The Temple, Tabernacle, House, & Sanctuary of God
Section #1: In The Old Testament – how it was
Section #2: In The New Testament & in The Consummation – how it is & how it will be
Section #3: In Conclusion to Chapters 15, 16, & 17
Seeing that The Temple, Tabernacle, House, & Sanctuary of God all speak of the same place but in different stages of time, while the former section spoke of different places and locations, this section will not be delineated in subject categories like the former was. These four different stages of the same place will be surveyed interchangeably to enlarge our understanding of this one single location – The Most Holy Place. Our study of this place will include two major sections instead of three: how it was in the Old Testament and how it is in the New Testament. For the sake of fluidity and simplicity in our study, the third section (how it will be in the Consummation) is generally interwoven throughout the other two sections but primarily addressed in the second section.
In The Old Testament – how it was
Hitherto, let us look at the most segregated kind of congregation or assembly that existed in the Land of Israel, gatherings before or within The Temple, Tabernacle, House, or Sanctuary of God. Remembering, my reader, that there are more and less holy places, and seeing that the House of God is most holy, we can understand that the gatherings before or within this place are regulated with the utmost strictness, beyond all other places.
Under holy apparitions the psalmist exclaimed, “How amiable are Thy Tabernacles, O LORD of hosts” (Ps. 84:1)! My reader, do you know it? Do you know “how amiable”? If you knew it, then you too, like David, would have “one thing” as your life-long goal. David said, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the House of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in His Temple” (Ps. 27:4)! Do you know the experience? Are you amazed at the reality? That in God’s House, God is! Have you seen “the beauty of the LORD” (Ps. 27:4)?! Oh, how happy is the man that can say, “LORD, I have loved the habitation of Thy House, and the place where Thine honour dwelleth” (Ps. 26:8)! The place is for the Person – God Almighty – and seeing that this place is physically “before Him”, the preciousness of the materials used, the beauty and perfection of human craftsmanship involved, and the specific design of its size, organization, and all were of specific regulation and command. For good reason the scripture declared, “Honour and majesty are before Him: strength and beauty are in His Sanctuary” (Ps. 96:6). With strict and specific instruction God designed the structure of inanimate objects which would be arrayed “BEFORE HIM”, for these things housed Him! This is understandable, these are God’s chosen objects, but how much more His chosen people? If the objects which were before Him were so designated, chosen, and specified, how much more the people who stand before Him? Like the place, the inanimate objects and materials, so it is with the persons who appear before God, they all, by requirement, must “worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” (Ps. 96:9, 29:2)! God, “whose Name is Holy” (Isa. 57:15), requires that the place and persons which are before Him be holy. Wake up my reader! Is it still a light matter for you to stand before God in what you call your local Church? I beg you to keep reading, and hear your God!
“Who then is able to stand before Me?” – GOD Almighty (Job. 41:10)
“Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto Thee, that he may dwell in Thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of Thy House, even of Thy Holy Temple.” - Ps. 65:4
Is it a small thing for you, my reader, to enter into the gates of the Lords House? God, making a declaration that He is of incomparable fierceness, asked the awful question, “Who then is able to stand before Me” (Job 41:10)? Judgment is upon all who, God says, “enter in at these Gates to worship the LORD” (Jer. 7:2). These are the gates of “the LORD’S House” (Jer. 7:2), “The Temple of the LORD” (Jer. 7:4), whereat God WILL NOT suffer the presence of wicked men! If the wicked “come and stand before Me in this House which is called by My Name”, God says, He will cast them out of His sight (Jer. 7:10-15)! “Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD” (Jer. 7:11), “I will cast you out of My sight” (Jer. 7:15). Therefore, the psalmist declared, “Blessed are they that dwell in Thy House”, because all those who are expelled therefrom - WOE is upon them (Ps. 84:4)! Heaven has always been populated with the “blessed” of humanity, and hell? Hell is humanities “woe” (Lk. 6:20-26)! This means that the House of God is for heaven’s citizens, God’s household, and not for any other nation or family. Those who enjoy the House of God on earth, enjoy it in heaven. Praise God! To approach unto and stand before God ON EARTH, my reader, in His earthly House, this is a Divinely-empowered experience! It is written, “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto Thee, that he may dwell in Thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of Thy House, even of Thy Holy Temple” (Ps. 65:4).
The Persons Who Stand Before God – segregated by sanctification
“What hath My beloved to do in Mine House, seeing she hath wrought lewdness with many” (Jer. 11:15)?
All people who came to stand before God in this place, even those who were not Levites, had to be “cleansed according to the purification of the Sanctuary” (2 Chron. 30:19). The House of God is, in essence, a contradiction to wickedness, and by location it is at enmity to those persons that “dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Ps. 84:10). The two places and their inhabitants are contrary one to another – as the essence of light to darkness. You may profess that you are beloved of God, and you may be, but what if God said to you and your Church, “What hath my beloved to do in Mine House, seeing she hath wrought lewdness with many” (Jer. 11:15)? According to God, do you deserve to be in His House? Those that are within God’s House, “they will be still praising [God]” (Ps. 84:4), those that are expelled outside are those to whom God said, “when thou doest evil, then thou rejoicest” (Jer. 11:15). My reader, you pray in God’s Name, profess God’s Name, speak in God’s Name, and gather together with others, as you suppose, in God’s Name, but have you ever been terrified to do so? Wonder at this: any inanimate man-made structure or spiritually-built living organism, whether visible or invisible, if it be a place where God has recorded His Name, or in other words, it is a place where God’s Name resides, one should be careful so as to never approach this place with ungodly simplicity! For, remember, God said of the Angel, “My Name is in him” (Ex. 23:20-21). Even so, also, where God’s Name resides God forewarns: “BEWARE OF HIM, and obey his voice; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for My Name is in him!”
Seeing that God is among the people of Israel, He warns of danger and death. He is the invisible Executioner, the eminent Person and Presence which is to be reckoned with, and with His gaze scanning the horizon, going to and fro, He speaketh on this wise, “I WILL…and WILL”, but my reader, what will He do? Imagine His scanning gaze stopping upon you - oh man! - and do you know what He will say? God said of old, “I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people” (Lev. 20:3)! Since the Lord is among Israel, His face readily beholds sin in a manner different from the rest of the nations - what He readily beholds He readily judges! Therefore, because God is in the midst of Israel, what Israel does is before His Face. He is beholding it, and at the experience of certain sins He will turn His face toward you to set it against you, for harm and destruction. When Israel sins, they do not sin as heathen nations that are “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the Covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world”, they sin as a Nation that is “nigh unto God” (Deut 4:7) and “separated” “from all the people that are upon the face of the earth”. In other words, Israel is with God and God is with them (Ex. 33:16). Since His presence is with them (Ex. 33:14, 16, 34:9-10) in the Sanctuary, when Israel sins they do, God says, “defile My Sanctuary” and “profane My holy name” (Lev. 20:3). Seeing that He is in the Sanctuary, God does judgment by setting his face against men! God sets his face against men who “bear” their iniquity, iniquity which God forewarned of, because it would offend the Lord’s holiness and defile His Tabernacle! Thus, He said again, “Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God. And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the LORD which sanctify you” (Lev. 20:7-8). God commands that there be no wickedness committed, and if any is committed, there must be an atonement made. The death of the guilty can absolve the wrath of God, but if a non-human atonement cannot bear the guilt of the wickedness which men committed, then literally, the wicked persons, the sinners themselves must die! They all must die until, God said, “there be no wickedness among you” (Lev. 20:14)!
“Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established.” – Exodus 15:17
“And let them make Me a Sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” – Exodus 25:8
“…in all places where I record My Name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.” – Exodus 20:24
Because the Sanctuary was the place where God was (Ex. 15:17, 25:8), it became a place whereupon God’s name was called, as if the object itself bore the very reputation of God, and what you did to it, you did to God. Seeing that God was therein, the Sanctuary was a place of revelatory, eye-opening experiences where men saw God (Ps. 63:2), His ways, works, and purposes (Ps. 68:24, 77:13), and therefore all men were compelled to look thereto for help from God (Ps. 20:2). With the purity and livelihood of the Sanctuary secured, salvation was secured. When men were assured the Temple was well, they rested assured that their salvation was well (Ezek. 37:26, 28, Dan. 11:31). The inspired writers understood the health and setup of the Sanctuary to be the method and means for Israelite prosperity and peace (Ezek. 37:26). At the happening of Israel’s peace with God, power overflowed beyond their borders until, as it was written, “the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when My Sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore” (Ezek. 37:28). Is it any marvel then why the Sanctuary is called, “the Sanctuary of strength” (Dan. 11:31)?
So many people have burden and zeal to pray for and evangelize sinners, but they do not understand that, if we were rightly related to God – His House – then God would break forth upon sinners with unfathomable power. Instead, all our prayers that we pray are usually below we can ask or imagine, and furthermore, all the unction and efficacy in which we labor in evangelism is weak, powerless, and shameful when compared to the New Testament witness. How is it that we can be so fallen, so far removed from our God that did, that does, that will do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Eph. 3:20)?
Like Leonard Ravenhill once said, “Save the Church, save the world!” This means that if we saved the Church we would save the world! If we would build God’s House, He would be glorified (Hag. 1:8)! If we would make our ways and our doings right, God would break forth upon the heathen! None would say, “Where is their God” (Joel 2:17), any longer! Think of it, my reader. Was it even possible for there to be an OT revival if men “[took] away the daily sacrifice” (Dan. 11:31)? How then, for us in the NT, will we see a revival upon saints which will overflow upon the heathen if, alas, we do not even have the daily sacrifice perfected? Wouldn’t it be more pertinent to be burdened for the wrath-absolving labors of the NT Priesthood, if indeed we desire to take ground from the gates of our alien-enemies of hell round about us [see God’s curse: “Stripped of Power and Success at War”]?
The Code of the Priesthood
A Sanctuary is a “cleansed” place (Ezek. 45:18) which was ruled by “Laws of purification” (2 Chron. 30:19). Such a place as this required ministers (“them that keep the charge of the Sanctuary” -Num. 3:32), and they too, like the actual place, needed to be purified, cleansed, and sanctified. The ministers of the Sanctuary were the Levites (which included the Priests). They were the foremost class of holy persons who were, above all, called to stand before God. The Levites, who entered His “Sanctuary” (Ezek. 44:15-16), and the prophets, who stood before God’s presence (Jer. 15:1, 19), they were the shepherds and pastors of God’s people, and according to scripture they were “chosen” for this office because they were “like” God (“a chosen man” - Jer. 15:19, 49:19, 50:44, 2 Chron. 30:22).
If the common Israelite had to attain an acceptable degree of holiness, how much more those who came nearer to God than they? Beyond others, Priests entered the Sanctuary of God! It was their duty to keep the Sanctuary and House of God. For this purpose, the Levites were chosen to camp directly around the Sanctuary. They were the holy and chosen tribe who, by vocation, God brought near to handle and care for the holy things. Among the Levites, the Priests were held to an even higher degree of holiness (Lev. 21:6). Thereby they must avoid profaning God’s Name (Lev. 21:6), for it was said of the Priest, “he is holy unto his God” (Lev. 21:7)! The Lord continues to emphasize, “he shall be holy unto thee: for I the LORD, which sanctify you, am holy” (Lev. 21:8) – this is the foundational basis for all God’s commandments! The High Priest, who alone could enter the most holy place, was more holy than the other Priests. He could on no occasion touch a dead body, rend his clothes, uncover his head, for in so doing he would defile himself or the Tabernacle of God, and the penalty was DEATH (Lev. 21:10-15). The Lord said, “Neither shall he go out of the Sanctuary, nor profane the Sanctuary of his God; for the crown of the anointing oil of God is upon him: I am the LORD” (Lev. 21:12).
Putting On, Putting Off, and Washing
To stand before God and survive it, a Priest must “put on his linen garment, and his linen breeches shall he put upon his flesh” (Lev. 6:10-11). When leaving the presence of the Lord a Priest would then “put off his garments, and put on other garments” (Lev. 6:11). Before a man comes nigh He must “wash his flesh with water in the holy place” (Lev. 16:24). After the goat is released the man who touched the goat must become clean before entering back into the camp, for it is to be kept holy though it is less holy than the Holy place. He shall “wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward come into the camp” (Lev. 16:26). You see my reader, they must be washed to enter God’s House (Ex. 30:20-21, 40:12)! Are there no NT “washings” for the NT Priesthood (Titus 3:5, Eph. 5:26)? Is there no “putting off” and “putting on” regulation for those who enter into the NT House of God (Eph. 4:22-24, Col. 3:9-10, Rom. 13:12, 14)?
Blemishes and Perfection
A Priest was forbidden from the Priesthood if he was a man that had “a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous” (Lev. 21:18). Neither could a sacrifice be acceptable if it had a blemish or “any thing superfluous,” the Lord said “it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein” (Lev. 22:21). A Priest of the seed of Aaron could not “come nigh” having “a blemish,” thus the Lord said, “he shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not My sanctuaries: for I the LORD do sanctify them” (Lev. 21:23). The Priests had to be separate in person and live separate in relations so as to serve the separate-holy things and enter into the holy places of the Tabernacle, otherwise they would defile their holy persons, the holy places, and the holy orders of their employment and suffer death as a consequence. Again, I say, the Levites themselves cannot eat of the altar while being unclean (Lev. 7:20, 21:17-23). “Say unto them, Whosoever he be of all your seed among your generations, that goeth unto the holy things, which the children of Israel hallow unto the LORD, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from My presence, I am the LORD” (Lev. 22:3). “They shall therefore keep mine ordinance, lest they bear sin for it, and die therefore, if they profane it: I the LORD do sanctify them” (Lev. 22:9). Remember the hallowed words of the Lord in 1 Corinthians 3:17? “If any man defile the Temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the Temple of God is holy, which Temple ye are.” And again the Lord repeats in Leviticus, “Therefore ye shall keep My commandments, and do them: I am the LORD. Neither shall ye profane My holy Name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the LORD which hallow you, that brought you out of the Land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD” (Lev. 22:31-33).
Would to God that the LORD would make the preachers of the New Covenant, otherwise known as rulers (Jas. 3:1, Heb. 13:17), faithful “keepers of the charge of the House” (Ezek. 44:14). The Levites were, foremost of all, responsible for instructing and requiring all other Israelites to keep clean and holy, by Law. When the Levites were obedient they were said to be, those who “taught the good knowledge of the LORD”, as it was said in Hezekiah’s day (2 Chron. 30:22). They “caused the people to understand the Law: and the people stood in their place. So they read in the Book of the Law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading” (Neh. 8:7-8), as it was said in Ezra’s day. Would to God, yet again, “the ears of all the people [would be] attentive unto the Book of the Law” (Neh. 8:3)! If the Levites and Priests failed to, God says, “teach My people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. And in controversy they shall stand in judgment; and they shall judge it according to My judgments: and they shall keep My Laws and My statutes in ALL MINE ASSEMBLIES; and they shall hallow My sabbaths” (Ezekiel 44:23-24), they would be blood-guilty of nationwide murder. If all the people understood their own doings and continued therein, it was national suicide. On individual or nationwide circumstances, holiness, sanctification, and cleanness determined life itself.
“But those that encamp before the Tabernacle toward the east, even before the Tabernacle of the congregation eastward, shall be Moses, and Aaron and his sons, keeping the charge of the Sanctuary for the charge of the children of Israel; and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.” – Numbers 3:38
“Whosoever toucheth the dead body of any man that is dead, and purifieth not himself, defileth the tabernacle of the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from Israel: because the water of separation was not sprinkled upon him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is yet upon him.” – Numbers 19:13
“And the children of Israel spake unto Moses, saying, BEHOLD, we DIE, we PERISH, WE ALL PERISH. Whosoever cometh any thing near unto the Tabernacle of the LORD shall DIE: shall we be consumed with DYING?” – Numbers 17:12-13
The Way of Escape
“Ye shall keep the charge of the Sanctuary, and the charge of the altar: that there be no wrath any more upon the children of Israel.” – Numbers 18:5
Oh, my reader! God has a good answer to Israel’s cry, “shall we be consumed with dying?” But will we understand it? Will we agree with it? As you can see, if the Levites neglected their vocation and failed to instruct the people of Israel, a situation of national security emerged. Look upon them, my reader! Listen to them! Their voices howling and crying out, “WE ALL PERISH!” Saints were turning sinners – Israelites sinners! – and each one of them were, fearfully, in the hands of an angry God! Why? They violated the rules of holiness and profaned holy orders. Evidently, therefore, an Israel without Levitical instruction resulted in nationwide uncleanness and then… national disaster! At such a time, like the following verses will reveal, the Lord condemned the Priests and prophets foremost of all because they, in their negligence and folly, caused the downfall of an entire nation. The old proverb does memorialize such a situation, saying, “Scornful men bring a city into a snare: but wise men turn away wrath” (Prov. 29:8). The Priests and prophets are the wise men, my reader! They are the men who bore the utmost responsibility in Israel! The following utterances of divine fury do confirm this reality, God saying,
“Her Priests have violated my Law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them” – Ezekiel 22:26
“Her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her Priests have polluted the Sanctuary, they have done violence to the Law.” – Zeph. 3:4
“For both prophet and Priest are profane; yea, IN MY HOUSE have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD” – Jer. 23:11
“And ye have not kept the charge of mine holy things: but ye have set keepers of my charge in my Sanctuary for yourselves” – Ezek. 44:8
You see, my reader, the Levites were “the porters [the door keepers] at the Gates of the House of the Lord, that none which was unclean in any thing should enter in” (2 Chron. 23:19; see 1 Chron. 9:14-34). This means that, if they fell… Israel fell. Their offended God who was in their midst identified His impending wrath as it related to His very presence, warning in one place that He would, “go far off from My Sanctuary” (Ezek. 8:6), and in another place, “I will profane My Sanctuary” (Ezek. 24:21). The two threats are one in the same! The Lord was going away from His Sanctuary because it has become a hateful place, as it was written, “He hath abhorred His Sanctuary” (Lam. 2:7), and when He left His Sanctuary… how would He return? He left to call forth the armies of the heathen peoples, upon returning He joined their battle line, and in battle He empowered their armies to crush and conquer the Israelites! God, through the heathen, destroyed His own House and people, make no mistake about it!
“He said furthermore unto me, Son of man, seest thou what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should go far off from My Sanctuary? but turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations.” – Ezek. 8:6
“Speak unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will profane My Sanctuary, the excellency of your strength, the desire of your eyes, and that which your soul pitieth; and your sons and your daughters whom ye have left shall fall by the sword.” – Ezek. 24:21
“Wherefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD; Surely, because thou hast defiled My Sanctuary with all thy detestable things, and with all thine abominations, therefore will I also diminish thee; neither shall Mine eye spare, neither will I have any pity.” – Ezek. 5:11
“The Lord hath cast off His altar, He hath abhorred His Sanctuary, He hath given up into the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces; they have made a noise in the House of the LORD, as in the day of a solemn feast.” – Lam. 2:7
God takes ownership of Israel’s destruction, declaring, “I will profane My Sanctuary” (Ezek. 24:21), even though its profanation was through the instrumentality of heathen armies. When wrath of this magnitude did break forth upon Israel (like in the Assyrian and Babylonian invasion into Israel and Judah, ending in their captivities), the heathen armies were called God’s beating “rod” and hewing “axe” (Isa. 10:5, 15). Knowing this, the prophets lifted up their prayers to God, saying, “Behold, O LORD, and consider to whom Thou hast done this. Shall the women eat their fruit, and children of a span long? shall the Priest and the prophet be slain in the Sanctuary of the Lord” (Lamentations 2:20)? “How is the gold become dim! How is the most fine gold changed! The stones of the Sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street” (Lam. 4:1)! The people who were formerly unconquerable, their fenced cities of walls un-breach-able, their Temple of excellency incomparable, they were conquered, breached, and profaned! Those persons who were formerly forbidden entrance – unholy persons – did invade and defile that which is holy!
“The people of Thy holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down Thy Sanctuary.” – Isa. 63:18
“O God, the heathen are come into Thine inheritance; Thy Holy Temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps.” – Psalm 79:1
How terrifying it is! How awful! And yet understandable because, this judgment is retributive justice against a great evil – when Israel forsook God’s holy and clean ways. They were insolent, in violation of His Law, thus the Lord reckoned with them:
“In that ye have brought into my Sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my Sanctuary, to pollute it, even my House, when ye offer my bread, the fat and the blood, and they have broken My Covenant because of all your abominations. And ye have not kept the charge of Mine holy things: but ye have set keepers of My charge in My Sanctuary for yourselves. Thus saith the Lord GOD; No stranger, uncircumcuced in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into My Sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel.” – Ezek. 44:7-9
You see my reader, when God annihilated Israel by leaving them, joining their enemies to destroy them, Israel cried out for God’s return, saying:
“O God, why hast Thou cast us off for ever? why doth Thine anger smoke against the sheep of Thy pasture? Remember Thy congregation, which Thou hast purchased of old; the rod of Thine inheritance, which Thou hast redeemed; this mount Zion, wherein Thou hast dwelt. Lift up thy feet unto the perpetual desolations; even all that the enemy hath done wickedly in the Sanctuary. Thine enemies roar in the midst of Thy congregations; they set up their ensigns for signs. A man was famous according as he had lifted up axes upon the thick trees. But now they break down the carved work thereof at once with axes and hammers. They have cast fire into Thy Sanctuary, they have defiled by casting down the Dwelling Place of Thy Name to the ground. They said in their hearts, Let us destroy them together: they have burned up all the synagogues of God in the Land.” - Psalm 74:1-8
“The adversary hath spread out his hand upon all her pleasant things: for she hath seen that the heathen entered into her Sanctuary, whom thou didst command that they should not enter into Thy congregation.” – Lam. 1:10
When God speaks of redemption, it is an answer to these prayers, thus its language is in reference to the whole of Israel’s salvation – God’s presence, God’s Temple, with holiness and cleanliness restored!
“And I will encamp about Mine House because of the army, because of him that passeth by, and because of him that returneth: and no oppressor shall pass through them any more: for now have I seen with Mine eyes. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” – Zech. 9:8-9
“In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the LORD'S house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the House of the LORD of hosts.” – Zech. 14:20-21
My reader, have you heard the terrifying question? “LORD, WHO shall abide in Thy Tabernacle? WHO shall dwell in Thy holy hill” (Psalms 15:1)? Marvel at this and be astonished! NO wicked persons were allowed in God’s House (Lev. 20:14)! In an OT sense, that is, “no strangers” (Num. 3:38, Ezek. 44:7-9), no “Canaanite” (Zech. 14:20-21), no “oppressor” (Zech. 9:8-9), no “uncircumcised” (Ezek. 44:7-9) are allowed in God’s House! Whether “the enemy” (Ps. 74:1-8, Lam. 2:7), Israel’s “adversaries” (Isa. 63:18, Lam. 1:10), “the heathen” (Ps. 79:1, Lam. 1:10), those unclean by dead bodies (Num. 19:11, 13), or simply put – the “unclean” (2 Chron. 23:19) – all were expelled from the hallowed honor granted to humanity in that, on earth, they were enabled to stand before God’s immediate and special presence! In an OT sense, as it pertains to The Priesthood, Aaron’s sons who were “holy” (Lev. 21:7), “anointed” (Lev. 21:12), and “washed” (Ex. 30:20-21, 40:12, Lev. 16:24, 26), having “put on his linen garment” (Lev. 6:10-11), these were enabled to minister in the Sanctuary, and none else! If any of Aaron’s sons were defiled by dead bodies (Lev. 21:11, Num. 19:13), or otherwise, had “a blemish”, is “a blind man” (Lev. 21:18, 23), or in any regard, had “uncleanness” upon him (Lev. 7:20, 21:17-23, 22:3), these were disallowed entrance into the Sanctuary of God. Ceremonially they needed to be “purified”, “sprinkled”, and in “separation” (Num. 19:13). Under the pain of death, God warned: “Whosoever he be of all your seed among your generations, that goeth unto the holy things, which the children of Israel hallow unto the LORD, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from My Presence, I am the LORD” (Lev. 22:3). In the same language of ceremonial acceptance directed toward OT sacrifices, the Priesthood was acceptable only if they were “perfect” and with “no blemish” (Lev. 22:21).
My reader if you don’t understand this, you don’t know “how amiable” (Ps. 84:1) the House of God is! You don’t understand “the beauty of the LORD” (Ps. 27:4)! You have not “loved the Habitation” of His House (Ps. 26:8; see the violent pursuit of holiness inherent in David’s love for God’s Habitation in Psalm 26:1-12)! You don’t understand what it is to be “before Him” (Ps. 96:6) as one that is standing in His immediate presence, in His House (Jer. 7:10-15)! You don’t now the blessedness of the “blessed” man (Ps. 65:4) who worships God in “the beauty of holiness” (Ps. 96:9, 29:2)! You have no idea who is fit and worthy to, God says, “enter at these gates to worship the LORD” (Jer. 7:2), the place where men have been appointed to “keep the charge of the Sanctuary” (Num. 3:32) by putting a “difference between the unclean and clean” (Ezek. 22:26). All who appear there are “cleansed” or expelled (2 Chron. 30:19), Hallelujah! Shout for joy at this! Or are you included in the vast number of “Christians” who are at this time, without the crying prayer, “O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day” (Dan. 9:7)! “As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Thy truth. Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all His works which He doeth: for we obeyed not His voice” (Dan. 9:13-14)! Or, will you contradict and blaspheme, my reader, saying… “What wrath? What Law? What Unclean Laws?” Oh, my reader, the impudence! The mockery! Have you never read?
“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am HOLY.” – 1 Peter 1:15-16
“If any man defile the Temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the Temple of God is holy, which Temple ye are.” – 1 Corinthians 3:17
“For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” – 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1
My reader, you may seek eternal-safety and personal well-being as you continually resort to “the Sanctuary” in the House of God (your Church), but unknowingly, by your unsanctified body, soul, and spirit (1 Thess. 5:23-24, 2 Cor. 7:1) you are defiling God’s house, and, shockingly, the place where you sought refuge from His wrath has become the grounds by which you provoke His wrath, and where, at first, you sought to escape judgment, God will there, at that place, begin His judgments. Did you never read, “judgment must begin at the House of God” (1 Pet. 4:17), even so it was written of old: “Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women…and begin at my Sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before The House” (Ezek. 9:6).
Oh! How we have not “walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts” (Mal. 3:15, 1 Cor. 5:3, Ezek. 9:4)! How we have violated His Laws of spiritual companionship! How we have spurned separation! How we have failed to stand in judgment and “discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not” (Mal. 3:18)! How the Law is slacked, the people are at ease, and the faithful few are persecuted! How the wicked have risen and the righteous are hidden, and the happy rebels cast slander like gravel the mouth! In the midst of such a scene, my reader, there is hope. It was written, “they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon His Name. And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth His own son that serveth Him” (Mal. 3:14-18). Come Lord Jesus, come.