A few years ago, an elder presented a series of studies on the Sanctuary to a church that I was visiting. In this particular presentation, the elder attempted to provide a synopsis of the Sanctuary message. In that presentation the elder decided to take a “celestial geography” approach to the Sanctuary message and went on and on about each piece of the sanctuary.
The elder described the table of shewbread and said that it represented Jesus as the bread of life. He continued and described the 7 branched candlestick and noted that Jesus was the light of the world. He finally talked about about the ark of the covenant and decided to ask the people if it represented Jesus’ or the Father’s throne. Finally, a middle aged woman asked a simple question, “What does this have to do with my salvation?” The elder never answered the question. He simply kept talking about arcane facts related to the pieces of the Sanctuary.
Just the Furniture
Most don’t even begin to look at the subject, but many of those that do fall into one of a few traps. That elder fell into one of the common pitfalls that make the Sanctuary message irrelevant. Please note, the elder attempted to be “Christ-centered” in that the arcane facts were about Christ, but the message was not connected to humanity in any real way. The elder never tried to answer the question “so what.” And then when the woman asked him “so what” he acted like he never even considered the question. Even if you are talking about Christ, you may even consider it to be “Christ Centered,” but if it has no importance to daily living it becomes something that may be interesting to my head, but irrelevant for my feet or how I walk….
This is not to say that architecture is irrelevant, however I do question using a presentation on celestial architecture when you are attempting to introduce people to the essentials of that message.
Another pitfall that seeks to separate the Sanctuary message from human living is the one that makes it only about a mathematical calculation. There are some preachers who only talk about the sanctuary in terms of mathematics and thus people lose the connection to daily living. I do not wish to diminish the calculation, but simply going to Daniel 7 to demonstrate that the judgment takes place after 1798, and then moving to Daniel 8-9 to find a starting and ending point for the judgment still leaves us questioning “so what.”
Another component that is common is to only teach the judgment. And this judgment takes one of two forms. One is a scary “your name may come up tonight” kind of idea. Here the judgment is something you better be ready or else. Another approach is for the judgment to be an innocuous declaration of our salvation that we should spend no time worrying about. In the innocuous version we have an irrelevant appendage that does nothing for the gospel and in the other we have a fearful “get ready” command without any added help in the getting ready. In both cases we have the help missing.
Cleansing the Missing Component
While it was a strong component of our teaching by the pioneers, we have lost the cleansing aspect that was in the type and described in Leviticus 16:30. We have lost the cleansing on earth that is to correspond with the cleansing in the heavens.
Here is relevance. Now some would argue that it is not Biblical. Some may argue that it is not true, but no one will argue that it is irrelevant like the toothless declaration that you are saved only judgment or the mathematical calculation alone.
In short, the Sanctuary Message must be Christ centered, for that is the only place for power, in addition it must retain this connection to humanity, this cleansing of the world in preparation for the second advent of Jesus Christ. The Great High Priest in heaven is seeking to forgive and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness, it is our job to work with Jesus in this great work.