God’s way, or plan of salvation, is revealed in the earthly sanctuary. “Thy way o God is in the Sanctuary, who is so great a God as our God” (Psalms 77:13). God made a Sanctuary in heaven and the Israelites built one following its pattern (Hebrews 8:1, 2, 5). As we look into the Bible, we see a very detailed account of how God wanted His sanctuary on earth to reflect the one in heaven (Exodus chapters 25-40). The Sanctuary is made of three main parts: the Courtyard, the Holy Place and the Most Holy place or Holy of Holies.
The courtyard is where the people would enter into the sanctuary. It was surrounded by a solid piece of white linen curtain that wrapped all the way around the courtyard. It was held up by bronze pillars with silver tops. The only opening was a colorful curtain door.
In the courtyard, there were two main pieces of furniture: an altar of sacrifice and the laver. The altar was made of wood and overlaid with bronze. Behind it was the laver. The laver was a large basin of water made out of solid bronze.
In the sanctuary services, certain animals were sacrificed every day as a symbol of the Messiah that would come as a sacrifice for the atoning of sins. The sacrifice would then be burned on the altar. After, the priest would wash his hands and feet in the laver before doing services in the Holy Place. Different sacrifices were done throughout the day depending on the needs of the people or holy days. The most prominent sacrifice seen in the sanctuary was that of a lamb.
The Symbolism of the Courtyard
What is so beautiful about the sanctuary is that every piece is symbolic to help us understand God’s plan of salvation. The courtyard is a symbol of what Jesus came to do when He was on earth. Jesus is symbolized in the pure white linen that surrounds the courtyard. The colorful door is also a symbol of Christ as it is the only way into the sanctuary.
Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). Jesus came as a literal sacrifice for our sins. We see Jesus as our sacrifice at the altar. John says of Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus also began his ministry at His baptism, which we see symbolized at the laver.
These symbols also help us in our walk with God. There is only one way into the sanctuary, just as there is only way to God, through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). When we come into the sanctuary, we first see the altar of sacrifice. We cannot earn our salvation, but must accept Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins (Ephesians 2:8-9). Then, we see the next step we need to take to walk with God at the laver, known as baptism (Mark 16:16). These are the beginning steps of becoming a follower of Jesus Christ.
In His service,