Can you think of a place where you’re always welcomed with smiles and open arms? Many of us find this in our parents’ home. For others it’s the home of a best friend. 

Did you know that there is a place where we can all share smiles and be received with open arms? As children of God, we are all given the key to our Father’s house. We can visit any time. It’s the best place to get to know Him. The desire of the believer is to “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” (Psalms 27:4 KJV).

After He ascended, Jesus entered the Father’s house (the Heavenly Temple) to begin His ministry as High Priest (Hebrews 4:13). Though we cannot physically be there with Jesus, we can follow Him into the heavenly temple by faith. We are welcome to “sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6) because we are “members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).

Like the Hebrew priests before Him, Jesus ministered in the Holy Place before entering the Most Holy Place. This month we will look at Jesus’ work in the Holy Place and what it means for us here on earth?

A Holy Place Message

The ministry of the Holy Place in the earthly sanctuary was a continual ministry. Its services continued through the Day of Atonement. Day and night the seven-branch candlestick was kept burning, the altar of incense continually perfumed the air, and every Sabbath fresh bread was placed on the table of shewbread. The priests offered daily sacrifices for the sins of Israel. Each day penitent sinners could bring sacrifices and receive forgiveness for their sins. 

The lesson here in this daily ministry is that Jesus is always waiting and willing to receive His wayward children. He loves to have us come for a visit to His house, to share our concerns, our sorrows, and our griefs. He wants to lift us up, to remove our burdens—the greatest of which is sin—and set us free to smile again and feel His love.

When Jesus ascended to heaven, He took up the ministry of the Holy Place in the Heavenly Temple. There, He “always lives to make intercession” (Hebrews 7:25) for us. Jesus is both our sacrificial Lamb and mediating Priest. As the Lamb of God, His blood reconciles us to God so that we can be welcomed into our Father’s house. This means that when we accept Him as Savior, we receive His perfect life in place of our ugly sinful life. We are not only forgiven of past sins, but we now live the righteous life that He has given to us. We may exclaim with Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). 

Christ’s daily work in the holy place is all about transformation. He is in the business of forming His character within us by the power of the Holy Spirit. When He does, the fruits of the Spirit—“love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance,”—become our way of life (Galatians 5:22,23 KJV). The burdens are lifted. We leave with an incredible gift!

A Temple Remains

When Jesus died, the veil of the earthly temple was ripped in two by a supernatural force. The shadow of things to come met its fulfillment. Jesus’ sacrifice opened the heavenly temple to all the world (Hebrews 10:20). It became “a house of prayer for all people” (Isaiah 56:7 KJV). The sacrifices of the earthly sanctuary were no longer needed. The Jewish temple would eventually be destroyed by the Romans. 

Yet God still has a temple on Earth? Us—His church. We are “being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22). The Holy Spirit’s work in and among Christians corresponds to Christ’s work in Heaven on our behalf.

Holy Place Gifts

“Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8).

The temple in heaven is the great command center from which Christ directs the Spirit’s work in His earthly temple. When our Lord “ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men” (Ephesians 4:8). “He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11,12). This is the work of the Holy Spirit in conjunction with Christ’s ministry in Heaven (1 Corinthians 12:11). 

Not only was the Spirit manifested at Pentecost, but He also continues to equip God’s church today. The spiritual gifts we receive from Christ’s ministry in heaven give us the ability to complete His mission on earth. The Holy Spirit is the one who gives us the ability to love the unlovely, share unselfishly, and seek after God. Without the Holy Spirit’s power, the church can do nothing. 

Dwelling in the Temple

The Father’s house is open to all who will enter by faith. In these uncertain times, it is the only safe place. “In the time of trouble, He shall hide me in his pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle, He shall hide me” (Psalms 27:5).

But what does it mean to dwell in the Father’s house? Each piece of furniture in the Holy Place points to Jesus and reminds us of a spiritual discipline that characterizes our daily lives when we dwell in the Father’s house. 

  • The table of showbread with its loaves of bread symbolizes Christ as the Word of God (John 6:35, Matthew 4:4). When we study the Bible personally and with others, Christ is there to break bread with us as the Spirit unfolds the mysteries of the Word of God (1 Corinthians 2:12). 
  • The altar of incense invites us to present our petitions before the throne of God by way of the beautiful fragrance of Christ’s righteousness (Revelation 8:4, Psalm 141:2). When we offer prayer at the altar of incense, we are brought into the Father’s presence where “the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us” (Romans 8:26). 
  • The seven-branched candlestick symbolizes Jesus, the light of the world, and our role as reflectors of that light. As we communicate the Gospel in word and deed, we reflect the glory of Jesus to those around us. At the same time, the Spirit is there to help us witness with boldness (Acts 4:31).

Do you dwell in the house of the Lord through daily Bible study, earnest prayer, and willing service? You can. Jesus is holding the door open for you, inviting you to spend time with Him in the Father’s house. By entering that open door, you become a resident in the Father’s house. He dwells in you through faith and nothing can bring more joy to both of you.

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