According to the Pattern

They offer worship in a sanctuary that is a sketch and shadow of the heavenly one; for Moses, when he was about to erect the tent, was warned, "See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain." (Hebrews 8:5)

And have them make me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them. In accordance with all that I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle and of all its furniture, so you shall make it. (Exodus 25:8-9)

And see that you make them according to the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain. (Exodus 25:40)

Then you shall erect the tabernacle according to the plan for it that you were shown on the mountain. (Exodus 26:30)

You shall make it hollow, with boards. They shall be made just as you were shown on the mountain. (Exodus 27:8)

Now this was how the lampstand was made, out of hammered work of gold. From its base to its flowers, it was hammered work; according to the pattern that the LORD had shown Moses, so he made the lampstand. (Numbers 8:4)

"All this, in writing at the Lord's direction, he made clear to me--the plan of all the works." David said further to his son Solomon, "Be strong and of good courage, and act. Do not be afraid or dismayed; for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished." (1 Chronicles 28:19-20)

Our ancestors had the tent of testimony in the wilderness, as God directed when he spoke to Moses, ordering him to make it according to the pattern he had seen. (Acts 7:44)

What did Moses actually see when he was on Mount Sinai? Was he shown a vision of a building up in heaven with furniture, or were the directions given to him for building a sanctuary merely faint shadows – outlines of a spiritual reality that was impossible to explain sufficiently at that point?

Then Moses went up to God; the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom(Revelation 1:5-6) and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites." (Exodus 19:3-6)

The LORD said to him, "Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you; but do not let either the priests(Exodus 18:19-22) or the people break through to come up to the LORD; otherwise he will break out against them." (Exodus 19:24)

(Notice God's reference to priests here before any mention is made or plans provided for a sanctuary on earth. What was meant by distinguishing between priests and other people in this passage? The only thing I can find related to priests before this is found in the previous chapter where Moses' father-in-law is mentioned as a priest. In his counsel to Moses he advises setting up a system of hierarchy with under-counselors to assist Moses in dealing with issues among the people.)

Moses was given many details regarding the construction of a physical sanctuary. But was this simply a duplicate of a similar building in heaven, or was it more like a dim outline, a shadow of something in a different dimension yet meant to convey concepts rather than copies of buildings and furniture in heaven?

Here is something else to consider. What was the effect of the sanctuary on earth being abandoned after the cross? Does that mean there is no longer a place for God to dwell after Jesus came to this earth?

All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us." (Matthew 1:22-23)

Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. Then I said, "Here I am; in the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart."
I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; see, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O LORD. I have not hidden your saving help within my heart, I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation. (Psalms 40:6-10)

You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life. (John 5:39-40)

Jesus came and took on a human body in which the fulness of the godhead was seen and from which all life comes. We cannot find life through observance of rituals, sacrifices or even a building. Life only comes through a vital connection with the only Source of life, in a bonded relationship in which we received and experience the very life of God infused into us. (see John 17:3)

In these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God's glory and the exact imprint of God's very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. (Hebrews 1:2-3)

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority. (Colossians 2:6-10)

So, Jesus is the replacement for the Old Testament sanctuary. Or is there more to it than that? What is exposed as the replacement sanctuary for the Old Testament system?

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, "Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, 'See, God, I have come to do your will, O God' (in the scroll of the book it is written of me)." (Hebrews 10:5-7)

Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, "The two shall be one flesh." But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:15-20)

If we argue that the Old Testament sanctuary was simply a mirror of something almost identical to it in heaven, we run into a serious problem in the New Testament. We might argue that since the original still exists in heaven that this is no problem. But I disagree. What I see is that this new temple on earth is now much closer to the original from which the pattern sanctuary on earth was derived, for the sanctuary is not about a building but is a dwelling place. God has never been that interested in having a physical house to live in,(2 Samuel 7:4-7, 10-11) but He has always been keen to having humans in which He might dwell.

Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God's sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4-5)

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)

So if Jesus is looking for people rather than buildings to be His dwelling places, to compose a sanctuary, or in New Testament terms, a body in which God may dwell, how do we view the words of Jesus to His disciples just before He was killed?

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him." (John 14:1-7)

This passage too has long been used to insist that Jesus went to launch a massive building project to construct literal mansions for us in heaven. Yet houses and real estate has never been God's main concern for His people, though there is certainly a place for all that. But what we must never lose sight of is that throughout history, ever since the creation of humans, God's desire has been primarily to dwell in humanity, not just to provide physical housing for our bodies as important as that may be.

The very essence of God Himself is relationship, for the arrangement of the three-in-one godhead is the very definition of love. God is love, but without diversity of more than one combined with perfect unity, it would be impossible for God to exist as agape love. Love essentially must have an outside object of affection, an other to which to express itself. And to be healthy and balanced it really requires a minimum of three to maintain a balance of true love.

Since the initiation of the rebellion, Lucifer has circulated both subtle and frontal attacks on God's reputation, accusing Him of not really being only love but also harboring hidden selfish motives in the way He relates to His creatures. God has been working to restore His own credibility with the universe, and the primary purpose of the creation of humans was to demonstrate more vividly the essence of His agape love, only this time in more concrete, tangible, demonstrable ways.

By creating beings who would be able to demonstrate more clearly spiritual realities and invisible attributes within the godhead, it would be seen more clearly and appreciated how the slander of Satan was all bogus and that indeed God is nothing but pure love. When this will at last be proven conclusively, then all excuses for distrust of God will melt away and the entire universe can be freed of all sin, fear and doubt along with all the negative consequences those things have produced.

So, how do the earthly sanctuaries, both the outline shadow in the physical sanctuary of the Old Testament and the more accurate living temple of believers in the New Testament, relate to what God had in mind as He met with Moses on the mount?

Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.(John 15:14-17) Then he would return to the camp; but his young assistant, Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the tent. Moses said to the LORD, "See, you have said to me, 'Bring up this people'; but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, 'I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.' Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways,(John 14:4-7) so that I may know you(John 17:3) and find favor in your sight.(Luke 2:14) Consider too that this nation is your people."
He said, "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."(Matthew 11:28)
And he said to him, "If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct,(1 Peter 2:9) I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth."
The LORD said to Moses, "I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name."(John 15:16)
Moses said, "Show me your glory,(John 1:14) I pray."
And he said, "I will make all my goodness pass before you,(Hebrews 1:2-3; John 1:16-18) and will proclaim before you the name, 'The LORD'; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But," he said, "you cannot see my face;(1 Timothy 6:16) for no one shall see me and live." And the LORD continued, "See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen."(2 Corinthians 3:18) (Exodus 33:11-23)

The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name, "The LORD." The LORD passed before him, and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,(John 1:14) yet by no means clearing the guilty,(Hebrews 2:1-4) but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation." And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped. He said, "If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, I pray, let the Lord go with us.(Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 28:20) Although this is a stiff-necked people, pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance."(Ephesians 1:9-14, 18-19) (Exodus 34:5-9)

I have come to realize that rather than than obsessing over some presumed building in heaven as being the important sanctuary where everything takes place, the true sanctuary is the body of Christ composed of all who believe in His work of redemption for humanity. Clearly the Bible teaches that the true sanctuary is actually people in their relationship with God and each other. The reason the physical sanctuary was given was simply to express in another dimension the organization and structure of those relationships in symbols and ceremonies. Once the real sanctuary of Jesus in His followers was in place, there is no longer any need for a shadow, for the real can be seen. So we need to turn our attention to the real instead of getting hung up obsessing or whether a shadow has substance in itself.

That is not to suggest that we should ignore the shadow sanctuary and its services. What I am saying is that it can be too easy to be subtly seduced into believing that there is merit involved in rituals or symbols. The sanctuary however, contains vast amounts of secrets that some people are just beginning to discover, patterns and numbers and links to everything that has taken place throughout history. There are compelling insights related to genealogies, prophecies and even a map of the human brain along with insights into psychology. I have a good friend who has spent over ten years discovering many of these things and they are nothing short of stunning. But all of these facts only reinforce the core truth that God is trustworthy, not that the sanctuary or its services can create any merit to earn God's favor.

Humanity has always been in God's favor. Our problem was never that God has been offended by sinners. Rather, sinners have long been offended by God because He is far more righteous than any of us. It is God's goodness, mercy, graciousness and unconditional love and forgiveness that upsets and scandalizes humans, especially religious ones. You might recall Jonah's outburst of frustration and anger over God's mercy causing Jonah to look like a false prophet and endangering his reputation.

For too long we have projected the problem of sin onto God instead of accepting the truth that all of the sin problem is caused by the lies we still believe about Him. So long as we retain doubts about God's goodness and have reservations about His ways and attribute dark motives to Him, we will remain contaminated by Satan's lies about Him and will be unfit to come into close proximity to the intense heart of His agape love. This is the reason God has had to warn us about the danger of seeing His face, for His face is where the greatest intensity of His love can to be found. And so long as we believe any subtle lie about Him or have resistance to that kind of love, the intensity of that pure, consuming fire would destroy us. So in His love He has to warn us from getting too close until after we are fully healed and restored into the full maturity of Christ, including a complete trust in God's heart that will make us safe to be able to thrive in that fire instead of being overwhelmed by it.

Hear, you who are afar off, what I have done; and you who are near, acknowledge My might." The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness has seized the hypocrites: "Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?"
He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, he who despises the gain of oppressions, who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil: he will dwell on high; his place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; bread will be given him, his water will be sure. Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; they will see the land that is very far off. (Isaiah 33:13-17 NKJV)

So, what is the pattern for the sanctuary modeled after? It is the very character of God meant to be reflected and reproduced in all who will compose the body of Christ. It describes what people will look like who display His glory in human form just like Jesus did. The Old Testament sanctuary was simply a physical template through which spiritual realities might be channeled and discerned. But now it is vital that we embrace the spiritual realities exposed in that sanctuary in order to become fitted to enter into the fiery, passionate presence of the Almighty source of love where we can experience fulness of life and thrive forever in His glory.

Supporting Verses

These are passages reflecting the reality of what God plans for us in the New Testament period correlating to what Moses saw on the mountain with God. There are obviously many more, but I found these very compelling when alongside the experience of Moses as described in Exodus 33 and 34.

From Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1:5-6)

Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses' father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, how the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt.
Now listen to me. I will give you counsel, and God be with you! You should represent the people before God,(the function of a priest) and you should bring their cases before God; teach them the statutes and instructions and make known to them the way they are to go and the things they are to do. You should also look for able men among all the people, men who fear God, are trustworthy, and hate dishonest gain; set such men over them as officers over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Let them sit as judges for the people at all times; let them bring every important case to you, but decide every minor case themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. (Exodus 18:1, 19-22)

But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the LORD: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, "Why have you not built me a house of cedar?"
And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. (2 Samuel 7:4-7, 10-11)

You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. (John 15:14-17)

And you know the way to the place where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him." (John 14:4-7)

And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:3)

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." (Luke 2:14 NIV)

All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:27-28)

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10 NKJV)

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

In these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God's glory and the exact imprint of God's very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. (Hebrews 1:2-3)

From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known. (John 1:16-18)

Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. (1 John 4:11-13)

It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. (John 6:45-47)

Then the LORD spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice. (Deuteronomy 4:12)

At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." (Luke 10:21-22)

He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; (Colossians 1:13-15)

It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:16)

And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)


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