These days we provide animal sanctuaries for certain species when their kind is on the brink of distinction. When the people of Israel were camping in the desert near Mount Sinai God asked for a sanctuary. He said: “Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them (Exodus 25:8).”
God wants to move in.
We know how it feels when somebody moves into our place: that place will never be the same! This can be good or bad depending on whether the person moving in is good news or bad news. What happens though when God moves in? To answer this question we need to take a closer look at the sanctuary as described in the Old Testament.
The design of the sanctuary is the Father’s love letter to His Son indicating that His Son’s sacrifice is highly appreciated. For this reason the sanctuary is full of imagery of God’s Son Jesus. It contains:
- Ark of the Covenant containing God’s law; Jesus said about Himself that He is the fulfillment God’s law.
- Mercy Seat; Jesus is the embodiment of God’s mercy, and He said about himself that He came to seek and save what is lost. (Matthew 9:13): “Then he [Jesus] added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
- The table for bread; Jesus said about Himself that He is the bread of life.
- The Golden Lamp stand; Jesus said about Himself that He is the light of the world.
- Incense, Olive Oil: Incense always stands for prayer, and there was an olive grove in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus submitted to the Father’s will and prayed: “Thy will be done”
- Bronze Altar; Jesus sacrificed His life and was the first to rise from the dead.
- Tabernacle curtains / veils; the veil hiding the Ark is decorated with Cherubim, a reminder of the garden entrance of Eden guarded by Cherubim. Adam and Eve were not allowed back into the Garden after they sinned; yet after Jesus’ sacrificial death these same curtains ripped apart indicating that now there is access back into God’s presence.
The building of the tabernacle (Hebrew: Tent of Meeting) is a faint reminder of the first days of creation, when order was restored. When there was nothing but chaos God’s Spirit hovered over the surface of the deep; and what did God do? He went to work. He brought order into chaos by creating the building blocks of today’s reality, the reality we call universe – all of time and space and its contents. God’s construction period was interspersed with evenings and mornings. Evening gave way to morning; darkness gave way to light; indistinguishable monotony gave way to hustling and bustling creativity; death gave way to life.
God creates order before moving in. That’s what happens!
Each human being carries a precious sanctuary – the sanctuary of the heart that is – and God wants to move in; are we available for the clean-up though? If we accept Jesus’ sacrifice, our heart will become move-in ready, and once God’s Spirit moves into our heart we will experience a wonderful peace like never before. It will be a transition from bleak and hopeless night into a bright and hopeful morning full with possibilities. We can trust God on that: He makes everything new!