The Sanctuary 
 by E.H.  “Jack” Sequeira 

10 – Behold the Lamb

John 1:29-31:

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!  This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’  I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

In chapter one, we studied the courtyard of the sanctuary in the wilderness.  It was 150 cubits by 50 cubits and made up of two squares of 50 cubits each.  The western square which housed the sanctuary and its furniture represented Christ’s heavenly ministry.  The eastern square which had the laver and the altar of burnt offering represented the earthly ministry of Christ.

Let us focus on the altar of burnt offering which was at the very center of the eastern square.  It represented the central truth of Christ’s earthly ministry which is the plan of redemption.  It was not enough just to kill each animal as it was brought for an offering and take the blood.  It had to be put upon that altar, and it had to be consumed.  Two questions arise:

  1. Why did the animal have to be totally consumed by fire?

  2. Why was God so particular that the fire had to come from Him and not from any human source and what did this signify?

In Hebrews 12:29 we are told that God is a consuming fire:

...For our “God is a consuming fire.”

On the cross, your sins and mine, the sins of the whole world, were totally and completely consumed.  That’s what John meant when he pointed to Jesus Christ and said, “Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world.”  Why was the fire from God and why could it not be from men?  Every sacrifice on this altar taught that God’s judgment on sin was separation and death.  The death portrayed was more than physical death.  The wages of sin is eternal death — the second death.  Romans 6:23:

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It was this death that Jesus experienced at the cross.  This truth is beautifully brought out in The Desire of Ages, by Ellen G.  White, page 753:

“The guilt of every descendant of Adam was pressing upon His heart.  The wrath of God against sin, the terrible manifestation of His displeasure because of iniquity, filled the soul of His Son with consternation.  All His life Christ had been publishing to a fallen world the good news of the Father’s mercy and pardoning love.  Salvation for the chief of sinners was His theme.  But now with the terrible weight of guilt He bears, He cannot see the Father’s reconciling face.  The withdrawal of the divine countenance from the Saviour in this hour of supreme anguish pierced His heart with a sorrow that can never be fully understood by man.  So great was this agony that His physical pain was hardly felt.”

The Christian Church has failed to see the true and supreme sacrifice of the cross.  Satan has enshrouded the cross in darkness.  He is quite happy if we Christians will decorate our churches or our bodies with crosses so that we dangle a golden cross on a chain around our necks.  He is quite happy when we preach about the cross as long as we don’t know the truth that took place there on the cross.

There are two things that Satan has convinced the church to believe in that has caused the hiding of the truth of the cross.  One is the immortal soul.  You can never fully understand and appreciate the cross as long as you believe in the doctrine of the immortal soul.  The second way that Satan has enshrouded the cross in darkness is to get us to look at the cross with Roman spectacles and not Jewish.  Let us look through the Jewish spectacles and not Roman.  The cross meant something completely different to the Jews than it did to the Romans.

The cross was invented about 600 years before Christ by the Phonecians.  They, among other things, worshipped mother earth.  So they did not want to pollute the earth when it came to the death of a criminal.  Therefore, they invented the cross, so that the criminal would die above the earth and the earth would not be polluted.  The Egyptians adopted the cross and, from the Egyptians, the Romans borrowed the cross and refined it.  It became an art with the Romans.  They used it for capital punishment for the worst criminals and especially for run-away slaves.  It was an instrument not only of torture because it involved three to seven days of tremendous suffering — physical and mental — before death took over, but it was also a symbol of shame.  The Romans never crucified Roman citizens because it would bring disgrace to their country.

The cross meant something entirely different to the Jews.  First, they never practised crucifixion, and secondly, they detested it.  And they had good reason for that.  We could never fully understand the cross and what took place there unless we see it through Jewish spectacles, since the New Testament was written by Jews, excepting for Luke.

In Philippians chapter two, we have that wonderful chapter we call the knosis or the emptying of Christ.  Paul goes through seven steps of the self-emptying of Christ.  Let us look at the very last step in Philippians 2:8:

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!

What did Paul mean by that phrase?  To the Jews there was something about the death on the cross that was different from every other death.  That is why we need to look at it.

The central theme of New Testament teaching is Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  It must become the central theme of the preaching of the church today.  Read 1 Corinthians 1:17-18:

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel — not with wisdom and eloquence [that is, not with philosophy], lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.  [Notice that, to Paul, preaching the gospel is preaching the cross.]  For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing [How can a man dying on a piece of wood be the Saviour of the world?  It is foolishness!], but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

In 1 Corinthians 2:1-2:

And so it was with me, brothers and sisters.  When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.  [Paul did not preach philosophically, but he preached the word of God.]  For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

The central theme of New Testament preaching is the cross.  Unless we understand the cross, we have not understood the gospel.  This statement is taken from Gospel Workers by Ellen G. White, page 315:

“The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster.  In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the Word of God from Genesis to Revelation must be studied in the light that streams from the cross of Calvary.”

The cross is extremely important.  Here are three reasons why it is important to us:

  1. The cross purchased our redemption:

    Read also 1 Peter 1:18-19:

    For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

    We were bought back by the precious blood of Jesus Christ.  When Adam sinned he handed the human race over to Satan.  On the cross, God bought it back.  He bought it back that He may share heaven with you and me.  And that’s the good news!  That’s why the cross is important.

  2. The cross of Christ reconciled the sinful human race to a holy God.  In the earthly sanctuary, the priest himself was a sinner.  That is why there was a veil between him in the Holy Place and the God of heaven who dwelt in the Most Holy Place.  There was always this veil.  And on the Day of Atonement, when he went into the Most Holy Place, he had to offer a sacrifice for himself and for his family because he was a sinner.  There was always this barrier.  But on the cross God tore apart that barrier and He opened the door for us sinful beings to come directly to Him through His son Jesus Christ.

    In Hebrews 10:19-22, we are told:

    Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body [It is through the flesh of Christ that Jesus took away the sins of the world and God consumed it on the cross.], and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

    That is what Christ did on the cross.  He reconciled us to a holy God.

    Romans 5:10-11:

    For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!  Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

    That is, at-one-ment with God.  2 Corinthians 5:18, Ephesians 2:16, and Colossians 1:20 say the same thing.  2 Corinthians 5:18:

    All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:

    Ephesians 2:16:

    ...And in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

    Colossians 1:20:

    ...And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

  3. The cross of Christ was the supreme manifestation of God’s self-emptying love.  We have already covered the true definition of God’s love.  We saw that it was agape.  On the cross we see the agape love of God manifested in the death of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Romans 5:8 is in contrast to verse 7, here:

    Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.

    Human beings only know how to die for their good ones and even then all human beings do that.  A father was willing to give his life for his son.  In verse 8 we are told:

    But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    The supreme manifestation of God’s love for us was the cross.  John 3:16:

    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

To appreciate this, we have to look at the cross through the spectacles of the Jews.  We look at the cross, not with Roman eyes, which is how the Christian church and many Christians here are doing, but we must look through Jewish eyes.  To the Romans, the cross was a capital punishment for the worst criminals and for run-away slaves.  Rome did not crucify Christ.  You will say, “The Romans did the act,” and that is true.  But when Pilot turned to the Jews and said, “You go and crucify Him,” and washed his hands, he was not doing that as an individual, but as a representative of the Roman Empire.  As far as Rome was concerned, Christ did not deserve crucifixion.  He was not a criminal nor was He a run-away slave.  It was the Jews who crucified Him.  The Roman soldiers were doing the will of the Jews and not of the Romans.

If the Jews did not practice crucifixion, why did the Jews want Him crucified?  Let’s go step by step.  In John 19:5, Pilot, to appease the Jews hoping that they would side-track from the cross, flogged Jesus Christ, put a purple robe of mockery and a crown of thorns on His head and brought Jesus before the people.  John 19:5-6:

When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”  As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify!  Crucify!”

But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him.  As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”

Rome found no fault in Christ to be crucified.  The Jews found fault in Him.  Verse seven tell us what that fault was.  John 19:7:

The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”

This law was given to them by God Himself.  The law they were referring to is found in Leviticus 24:15-16:

Say to the Israelites: “Anyone who curses their God will be held responsible; anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord is to be put to death.  The entire assembly must stone them.  Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death.”

Now Jesus identified Himself with God.  That to the Jews was blasphemy and God said to the Jews, if somebody blasphemes, you put him to death.  But God also stipulated how he was to be put to death:  all the congregation was to stone him.  Now the Jews knew the second half of this law.  They were not ignorant about the stoning part.  In John 10:30, Jesus makes the same statement that led the Jews to cry out, “Crucify Him.”  He said:

“I and the Father are one.”

To the Jew that was blasphemy.  So verse 31 says:

Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him....

This was not the first time they tried it.  Were they being bad people or were they obeying the law of God?  In their hearts, they were obeying the law of God.  “Stone Him,” they said, but they failed because the hour had not yet come.  So the Jews knew that stoning was the punishment for blasphemy.  If they knew that, why did they cry out in Pilot’s courtroom, “Crucify Him”?  Would Pilot not have allowed them to stone Him?  No.  That was not the problem.  Then why were they crying out, “Crucify Him”?  What did they have in mind when they cried out, “Crucify Him”?  What were they thinking?  To answer that we need to go to another passage in the Old Testament.

We read in Deuteronomy 21:22-23:

If someone guilty of a capital offense is put to death and their body is exposed on a pole, you must not leave the body hanging on the pole overnight.  Be sure to bury it that same day, because anyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse.  You must not desecrate the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.

What is this text saying?  Here is an illustration.  Let us say that a Jew has committed a crime worthy of death.  He is brought before the judge and the judge sentences him to death.  There is hope for that man.  He can go back to his cell awaiting execution and he can go on his knees and he can say, “Dear Jehovah, please forgive me,” and God will forgive him.  But if the judge had said, “Not only must you die but, after you die, your body is to be hung on a tree,” that meant to the Jew the unpardonable sin, the irrevocable curse of God.  He went back to his cell a hopelessly lost man.

To cite an illustration of this, we go back to when God gave Abraham the land of Canaan; through Abraham, God gave Abraham the witness of Himself.  Abraham then not only was the child of God but he also was God’s witness in Canaan.  The children of Abraham after Jacob and Joseph were born had to leave Canaan and go to Egypt.  Turn to Genesis 15 and listen to what God said to Abraham.  God told Abraham that his children would leave Canaan and go to a foreign land.  Genesis 15:13:

Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for 400 years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there.”

Then, after 400 years, He would bring them back to the promised land.  Why did He take Abraham’s children out of Canaan for 400 years?  It was because He was giving the Canaanites 400 years of probationary time in which to accept Jehovah.  He had witnessed to them through Abraham and now He is giving them 400 years to accept.  In verse 16 we are told:

“In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites [an ancient term for Canaanites] has not yet reached its full measure.”

So when the Jews returned back to Canaan, any nation that attacked Israel was openly saying, “We reject the God of heaven.”  They were committing the unpardonable sin.  They were wilfully and deliberately saying, “God, we don’t want you.”  So God gave the commandment that they should be destroyed.  Read Joshua 10 as an example of this.  There were five kings in Canaan who joined together against the Gibeonites.  The Gibeonites agreed to accept the God of Jehovah and joined Israel, but the five kings said, “No, let us attack the Gibeonites because they have taken sides with Israel and their God.”

So the Gibeonites said to Israel, “Please, we need your assistance.  We can’t defeat five kings.”  And so Joshua and his army joined the Gibeonites and God gave Joshua a victory.  Look at Joshua 10:5, where it lists the five kings of the Amorites that made war on Gibeonites:

Then the five kings of the Amorites — the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon — joined forces.  They moved up with all their troops and took up positions against Gibeon and attacked it.

Verse six tells how the Gibeonites sent again to Joshua for help:

The Gibeonites then sent word to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal: “Do not abandon your servants.  Come up to us quickly and save us!  Help us, because all the Amorite kings from the hill country have joined forces against us.”

Verse 10 gives the outcome:

The Lord threw them into confusion before Israel, so Joshua and the Israelites defeated them completely at Gibeon.  Israel pursued them along the road going up to Beth Horon and cut them down all the way to Azekah and Makkedah.

Joshua took the five kings captive and brought them before Israel and listen to what he said in verses 25 and 26:

Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Be strong and courageous.  This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.”  Then Joshua put the kings to death and exposed their bodies on five poles, and they were left hanging on the poles until evening.

Joshua simply followed the commandment of the Lord found in Deuteronomy 21:22-23:

If someone guilty of a capital offense is put to death and their body is exposed on a pole, you must not leave the body hanging on the pole overnight.  Be sure to bury it that same day, because anyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse.  You must not desecrate the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.

He was saying to Israel, “These kings opposed us and Jehovah and rejected Him.  They had committed the unpardonable sin and this is the curse of God upon them — the irrevocable curse.”

When the Jews cried out, “Crucify Him,” to them crucifixion was synonymous to hanging on a pole (or tree).  That’s why they detested crucifixion because it meant the unpardonable sin.  So when they cried to Pilot, “Crucify Him,” they were not simply crying to see Jesus die.  They wanted more than that.  They wanted the curse of God to come upon the only begotten Son.  That’s what they cried for.  “Curse Him, God, curse Him!”  Did God listen to their request?  We find the answer in Isaiah 53.  The answer to that question is “yes,” but for a very different reason.  God brought the curse upon the human race who deserved it, upon His Son — not because Jesus blasphemed.  God Himself on more than one occasion addressed Himself to Jesus Christ (Luke 3:22):

...And the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven:  “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Then, as far as God is concerned, Jesus had never blasphemed.  Then why did God answer the prayers of the Jews?  Why did God allow Jesus to be crucified?

Isaiah 53:4-5:

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.  [God did strike Him.]  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

What kind of punishment?  The punishment of God abandonment!  The punishment of the second death.

We read in Hebrews 2:9:

But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

“He tasted death for every person.”  He did not taste the first death for everyone because believers also die the first death.  He tasted the second death for every man, woman, and child, and that is why I read in Revelation 20:6 that for those who accept Christ, “The second death hath no power over them.”

Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection.  The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

Because there is another who tasted the second death for them — Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 53:10-11:

Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.  After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

In Romans 8:32 we read:

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

“God did not spare His own Son.”  Why is it that God did not spare His own Son?  Three times there in Gethsemane, Jesus cried out with bloody sweat (Matthew 26:39b):

“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.”

What was the cup?  It was not crucifixion.  It was not the physical torture of the cross.  It was the wages of sin — the terrible agony of God-abandonment.  And the Father said, “No, I will not spare you.”  because, “If I spare you, the world is lost and I sent you to this world, not to condemn the world but to save the world.  You have to die.  You have to experience the death that they would experience at the end of the millennium.”  So Jesus, as He hung on the cross cried out, “Father, Father, why have you forsaken me?”  Matthew 27:46:

About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

Jesus was not acting.  He was not a Hollywood actor who was reading His script and using it at the right time.  That cry came from the depths of His heart.  As He hung on the cross something happened.  Notice the second paragraph of this quotation:

“Satan with his fierce temptation wrung the heart of Jesus.”  —Desire of Ages, p.  753.

In Luke 23:35, 36-37, 39 we see the temptation with which Satan wrung the heart of Jesus Christ:

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him.  They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

The soldiers also came up and mocked him.  They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah?  Save yourself and us!”

Three times Satan came to Jesus through three different groups:

  1. He came through the priests.

  2. He came through the soldiers.

  3. He came through the thief on His left-hand side.

Each time the issue was the same:  “Come down from the cross and save yourself.”  The problem was that, if Jesus came down from the cross and saved Himself, He could not save us at the same time.  This was the ultimate choice.  Jesus could have come down independent of the Father for the Father had forsaken Him as far as His feelings were concerned.  Independent of the Father, He could have grabbed hold of divine power and saved Himself.

Satan is not dumb.  He has never tempted me to turn pebbles into doughnuts because he knows I can’t do it.  He will never tempt you to do something that you cannot do.  He is not a fool, but he knew who Jesus was.  The Jews may not have known Him but He knew that He was the Son of God.  He knew that Jesus had power to come down and save Himself.  It was with this that he wrung the heart of Jesus.  He said, “Jesus, don’t be a fool.  These people are mocking you.  They have crucified you.  Your disciples have deserted you.  Come down and save yourself.”  Jesus could have done that, but He knew that, if He came down, you and I would be eternally lost.  He chose to die not the first but the second death that we may be saved.  In other words, on the cross He demonstrated what agape is — that He loves us more than Himself!  That’s the kind of God we worship.  He was willing to say “goodbye” to life forever that we may take His place.  Therefore, you can never doubt God when you know this.  That is why I would like to remind you of this statement.  Here are the last two sentences of the first paragraph:

“The withdrawal of the divine countenance from the Saviour in this hour of supreme anguish pierced His heart with a sorrow that can never be fully understood by man.”

Why not?  Because no man since Adam has ever died the second death.  Only Christ has experienced it.  And He did it that no man should die the second death.

“So great was this agony that His physical pain [which we give to Him because we look at the cross with Roman eyes] He hardly felt.  [Not that it wasn’t there, but pain is relative.  What He felt was the agony of God-abandonment.]  Satan with his fierce temptations wrung the heart of Jesus.  The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb.  Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror or tell Him of His Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice.  He feared that sin was so offensive to God that their separation was to be eternal.  Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race [which is at the end of the millennium].  It was the sense of sin bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God.”

This is what the disciples saw, because they were Jews.  The did not look at the cross with Roman eyes but through Jewish eyes.  And when Paul said, “even the death of the cross,” he meant, “even the curse of God.”  We know that this is the case.  We read in Galatians 3:10:

For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written:  “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”

This text applies to all.  We are all under the curse of God because none have kept the law perfectly.  Verse thirteen:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us [yes, God did make Him a curse, not for blasphemy, but for us], for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”

Again, Paul is quoting Deuteronomy 21:23b:

...Anyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse.

This is the cross of Christ that the disciples saw.  And when they saw their Saviour tasting the second death for them, all their selfishness disappeared and they were transformed men.  They were ready now to go into the work and turn the world upside down because the love of God had constrained them.

Let us continue this quotation from The Review and Herald, 1 April 1890:

“In dying for sinners, Christ manifested a love that is incomprehensible.  And in beholding this love [this agape love] the heart is impressed, the conscience is aroused and the soul is led to inquire what is sin that it should require such a sacrifice for the redemption of its victims?”

When you realize the cross of Christ, I hope you will never say when the nominating committee comes to you and asks, “Will you serve in this capacity,” “I don’t have the time.”  If you do, you have not realized the cross of Christ.  We must be willing to turn the world upside down.  We need to see the cross, not as a piece on wood on which a man died but see the Son of God willing to say “goodbye” to life forever that we may live in His place.  May God bless us!


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