, sin goes from us, in its guilt and its predominating power."-- A. Raleigh
© 2012 Dora Weithers
Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 26, 2012:
Thank you. I learned the sanctuary system since childhood, but I had never thought of it this way until I found a reference to it recetnly. I found it really interesting and the devotional really works.
Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on February 24, 2012:
This was so well presented. You must have spent ages in researching and in choosing just the right photos. Voted up.
Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 18, 2012:
Lady-E, glad to show something you wanted to see. Notice the two angels on the top using their wings for a covering. Inside is the tablet on which the ten commandments are written. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.
Elena from London, UK on February 18, 2012:
Thanks for an inspiring Hub. I have often wondered what the ark of the covenant looked like, as I have read about it a few times. Thanks for showing the photo.
Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 09, 2012:
Thanks for your comment, Ann. Learning Bible without being able to apply what we learn can be just another chore. So happy that you made your confession of faith and can make sense of the Bible now. My morning devotional has the same effect on me as yours have on you. Let's not leave home without it.
Eve on February 08, 2012:
Just reading it leaves me feeling inspired. Making the application means a lot. Thanks for doing such a good job.
anndavis25 from Clearwater, Fl. on February 08, 2012:
Hi. My daughter went to a baptist high school and had to take the subject Bible. It was hard, MsDora. It took me and her both to get all the details right. She made a B. Learning it didn't help my spiritual outlook. That is something I received when I made a confession of faith. My time is early in the morning, quite and by myself. My day is then handled with confidence. Amen!
Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 04, 2012:
Thank God for you, Dave; and thank you for your input. You're always a step ahead.
Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 04, 2012:
Thanks sanjeewausj. I appreciate you. I hope the product seems as fantastic as the presentation.
Dave Mathews from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA on February 02, 2012:
Thank you for this. My "Sanctuary" for communing with My Lord and God is my Balcony. There I can attune with nature and discuss anything and everything with my Creator, My God.
sanjeewausj from Sri lanka on February 02, 2012: