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Sanctuary Study Part 3
Shared study by Joan LaCelle

THE COURTYARD

     Now that we understand that it was God who chose to dwell with us and that He resided in the Most Holy Place of the Sanctuary, we are going to retrace our steps back to the courtyard.  Now that we have a foundation of a God that loves us and first sought us out, it will be easier to see Jesus throughout the whole Sanctuary and see His love for us. 

    In looking at the Tabernacle from above you would see that it was covered with curtains of a sort.  These Curtains were the roof.  They were made of cloth and skins.  The inside curtains were blue, purplish scarlet with fine twined linen embroidered with golden thread with the form of cherubim on it.  It was very striking and beautiful.  It was a faint representation of the canopy of glory above the throne of God, with the many angels ready to do His biddings.  Over this was a curtain of goat’s hair then ram’s skin dyed red.  The last covering was of badger’s skin - which was probably a seal that lived in that area.  The skin provided a waterproof barrier for the tabernacle. 

     Over the Tabernacle rested a pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. This pillar guided the Israelites (Ex 40:38).  When the pillar of cloud started to move - the Israelites knew it was time to pick up camp and move too.  There are beautiful analogies to be gathered from this picture. 

    The cloud provided shelter in the heat of the desert - a beautiful type of the covering God spreads over His people in the midst of this world - making it possible to dwell in the secret place of the Most High and abide under the shadow of the Almighty (Ps 91) while we live in the midst of the turmoil and strife of this wicked world.

    At night the Pillar of Fire showed God’s immediate, visible presence as it lighted the whole encampment - so that ALL could walk safely through the darkness.  This is an expressive type of the Christian Walk.  In this world there may be no visible light; but when the light of God’s presence surrounds us - our pathway becomes illuminated with Light.  Psalms 89:15 says: . . . They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of Thy Countenance”.    The weakest person can walk safely through this world and be kept from the pitfalls of satan by surrendering his will and heart to God.  The only way anyone can be lost is by letting go of their hold upon Christ’s infinite hand. 

    The Pillar of Fire also provided warmth.  God the Father is warm and loving as well as just.  The desert would be hot in the day and cool at night.  So this world is cold much of the time.  Much of what makes us “happy” is ruined by the coolness of others comments.  God is a Pillar of Fire - a place of warmth and love.  What He gives is Joy.  Happiness is fleeting. Joy is abiding. 

THE COURTYARD

  The Tabernacle was surrounded by a courtyard of one hundred cubits long and fifty cubits wide.  The courtyard was closed in by curtains of fine twined linen hung from pillars of brass.  The Courtyard was rectangular shaped.  The door to the courtyard was twenty cubits wide and was in the center of the east end of the court.  The curtains that formed the door of the court were of “blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen wrought with needlework” (Ex. 27:9 -18).  They hung from four large pillars of brass that were trimmed with silver. 

    There were two main objects of interest in the court - the laver and the altar of burnt offering.  The altar was made overlaid with brass as was the laver.  The brazen alter was placed between the sanctuary and the gate - (Ex 40: 6 & 7).

     God gave explicit direction on how to make the whole sanctuary.  Every item was made to the express directions of God.  There was no cunning or devising of men allowed.   God told Moses to make “it as was showed thee in the mount” (Ex: 27:8). 

     The Altar was shaped like a box five cubits square and three cubits high made from board of acacia wood.  A horn made from the same wood was placed on each corner. The Altar was completely overlaid with brass. 

     The Altar was used for all the burnt offerings of the sanctuary.  The Fire was kindled by the Lord Himself (Lev 9:24).  This fire was burning continually.  It was never to go out (Lev. 6:13).   This typifies how the fire which destroys all sin from the earth, like the fire on the brazen altar, will come down from God out of heaven, and will not be quenched as long as there is any sin to be consumed.  

     The fire on the altar consumed the entire body of the burnt offerings.  Just as all sin must be consumed.  Sin separates us from God - that is why is so important to allow God to take away our sins and by His power to not walk in sin any longer.  The work on the Altar was a symbol of the final and total destruction of sin, which will be necessary before the redeemed can enjoy their eternal inheritance. 

     Many times the horns of the altar were touched with the blood of the sacrifice. Also the blood of EVERY sin offering was poured out at the base of the altar. 

     With few exceptions all the sacrifices were slain in the court, at the door of the tabernacle - or the entrance to the First Apartment in the Holy Place.  None but priests could enter within the first apartment.  This typifies the heavenly sanctuary, where God and Christ abide, surrounded by many many angels.  The work that was performed in the courtyard - typified the work Jesus did on this earth.  Meaning that the Courtyard represented this earth. The work in the Sanctuary itself (the Holy Place or first apartment and the Most Holy Place the second apartment) reveal the work that is done in heaven

    Never was a sacrifice slain within the sanctuary - only in the courtyard. From there the priests carried the blood and flesh into the Sanctuary. Christ, the great sacrifice that all sacrifices pointed to was slain in a type of the court - this earth and then he entered the sanctuary in the heavens with his own blood and the same body in which He bore our sins on the Cross of Calvary.  Sins are there forgiven and blotted out from the books in the heavenly sanctuary; but they are not destroyed there.    Just as the Altar in the courtyard consumed what represented sin - so in antitype (or what it represented) the wicked will be consumed in the courtyard (this earth) if they choose to cling to their sin rather than allow God to forgive and redeem them and remove the sin from their lives. 

     It is interesting that because the altar was constantly burning that there would be quite a build up of ashes.  The priests had to deal with these ashes and as they did so it represented in a unique way the work of Jesus.  The Priest had to be clothed in pure white linen garments when

removed the ashes from the altar.  First the priest took the ashes and placed them beside the altar on the east side (Lev 6:10 & 1:16).  When it was necessary to remove the ashes beside the altar, the priest would remove his priestly robes and  “Put on other garments”.  When clothed in this manner he would carry the ashes outside the camp and poured them out in a “clean place (Lev 6:11).   

     Ashes are all that will remain of sin and sinners and the devil after the fires of the last day have completed their work.  Sin and sinners will be no more. Sin will never ever again crop up.   

    The ashes that built up beside the Altar awaiting the Priest to remove them out of the camp represent the forgiven sins of the righteous.  Christ wears his priestly robes when he bears the confessed sins of His people.  The time will come however, when he will take off his priestly robes and put on His Kingly Robes to gather out all that offend and do iniquity (Matt 13:41).  He will not come as a priest in that day but as a King of Kings and Lord of Lords. 

    It is possible God allowed the priests to place the ashes on the side of the altar so that perhaps children or adults would ask what it means.  Then the truth of Christ’s work could be explained.   Then when someone saw the ashes taken out of the court and placed in a “clean place” the story could be told of how someday by the ashes and the blood of Christ this earth will be free of sin and it will truly be a “clean” place to live.  A beautiful place, the way God originally intended. 

    The Laver was located between the brazen altar and the door of the sanctuary.  The Laver and its base were both of brass.  Water was kept in them, for the priests to wash their hands and feet before they could enter the sanctuary.  This was of utmost importance.  They were to always wash their hands and feet before they went near the altar to minister or to burn offering made by fire unto the Lord.  Death was the penalty for performing service at the altar or within the tabernacle without first washing in the laver (Ex. 30:17-21).    This taught the lesson that we must be washed or born again of water and of the Holy Spirit or we can’t enter into the Kingdom of God. (John 3:5). 

    The Laver was also shined so it appeared like a mirror.  In this reflection could be seen any uncleanness. But the mirror couldn’t clean - only the water of the Spirit of God can clean the sinner.  So we must realize that we cannot make ourselves good – if we could – we wouldn’t need a Savior.  By looking into the mirror (of God’s Law) we can see how far we are from God’s perfect Ideal for us, but we cannot change ourselves – we can only choose to allow God to wash us and make us clean.  However we must choose, God never forces us!

   Before we enter the First Apartment or the Holy Place of the Sanctuary, we discover what transpires at the gate when a sinner asks the Lord for forgiveness for his sin.  Over the head of a perfect, spotless lamb the sinner confesses his sin, just as we come before the Lord and confess our sins today. We are told “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”    In this act of confession we reach out and touch the Lord in a very powerful way - just as the woman with an issue of blood for most of her life touched the hem of Christ’s garment and received perfect healing, we too, can receive healing from the disease of sin that has infected us.  We are healed and can walk in newness of life.

    The sinner then with his own hands had to take the life of that little perfect, sinless lamb. The lamb, itself, had no power to forgive sins.  This act was an act of faith that the Lamb of God would die for their sins and pay the price of transgression of the perfect Law of God. 

    The blood from the lamb was caught in a bowl.  Sometimes the blood was taken into the first apartment of the Sanctuary by the priest.  The Priest would dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle it before the Lord.  He also touched the horns of the golden altar and the altar of incense.  The priest returned to the courtyard and then poured all the blood at the base of the altar of burnt-offering. (Lev 4:7 -30).    The bodies of the animals whose blood was taken in the sanctuary were burned outside the camp.  This was fulfilled in Christ when that “He might sanctify the people with His own  blood, suffered without the gate.” (Hebrews 13:12). 

    This act by the sinner was signifying how his sins were being transferred to the lamb.  The life of the lamb was taken instead of the life of the sinner.  Of course, this exactly typifies the death of the Lamb of God, who would offer His life for the sins of everyone in the world.  While the blood of an animal had no power to remove sin - the shedding of the blood of the Perfect Son of God, the Lamb without blemish (the perfect sacrifice) had all power to forgive the sinner and restore in him the image of God.

    In some of the offerings, the blood was not taken into the sanctuary, however in all the sin-offerings the blood was poured out at the foot of the altar of burnt offering in the courtyard.  When the blood was not taken into the first apart of the apartment of the sanctuary, a portion of the flesh of the sin-offering was eaten by the priest in the sanctuary.  As the priest ate the flesh and then it was assimilated and became part of his own body - it showed how “Christ bare our sins in His own body on the tree.” (1 Peter 2:24)  Then Christ entered the Heavenly Sanctuary after His ascension with that same body to appear in the very presence of God for us. 

    The priest was never to eat any part of the sin offering when the blood was taken into the sanctuary.  It was an explicit command from God.  The reason for this was because when the priest entered before the Lord, it was a very powerful symbol of Christ who, by His very own blood, entered the heavenly sanctuary after “having obtained eternal (forever) redemption for us.” (Hebrews 9:11 & 12).   When the sinner confesses his sin before Christ, Christ’s blood covers that sin. (Romans 4:7 &8).  If the sinner is faithful to God, those sins will never be revealed, but will finally be destroyed in the fires of the last day when all sin and sinners are no more.  We are even told that God will not remember our sins. (Isaiah 43:25).  Precious thought that even the memory of sin will be forever blotted out. 

     It is a curious thing that we hang unto our sins so dearly when we have such a wonderful, gracious, merciful Savior who is so deeply in love with us and is waiting to receive them. 

   After the blood was presented before the Lord, the sinner still had a work to perform.  With his own hands he was to remove all the fat from the different organs of the animal he offered as a sin offering (Lev 7:30 &31).  These he presented to the priest who burned it upon the brazen altar.    In the Bible (See Ps 37:20 & Isaiah 43:23 & 24) it speaks of fat representing sin.  The fat was reduced to ashes - a beautiful symbol of how if we allow Christ to remove all the fat (the sin) from our lives and not cling to one sin - that it will be reduced to nothing but ashes.  But also bespeaks of the tragic reality of the person who refuses to allow Christ to remove all the sin.  While it isn’t God’s will to destroy this individual, when He reduces all sin to ashes at the last day - any person clinging to his sin will be consumed along with his sin.    Christ is waiting and longing for us - He longs to clothe us with His own robe of righteousness. We do not deserve it.  We cannot earn it.  We accept it by faith - realizing we can’t fathom such a love and riches of cleansing from all sin. 

    In Lev. 4:31 we are told that the burning of the fat is a “sweet savor unto the Lord.”  Usually we think of the smell of fat as a disgusting smell.  However for the Lord it is sweet for it typified the sin being consumed but the sinner saved. 

    If an individual was poor they could offer two pigeons instead of a lamb.  If he couldn’t afford two pigeons, he could bring two turtle doves.  If he was physically unable to catch himself the doves to offer he was allowed to bring a small portion of fine flour and the priest would present the crushed grain as a type of the broken body of Jesus.  He the sinner was forgiven just as if he had brought a lamb.   This shows the lengths to which God goes to give opportunities for us to let Him to take our sins away.  The important thing is to take advantage of God’s avenues of grace and let Him take every sin away and leave us clean and whole.

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