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Do you have a treasure box? Perhaps it’s a collection of photos or postcards? Maybe you have some letters in it. Mine has those things and more. To me, these little things are remembrances of things that are important; I call them places in the heart. As I was thinking about such things, my thoughts turned to God’s sanctuary. Have you ever given any thought to God’s sanctuary?

After God rescued his people from Egypt, he gave them construction instructions for a sanctuary and described the services that would be performed there. The two most profound and symbolically rich services performed were the annual Passover and the Day of Atonement; teaching people about redemption and reconciliation.

For those seeking for God, the sanctuary was inspiring. The author of Psalm 77 wrote this:

“I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
I will also meditate on all Your work, And talk of Your deeds.
Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; Who is so great a God as our God?”  (Psalm 77:11-13)

God’s sanctuary, its services and its meaning even for us today is woven through His grand redemption story and it is both beautiful and complex; inspiring and challenging. But I like to keep things simple so I want to draw your attention to a singular purpose for the sanctuary that you can find in Exodus 25:8:

“And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”

It’s been noted that the phrase, “that I may dwell among them” could be translated as “that I may dwell within them.” The point of the sanctuary was to bring God within the hearts of His people. This is God’s eternal plan. On the night before the cross, Jesus made his strongest appeal to experience God’s abundant peace and joy. In John 15:4, Jesus said:

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”

“And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”

The interesting thing about God’s story is that right after he says this, he generally refers to the sanctuary as his tabernacle – his dwelling place. It’s like he is saying he wants them to build a place for religious purposes but the reason is because he wants to dwell (tabernacle) with them (as opposed to jump through religious hoops). Hence the emphasis on dwelling with his people. We tend to get stuck on the outward forms of religion and miss the true reason for worship.  Even from the beginning, God was telling them to stay focused on him above all else.

Would you be willing to reflect on God’s desire to dwell among and within you? Take a moment and do a searching inventory of yourself. Consider these questions:

Who do you think about throughout the day?

Who do you love to talk about on a regular basis?

Who has your warmest love and your best work?

Is it Christ? Are your kindest thoughts of Him?

Does God reside in the treasured places in your heart?