In the Sanctuary of the Lord
All throughout scripture, the word sanctuary is something people seek. David frequently says that he wishes to abide in the house of the Lord forever. Psalms 91 Starts off…
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.”
It’s the place to end all places. The ultimate safety and security. Yet all through the Bible, the word for sanctuary, (Mishkan) has a dual meaning. Sanctuary is a place of security and safety, but why is it a place of safety and security? Because the sanctuary is a place consecrated for meeting God. Sanctuary in scripture and history has a dual meaning. Believe it or not, the original meaning involves worship. The secondary meaning involves safety and security. Not the other way around. Because a wandering travelling people like the children of Israel saw things differently than we do. They might find a geographical place that is safe for a day or so. But if God is among them, to be worshipped, then there is no safer place.
In medieval England, the right of sanctuary was not just a spiritual aspiration, or a religious practice. It was a legal practice. People believed in the justice and mercy of God so much that if you evoked the right of sanctuary, criminal charges would be dropped. Regardless of what you had done, if you changed your ways, and devoted the rest of your life to God, all was forgiven in the eyes of the law. You were no longer that person. You were a new creation.
Sanctuary’s original meaning is actually reverent in nature. Mishkan means tabernacle. Dwelling place. A sanctuary can only exist because of what is inside the dwelling place. Historically the most holy place. The place where God is. That is the place considered the sanctuary. In a Christian church, it would be where the altar is. The beginning of Genesis ( Genesis chapters 1-2) seems like a straightforward path to people like you and I. It’s a pretty weird thing to hear about God creating all the animals, and building the earth. But we can follow the story. Except one part. God resting. It seems superfluous to us. Because we know God does not sleep or slumber. But to Hebrew people, God was building a temple for himself in the garden. A Mishkan. A dwelling place on the earth for him to commune with and love the creation that he spoke into being. It couldn’t be His sanctuary if He didn’t dwell in it. He wanted to be a part of the story he wrote. To be close to us, and keep us safe. And to receive the glory due his word and name.
In our lives right now, there is an endless supply of voices speaking out a constant stream of chaos and pain. The news is constantly pushing out a narrative that the country is steadily declining and that the world is going to break at any moment.
We cannot see the whole picture. It’s like the scripture says. . .
“For now we see in a mirror [a]dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.”
We hear the voices of the media, the voices of the world, and the voices of the enemy, and those voices cast a haze over the light that shines in the darkness. But be of good cheer. The darkness cannot overcome the light.
In these times, I encourage you to run to sanctuary. Run into the arms of the Father. Run into the arms of Jesus. Run forward. Not backward. Know that in worship there is safety and security. In being with Jesus and following his path, there is an undeniable benefit that he will catch you when you fall. That he knows the end before the beginning and that He is faithful and just to complete the work He started in you.
I will leave you with this. The sanctuary of the Lord is available. Available to all of us.
“19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a [a]sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
We are not orphans, begging at the table of the Lord. We are not waiting for Him to allow us into His holy chamber. We are His children whom He loves. We have access to Him freely and completely. In worship. In prayer. We can call upon Him at any time and bring the issues and desires of our hearts, and He delights to hear them.
Know right now that you are not alone.
He loves you, and so do we here at Granite Creek Community Church.
Praying for you always.
~Landon Isaac Pateo Spradlin