But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace. [Ephesians 2:13-14 ESV]
In Scripture, a sanctuary is a place where God dwells.
We have made sanctuaries less divine and more anthropocentric (man centered). Like a garden, a sanctuary is a place where there is peace from the wars of the world in which we live. Sanctuaries have become places where man may visit, but may not stay and may not bring weapons or tools of destruction. Sanctuaries are places where men may run when pursued by others and find safety from those who wish to harm them, like the cities of refuge in Israel’s history.
Only incidentally will a sanctuary, whether a building or a place, point toward God. Herein is the problem. We are centered upon ourselves, making the individual the greatest and most important in our world. This is an attitude, not a fact. Just because we think ourselves more valuable, more important, or the center of our own universe, does not mean we are. We have abandoned the knowledge that God is the center of all, created and eternal.
In the center of the Garden of Eden were two trees. One was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the other was the Tree of Life. Adam and Eve were told to not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They were told they could eat from the Tree of Life. In fact, God said they could eat from any tree in the garden except from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They were given permission to eat from the Tree of Life until they had eaten from the other. Then they were expelled from the garden so they wouldn’t eat from the Tree of Life, and live forever in their sin.
In the middle of the camp of the Israelites stood the Tent of Meeting. On all sides of the Tent were the tribes of Israel. Were they placed such to protect the Tent? Or was the Tent placed in the middle as the center of their life and existence? Here, in the Tent, God said He would dwell. This Tent was called a Sanctuary. “And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it” [Exodus 25:8-9 ESV]. This place was holy, set apart for the sole purpose of fulfilling God’s desires. In the center of this sanctuary, the Tent of Meeting, was the Most Holy Place. Within the Most Holy Place was the Ark of the Covenant containing the broken Ten Commandments and the Mercy Seat, the covering upon which was poured the annual offering of blood to atone for the sins of the people.
When Satan tempted Jesus he took Him to a high mountain and showed Him all of the kingdoms of the world. Where else can you see all things except from the center? Satan asked himself the question “who is the greatest in eternity?” and answered himself pointing to himself, falling from his high position before God, made himself the self-proclaimed center.
What did Satan say to Jesus? “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me” [Matthew 4:9 ESV]. Satan promised Jesus something he could not deliver. He may have given the impression all kingdoms were his by placing himself in the center of the world. Jesus exposed the lie with the truth. “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve’” [Matthew 4:10 ESV].
In the center of the garden was the Tree of Life. I believe this Tree of Life was a type of Christ, the Creator at the center of His creation. Man cannot live while at enmity with God.
In the center of the camp was the means God used to release the sinful person from the judgment and justified sentence of their sin. The Mercy Seat is a type of Christ and the blood poured over it, hiding the broken sin from the eyes of God, is Christ’s own. Man cannot live forever covered in sin. None of the kingdoms shown to Christ will last. Only His kingdom and the citizens of His kingdom, who are covered with the blood of Christ and have eaten from the Tree of Life.
Christ is our Sanctuary and our Peace.