Rebuilding the Temple



Step 1 of 1



Jerusalem, the “City of Peace,” has a history like few other places on earth. Over thousands of years, many wars have been fought over this site. Today, Jerusalem is still one of the most volatile places in the world. The most prized possession in Jerusalem is the Temple Mount, considered holy by both Jews and Muslims. It was where Solomon built the first great Israelite temple, which Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar later destroyed. Herod’s temple, later built on the same spot, was eventually destroyed by the Romans in AD 70. Since that time, there has been talk about rebuilding this temple. But according to the Bible, should the temple be rebuilt? What was the purpose of the ancient temple—also known as the tabernacle or sanctuary? What did all the symbols and ceremonies mean? And as the ancient high priest ministered in the temple on behalf of God’s people in times past, who represents us before God today?
What was the main purpose of the Jewish sanctuary?

Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may _____________ among them.

God created humans for love and companionship. He even made us “in His own image” so we could understand Him better and learn to love Him more. When our original parents sinned, the closeness that existed between God and humans was interrupted. Sin raised a barrier between humankind and our pure and holy God. (Isaiah 59:2) The sanctuary provided a means whereby God could again live with His people. His presence would reside permanently in the sanctuary. In this way, God went wherever His people went—guiding, providing for and protecting them. The sanctuary symbols and services taught the people to know and understand their loving God.
What did God show His people through the sanctuary and its services?

Your __________, O God, is in the sanctuary.

The sanctuary was a three-dimensional model given to show God’s way of salvation. The sanctuary is mentioned or alluded to throughout the Bible, and involves a wide variety of symbols and ceremonies. The sanctuary outlines the complete gospel story in detail. It presents a God of judgment and mercy, and demonstrates how God will ultimately and eternally solve the problem of sin. The books of Daniel and Revelation base their prophecies in large part on the subject of the sanctuary. In fact, the sanctuary and its services are mentioned or alluded to many times in the book of Revelation. There are few, if any, Bible topics more important for us to understand than the subject of the sanctuary.
What was the central teaching of the sanctuary?

Without shedding of _____________ there is no remission.

The sanctuary service was based on the sacrifice of animals. This heart- wrenching ceremony taught that the shedding of blood was required to obtain forgiveness (remission) and cleansing from sin. Blood is a symbol of life. (Leviticus 17:11) Only blood from the life of the One who was sinned against—the God of heaven—could provide forgiveness for the sinner. Jesus is the Lamb of God whose blood takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29) Through the sanctuary services, God demonstrated the great cost of sin.Through the blood of animal sacrifices, God pointed toward the great Sacrifice, Savior and Substitute—Jesus Christ.

When Moses built the sanctuary, he followed “blueprints” that were given to him by God. The sanctuary was meticulously designed by God, and every symbol and ceremony was significant. The original sanctuary was a tent-like structure that the Jews transported with them as they journeyed through the wilderness. (Exodus 25–40) It was made of a variety of materials, including acacia wood, goats’ hair, animal skins and precious metals such as silver and gold. The sanctuary consisted of three aspects: The courtyard set a boundary around the sanctuary. There was only one entrance to the sanctuary—through the front curtain (or veil). It was through this veil that the sinner would enter the sanctuary precincts with an animal sacrifice. Within the courtyard was the altar of burnt offering (Exodus 40:6), where the animals were consumed by fire. There was also a laver (Exodus 40:7), a basin used by the priests to wash their hands and feet prior to entering the sanctuary. In the Holy Place was a seven-branched candlestick (Exodus 25:31–40), kept constantly burning with oil. There was also the altar of incense, where incense burned continually (Exodus 30:7, 8), and the table of showbread, upon which were loaves of flat bread. (Exodus 25:30; Leviticus 24:5–9) It was in the Most Holy Place that the presence of God resided. The Most Holy Place was the home of the Ark of the Covenant. (Exodus 40:3) On the ark stood two angels made of pure gold, watching over the mercy seat, which was upon the ark. (Exodus 25:17–22) Inside the ark was the law of God—the Ten Commandments—which was written with the finger of God. (Deuteronomy 10:4, 5)
How did the sinner receive forgiveness for sins?

He shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and ___________ it as a sin offering at the place where they kill the burnt offering.

The sinner would take a lamb to the sanctuary, walk through the veil, and approach the altar of burnt offering. He would then place his hand on the head of the lamb and confess his specific sins onto that lamb. (Leviticus 4:29; 5:5) By doing this, the sinner symbolically transferred his sins to the lamb, and the lamb would die. In what was intended by God to be a difficult process, the sinner then killed the lamb himself.  Depending on the sacrifice offered, the priest either ate part of the animal or sprinkled some of its blood inside the sanctuary. Thus the sin was transferred from the sinner to the lamb, then to the priest and then into the sanctuary. The sinner left the sanctuary free from the penalty of sin.

The earthly sanctuary was modeled after the sanctuary in heaven. The sanctuary that Moses built was a “shadow” (Hebrews 8:5), representing the original temple that God built. As the book of Hebrews points out, there is a High Priest granting salvation to sinners from the sanctuary in heaven. This being so, there is no need for a new temple to be erected in Jerusalem. The true sanctuary—the one that should be our focus—is in heaven. The sanctuary spoken of in the Bible’s end-time prophecies is the sanctuary in heaven, and not a sanctuary on planet Earth.
What did Jesus do in the “courtyard” of this earth?

Behold! The ____________ of God who takes away the sin of the world!

God made the great sacrifice to provide forgiveness to sinful humanity. As sacrifices were offered in the courtyard of the earthly sanctuary, it was on this earth that Jesus—the divine Son of God—died. When He died on Calvary, the veil in the earthly sanctuary was torn from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51), indicating that the services of the earthly sanctuary were obsolete from that moment on. By His death, Jesus brought “an end to sacrifice and offering.” (Daniel 9:27) God’s true sanctuary is the heavenly sanctuary, and not an earthly sanctuary (or temple).
Who is our High Priest today?

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, _____________ the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

Today, everyone still needs a priest for salvation— a heavenly High Priest. The Bible says there is “one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:5) Jesus is our only Mediator today.

The primary function of Jesus’ role as our heavenly High Priest is to make salvation a reality in our lives. The cross of Calvary was not the end of the salvation process! Jesus, the Lamb who died for us, now ministers for us as our High Priest. In the Old Testament, the priest stood before the holiness of God and became the mediator between God and the sinner. In this way, the sinner had constant access to God, and God had constant access to His people. When Jesus returned to heaven, He personally took on the role of ministering before the Father to bring salvation to us. Jesus is the link between human frailty and divine immortality. He restores our relationship with God and gives us spiritual power to live a victorious Christian life.
What was the Day of Atonement?

The tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of ______________________. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.

The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) occurred just once every year. This was the only day the High Priest entered the Most Holy Place. It was a day of judgment and a solemn time of repentance—the day to ensure there was complete harmony between God and His people. Those who refused to participate were cut off from God’s people. (Leviticus 23:29) Every day, the priests offered sacrifices, transferring the record of sin (symbolized by eating some of the flesh of the sacrifice or sprinkling some of the blood) onto the Holy Place of the sanctuary. The Day of Atonement was a day to cleanse the sanctuary from sin. The prophet Daniel predicted a time when the sanctuary in heaven would also be cleansed. (Daniel 8:14) There will be a judgment prior to the Second Coming of Christ—a time of blessing for all whose lives are surrendered to Jesus. [This is covered in detail in It Is Written Bible Study Guide #17, “The Messiah and the Judgment.”]
What was done on the Day of Atonement that symbolized the final removal of sin?

Aaron shall cast lots for the two _____________: one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat.

On the Day of Atonement, two goats were chosen. The Lord’s goat was killed as a sacrifice for God’s people. Blood from the goat was taken by the High Priest into the Most Holy Place and sprinkled on the Mercy Seat upon the Ark of the Covenant. This represented the blood of Jesus and the mercy of God to save us from our sins. Following this, the sins from the sanctuary were symbolically transferred to the scapegoat, which represented Satan. The scapegoat was taken into the wilderness (Leviticus 16:21, 22) to die a lonely death, representing that at the end of the judgment, Satan will be punished for the sins of humanity. Following Jesus’ Second Coming, the devil will be confined to planet Earth for 1,000 years. [See It Is Written Bible Study Guide #11, “Revelation’s 1,000 Years.”] At the end of this period, he will finally perish in the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:10) [See It Is Written Bible Study Guide #12, “Hellfire: Would God Really Do That?”]

Jesus was born in human flesh and was tempted to sin. He knows what it’s like to feel the pull of temptation, and understands our struggle with the flesh. As a result, He is full of mercy and sympathy when we confess our sins.
Jesus resisted temptation. He was completely without sin. (1 John 3:5) Jesus gained the victory over temptation in His personal experience, and is ready to give you help just when you need it most. Because Jesus perfectly fulfilled the requirements of the law, He can substitute His perfect life for your sinful life. As a result, we can go “boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
Even more so, He is able to help us follow His example, and live a life free from sin through His power! (1 Peter 2:21, 22)
Three points to remember:
1) The sanctuary demonstrates the plan of salvation.
2) The sanctuary outlines how God solves the problem of sin.
3) The heavenly sanctuary is where Jesus now ministers to bring you salvation.

Would you like to accept the forgiveness and power offered you by your heavenly High Priest, ministering for you now in the heavenly sanctuary?