The Earthly Sanctuary a Copy and Shadow

By: Karen Engle, ICEJ USA Managing Editor


In the book of Exodus, God’s instructs the children of Israel to build Him a sanctuary in which to dwell:

And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it. (Exodus 25:8–9)

This tabernacle was built by the Israelites in the wilderness around 1450 BC. It was the first “temple” dedicated to God and where the Ark of the Covenant was housed. Solomon’s First Temple would come later, followed by the Second Temple in Jesus’ day.

However, these earthly sanctuaries where all the Yom Kippur sacrifices were performed were mere copies or “shadows” of the true, heavenly sanctuary. The following passages reference both—and the cleansing work in the heavenly tabernacle of Jesus, our Great High Priest, on Yom Kippur:

But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:11–12)

For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another—He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. (Hebrews 9:24–27)

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:19–23)

Modern Yom Kippur Celebrations

Before the temple was destroyed in AD 70, Yom Kippur services were more clearly defined than today. Without a temple, adjustments had to be made.

Today, before the start of Yom Kippur at sundown on Tishri 10 when fasting commences, families share a meal. Like on the weekly Sabbath, no work is done, and families light special holiday candles before the feast starts. Synagogues host special services, where both the rabbis and the people wear white. To atone or “cover” sin, the Jewish people fast, pray, repent, ask God for forgiveness, and do good deeds. Everyone wishes each other a happy Yom Kippur, saying things like: “I wish you a day of forgiveness, mercy, and blessings on your day of repentance.”

The fast continues until sundown the next day, when a final blast of the shofar sounds, and the fate of each person is sealed for the upcoming year. Jewish families then enjoy a “break-the-fast” meal.