You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony. (Exodus 25:21-22)
As we continue with this notion that the Holy of Holies represents the heart of the Sanctuary, once again we are reminded that God desires to reside in our heart. If we give Him our heart, then the rest of us — mind and body — will follow. The greatest of all the commands is to love God with all of our heart, soul and strength — which is to say with all of our being — but it must begin in the heart.
Because God’s Presence was in the Holy of Holies, resting between the Cherubim upon the Mercy Seat, those things that transpired in the Holy Place, where the menorah and table of shewbread were positioned, were sanctified. Likewise, those things that transpired in the courtyard, where the altar was, were sanctified as well. I would suggest that, just as the heart of the sanctuary corresponds to our heart, the courtyard and the altar corresponds to our body, specifically what we do with it. In other words, we love God with our strength when our bodies perform those actions He has commanded us to do. If His Word is hidden in our heart, then our deeds will reflect that.
As Paul reminded us, we are not saved because of our works but by our faith in the Messiah. However, if we have faith — If He resides in our heart and His Word abides within us — our good works will follow as evidence of our faith. In this way, our works are accounted as righteousness, not because of who we are and not because our works are better than others; our works are acceptable to Him because He abides within us. The “sacrifice” we place upon the altar doesn’t sanctify the temple; the temple is sanctified, including what occurs in the “courtyard” (our body), because of the One who sanctifies all. In short, if we love Him with our heart, we will obey His instructions; our works will be evidence of the fact that we want to please Him more than anything else in the world. May it be that we all have the heart to honor our Master.
Blessings and Shalom,