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Rejoicing Before the Lord: The Sanctuary and Worship


"Rejoicing Before the Lord: The Sanctuary and Worship"

July 23, 2011

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Jesus is our example in all things.  Above all, He is our example in worship.  He demonstrated that the highest form of worship begins with imitation of the object of our worship.  Worship is consummated in complete assimilation to that object.  Jesus loved and worshipped the Father perfectly.  He said to Philip, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father…I am in the Father, and the Father in Me” (John 14:9, 10).  From the beginning, God’s intent in the creation of mankind was to establish a glorious oneness with us that would transcend every other joy. 
When Adam and Eve sinned, God, in mercy, withdrew instantly from His rightful throne in their hearts in order that the consuming fire of His presence might not destroy them before they had time to repent.  Their garments of light vanished, but what did this separation mean to God?  “Few give thought to the suffering that sin has caused our Creator.  All heaven suffered in Christ's agony; but that suffering did not begin or end with His manifestation in humanity.  The cross is a revelation to our dull senses of the pain that, from its very inception, sin has brought to the heart of God” (Ellen White, Education, page 263). 
Even as Christ approached His final separation from the Father, “It was not the dread of death that weighed upon Him.  It was not the pain and ignominy of the cross that caused His inexpressible agony.  Christ was the prince of sufferers; but His suffering was from a sense of the malignity of sin, a knowledge that through familiarity with evil, man had become blinded to its enormity.  Christ saw how deep is the hold of sin upon the human heart, how few would be willing to break from its power.  He knew that without help from God, humanity must perish, and He saw multitudes perishing within reach of abundant help” (Ellen White, Desire of Ages, page 752).  In the ultimate act of worship, Christ embraced the love that the Father had for us, and gave Himself that the Father might have His people back.  He was the “Help from God” which brought life to every human being that breathes.
Keeping these thoughts in mind, consider this:  When God met Israel at Sinai, His goal was the same as it was at creation – the same as it has been ever since then – the same as it will be throughout eternity, for our God never changes (Malachi 3:6).  The Word about whom John wrote (John 1:1-5), was given to Israel as they stood in the glowing warmth radiating from the Presence of God at the top of the mountain.  The Light shined in their hearts to give them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:6).  The Creator, the Redeemer, the “Rock which followed them” (1 Corinthians 10:4) stood at the top of Sinai and poured out His heart to the people in the giving of His character – His law of love – His very being, to them. 
Through the children of Abraham, God intended to show Himself to every person on the earth.  Through them He wanted to begin giving His blessing to “all nations.”  Christ on the mountain was living out the same prayer we see spoken in John 17.  See Christ, standing at the top of Sinai – see the changeless longing of His heart expressed later in these words:  “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee….this is life eternal, that they might know thee….O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self….I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me….I pray for them….Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are….I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil….Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth….Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me….I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me….Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am” (Excerpted from John 17).
And the people said, “Let not God speak with us lest we die” (Exodus 20:19).  What must it have been to Christ, after pouring out His very heart in loving promise to His people, to hear these words?  Look into Christ’s eyes as His beloved children “removed, and stood afar off” and said to Moses, “You talk to us and we will hear.”
But see the tender, yearning love of the Creator!  “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’" (Ellen White, Education page 35).  They would not let Him come in to the sanctuary of their hearts, so the homeless Deity asked for a tent where He could dwell as near to them as possible. 
His longing has not changed.  John 17 is still the desire of His heart.  The earthly Sanctuary was carefully designed to light the path to His heart of love.  It was designed to help His people see the path of humiliation and sacrifice which He has walked, and still walks as He comes to stand knocking at the door of my heart sanctuary.  The earthly sanctuary, which is a copy of the heavenly sanctuary, was designed to create in my heart and in your heart a longing to let the knocking Christ come all the way in to our heart sanctuaries. 
As we study the Sanctuary this week, may we see in it “Christ, the true temple for God's indwelling.”  Christ, who wants to be our sanctuary.  Christ, who “molded every detail of His earthly life in harmony with God's ideal.”  Christ who said, "I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart" (Psalm 40:8).  May we see in the sanctuary study that “our characters are to be builded ‘for an habitation of God through the Spirit’” (Ephesians 2:22).  May we let Him "‘make all things according to the pattern,’ even Him who ‘suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps’" (Ellen White, Desire of Ages, page 209).

--Helene Thomas