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Into the Sanctuary

By Rev. David Blunt

This Editorial was published in the Presbyterian Standard, Issue No. 7, July-September 1997.

T HE Bible and Christian experience combine to tell us that all is not well with the world and why it is so: sin has entered in and is the plague of every human heart. The fall and degeneration of mankind, God's supreme handiwork, was complete. Total depravity with its fruits is not some abstract theological notion but a fearful day-to-day reality. Yet even the Lord's people can sometimes be taken aback and stumbled when they realise just how perverse the current order of things is.


One of the Hebrew words for sin which is used to express the crookedness of the heart also describes a body that is bent double when bowed down with pain (Psa. 38:6). Such disorder illustrates the unnatural chaos of this present evil world: everything seems to be twisted, inverted. We see sin, even daring sin, approved and praised, while righteousness is ridiculed; wicked men flourish and increase in goods, while the godly are not rewarded in kind. This is a great trial and may be a casting down to many believing souls.

It was said scornfully of the first disciples that they had "turned the world upside down" (Acts 17:6) – whereas in fact they were simply helping to turn it the right way up again! The leaven of the gospel is indeed accomplishing this blessed work, but unnoticed by the natural eye: precious seed is daily being sown by preaching and watered by prayer but the fruit of harvest must wait until the end of the world (Matt. 13:39). Only then will the books be balanced and righteousness reign unopposed in the earth.

Friend, which view of the world do you have? do you judge it according to your senses - or do you see it in the glass of God's revelation? is it true of you that you "walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7)? This is all the difference between confidence and doubt, triumph and despair!


Faith is certainly being tried in our day, and oh, how wanting I am found! Despite some effort my soul cannot get the grip on God which it needs. Because my grasp is weak my walk in the world is faltering: I wonder whether my cross-bearing and following in Christ's steps is worthwhile after all. But then I learn that there is a sovereign remedy which Scripture encourages me to employ: one which a wise and heavenly Physician prescribes to sober my giddy mind and steady my unstable soul; I must enter the sanctuary of God.

Door of Hope

Asaph knew this painful trial: a man perplexed at the unequal state of things, he then found himself serving in the place of worship and became a different man (Psa. 73:17). There his conscience was stung and and his folly exposed. Comfort was restored and lamentation was converted to the voice of joy and praise.

We go into God's sanctuary not by passing through the door of any building but by approaching the Father in the name of the Son with the enabling of His Spirit. Through our great High Priest we enter the tabernacle not made with hands (Heb. 9:11) and hold communion with the Eternal. An audience is granted with the Majesty on high! This is a tremendous privilege.


Every act of worship ought to be a transforming one. Outside the sanctuary dark storms are raging but inside all is calm and light. We are face to face with the unseen realities of eternity and the things of time and sense assume their proper place and fade away into the background.

Whether it is the sanctuary of prayer, preaching or praise, whether it is in the public or the private place, it is always the sanctuary of the Word of God. The mediation of Christ provides the basis and the Scriptures the medium for this exalted fellowship.


What did the psalmist find in the house of God? what produced the change within himself? It was no mere emotional or aesthetic effect, a being dazzled by the sights and sounds, for he says, "I understood." There was a powerful revelation of truth to his mind. We are told that when the ark of God was finally brought back to Jerusalem and set in the tent David had pitched for it, Asaph was appointed chief musician and leader of song to minister before the ark (1 Chron. 16:1, 4, 5). His great task was "to record, and to thank and praise the Lord God of Israel." To "bring to remembrance" the things of God – in his own mind and in the people's – a blessed duty! This was to be his continual work in the sanctuary as a leader of praise (v.37); it must be a great part of ministerial work today, for too easily we let even the most precious truths slip out of our minds.

In the first psalm delivered to him to conduct, the inspired words exhort Israel to seek out the works of the Lord: "Remember his marvellous works that he hath done, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth." (v.12). How much of the church's strength consists in recounting the mighty acts of her God!


One truth was especially sealed to Asaph in the worship of the sanctuary, giving strength to his needy soul: "Be ye mindful always of his covenant.....Even of the covenant which he made with Abraham.....an everlasting covenant" (1 Chron. 16:15-17). In God's covenant the land of Canaan is the promised inheritance of His people: not, we understand, the earthly territory of that name but "a better country, that is an heavenly" (Heb. 11:16). There is new Jerusalem, where the triune God dwells with His redeemed in perfect fellowship for evermore: Christ the King is seen by unsinning eyes in all His glory and beauty; unfailing charity forms a sweet bond between all the saints. Here are rich rewards indeed.

How often we encounter this theme of God's covenant salvation when we open our Bibles! In the sanctuary then we are reminded of God's great purpose for His own: we begin to see things once again not only in their parts but in their whole. What believer in whose heart this truth dwells richly could long be jealous of the wicked and their fleeting fame and fortune?


Israel was reminded to "worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness" (1 Chron. 16:29). God's covenant is grace to sinners but it is a holy covenant (Luke 1:72). The terms in which it is drawn up do not sully God's holiness by suffering sin to abound in His own. Grace teaches men to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts (Tit. 2:11, 12). Beware then, any professors of religion who rest in their sins! "But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?" (Psa. 50:16).

In the gospel the Holy One brings near His righteousness, enabling His elect to embrace it as their own. A righteousness which both secures our salvation and seals the wicked's doom; they have a "latter end" too, which shall see them swept trembling before Christ's judgment seat, naked and scarlet in their sins.


Whenever we enter the sanctuary of God we should glimpse something of His glory - and then declare it ourselves. In Israel it was bound up with the ark of the covenant (1 Sam. 4:21, 22); for us it is seen in Christ crucified for our sins.

Like our Lord such truths may be crucified, buried, and kept out of sight, even by men of religion; but they too will surely rise again and ascend back to their rightful place in believers' hearts and the church's life. May we too affirm: "it is good for me to draw near to God."