Is there biblical support for the existence of a heavenly sanctuary?
Other Christian denominations have disputed the existence of a heavenly sanctuary. However, the Bible is clear regarding the existence of the heavenly sanctuary. The word for “pattern” in Exodus 25:8 implies that the earthly sanctuary was a model of another entity. God gave Moses specific instructions as to the exact dimensions of the sanctuary and all its furnishings. And Paul in Hebrews 8:1, 2, 4–6 quotes directly from Exodus 25:8, where he indicates that the earthly sanctuary was a model of the heavenly sanctuary.
Notice that Paul indicates that the earthly sanctuary was a “copy and shadow of the heavenly things.” In other words, the earthly sanctuary is not just an Old Testament relic that lost its relevance when Jesus died on the cross. The sanctuary continues to have relevance because the focus has shifted from the earthly sanctuary to the heavenly sanctuary.
In Revelation, John sees three articles of sanctuary furniture in the throne room of God in heaven: the lampstands (Rev. 4:5); the altar of incense (Rev. 8:3); and the ark of the covenant (Rev. 11:19). The existence of the heavenly sanctuary could not be clearer than when John states in the verse above that he saw “the temple of God . . . opened in heaven.” This was well after the crucifixion and the ascension of Jesus. The book of Revelation is an end-time book with an end-time message. Each sanctuary scene progressing through the book of Revelation implies that the heavenly sanctuary is relevant to God’s end-time people.