The doctrine of the heavenly sanctuary is foundational to Seventh-day Adventism. But many Adventists would probably find it hard to explain what practical difference this teaching makes in their lives. Does it indeed make a difference?
I would like to share with you one of the more beautiful explanations that I have read on the meaning of this topic. It is a book entitled Ransom and Reunion (1977), written by W. D. Frazee. The book is worth the read, but you can read here the first chapter in its entirety. I hope this reading will touch your heart and inspire you to study further the ministry of Christ in the heavenly realms above.
“What Are You Worth?”
From Ransom and Reunion by W. D. Frazee
“Judge, have you ever thought about what you mean to God?” I directed my question to a friend who had served as county judge for many years and whose wife had recently died. Our conversation had turned to the promises of the Bible and the message of comfort they bring. “Recently in Venezuela,” I continued, “a father paid $900,000 to ransom his thirteen-year-old boy who had been kidnapped. Was he worth it?”
“Sure,” my friend assented, “he was worth it to his father.”
“Yes,” I agreed. “Now, Judge, tell me, has anyone ever paid a ransom for you?”
He nodded. He knew about the sacrifice of Calvary.
“Judge, are you worth it?”
He bowed his head. “No, Mr. Frazee, I’m afraid I’m not.”
“Wait,” I urged. “Does God know values? Does the One who made you know your worth? If He says you are worth what He paid for you, would you dispute it? After all, if you are not worth that much, then He cheated Himself, didn’t He? Thank God, Judge, you are worth the ransom.”
What makes a man valuable to God?
Suppose, when that father was looking everywhere for his kidnapped boy, someone had approached him with this offer.
“Sir, I hear that you are looking for your boy and will pay $900,000 for his ransom.”
“Yes, indeed! Can you help me find him?”
“Well, I think I can get you a boy who will cost you only a thousand dollars. It will save you a lot of money.”
Would the father have shown interest? Not at all! He was not looking for a boy. He was looking for the boy, his own boy.
Each one is different.
Why did God pay such an infinite ransom for man? To understand we must recognize God’s purpose in creating him. God made man for fellowship for Himself. Concerning Israel of old, God said, “This people have I formed for myself” (Isaiah 43:21). Yes, “the Lord taketh pleasure in his people” (Psalm 149:4).
Each one is different, a new individual. Did you ever see anyone like you? Sometimes when I ask this question, someone retorts, “No, and it’s a good thing!” Yes, it is a good thing. If you could find your duplicate, your value would drop at least 50 percent. But there is no danger. You are unique. God “needed” only one like you. But He “needed” that one.
“We were brought into existence because we were needed” – Ellen G. White, Signs of the Times, April 22, 1903.
One of the greatest needs in the human heart is to feel needed. To fill the need of one we love, to know that that one fills our need—this constitutes the basis of true fellowship. The husband and wife who have such an experience together enjoy a foretaste of heaven. When parents and children share this communion, there is no generation gap. The satisfactions of true friendship are possible because of mutual need and mutual fulfillment of need. And through all these human relationships God seeks to reveal Himself to us. He longs to have us understand not only what He means to us but what we mean to Him.
Many Biblical heroes gladdened their Creator by enjoying an intimate fellowship with Him. Enoch walked with God three hundred years. He meant so much to the Lord that He said, “Come home with Me, Enoch, and we will keep on walking together all through eternity.” “Before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5). Enoch made God happy. He met the heart need of the Infinite One, and there are Enochs today (COL 332).
Think of Abraham. While the Scriptures record his mistakes and failures, it also states that “he was called the Friend of God” (James 2:23). Who called him that? The Lord Himself. He speaks of him as “Abraham my friend” (Isaiah 41:8). Notice in the story of Genesis 18 the fellowship God enjoyed with His friend. Hear His expression of confidence: “I know him” (Genesis 18:19). Hear Him counseling with Abraham over the fate of Sodom. Listen as Abraham talks with God reverently, yet confidently, suggesting what he thinks would accord with divine justice and mercy.
Then consider Moses. “The Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend” (Exodus 33:11). This intimacy, developed during Moses’ years of solitude as a shepherd in Midian, continued unbroken (save for that moment of impatience at Kadesh) throughout his forty years as visible leader of Israel. Behold Moses in the mount, shut in with God in closest communion. Here the Lord reveals to him the plans for a sanctuary on earth, a miniature model of the heavenly temple. But the consideration of these plans is interrupted as God tells Moses what is going on down in the camp. Apostasy demands stern measures, and God proposes to wipe out Israel and begin a new nation with Moses. Like Abraham, Moses dares humbly but boldly to intercede with God. He urges reasons why God should spare Israel. He offers to lay down his own life for his people. His pleas echo the deepest yearnings of the Most High; so God and Moses come to a united understanding, an agreement concerning Israel’s future.
And where do you fit into the picture? God has formed you, too, to be His friend. You cannot take the place of Enoch, of Abraham, or of Moses, nor can they take your place. God has a place in His infinite heart that only you can fill. He “needs” you for His friend. He longs for your fellowship, your love, your understanding. To Him you are precious. For this reason He made you. For this reason He died for you. For this reason He went back to heaven to prepare a place for you, leaving His parting promise, “I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3).
All my life I have known that I needed God. But it came as a wonderful revelation when I found out that He “needed” me, not just to run errands for Him, but to be His friend. I want to share the same good news with you in this book. For, no matter how much He loves me, remember that He values you as if you were the only one in the world.
“The relations between God and each soul are as distinct and full as though there were not another soul upon the earth” – Steps to Christ, 100.
How can God really need one individual when He has millions of other friends? Imagine a family with eight children. As they come up into the teens and twenties, seven of them turn out to be good men and women who respect their parents and appreciate all that has been done for them. But one is a rascal, breaking the laws of God and of man. Does Father sit down with Mother and say, “Well, Mother, we’ve done pretty well. We have seven out of the eight, which is above the average. It’s too bad about Harry. If he ever decides to come home, of course we will welcome him, but we must not let what he has done break our hearts. After all, we have seven loyal children. Let’s be thankful and not worry.”
Is that the way a father talks? If he did, would a mother listen to him?
In my imagination I see the family gather on Thanksgiving Day. George, the eldest son, has come home for the reunion. What joy he brings to the parents’ hearts! And Mary, bless her, reveals a beautiful character! And similarly with the other five sitting around the table in happy union with Father and Mother. But a tear trickles down Mother’s cheek. And another, for she is thinking about Harry, rebellious Harry, out in the world somewhere. And as I look into her tear-filled eyes, it dawns upon me—the fact that she has seven loyal children only makes the hurt worse as she thinks of Harry. She has a place in her heart which nobody but Harry can fill.
Now, what about the One who made mothers? He, too, has a place in His heart which nobody but you can fill. And the love of millions of others which gladden His heart cannot take the place of your love, your friendship, your fellowship.
Only one thing hinders. Sin separated man from God in Eden, and sin prolongs that separation today. “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God” (Isaiah 59:2).
Since sin makes the separation between God and those He loves, He hates it, cannot tolerate it, cannot live with it. He must eradicate it, but how can He do so without destroying those infected with sin?
In the sanctuary God reveals His wonderful plan to solve the sin problem—how to destroy sin without destroying those He loves, how to save sinners without perpetuating sin. It is an expensive plan. It has already cost Heaven long ages of sorrow and pain. But you are so valuable that Christ would have paid the entire ransom just to save you alone.
Ransom is one thing, reunion is another, and Christ our Creator, Redeemer, and Intercessor has fully provided both.
Frazee, W. D. Ransom and Reunion through the Sanctuary, repr. ed. (W. D. Frazee Sermons, 2015). Published with permission.