Then Shall the Sanctuary Be Cleansed

Chapter Six


Christ continually faced the problem of speaking to people who had ears but did not hear. Even His disciples, as well as the scribes and Pharisees, failed to comprehend new truths presented to them. It was, He said, like trying to put "new cloth unto an old garment," or "new wine into old bottles," it was not easily accomplished (Matthew 9:16, 17).

We can understand this problem if we pay attention to what Jesus said: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19). The Jews had never heard such bold presumption—a building that had taken forty-six years to build was to be constructed by this Carpenter in three days; "but he spake of the temple of his body" (Verse 11). It was not until after He had risen that the disciples came to understand. What this means to the remnant church remains to be fully understood.

Paul's writings tell us that Jesus knew what He was talking about. When He said "temple" He was not speaking of the stone structure in Jerusalem. The scripture plainly states:

Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost. . . . Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and the spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. . . . What agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people (1 Corinthians 6:19; 3:16, 17; 2 Corinthians 6:16).

We need to appreciate that this "temple of God" is vitally connected with the new covenant. To suggest that God will "dwell" and "walk" with His people brings the book of Hebrews into focus: "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days . . . I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them" (Hebrews 10:16).

We can see clearly from sacred history that the Levitical priesthood and the ceremonies of their day did not perfect a people. The daily and yearly round of rites ever remained but a type. It was only a chapter in God's dealings with His people. It was to prepare them for the truth that even the angels found difficult to believe, that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotton Son," in order to effect a change in human hearts. The work that needed to be done was to "purge" the conscience and have a people "perfected for ever" who would be "without fault before the throne of God."

God's Word makes it plain that ultimately human beings are to become the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. This brings to life the truth of a sanctuary in heaven. "Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary" (Psalms 77:13). This is not simply some remote place in the universe where God lives. His interest in humanity provided the ransom of His Son to be a member of the human family eternally, so we may know He has a supreme interest in the "temple of God . . . which temple ye are." The proof for this is displayed in the way the True Witness continues to knock at the door of His temple in Laodicea.

Therefore the final issue is whether there is an ethical significance to the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary before Christ can return or whether this is merely a ritual performed in some corner of the universe without relation to us. It was the horror of glaring truth superimposed upon the rituals of the Jews which urged their verdict of "crucify Him." We face the same issue. It is far easier for us to promote goals and urge ever larger church membership and be emotionally charged with music and entertainment in megameetings while reveling in the material glories of heaven—any and all of this—rather than face the ethical significance of truth as it confronts us individually and as a corporate body.

The promise made by Jesus to return, recorded in John 14:1-3, contains much more than appears on the surface. The "mansions" in His Father's house as described in the Greek means "abodes" or dwelling places. The God that "spake and it was done" need not take centuries to prepare a place for His people—if such a place is material. However, to prepare an "abode" wherein God and His people should verily dwell together, where they would be the "temple of the living God," and He would "dwell in them and walk in them," and wherever He was they would be also—this indeed would require preparation. This is not a work with bricks and mortar nor even precious stones but rather with "stony" human hearts. A work of this nature would truly take time and no one can know just how long it will take.

Many scriptures support the idea that "temple," "sanctuary," "tabernacle," or "house of God," add meaning and depth to the high calling of God's people. In this is to be found the real truth of what "God hath prepared for them that love him," (1 Corinthians 2:9) that is, a character, an experience in the deep things of God revealed by His Spirit. His people, the "household of God," are joined together to make a "holy temple in the Lord":

Through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow- citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit (Ephesians 2:18-22).

The Bible infers rather strongly that the "true tabernacle" is God's people (Hebrews 8). When His people appreciate this perhaps they will know why the second advent has not yet taken place.

The "True Tabernacle" and Divine Counsel

Ellen White has said much about the "true tabernacle." When some of her numerous statements are considered we can understand how man ultimately is to be the true tabernacle, the temple in which God desires to dwell. The experience of the1844 believers ushered in the beginning of a new covenant appreciation of the end-time judgment hour. It was not to provide better legal and judicial arrangements for accepting sinners but for sinners to be made righteous by faith. Protestant evangelical concepts of the end do not harmonize with this sanctuary/judgment truth and the work it is to accomplish in the human heart. The exalted calling and attainment provided for the remnant is unique:

"Let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them," was the direction given to Moses while in the mount with God. . . . This is the only sanctuary that ever existed on the earth, of which the Bible gives any information. This was declared by Paul to be the sanctuary of the first covenant. But has the new covenant no sanctuary? Turning again to the book of Hebrews, the seekers for truth found that the existence of a second, or new covenant sanctuary, was implied in the words of Paul already quoted: "Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary." And the use of the word "also" intimates that Paul has before made mention of this sanctuary. Turning back to the beginning of the previous chapter, they read: "Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty of the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man."

Here is revealed the sanctuary of the new covenant. The sanctuary of the first covenant was pitched by man, built by Moses; this is pitched by the Lord, not by man. In that sanctuary the earthly priests performed their services; in this, Christ our great high priest, ministers at God's right hand. One sanctuary was on the earth, the other is in heaven.1

This makes it clear that there is a "new covenant sanctuary," distinct and separate from the one Moses built. It is this sanctuary that Crosier "discovered" at the time of the Disappointment and it is this sanctuary which Evangelicals scorn. Further understanding is emphasized in another passage:

The term "sanctuary," as used in the Bible, refers first, to the tabernacle built by Moses, as a pattern of heavenly things; and, secondly, to the "true tabernacle" in heaven, to which the earthly sanctuary pointed. At the death of Christ the typical service ended. The "true tabernacle" in heaven is the sanctuary of the new covenant. And as the prophecy of Dan. 8:14 is fulfilled in this dispensation, the sanctuary to which it refers must be the sanctuary of the new covenant.2

These references declare that the "true tabernacle" is the sanctuary of the new covenant. A difference is made between the sanctuary of Moses and that of God; one was "on earth" and one was "in heaven." This does not necessarily put a geographical location on each, if heaven is considered some remote spot in the universe. In fact John saw both "a new heaven and a new earth," which indicates something more than geographical location (Revelation 21:1). Wherever God abides is a sacred place.

The importance of this can be considered in another way. One was man's sanctuary and one was God's sanctuary. Man's sanctuary provided an old covenant refuge from guilt and sin; a "legal" shelter. God's sanctuary programmed a new covenant confrontation with guilt and sin which would create a new experience for human hearts. Both the portable structure in the wilderness and Solomon's magnificent temple in Jerusalem were man-made. But the Lord made a tabernacle that is His creation, befitting God and His exalted position in the universe. One is "earthly" and the other is "heavenly." As surely as God is higher than man just so surely is the tabernacle that He made more exalted than the one man made; His is "not made with hands."

The record states clearly that the "new covenant" has a vital connection with the character of God's people: "I will put my laws into their minds, and write them in their hearts" (Hebrews 8:10). Therefore the sanctuary of Daniel 8:14 which refers to the "sanctuary of the new covenant" has explicit connection with the mind and heart of God's people. Heaven's counsel assures us: "What was done in type in the ministration of the earthly sanctuary, is done in reality in the heavenly sanctuary."3 One was a preview; the other a heart preparation for cleansing from sin preparatory to translation.

The "True Tabernacle" and Heaven

Adventists have long confused heaven with gold, silver and precious stones—gross materialism. Christianity in general appeals to the ego to do right in order to win reward, and avoid wrong, in order to escape eternal punishment. But this is the appeal of every other religion in the world, whether pagan, philosophical, or otherwise. Each holds out some kind of utopia to come in the future, the only difference being the road traveled to get there. Seventh-day Adventists are called to a far superior understanding for themselves and to give to the world, else they have no reason to exist.

The gospel tells us that the only possible reason for God to give His Son to this world was love for His children. Christ was willing to deny "self" and to "take up his cross" and seek them. It is an understanding of this truth which constrains His people to draw near unto Him. In this there is a mutual love that cannot be distracted and which supersedes all other power in the universe. It provides a spiritual environment that makes the materialism of heaven fade away, and its location becomes of little importance.

This bond of love makes Christ's work in the "true tabernacle" of supreme importance. The church on earth is very closely related to heaven, as the following counsel tells us:

While Jesus ministers in the sanctuary above, He is still by His Spirit the minister of the church on earth.4

The happiness of heaven will be found by conforming to the will of God, and if men become members of the royal family of heaven, it will be because heaven has begun with them on earth.5 Every passing hour now is one of activity in the heavenly courts, to make ready a people upon the earth. . . . If we would be saints above, we must first be saints below.6

The Lord has set his church as a light in the world, to guide the world to heaven. It is to be a part of heaven on the earth flashing divine light on the pathway to benighted souls.7

Beyond the inner vail was the holy of holies, where centered the symbolic service of the atonement and intercession, and which formed the connecting link between heaven and earth.8

Heaven is far more than just a material place—it constitutes an understanding, a living experience that begins here and now for God's people in this world. The ministering work that Christ is now carrying forward is a ministry to the church on earth. As in the typical service the holy of holies was the connecting link with heaven on the Day of Atonement, so the holy of holies has a special place in relation to the work on earth in the judgment hour after 1844.

The "True Tabernacle" and Christ

When Christ told the Jews to destroy the temple and in three days He would raise it up again, He made reference to His body. Neither the Jews nor His disciples understood what He meant. For us it is easy. We can see His death and resurrection as it fits into prophecy and history. Paul also caught something of the deep significance of this truth. In Hebrews 9:11, he tells us: "But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building."

Christ had said this previously—His "temple" was raised up and He became a high priest by a "perfect tabernacle." He became such a high priest in His humanity; as His people are called to present their bodies a living sacrifice, so He truly presented His. The splendor of this high calling to the remnant church is seen in the following:

When Moses was about to build the sanctuary as a dwelling- place for God, he was directed to make all things according to the pattern shown him in the mount. . . . So to Israel, whom He desired to make His dwelling-place, He had revealed His glorious ideal of character. The pattern was shown them in the mount when the law was given from Sinai. . . . Israel had chosen their own ways. They had not builded according to the pattern; but Christ, the true temple for God's indwelling, moulded every detail of His earthly life in harmony with God's ideal. . . . So our characters are to be builded "for an habitation of God through the Spirit."9

Thus the sanctuary building and the sanctuary services were to make God's people know there was life in righteousness and that eternal death and destruction was inherent in sin. The significance of the earthly sanctuary was not its glorious fittings and exquisite ceremonies. Rather through the building and the services God gave the people, they were to understand that there was a more perfect tabernacle, Christ Himself. This opens to us the spiritual truth that He was the supreme pattern, the "true tabernacle" after which all others would be modeled.

If Israel could have comprehended this, the history of the world might have been completely different. God desired above all else to make them His dwelling place. The tabernacle was merely a symbol of this purpose. This divine hope had to wait until Christ came, but in Him the possibility became a fact and He, the true temple for God's indwelling, moulded every detail of His life according to God's pattern. "So our characters are to be builded," and so the church can be sure there is a tabernacle where Christ dwells. "By virtue of His death and resurrection He became the minister of the 'true tabernacle,' which the Lord pitched, and not man."10 How much and how soon will world history be changed in our day when Sabbathkeepers come to know the Lord's desire to have their characters built for an habitation of God through the Spirit?

The "True Tabernacle" and the Church

In 1844 after the Disappointment, a new work was to be done which had never been attempted before. The believers were to see and understand the rebellion of the human heart against God and truth. Their enmity had remained unconscious, awaiting revelation in the final atonement. The work begun then would result in complete reconciliation; the atonement would become a fact. There would be a people sealed and made ready to see God face to face. This sealing work described in both Revelation and Ezekiel awaits its culmination and is portrayed by the Lord's messenger as a solemn experience:

The class who do not feel grieved over their own spiritual declension, nor mourn over the sins of others, will be left without the seal of God. The Lord commissions his messengers, the men with slaughtering weapons in their hands: "Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house."

Here we see that the churchthe Lord's sanctuary—was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God. The ancient men, those to whom God had given great light, and who had stood as guardians of the spiritual interests of the people, had betrayed their trust.11

The seriousness of this counsel demands our attention; especially it must be noted that the church is the "Lord's sanctuary." His concern is not some far-off secretarial work of checking the books, but rather having a church that is truly His tabernacle. The world is full of thousands of marvelous structures erected in the name of the Lord. Many of them took decades to build and some have been standing for centuries. Yet the world today is waiting to see the splendor of a "house" fully and completely dedicated to God's service. The material is not lacking but that which the Lord has provided has not been used. The remnant church is assured:

The Lord has provided His church with capabilities and blessings, that they may present to the world an image of His own sufficiency, and that His church may be complete in Him, a continual representative of another, even the eternal world, of laws that are higher than earthly laws. His church is to be a temple built after the divine similitude, and the angelic architect has brought his golden measuring rod from heaven, that every stone may be hewed and squared by the divine measurement, and polished to shine as an emblem of heaven, radiating in all directions the bright, clear beams of the Sun of Righteousness.12

The entire world will be attracted by a church "built" according to these plans after the divine similitude. The Cornerstone has been laid and the Divine Architect continues to search for "lively stones" to complete the house. The destiny of the church, the meaning of type and antitype—the fulfillment of the plan laid at the foundation of the world—has been placed in the hands of God's people to be grasped and utilized.

The Jewish tabernacle was a type of the Christian church. . . . The church on earth, composed of those who are faithful and loyal to God, is the "true tabernacle," whereof the Redeemer is the minister. God, and not man, pitched this tabernacle on a high, elevated platform. This tabernacle is Christ's body, and from north, south, east, and west, He gathers those who shall help compose it. Through Christ the true believers are being represented as being built together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.13

An appreciation of the immeasurably high calling that God has given to the remnant church has in it a constraining power yet to be realized. As surely as the temple of stone and precious materials in Old Jerusalem was the wonder of the world, even so will the universe marvel at the splendor of the tabernacle, the church on earth, Christ's body, when it truly becomes the habitation of the Spirit.

The "True Tabernacle" and the Remnant People

The glory of God's creation as it came from His hand was to be magnified further when Adam and Eve were made in His "image." They were unique, not "ministering spirits" but beings made after His own likeness to have dominion over the earth. Above all, they were to have communion with God, face to face. This would ever enlarge their appreciation of the Creator and would provide Him with a fellowship to satisfy the outreach of His own character—to love in person. But the plan was thwarted, which left God to try to bring man back to the original place of face-to-face communion. He was constrained to do this, for they were His children. The magnitude of His plan is presented to His remnant in majestic thoughts:

From eternal ages it was God's purpose that every created being, from the high and holy seraph to man, should be the temple for the indwelling of the Creator. Because of sin, humanity ceased to be a temple for God. Darkened and defiled by evil, the heart of man no longer revealed the glory of the divine one. But by the incarnation of the Son of God, the purpose of Heaven is fulfilled. God dwells in humanity, and through saving grace the heart of man becomes again His temple. . . . In cleansing the temple from the world's buyers and sellers, Jesus announced His mission to cleanse the heart from the defilement of sin.14

Had man not agreed to sin, there would have been no need for a temple in the days of Israel. Man as he was created would have continued to be the temple of God and the communion would never have been broken. There would have been no need for a mediator. With special force this tells us who have the sanctuary/judgment truth, that when the "heart of man becomes again His temple," the need for a mediator will cease. Substitution will be at an end for substitution and perfection cannot tolerate each other. The confrontation with "self" in the light of the cross will have removed the excuse to kill God. The depravity of the human heart will be exposed and man will be willing to take his place on the cross with Christ. It was the removal of the veil between Christ's divine nature and man's sinful nature that initiated the despair of Calvary. This confrontation of sin and righteousness is the cup offered to the final generation. When God's people are willing to drink it, they will be ready to see Him face to face. Christ will be able to arise and announce, "It is done." But He cannot do this until it is a fact and it can never become a fact until the remnant understands what is involved. The unknown sin, the enmity of Laodicea must be revealed. For millenniums God has been trying to help His people understand, but the seventh church has been given special counsel:

God sought to impress Israel with the holiness of His character and requirements. . . . But the people were slow to learn the lesson. . . . In pity for their weakness, God gave them a symbol of His presence. "Let them make me a sanctuary," He said; "that I may dwell among them.". . . So to Israel, whom He desired to make His dwelling-place, He revealed His glorious ideal of character. . . . But this ideal they were, in themselves, powerless to attain. . . . Through Christ was to be fulfilled the purpose of which the tabernacle was a symbol. . . . In all, God desired His people to read His purpose for the human soul. It was the same purpose long afterward set forth by the apostle Paul, speaking by the Holy Spirit: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God.". . . In the preparation of the sanctuary and its furnishing, all the people were to co-operate. . . . They were to co-operate also in the preparation of the spiritual building—God's temple in the soul.15

"In pity" God gave them a "symbol" but it was only a symbol. The real purpose had to do with the human soul. God's people have not yet sung the song of Moses and the Lamb. But "it is our privilege to reach high and still higher, for clearer revealings of God's character. When Moses prayed, 'I beseech thee, shew me thy glory,' the Lord did not rebuke him, but He granted his prayer. . . . It is sin that darkens our minds and dims our perceptions."16 In granting that prayer, Moses was clothed with the glory of God. Then "in pity" for the sinfulness and unreadiness of the people to face their own unconscious sin, God allowed Moses to veil that glory, a veil that still remains. It is not a veil from God's Shekinah as such, but a veil upon the heart that has taken shape in the symbols. The symbols became the reality and the spiritual building God wanted to build, His temple in the soul, waits until this day.

If the remnant could catch a glimpse of this high and holy calling, fascination with the world would die. We would "know" that "we" are "God's building," His "house," "His temple," His "true tabernacle" and that His interest and deep concern is with the "soul temple" of man.

No previous generation of mankind has been confronted with truth of this magnitude. The high destiny that God has planned for His people awaits their reception—the cleansing and restoration of the sanctuary.


  1. Ellen White, The Great Controversy, pp. 411-413; cf., Signs, February 14, 1900, p. 98.
  2. Ibid., p. 417
  3. Ibid., p. 420, italics supplied.
  4. Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 166, italics supplied.
  5. Ellen White, Sons and Daughters of God, p. 361, italics supplied.
  6. Ellen White, Review and Herald, January 1, 1889, italics supplied.
  7. Ibid., January 21, 1890, italics supplied.
  8. Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 348, italics supplied.
  9. Ellen White, Desire of Ages, pp. 208, 209, italics supplied.
  10. Ibid., pp. 165, 166.
  11. Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 211, italics supplied.
  12. Ellen White, Testimonies to Ministers, p. 17, italics supplied, first published in General Conference Bulletin, 1893, p. 408.
  13. Ellen White, Signs of the Times, February 14, 1900, italics supplied.
  14. Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 161, italics supplied.
  15. Ellen White, Education, pp. 35-37.
  16. Ellen White, Ministry of Healing, p. 464; [Sons and Daughters of God, p. 339].

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