The Sanctuary in Heaven

List of Studies

1. Introduction

In study: ‘The Sanctuary on Earth’ we see that for centuries in the earthly Sanctuary, every morning and evening the earthly priests performed animal sacrifices (the ‘continual’) to remit sin. Also, individuals were required to bring a sacrifice as a sin offering.  The remitted sin was transferred to the earthly Sanctuary,

In addition, there were a number of ceremonial feast days that required sacrifices.

Once a year the High Priest performed a sacrifice for the whole nation of Israel to cleanse the sanctuary of accumulated sin (see study: ‘The Day of Atonement’).

These sacrifices were deemed sufficient for the time, but could not actually take away sin. 

Thus, the time had to come when a sacrifice that could actually take away sin would have to be performed.  This happened at the Cross, which enabled the ministry that was prefigured in the earthly Sanctuary to take place in actuality in the Sanctuary in Heaven.

2. The Heavenly Sanctuary is represented in the earthly Sanctuary

The purpose of the earthly Sanctuary was to teach the plan of salvation, as it is acted out in Heaven.  Thus the earthly Sanctuary had to be made in strict accordance with God’s instruction:

He 8:5  Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. 

A shadow is not an exact copy, it is a representation of the original.  Things on sinful Earth cannot be an exact copy of the pure sinless things of Heaven, but they can be close enough to be an accurate representation.  

Thus, by means of the earthly Sanctuary, we have an accurate knowledge of the Heavenly Sanctuary and of the ministry conducted there.

3. The Sanctuary In Heaven

The Sanctuary in Heaven is God’s dwelling place, from where He surveys His creation.

Ps 102:19  For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the LORD behold the earth; 

The Heavenly Sanctuary is where the true plan of salvation is acted out, with our true High Priest, Christ, ministering on our behalf (see study: ‘The Priesthood of Christ’).

The apostle Paul discusses both the earthly and the Heavenly Sanctuaries in the book of Hebrews.  We must begin by seeing how the apostle Paul denotes the Sanctuary and its compartments (the Holy and the Most Holy).

3.1 The Holy and the Most Holy in Scripture

‘The holy’ is derived from the basic Greek ‘hagion’ (Strong’s G39, holy place), which is sometimes translated ‘sanctuary’.  This same word is used when referring to both the earthly and the Heavenly Sanctuaries, and is used in the plural form.  

The use of ‘hagion’ has been identified using the interlinear scripture analyzer program: ISA2basic.

The ‘hagion’ plural is used to denote the individual compartments of the Sanctuary (the Holy and the Most Holy), and also to denote the whole Sanctuary. This applies to both the earthly and the Heavenly Sanctuaries.

He 9:24  For Christ is not entered into {the holy places} [ISA2basic, hagia (holies)] made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: 

Note.  ‘hagia’ in this verse is in the form of a phrase: ‘the holy places’ 

He 13:11  For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary [ISA2basic, ta hagia (the holies)] by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.  

Note. ‘ta hagia’ is in the neuter plural form, and as such refers to all the parts of the Sanctuary. The neuter plural form is normally used as a collective noun.

He 9:25  Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place  [ISA2basic, ta hagia (the Holies)] every year with blood of others; 

Some understand He 9:25 as referring to the Most Holy on the annual Day of Atonement.  However,  the use of ‘ta hagia’ indicates the whole Sanctuary.  Indeed the Day of Atonement ministry involved both the Holy (atonement for the golden Altar of Incense) and the Most Holy (atonement for the Mercy Seat) - see study: ‘The Day of Atonement’.

He 9:2  For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary [ISA2basic, hagia (holies)]. 

Here, ‘hagia’ is not in the neuter plural form - it thus refers to a single Sanctuary compartment. The Sanctuary furniture listed in this verse identifies that compartment as the Holy (outer compartment).

When Paul refers specifically to the Most Holy, he uses a ‘hagion’ plural derivative twice in succession:

He 9:3  And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all [ISA2basic, hagia hagiOn (Holies of the Holies)]; 

3.2 Christ in the Heavenly Sanctuary

It is commonly understood that when Christ entered the Heavenly Sanctuary after His ascension He entered the Most Holy, where, it is believed, the presence of the Father resided.  

This understanding stems from the fact that the presence of God resided in the Most Holy in the earthly Sanctuary.  However, we must remember that the earthly Sanctuary was a figure of the Heavenly Sanctuary, not an exact copy.  For instance, there are no continual blood sacrifices conducted in the Heavenly Sanctuary. 

We must therefore use Scripture to ascertain the precise form and ministry of the Heavenly Sanctuary.  

He 9:12  Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place [ISA2basic, ta hagia (the Holies)] , having obtained eternal redemption for us. 

Note. ‘ta hagia’, as we have seen, refers to the whole Sanctuary - thus He 9:12 confirms that Christ upon His ascension to Heaven conformed to the sequence of the earthly Sanctuary, entering first into the Holy (outer compartment) in the Heavenly Sanctuary.

There He conducted His ‘continual’ ministry until the time specified for the true final atonement in the Most Holy in Heaven.

Note. Nowhere is the double plural (‘hagia hagiOn’, Holies of the Holies) used to indicate  that Christ entered the Most Holy in Heaven immediately after His ascension.

3.3 The Father in the Heavenly Sanctuary

When Christ entered Heaven He sat down at the right hand of the Father:

He 10:12  But this man [Christ], after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 

He 12:2  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

We see two things: firstly, after His ascension to Heaven Christ entered the Holy, and secondly, He sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Father.  

Thus the Father must have been in the Holy in Heaven, not in the Most Holy. 

3.4 The Most Holy in Heaven

As we have seen, the ministry on Earth corresponds to the ministry in Heaven.  The daily ministration on Earth occurred in the Holy, while the annual Day of Atonement (the final atonement in figure) was conducted in the Most Holy, in the very presence of God.

Thus when Christ performs the actual final atonement in the Heavenly Sanctuary, it must be conducted in the Most Holy (in Heaven), and it must be in the very presence of the Father.  

The thrones of Christ and the Father (in Heaven) must therefore be moved from the Holy into the Most Holy.

The relocation of thrones in Heaven is addressed in study: ‘Entering the Most Holy in Heaven’.  The ministry in Heaven is addressed in study: ‘The Priesthood of Christ’.  The time of the entry into the Most Holy is addressed in study: ‘The 2300 days prophecy’.

3.5 Free access to the Heavenly Sanctuary

In the time of the ministry in the earthly Sanctuary, the way to God had not yet been opened.  None but the earthly High Priest could enter the Most Holy, and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement.

Now in Christ, all His faithful may enter freely into both the Holy and the Most Holy in Heaven - into the very presence of the Father:

He 10:19,20  Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest [ISA2basic, tOn hagiOn (of the Holies)] by the blood of Jesus,  

20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 

Wherever Christ is present, those who are His by faith are present with Him.

4. Father and Son in ministry together

Ever since Christ after His ascension sat down at the right hand of the Father they have remained together:  first in the Holy (in Heaven), and now in the Most Holy (in Heaven).

Lk 22:69  Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God. 

The Father and The Son are inseparable in the salvation of mankind:

He 8:1,2  Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; 

2 A minister of the sanctuary [ISA2Basic, tOn hagiOn (of the Holies)], and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. 

Wherever Christ conducts His ministry, it is at the right hand of the Father’s throne.  Thus all of God is wholly involved in the salvation of mankind.  

When Satan accuses the penitent sinner, Christ, in the very presence of the Father, pleads His own blood in the sinner's defence - Christ cannot fail, our salvation is assured:

Rom 10:9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 

5 Summary

The Sanctuary in Heaven is the plan of salvation made plain for all the heavenly hosts to see.  The Lord has also opened it up, in figure in the form of the earthly Sanctuary, for all mankind to see - nothing is hidden. 

Thus the sequence of events in the earthly Sanctuary inform us of the events in the Heavenly Sanctuary. 

We know therefore that Christ, after His ascension, entered the Holy in Heaven to continue His ‘daily’ ministry. 

He then, at the appropriate time, entered the Most Holy in Heaven to begin His final ministry to eradicate the sin of the redeemed.

Throughout His ministry in Heaven Christ has been at the right hand of the Father. Thus both the Father and the Son are together involved closely in the heavenly ministrations for fallen mankind. 

We may therefore have absolute confidence that everything possible has been done to save us - it is up to us whether or not we are saved.

List of Studies