"I Went Into the Sanctuary of God"

When Asaph went into the sanctuary of God it was as though he got a pair of new eyes. His whole outlook was changed, and better still he himself was the subject of a moral revolution. Before he went in he was a miserable and restless man, and as ignorant as a beast, as he afterwards confessed. He understood nothing, and everything appeared wrong. His whole soul was in rebellion against the state of things, and consequently against God who is behind all. And this is the subtle and serious thing about judging things by the natural powers. The man who does so, be he Christian or infidel, becomes a discontented man and a murmurer, and nothing offends against God like those two things, for they indicate a soul at war with the will of God.

But Asaph was no infidel. He was a man whose God was the Lord, and he had a deep sense in his born-again soul of what was right, but he was most desperately perplexed because that sense was outraged whichever way he looked. And yet he said nothing about these inward conflicts in case he should stumble some of God's children. He was a good man but troubled, as we may learn from Psalm 73.

He was the type of a vast multitude of people in these days. They cannot understand why the good things of life should be poured into the lap of the wicked and why trouble should dog the steps of the honest and good. They see unrighteousness ride triumphantly in a gilded coach, or perhaps in a luxurious motor car, while goodness goes afoot on the dusty high way, sometimes shoeless. It is a strange world! And these are great problems; and does God see and know? And if so — !

One hour in the sanctuary of God changed everything for Asaph.

Is there anything in the New Testament that answers to the sanctuary in which Asaph found the key to all his difficulties? Yes there is, we have a sanctuary in the New Testament and the Minister of it. Hebrews 10 tells us that we have boldness to enter into the Holiest — that is, into the very presence of God, — and it tells us of Jesus who is there, our great High Priest who delights to lead us in, and maintain us in that place of light and blessing.

It is wonderful how things change as we sit in the presence of God. It is more wonderful how we ourselves are changed. If any of us have not experienced this we should lose no time in testing it. 2 Corinthians 3 speaks of beholding the glory of the Lord and being changed into the same image. It is this that takes place when we sit in the presence of the Lord. The world's tinsel glitters just as brightly, but it loses its attraction for us. The wicked still prosper but we envy them not. Even our brethren who have deeply offended us appear in a different light, and we are glad not to meet them as enemies but to greet them as brethren beloved for God's sake. The little storms that have shaken us are calmed; our difficulties that towered up like mountains, hiding the sunshine of God's countenance from us, sink into their due insignificance, and our souls are rested, wonderfully rested and filled with peace. There is more than this, as we shall see, if we consider the effect upon Asaph of being in the sanctuary of God.

In the presence of God he saw how transient were all worldly things, and he saw also the end of them, and the end of a thing is the great test of it. The Christian, who can rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, and who knows that he is an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ Jesus, will not covet the worldly goods of a man who is without Christ, without God and without hope in the world. But it is in the presence of God that these things become real. As Asaph saw things as they really were he was greatly humbled, and rightly so. He had misjudged God in his blind ignorance, he had been as a beast and yet he learnt that God had been patient with him, and had waited to show him things as they were. In spite of his foolishness, God had upheld him. Even though his faith had been shaken and his foot had well nigh slipped, yet God had held him up with His right hand. And he learnt more, even that God would not abandon him, but that He would guide him with His counsel through all the maze of life and afterwards receive him into glory.

What more could he desire than that? To be the object of God's special care: to be guided through every difficulty in life by God's counsel, not blindly nor by bit and bridle as a horse or a mule, but instructed step by step, and led as being instructed, and growing in intelligence and in the knowledge of God as each difficulty is overcome; and at last of all to be received into God's glory! Surely every question was settled and quietness and confidence must have taken the place of distress and distrust in the heart of Asaph!

And it was even so, for he breaks out into worship, the worship of a mind at rest and a heart satisfied. "Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee." God became his present and everlasting portion.

Shall we be behind Asaph in our knowledge of God? Greater light shines for us than shone for him, yet if it is to shine into us, illuminating us, and filling us with the knowledge of God, we must draw near to Him. It is in His presence in the sanctuary that we see everything clearly. How good it is for us that the light shines in the face of Jesus, the sinners' Friend and Saviour. Men do not commit themselves and their lives to God because they do not trust Him. And they do not trust Him because they doubt His justice. They see the wicked prosper and they ask, Can God be just? Some calamity befalls them and they blame God for their trouble. Even Christians have been known to question God's dealings with them. But we cannot judge what is right by the sight of our eyes, we need faith, and it is in the presence of God that our faith grows and is strengthened and our fears disappear. We learn that God's way is perfect. He is a just God and a Saviour. He cares for us, and will bring every trial to a right issue. Yes, in the presence of God our outlook is changed, and what is greater, we are changed.

Was not Hannah changed in 1 Samuel 1 when having knelt in the sanctuary and poured out her grief before God, she arose and went her way and her countenance was no more sad?

Was not Thomas changed when in the presence of his Lord, having seen the wounds in His hands and side, he cast his depression and unbelief to the winds and confessed, "My Lord and my God"?

Was not Mary changed when she bent in adoration at the feet of Jesus, and arose to carry about in her person the fragrance of the spikenard that she had poured upon Him, unmoved by the criticism of her brethren?

Was not Paul changed, when having three times sought the presence of the Lord about the thorn that galled him, he cried, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities"?

Yes, and we shall be changed as we behold the glory of the Lord in His sanctuary. The burdens and buffetings of life may remain, and circumstances be unchanged, but we shall be changed, and become rich in faith, and they will become the opportunities for us to show how great is our God. No longer shall we murmur at the inequalities of life but refreshed in the sanctuary we shall joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.