The Sanctuary of God
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 1 - God's Eternal Purpose in Relation to His House

Reading: Exodus 25:8-9; 40:34-35; Isaiah 6:1; 2 Chron. 7:1; Acts 2:1-3; Ephes. 1:4-6,11-12; 2:21-22; Hebrews 3:1-6.

The governing thought in these passages is that of eternal purpose. Then we are led by that thought to something which includes many other things, and affects many other things, but which comprehensively is the Sanctuary of God or God's House.

Creation began outside this world. There was a created order which was heavenly, and then there came the created order of this "Kosmos" (something bigger than the earth), and God's intention was that the creation should come to a knowledge of Him and have fellowship with Him. God is revealed as desiring fellowship with His creation. All God's great thoughts are gathered into this idea of a Sanctuary in which He may dwell. That governs things from eternity, and the creative activities of God were with that end in view.

We know what transpired. Foreign elements which excluded Him came into His creation.

An Elect Line

Then God laid His hand upon a chosen line.

The book of Genesis gives us that elect line in individuals, who themselves are not perfect, but who were raised up to express some feature that is of God, and when all the men are put together you have a collection of features which, when brought to perfection, show us one Man, Jesus Christ. So that the Lord was foreshadowing a perfect Man by a certain number of features which were represented by a number of men.

Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, are imperfect men, but there is some feature in them which is of God. For instance, Abraham was a man of faith, and God is the God of the man of faith.

So God shows us step by step in the features which these men embodied what will ultimately be the character of a vessel in which God dwells.

The Lord Jesus is the full embodiment of those excellencies brought to perfection. God is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ in a way in which He could never be the God and Father of any other man.

An Elect Race

In Exodus you have an elect people. Although poor specimens in themselves, they represent corporately those principles of their fathers.

A Priestly Sanctuary

Then God says, "Let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them". This is the realm of types and figures. God did not, even with Israel, get His sanctuary in the way in which He first thought of dwelling among men.

When Moses had made all things according to the pattern, the glory of Jehovah filled the tabernacle.

God's sanctuary is intended to be a priestly sanctuary, and priestliness in the House of God is a very widely, and richly, and fully-developed truth in the Word of God.

A Kingly House

You pass into the kingly period, and you have the temple. This also is made according to a pattern in revelation, and when perfected you have, in the presence of the king, the glory of Jehovah filling the House.

A Prophetic Ministry

With Isaiah you see the Lord high and lifted up, seated upon a throne, His train filling the temple. This is God's speaking in and through man as related to the House of God. When God fills His House, He is known in His House by representation; He speaks. That is the prophetic principle.

A State of Things According to God's Thought

We pass over to the New Testament, and look at Acts 2. Here is a company of believers, standing on the ground of Christ crucified, buried, risen, exalted and the glory of the Lord fills the House. Pentecost is the counterpart of these things that we have in the Old Testament. Here you have the House of God really coming into realisation. God is there in glory, power, love, fellowship - shall we say, in eating and drinking, because that is a feature of the House. Moses went up into the mount with Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and seventy of the elders, "and they did eat and drink in the mount". The kingly feature comes in at Hebron where David was made king, and it says that they did eat and drink together three days. Pentecost was a real feast time, and was certainly marked by fellowship. It was because God was in the midst.

The last picture of the Church in the New Testament is the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, having the glory of God.

In between Pentecost and that last scene in the book of Revelation you have "Hebrews", in which this declaration is made: "...whose house are we..." The believers form the House of God.

"...Christ as a Son over God's house, whose house are we, if we hold fast". God's dwelling in a house is conditional. He cannot dwell in a house where man dwells.

When the tabernacle was completed and the glory of Jehovah filled it, Moses could not go in.

When the glory of the Lord filled the temple, the priests could not go in.

When the Holy Ghost came at Pentecost, Ananias and Sapphira could not come in.

The heavenly purpose is the sanctuary, but seeing now that this sanctuary can only be realised through redemption, the sanctuary must embody redemptive features. So in Ephesians there are two things: (1) The thought of the eternal, counsels of God which maintain the heavenly line: (2) Redemption through His Blood which is a dip down in order to get back to God's heavenly line.

God's eternal purpose, related to a sanctuary, foreshadowed in the Old Testament, realised in some measure in the New Testament, has yet to be perfected and completed. Everything since the fall is working to exclude God from His creation. Principalities and powers, the world rulers, the spiritual hosts of wickedness, are set against the Lord having a place. He is brought in by there being that which corresponds to His thought in which He can take up His residence. 'Wheresoever two or three are gathered into my name, there am I in the midst...' Two or three gathered in the Name of Jesus are gathered into the values represented by that Name, and God in Christ is manifested in that sanctuary. God's thought as to dwelling is not a limited thing. Solomon's prayer was for Israel, but also related to "the stranger which is not of thy people..." "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples". The House of God ultimately is to be universal.

Divine Order in the House

The House of God is that in which Divine order obtains, about which we shall speak later.

Divine Worship in the House

The House of God is that in which Divine worship goes on, in which the "worth-ship" is brought back to God. Pharaoh set the children of Israel to build him cities, to bring the "worth-ship" of their lives to him. Satan sought to get Jesus to give the "worth-ship" to him. That shows how intensely Satan's heart is set upon being the object of universal worship.

The Lord Jesus God's Sanctuary

"Destroy this sanctuary and in three days I will raise it up." "This is my beloved Son, in whom (not only with whom) I am well pleased". At last God has one in whom He can be pleased. There never had been a man like that before. Jesus is set forth as a wonderful revelation of what God's House is, ordered according to heaven, in which God is worshipped. We mark Him, watch Him, and learn what God's eternal thought is, and then - wonder of wonders! - we are told that we are temples of the Holy Ghost individually, and then that we are builded together for a habitation of God in the Spirit. This, of course, can only be as Christ, God's sanctuary, dwells in our hearts, and He becomes the vessel of the Holy Ghost within us.

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