The Temple of Jesus
Lesson 4

Jesus told Moses, “…have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.  Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.” Exodus 25:8,9

Moses built a sanctuary in the wilderness according to the blueprints given to him by God.  Every detail was carefully followed. The sanctuary complex constructed in the wilderness consisted of the following items.  (See Exodus 25-40.)  See if you can identify each item from the list in the drawing on the next page.

  1. The courtyard
  2. A small building with two rooms:  Holy / Most Holy
  3. The alter of burnt offering
  4. The laver
  5. The alter of incense
  6. The table of showbread
  7. The candlesticks
  8. The ark of the covenant

The sanctuary was built in such a manner that it could be disassembled and carried from place to place.  Jewish history tells that every piece of metal, cloth, wood and stone used in the construction of the sanctuary had a name on it – the name of the person responsible for carrying it.  When the bearer died, the next of kin became responsible.  Thus, the responsibly of carrying the sanctuary was passed down through generations until the sanctuary was given a permanent resting place.

The Sanctuary Service

The sanctuary service is a marvelous study.  The significance of how and why each event took place is as broad and comprehensive as God is.  Most Christians do not understand the value and meaning of the sanctuary service because the New Testament is clear that the religious services conducted in the sanctuary became obsolete with the death of Jesus.

However, many Christians are surprised to learn that the religious meaning of what took place in the sanctuary still applies today!  This will be demonstrated later in this study.

The Wilderness Sanctuary

Jesus gave the sanctuary service to Israel as a model of the plan of salvation.  They were to study into the meaning of the sanctuary events and understand the scope of the plan of salvation. Through a careful study of the sanctuary service, they were to comprehend the love and compassion of God.  They were to be drawn into the deepest appreciation of who God is and what He offers to the human family.  They were to discover the love of God as they contemplated the price He would pay for salvation.  And most of all, they were to share an understanding of God’s love with the world!  As receptors of God’s blessing, they were to be the human agency through which the knowledge of God would be spread abroad.

Fundamental point about Israel

There is some confusion among Christians about God’s relationship with ancient Israel.  Some believe that the blessings given to the Jews belonged only to the Jews and not the whole world.  While it is clear that God dealt directly with Israel, it is important to understand that God was not excluding the rest of the people living upon the earth – rather, it was His intention to have Israel demonstrate in practical terms what He was like to the rest of the world and thus bring many to know the love of God.  Thus the entire world would be blessed through Israel.  Israel was to be an agent for distributing God’s blessings and truth – not the exclusive object of His affection.

The intended ministry of the Jews

Jesus told the Jews, ‘…I will also make you a light for the Gentiles that you may bring my salvation the ends of the earth.”  Isaiah 49:6 When upon earth, Jesus again emphasized the ministry of the Jews saying,  “You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.  You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:13-16

The Pharisees recognized the responsibility of winning converts – but the reputation of the Jews among nations became so bad, that no one wanted to be a part of them!  Jesus said to them, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.”  Matthew 23:15 

The Jews and Samaritans understood that the promised Messiah would be a Savior for the whole world.  The Samaritans told the women at the well, “We no longer believe just because of what you said:  now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”  John 4:42

King David recognized that all people on earth belonged to God.  He said, “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him.  For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.”  Psalm 33:8,9

God chooses some poor people

To understand why God selected Israel and give them the rich treasures of His blessings, we have to review some Bible history:


1. One day God looked down upon the earth and noticed a deplorable condition.  “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the heart was only on evil all the time.  The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.  So the Lord said, ‘I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth – men and animals…But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”  Genesis 6:5-8


2. Why did Noah find favor in the eyes of the Lord? “Noah did everything just as God commanded him.  The Lord then said to Noah,  ‘Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation.”

Genesis 6:22, 7:1 Because Noah was willing to do everything God commanded, God declared Noah righteous.

About 400 years after the flood, God again looked down upon the earth and found a descendant of Noah that loved Him just as Noah had.  God chose Abram to be a special representative through which all people on earth would be blessed.  God said to Abram, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you…I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”  Genesis 12:2,3

One night God asked Abram to count the stars – if he could.  Then God said, “So shall your offspring be.”  Genesis 15:5

The Bible says that, “Abraham believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.”  Genesis 15:6 It is important to realize that both Noah and Abram were both declared righteous because they believed what God said, Notice what Paul says about these two men,

“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.  By faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.  By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going… And so from this one man… came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.”  Hebrews 11:7,8,12

Timeout for a thought question

Do you think God promised Abraham a great number of biological descendants or was God promising to make Abraham the spiritual forefather of all who would live by faith?

Note: A spiritual relative is someone that lives the same way as Abraham or Noah lived, that is by faith.  Jesus said to the Jews, “…if you were Abraham’s children.

Then you would do the things Abraham did.”  John 8:39 Christians often use the term “brother” or “sister” to denote kinship in a spiritual sense.  See Matthew 12: 46-50 for more information on spiritual relatives.

Before answering the question, consider this question:  Can the faith and righteousness of an ancestor save a descendant from eternal death?  Can the evil deeds of an ancestor condemn a descendant to eternal death?  The answer is no.

(See Ezekiel 14:12-23)  Then what spiritual advantage comes with being a Jew?

Abram and Sarai, his wife, thought the promise of God referred to biological offspring.  To solve their childless problem, Sarai suggested that Abram sleep with Hagar, her maidservant, and thus they would begin a family.  Hagar bore Ishmael, and Ishmael became the father of 12 tribes.  It may come as a surprise to learn that Abraham is the biological father of a great multitude currently exceeding 1 billion people: the Arabs.  (For further study read Genesis 16-21, 25:7-18.)

But the Arabs are not the great multitude of descendants that God promised.  Neither are the Jews that great multitude of descendants promised to Abraham for they only number about 15 million!  Revelation 7 however, describes the great multitude promised to Abraham.  It is the redeemed of earth!  The great multitude promised to Abraham is those who live by faith just as he lived!

The Apostle Paul tried to convince the Jews that being a descendent of Abraham was beneficial, after all, Israel had been especially favored of God – BUT, he insisted, “A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical.  No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.”

Romans 2:28,29

Back to choosing poor people

About 400 years after the call of Abram, God again looked down to earth and choose a descendant of Abraham.  This man would become a great leader for God.  This man was Moses.  Paul says,” Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.  He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.  He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as a greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”  Hebrews 11:24-26

(Notice that Paul says Moses regarded disgrace for the sake of “Christ.”  This again supports that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament!)

At the end of his life, Moses summoned the Israelites and said, “The Lord did not set his affection on you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples.  But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out (of Egypt) with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.”  Deuteronomy 7:7-9

Moses made it quite clear that Israel was not going to receive the land of Canaan from the nations occupying the territory because of their righteousness!  “…No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is going to drive them out before you.  It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on the account of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…for you are a stiff-necked people.”  Deuteronomy 9:4-6

When Jesus delivered Israel out of Egypt, He took them to an isolated place to teach them about His ways.  There were no enemies in the Sinai desert to torment Israel during their early days, as a nation for that barren desert did not support life in any form.  There He sent water gushing from a rock and dropped manna from heaven for forty years.  Their clothing did not wear out neither did their shoes. 

See Deuteronomy 29:5

Because Jesus wanted to be close to these people and teach them about His ways of truth and righteousness, He commanded Moses, “…have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.  Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.”  Exodus 25:8,9   Consider the condescension of God.  God took the uneducated low-life group of “stiff-necked” slaves and desired to transform them into a great nation of noble and beautiful examples of His creative power.

There was one condition, however, Moses told them, “If you full obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth… However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.”
Deuteronomy 28:1,2,15,16

Moses did not imply a “legalistic” relationship with God would bring greatness.  No, Moses pointed out many times during his speech that Israel was to love the Lord.  He said, “Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.”  Deuteronomy 11:1  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.”  Deuteronomy 6:5,6  “Because he loved your forefathers and chose their descendants after them, he brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his great strength…Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below.  There is no other.”  Deuteronomy 4:37,39 

Think it through

Consider for a moment that Jesus, the Creator of Heaven and earth, the Holy One of Israel, Jehovah God, The Great I AM, The Almighty, and The God of Israel is also the meek and lowly Jesus of Nazareth.  Many Christians are overwhelmed to learn that the one called “Jesus” in the New Testament is the same God of the Old Testament!  Most Old Testament references actually refer to Jesus our Creator instead of the Father!  Jesus said to the Jews, “…you diligently study the scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life.  There are the Scriptures that testify about me…if you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.”  John 5:39

Sanctuary services

To appreciate that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament, we must study into the sanctuary services of the Old Testament.  The role of Jesus in the plan of salvation is wonderfully explained in the symbols and ceremonies of the Old Testament.  Jesus designed that each service teaches a special and specific lesson about the process of salvation that could be fulfilled at Calvary.  For this study, we will explore the meaning of the three most important services:

1.      The Morning and Evening Sacrifice

2.      The Sin Offering

3.      The Day of Atonement


The morning and evening sacrifice

The morning and evening sacrifice were conducted at sunrise and sunset each day.  A flawless year old male lamb was sacrificed on the Alter of Burnt Offering.  The priest conducting the service sprinkled some of the lamb’s blood upon the alter.  The service also consisted of burning special incense on the coals of the Alter of Incense in the Holy Place.

This sacrifice became known as the “daily” or “continual” for it took place every morning and evening.  It was through the atoning merits of the “daily” that Israel could dwell in the very presence of God without being destroyed!  (See Exodus 29:38-46; 30: 7,8.)  In other words, the “daily provided corporate atonement on behalf of the whole nation of Israel and was not directed towards any one individual.

The Sin Offering

From time to time, individuals for specific sins made offerings.  This sacrifice was conducted on the Alter of Burnt Offering and was ultimately consumed by fire.  Here the sinner placed his hands upon the head of his offering and confessed his sin.  With his own hand, the sinner took the life of the sacrificial lamb.  The priest then carried some of the blood into the sanctuary and deposited the blood on the horns of the alter of incense and he also placed incense on the burning coals of the alter.  The idea that Jesus wanted Israel to understand was that sin could only be transferred from the sinner via blood.

An important contrast

The difference between the “daily” sacrifice and the sin offering is significant.  The “daily” was a corporate offering for the nation of Israel; the sin offering was a person or a family.

The Day of Atonement

Near the end of each religious year, Israel faced a yearly judgment day known as the Day of Atonement.

The high priest had to receive the approval of God before he could officiate on behalf of Israel.  The office of high priest did not automatically qualify the high priest for this sacred occasion.  He had to be found worthy of the service.

The word “atonement” means reconciliation, bringing together or at-one-ment.  This day always fell on the 10th day of the 7th month.  This day was a special Sabbath and no work was done on this day regardless of the day of the week it fell upon.  All Israel was required to come before god in person on this day to account for their deeds during the past year.  Only the high priest officiated in the temple services on the Day of Atonement.

Other priests that normally served in the temple throughout the year could not represent Israel before God on this day.  The high priest had to go through a very interesting process before he could represent the nation of Israel in the most holy compartment of the sanctuary.  He had to be found worthy of conducting this work before he could officiate on behalf of Israel!  (See Leviticus 16:13)

The high priest had to personally provide a great sacrifice and present the blood of his sacrifice in the most holy portion of the sanctuary on the Day of Atonement before he could officiate for Israel.  With trembling and reverence, the high priest entered the second room of the sanctuary on this special day to stand in the very presence of God.

The basic purpose of this day was to cleanse the sanctuary. All year long, the sins the people had been transferred to the sanctuary through the blood of the offerings described above.  On this very special day, the sanctuary was cleansed of all sins by the high priest.  He transferred the sins from the sanctuary to the scapegoat.  More will be said about this later on.

These three services demonstrate the basic elements of the plan of salvation.  The daily demonstrates unmerited justification (the gift of God), the sin offering demonstrates willful sanctification (the response of man) and the Day of Atonement demonstrates the final judgment and disposition of sin (the consummation of salvation).  These elements will be expanded in our next two lessons.  For now, we need to look at the sanctuary building to understand how these things work together.

The Most Holy Place

The back room, or most holy compartment of the sanctuary, contained one small piece of furniture; the Ark of the Covenant or testimony.  Exodus 25:10-22 The ark consisted of a small golden box containing the tables of stone written by Jesus (the ten commandments).

A “mercy seat” or special cover formed the top of the box, and two angels figurines facing each other stood at both ends of the ark with the mercy seat between them.  When

The high priest entered the most holy compartment on the Day of Atonement, a room strictly off limits to everyone else; he approached the ark and sprinkled some of the blood from his sacrifice onto the ark and into the mercy seat.  Leviticus 16 There God communed with the high priest indicating His acceptance of the sacrifice.

After presenting an acceptable sacrifice for himself and his family, the high priest continued the atonement service by leaving the Most Holy place.  He went out into the courtyard to select one of two goats as sacrifices for the sins of Israel.  One goat was chosen to pay the penalty for sin; the other was left to bear the consequences of sin.  There is important difference between “paying the penalty” of sin and “bearing the consequence” of sin.  One goat paid the penalty for sin by becoming a sacrifice for sin while the other goat received the consequence of sin by being taken into the wilderness to die.

Here is a major point.  There is a vast difference between paying the penalty for sin and reaping the consequences of sin.  This service pointed forward to the death of Jesus as the sacrifice for the sins of the world and to the death of Satan when he receives the consequences of sin.

After sacrificing the goat, the High Priest entered the most holy place again to officiate on behalf of Israel.  Upon completing the second service, the high priest washed or cleansed the accumulated blood off the horns of the alter of incense that stood before the veil in the first compartment (or holy place). Leaving the holy place, the priest walked out into the courtyard to the remaining goat and wiped his bloody hands on the head of this animal.  This animal was known as the scapegoat or the sin bearer.  After doing this, a very capable man took the animal miles out into the desert to die.  Thus the sin of Israel was removed from the sanctuary and the sanctuary was cleansed or restored.

Picture the scene, millions of Hebrews gathered around the sanctuary in the middle of their desert camp.  Every voice is hushed.  Every eye is on the sanctuary.  Every ear within range listens for the bells on the bottom of the high priests garment indicating the high priest is still alive as he stands before God.  All Israel anxiously waited for the appearing and announcement of the high priest telling them that God has accepted the offering and all sins are blotted out.

Revelation includes these

The Daily Offering, the Sin Offering and the Day of Atonement will have very important significance in our study of the book of Revelation, for Revelation’s story includes a considerable amount of sanctuary service!

For example, in Revelation 8:3-5, an angel ministering at the “alter of incense” throws down a censer and “seven trumpets” follow.  In Revelation 11 John was told to measure the “temple” of God and the alter.  In Revelation 11:19, God’s temple in heaven is opened and the “ark of His covenant” is seen!  These few sentences from Revelation point out that Revelation’s story is intimately connected to the sanctuary services of the Old Testament.  In fact, Paul tells us that Jesus is directly involved in the heavenly sanctuary. “…We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true sanctuary set up by the Lord, not by man…(for men) serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven.  This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle:

‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”

Hebrews 8:1-5

In other words, the sanctuary services described in the Old Testament are actually a “shadow” or model of what is actually taking place in heaven!  Jesus, the High Priest of the human race, serves in the heavenly sanctuary which God built while the sanctuary built by Moses was only a teaching model based on the one in heaven.  What is Jesus doing up there?  How do the services of the Old Testament relate to the end of the world and the great judgment day of the human race?

Here’s the heart of the problem – many Christians today miss the entire point of the earthy sanctuary just like the ancient Jews did.  The Jews actually believed the sacrificial services brought salvation when in reality they never made salvation possible!  Paul clearly states, “But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”  Hebrews 10:3,4

God told Isaiah, “The multitude of your sacrifices – what are they to me?’ says the Lord.  I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.’”  Isaiah 1:11

A clearer understanding

Now the plan of salvation begins to focus.  The sacrifice of animals in the Old Testament was only a “teaching” model.  God gave the model to the Jews so they might understand the price and process of salvation.  The Jews turned the model into a perversion – thinking (like the pagans) that salvation came through religious acts rather than a broken and contrite heart.

When Jesus died on Calvary, the model became useless.  The price had been paid for sin

“Once for all.” The meaning of the model continues today for the Great Day of Atonement is coming.  A great day of judgment!  This will be the subject of our next study.

Think it through

Lambs are not sacrificed in heaven for “The Lamb of God” has been slain.  Thirty times in Revelation, Jesus is called “The Lamb.”  The blood of bulls and goats did not save sinners in times past – nor can the blood of animals pay the penalty for sin.  Just as the Father provided the sacrificial offering for Abraham when he was ready to offer up his son, Isaac, He has provided a sacrifice for the human race.  His name is Jesus.


1. Name three articles of furniture in the sanctuary:




2. What is the difference between the daily offering and the sin offering?

3. Why did Jesus choose Israel as a special nation?

4.  Why was Jesus so concerned that Moses follow the pattern concerning the temple?

Memory Verse

John 3:16  “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.”



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