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Sanctuary Study Part 4
Shared Study by Joan LaCelle

THE FIRST APARTMENT
OF THE SANCTUARY

   Every single morning and evening the Israelites gathered at the door of the courtyard. Every morning and evening a lamb was offered.  This represents the importance of Morning and Evening worship (family worship) in our own lives.  It isn’t something that is nice if we have time - it is a vital link in our relationship with Christ.  It is a recognition that everything comes from the hand of God and we are dependent upon Him for forgiveness, restoration and power.  Without spending this time with God, we are showing that we have do not faith in the importance of making Him first and last in our lives.

   Each day as people brought their sin-offerings to the door of the first apartment, confessed their sin, then either the blood was taken inside the Holy Place (1st apartment of the Sanctuary) or the priest ate the flesh in the first apartment - the confessed sins were transferred in type to the first apartment of the sanctuary.  The Sinner could not enter the Sanctuary. The priest met him at the veil and carried the blood or flesh into the Sanctuary.  Just as the sinner could not look within the sanctuary but he knew by faith that the priest was faithful to present his sin offering before the Lord and could leave with assurance of forgiveness - we, too, cannot “see” physically that Christ has taken our sins into the Sanctuary also.  While we cannot see the work accomplished, by faith we know that “He is faithful” and His blood has covered our sin - He pleads His very own blood and presents his broken flesh before the Father in our behalf.  We can rejoice and be glad by faith, because His blood has covered our sins. 

     What happens to all this blood sprinkled in the Holy Place at the Golden Altar?  It represents the sins of individuals.  That blood covers multitudes of sins.  But it is still in the Holy Place after the sinner has received pardon and leaves.  This is an interesting subject and later in the study we will discuss more about it. 

CANDLESTICK

     Let’s enter the Holy Place in picture form and see what is inside the Sanctuary.  Located on the south side of the First Apartment of Sanctuary was the Golden Candlestick with its beautiful seven golden lamps.  This piece of furniture was made of gold that was beaten into shape by a “workman’s hammer” (Ex. 25: 31-37).  It took much work and many hard yet skillful blows with that hammer to form the beautiful delicate flowers and bowls of the Candlestick.  Exodus 25:40 tells us that it was “made after the pattern” which God showed to Moses on the Mount.  The Golden Candlestick wasn’t some creative persons concoction - it was the express creation of God. 

     The Candlestick had seven lamps.  Seven in the Bible is a complete number. A perfect number.  John the Revelator saw the meaning of these seven candlestick branches “as seven churches” (Rev 1:12-20).  Each branch with it’s light represent the church of God.

     The candlestick was kept continually burning.  Each branch with it’s bowl for oil had to be kept trimmed and burning.  Each separate branch and bowl was trimmed while the others were left lit - so that always the other branches were burning their light.  Only the High Priest could perform the sacred work of lighting the lamps - these he trimmed every morning and every evening (Ex. 30: 7 &8).   No one but our High Priest can guide us and give us the help we need.  We need His spirit in the morning before we begin the day and again at evening we need to consider how we have lived throughout the day.  This trimming and lighting of the lamps is a lesson for us today.  We need Jesus each morning and then we need to follow Him and allow Him to lead and to control our every action throughout the day. Then in the evening we will not have regrets on how we spent our day. 

     The candlestick provides other important lessons.  Just as the candlestick was made into a beautiful work of art for the Sanctuary through much modeling by skillful hands with a hammer, we too, are “God’s workmanship created in Jesus Christ unto good works”.  We, too, often feel the workman’s hammer. Sometimes it seems unpleasant - even harsh.  The Bible explains to us that we really should not “think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing is happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12).   This is only the allowed work of the Great Master Craftsman. He makes no mistakes and His work is a perfect work and when He is finished it will be fully perfect. 

     The candlestick was kept burning by the constant feeding (morning and evening) of oil.  God showed Zechariah a metaphor of the Golden Candlesticks.  He showed Zechariah where the oil came from that supplied the lamps.  Zechariah was shown two olive trees - one on each side of the Candlestick with.  Golden pipes connecting on each side of the Candlestick to the trees.  These pipes fed oil directly to the lamp bowls and kept them burning brightly.  Zechariah was shown that “it is not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.”   After showing Zechariah this graphic metaphor picture, God told him to go forward and that the difficulties that laid before him would become a plain. 

     We cannot begin to comprehend the word of God without the enlightenment of the Spirit of God.  Our personal candlestick (each of our lives) will shine to the degree in which we take the word and believe and trust it and risk everything we have upon it.  As we keep our connection with God continually trimmed and allow His Holy Spirit to fill us with fresh new oil of His Power and Grace daily (even every morning and evening and throughout the day) - keeping the connection unsevered - we will be enabled to press on and gain victory.  We will also become a light in a dark world.  We  will become vessels that God can use to cast light on the pathways of those around us.   This light is not something we conjure up within ourselves.  It is the Holy Spirit of God that gives the light.  And we can only be the light as we submit to the fashioning (the hammering) of God, the trimming of God and the filling of The Holy Spirit.  We are useless vessels otherwise.   We are told to keep our Lamps Burning!!  We are God’s light in the world. We are God’s Light in the family.  What a blessed opportunity.  We cannot strive to shine – instead we must “let” our lights shine by allowing the Holy Spirit to flow through us.

THE TABLE OF SHOWBREAD

   The Table of Shewbread was on the North side of the Holy Place in the Sanctuary.   The table was beautifully overlaid with pure gold and had an ornamental crown of gold around the top (see Ex. 25:23-30; 40:22).  Each Sabbath day (the 7th day of the week). The Levites made twelve loaves or cakes of unleavened bread (1 Chron. 9:32, Lev 24:5).  Each Sabbath these freshly baked loaves of bread were placed “Hot” upon the table and arranged in two piles (six to a pile) with pure frankincense on each row (Lev. 24:6 & 7).  

This seems an odd thing for God to command the Israelites to do because He told them not to gather Manna on the Sabbath because there wouldn’t be any. The Israelites were not to gather manna on the Sabbath - while every other day of the week they could only gather as much Manna as you could use for that day (least it spoil) on Friday (the “preparation” day) the Israelites were to gather twice as much Manna and to prepare food for Sabbath on Friday - so that on the Sabbath no work would be done. Interestingly the manna didn’t spoil that was kept from Friday to Sabbath.  So why would God tell them to bake fresh bread on the Sabbath for the Sanctuary?  We’ll get to that in a moment!

     During the week, the bread lay on the table.  At the end of the week the priests removed it and ate it. 

     All the work connected with the Table of Showbread was done upon the Sabbath.  The bread was prepared on the Sabbath, and while it was still hot it was placed on the table.  The following Sabbath it was removed and eaten by the priests on that day. 

     The bread represented Christ.  The bread teaches us our dependence upon Christ continually for both our temporal and spiritual food. Jesus is the true bread.  Only He can fill us completely and satisfy our “hunger”.  Jesus stated of Himself “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh . . . Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man . . . Ye have no life in you.” (John 6:51-53.   - Also God’s Word is the true bread and we are to partake of it daily and “eat” it - make it part of ourselves just as eating physical bread turns into bone and flesh.  The Word of God is so precious. It is vital to our spiritual health.

     Often we read the Bible as a “form” of godliness and we get little from it. Sometimes we read it so we can “tell others” what is right or wrong.  But if we want to get any life giving power from the Bread of Life - we need to have it “hot” from heaven.  We must have a fresh, warm experience.  God gave the Sabbath as a time to lay aside the worldly cares of business.  A time set aside for just spending time with Him, to learn of Him through His Word and His Spirit.  The Priests baking the bread hot on the Sabbath and then eating it was designed to teach the people that each Sabbath, we too, need a fresh experience. We can’t go on the experience of a week ago or even yesterday.  And as we study the Word of God we need to allow God to incorporate it into our lives (just as physical bread becomes a part of our physical body). 

     Another important metaphor from this vivid picture is that the true secret of Christian Living is not in forms and ceremonies (while they are fine in their rightful place).  Eternal life results from feeding upon the True Bread (Jesus)  and His Word and the Guiding of His Spirit. 

     Frankincense was placed on each row of bread placed on the Table of Showbread.  Frankincense is an interesting Herb. It has antiseptic, healing properties as does Myrrh or wild oregano.  These herbs were used for centuries to keep mold and bacteria from forming. They were also used medicinally in healing wounds.  It is interesting that Frankincense was placed near the Loaves of Bread. Perhaps this would keep the bread from developing mold or bacteria.  This is a beautiful picture of how Jesus provides for everything - that His Word has healing in it and that it will keep us from getting “moldy” or “becoming infested with bacteria or germs” that might not only spoil us but those around us. 

ALTAR OF INCENSE

     The Golden Altar of Incense was before the veil In the First Apartment.  It was made of Shittim Wood overlaid with pure gold.  A beautiful crown of gold adorned the top of the Altar.  Beneath the crown were rings into which staves (or rods) would slip for the carrying of the altar from place to place as the Israelites traveled.  (Ex 30:1 - 6).

     Incense was kept constantly burning on the altar from this ascended the fragrant smoke of the incense placed upon it every morning and evening.  The beautiful scent of this incense traveled on the breeze and scented the air all around the Sanctuary and for perhaps miles around. 

     The incense was made from four fragrant gums and resins that were prepared by Divine direction.  This was very sacred and the person even making anything similar to it was to be cut off from among the people of Israel. 

     Only the High Priest could perform the sacred duty of placing incense before the Lord on the Altar. 

     The service and all associated with the Altar of Incense is a beautiful example of the work of our High Priest, Jesus Christ, that He is performing is for us in the Sanctuary of heaven.   As we pray in our feeble human way on this earth not really even knowing at times “what to pray for”, Christ understands those Human prayers because He lived on this earth. He takes the prayers of the struggling saints here on this earth and adds incense to those prayers and they become perfectly acceptable to God because our prayers are made fragrant with the incense of Christ’s Perfect Righteousness.   John the Revelator was shown a picture of this that he records in Revelation Chapter 8. 

     Romans 8:26 & 27 states:  We know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the Saints according to the will of God.” 

     Jesus is our intercessor.  We need Him to take our sinful mortal lives and prayers and make them pure and holy before God by adding the fragrant incense of His Life that He gave for us. 

     The altar of incense shows just how vital prayer is.  The weakest person who knows how to press his requests to the throne of grace in the Name (name represents character and power) of Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God, has all the treasure of heaven at his command.  What more could we ask for? 

     Many prayers are carelessly uttered.  It is the prayer of faith that will reach the very ear of God.    This daily work of the priest shows so clearly how we need to be earnest in prayer and pour out our souls to Him. 

     Each Morning and evening a lamb was burned in the Courtyard upon the brazen altar at the exact time that the incense was renewed upon the altar.  The golden altar was also called “altar of continual intercession”.  This represented the continual intercession we have in Christ and at the same time the “atonement” we have when we give up our sinful life to Him and allow His death and blood to cover our sins - because it is our sins that keep our prayers from being answered. 

     This service performed every morning and evening is again, a beautiful type of how important is worship in each Home that claims to be Christian.  The Israelites that lived closest to the Temple came and worshipped at the door. Those who lived far from the temple would pray facing toward the temple (as Daniel did in Babylonian Captivity).

     In the Sanctuary the incense was always ascending - this shows that any time when we are struggling and cry out for help, or when we are happy and give praise - that our prayers are heard and received because of Christ’s sweet incense to God.  Then we have immediate help, hope and power.  It is encouraging to realize that when God sees us He is seeing Christ’s Righteousness.  He doesn’t see our sin for Christ died, rose again and intercedes and spreads His perfect fragrant life of Righteousness over us.  If we only realize the beautiful privilege we have in prayer. 

     The prayer life is a sacred, powerful means of grabbing hold of Omnipotence and living the “impossible life” (yet possible) of Christ.  This is a sacred life.  It is not a flippant experience. Neither is it a sad drudgery either.  It is a joyful, beautiful, peaceful and yet power-filled life.

     Because the incense represented something so sacred, anyone who attempted to use the fragrant perfume of the incense for his own use was cut off from the People of God.  There was to be no imitation whatsoever of the Incense. (Ex. 30:37 & 38).   Absolutely no fire was to be used for burning the incense except that taken from the Altar of Incense before the Lord. 

     In the story of Nadab and Abihu, while drunk, they offered ‘strange fire’ before the Lord, and were killed (Lev. 10: 1-10 tells the sad story).  Their death is an object lesson for all who fail to appreciate the perfect righteousness of Christ and appear before the Lord clothed in the “filthy rags” of their own righteousness. (Isaiah 64:6).     Perhaps from this story we can glean the truth that not all “worship” (as it is called today) may be acceptable to God.  Nadab and Abihu thought they were worshipping God as they sacrilegiously swayed around and careless took incense and flippantly used it before the very presence of God.  We need to take care that our worship is truly holy and not just emotional and worldly.  “Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof”. 

     The horns on the Golden Altar were often touched with the blood of the sin-offering, thus typifying that it was Christ’s death that made it possible for our prayers to be answered and for us to be clothed in His righteousness.  The fragrance of the incense could not be contained within the Sanctuary.  - so when we are clothed with Christ’s righteousness, an influence will go out from us which those who come in contact with us can’t resist the fragrance of because it’s a fragrance of heavenly origin.  This is not to be mistaken with a false fragrance that has no appeal. 

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