In the sanctuary that God instructed Moses to build as a pattern of the heavenly sanctuary, we find a wonderful abundance of eternal themes that the Most High desires for His children of every generation to understand.
History is marked with the witness of men who ever assumed to enter upon priestly duties independent of the explicit instructions laid down by God. For Cain, it was offering the fruit of his hands rather than the sacrificial lamb pointing to Christ For Korah, it was disregard of the order which God ordained for the ministration of the priesthood (Numbers 16:3). And Nadab and Abihu entering into the Sanctuary in their own time, in their own way (Leviticus 16:1-2). Or Jeroboam, who ordained a priesthood, and a feast of his own appointing (1 Kings 12:31-33). Yet in all this, it was a departure from the precept and plan of God’s word.
The Sanctuary times of worship were the daily evening & morning, Sabbaths, new moons, and annual holydays (see Numbers 28-29). Each of these were enjoined to a sacrifice executed by the priesthood on behalf of the worshippers (except on Passover, when the victim would be slain by the husband/father of every home) which signified that true and acceptable worship to Jehovah was only acceptable by the blood of Christ. It was at these times that the individuals, families, and congregations were to gather at the Sanctuary when the sacrifice foreshadowing Christ was offered; the sacrifice on occasions was accepted directly from the fire of God’s presence falling upon the altar of the sin-slain victim; yet in most cases, it was offered on the bronze altar of the earthly sanctuary, lit by the fire that comes from God’s throne (2 Chron. 7:1). This is highly instructional because it shows the beauty of what it means to worship in Spirit and in truth.
It is true that in the earthly temple, all things have their appointed season for special blessings and revelations from God as contained in the shadowy elements He ordained during the worship season. This is also true for the heavenly Sanctuary’s appointed times; from the which flow rich currents of water of life from the heart of God, of which the earthly is a pattern. What does this mean? To put it simply, it means that God has times of special blessings that He wants to give to His children. These times of special blessing were also times of worship. One special point for why the temple worship is associated with appointed times is because they cannot be divested of them. In Scripture, a congregation of people in the ancient Hebrew was called “עֵדָה (‛êdâh)”; this word means a company, an assembled host, etc. However, the temple on earth was actually properly entitled as “The Tabernacle of the Congregation” well over 125 times, most appearing in the first five books of the Bible. However, the Hebrew word for the “Congregation” is much different, and it’s proper name is very telling. It is “מוֹעֵד (mô‛êd)” which means “a fixed time or season; specifically a festival”. “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts (מוֹעֵד -mô‛êd).” (Lev. 23:2)
If the tabernacle of the congregation (appointed times) on earth was a pattern of the heavenly tabernacle, how much more are His worship times regarded in heavenly places? In the mount Zion of heaven, is the place where His throne resides, as well as”the place of our Sanctuary”: “He sendeth thy help from the sanctuary; from Zion He strengthens thee” (Psalm 20:2) “The LORD bless you from Zion…” (Psalm 128:5), also called “His holy mountain” (Psalm 3:4). Yet Satan seeks to destroy the order of heaven, with a special focus on the appointed times. Notice that in Lucifer’s self-exaltation, he desires to take the place of Mount Zion with it’s appointed assemblies: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation (appointed times), in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (Isa. 14:12-14) Lucifer was a covering cherub of the Sanctuary of heaven before falling. Special mention is made of these covering cherubs in the construction of the temple pattern on earth, that two golden cherubs should be represented in veiled face holding sacred regard to the law of God; it was to that Sanctuary that Israel anciently assembled to during the appointed times. Now to what assemblies did Satan go to primarily? We note in the Scriptures that he deceived a third of the angels, and he deceived mankind in regards to God’s requirements. We are also told that he deceives the whole world, and chiefly through the Papacy, who prophecy tells us that “he thinks to change times and laws” (Daniel 7:25) (click here for clear documented statements of the Catholic church believing to have the authority, and exercising it, to change God’s Sabbath and set feasts); it is this counterfeit of God’s Sanctuary through which Satan can not only deceive the world, but also the place of his worship times are given an appearance of Christian sanctity when having no real sanction in the Word of God at all (Rev. 13:2-4).
Historically, we see the creation of the earth, and Adam (called the “son of God” in Luke 3:38) placed at it’s head. We are told on the fourth day of creation, God ordained the sun to rule the days appointed, the moon to rule the nights appointed, and the stars appointed all as a celestial calendar to keep the appointed times pertaining to the heavenly Sanctuary, whether it was for all the universe or humanity’s appointed season to gather at the throne of God, the heavenly calendar was given for the purpose of knowing heaven’s appointed times of worship: “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs of the appointed times (מוֹעֵד – mô‛êd), and for days of the year:” (Gen. 1:14) Furthermore, we are shown heavenly Jerusalem, the true church of God, as a woman clothed in time in the book of Revelation 12 which is symbolic of the heavenly Sanctuary; in chapter 17 however, we see another woman, called Babylon, the counterfeit church, symbolic of the sanctuary which Satan establishes (see here for more details on this). When Isaiah saw in holy vision the terrible scene of self-exaltation in Lucifer’s heart, and his desire to have the authority on Mount Zion, and to change God’s appointed gatherings, Isaiah saw jointly that Lucifer was also called “the King of Babylon”; thus we see with clarity two distinct sanctuaries, and two distinct kingdoms. Yet of the two women, we are told that the earthly woman, desolate of God’s presence, has more children (Isaiah 54:1-2), even the whole world worshipping, honoring, and gathering at her worship times; which are not of God, but are of Babylon, having their origin in paganism (i.e. Sunday, Christmas, Easter, etc). In fact, nothing of a pagan origin regarding the holidays so well loved in this world will be found among the heavenly.
REVEALING THE PATTERN OF PURE WORSHIP
It is because of the apostasy of Satan, and the deceptions he has perpetuated on this planet as “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), his church has counterfeited the church of Christ. As a result, many sincere followers of Christ have been deceived regarding the purity of the worship of the true God, yet remember that the Father is seeking those who will worship Him in “Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23). Employing symbolism to teach lessons of the heavenly sanctuary, Jehovah, the God of heaven, instructs Ezekiel to mark out the manner of pure worship.
“Son of man, show the house [the Sanctuary] to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern. And if they are ashamed of all that they have done, show them the form of the house, and the fashion of it, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form of it, and all the ordinances of it, and do them. This is the law of the house; Upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house…and they shall judge it according to my judgments: and they shall keep my laws and my statutes in all mine assemblies (מוֹעֵד – mô‛êd); and they shall hallow my sabbaths…the people of the land shall come before Jehovah in the solemn feasts…” (Ezekiel 43:10-12, 44:24, 46:9)
It’s clear that God the Father would have His people remember His laws; and His ordinances. He has a law of the Sanctuary that is “most holy”; and we find those laws in the Most Holy place: the Most High God’s ten commandments (the foundation of His government), His everlasting priesthood (Aaron’s rod), His legal evidence of provision for His people (the manna), and the book of the law (The statutory laws and judgments of His government). The top of the mountain of Zion, where His Sanctuary is, is called most holy. Here we see the Sabbath, the new moons (Ezekiel 46:1), and the feasts, which are contained in the law, will be kept. In speaking of this heavenly Sanctuary, the church and city of God, we are told to “look upon Zion, the city of our assemblies (מוֹעֵד – mô‛êd): your eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords of it be broken.” (Isaiah 33:20)
When we see Zion, the heavenly city Jerusalem where we gather for the sacred assembly times of worship, we see a “tabernacle that shall not be taken down.” Despite this fact that there remains a sanctuary that shall never be removed or taken down, the Papacy, in presuming to have authority to change the law of God, “the place of His Sanctuary was cast down” (Daniel 8:11); for the Papacy “blasphemes His name, and His tabernacle” by supposing to have the authority which they claim is theirs. If the tabernacle of appointed times can be changed by a mere man who is not God, then the heavenly Sanctuary pattern is lost sight of. This is why Ezekiel is told to “measure the pattern” that they might be “ashamed of all that they have done”. It is because of the Papacy that Protestantism observes counterfeit times of worship that are not the times of Jehovah’s worship outlined in Scripture.
FALSE BREAD, FALSE RIGHTEOUSNESS, FALSE SANCTUARY
Yet many take upon themselves the name of Christ, believing sincerely that these appointed times are of His tabernacle, when in fact it is the Papal sanctuary and their times of worship that they are ignorantly, whether willfully or otherwise. honoring. When they choose to have their own doctrine apart from Christ. Moreover, when receiving salvation by grace through faith, we are called “unto good works, which God has ordained beforehand that we should walk in them.” These good works are outlined in the law of God; it is being clothed in the righteousness of God (as the heavenly Jerusalem is depicted as a motherly woman, being clothed with the sun, standing upon the moon, and crowned with stars- all which are given “for signs and for appointed times” ), and walking even as He walked. When the churches of Protestantism follow after the Papacy, refusing the truth and setting themselves in their own traditions, yet still proclaiming to be of Christ and heaven, they may profess Christ, yet in works deny Him, taking hold of the Papacy under the guise of a profession. Instead of the heavenly Jerusalem as their mother, they take “the mother of harlots” (Rev. 17:5) whose ways they follow hard after. Yet those of the heavenly Zion, will be a remnant who are faithful to the ways of God, and stand true in the presence of God, and true to His name and tabernacle, unlike the fallen daughters of Babylon:
“And in that day seven women [all of the fallen churches] shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread [doctrine], and wear our own apparel [righteousness]: only let us be called by your name, to take away our reproach… And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem… And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.” (Isaiah 4:1-6)
And it is to this end that the very Bible speaks. It is to bring us back into intimate communion with the One whose throne is in the Most holy place. The tabernacle demonstrates God would heal people from sin and error. We’re told healing streams are found there.
“And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.” (Ezekiel 47:12)
That sanctuary Ezekiel saw was called Most holy. It is a glimpse of the streams of life that come forth from the very throne of God. Ezekiel is shown the outside of that Sanctuary, but in the very last chapter of the Bible, the throne of God is opened to man’s view; in fact, all of the final chapter of the Bible speaks of the Sanctuary, and in particular, the Most holy place. It brings to light the throne of God, the tree of life which is symbolic of the law of God, which originally was guarded by cherubim to keep that way of life being preserved throughout heaven, when Adam and Eve were driven out from the presence of the Source of life through sin. As pertaining to the judgments, it speaks of the blessings and the first dominion restored; it speaks of the curses being abolished forevermore, and the closing sentence of the gospel dispensation which continued for 6000 years. The very same Sanctuary that Ezekiel saw in prophetic symbolism, John the apostle sees in clear and distinct realities being brought to view:
“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads… Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” (Rev. 22:1-14)
For this cause, we have a glimpse of the beauty of our God, His Sanctuary, and His holy gatherings which shall we shall assemble from Sabbath to Sabbath, one new moon to another (Isaiah 66:22-23), and from year to year to keep the solemn feasts (Zechariah 14, Nahum 1:15)
“The temple of God is opened in heaven, and the threshold is flushed with the glory which is for every church that will love God and keep His commandments. We need to study, to meditate, and to pray. Then we shall have spiritual eyesight to discern the inner courts of the celestial temple. We shall catch the themes of song and thanksgiving of the heavenly choir round about the throne. When Zion shall arise and shine, her light will be most penetrating, and precious songs of praise and thanksgiving will be heard in the assemblies of the saints. Murmuring and complaining over little disappointments and difficulties will cease. As we apply the golden eyesalve we shall see the glories beyond. Faith will cut through the heavy shadow of Satan, and we shall see our Advocate offering up the incense of His own merits in our behalf. When we see this as it is, as the Lord desires us to see it, we shall be filled with a sense of the immensity and diversity of the love of God. 6T 368.2
God teaches that we should assemble in His house to cultivate the attributes of perfect love. This will fit the dwellers of earth for the mansions that Christ has gone to prepare for all who love Him. There they will assemble in the sanctuary from Sabbath to Sabbath, from one new moon to another, to unite in loftiest strains of song, in praise and thanksgiving to Him who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever.” Testimonies, Vol. 6, p. 368