Ellen G. White, in page 221-222 of the book Evangelism writes, “the subject of the sanctuary and the investigative judgment should be clearly understood by the people of God. All need a knowledge for themselves of the position and work of their great High Priest.” It is being quoted from page 488 of The Great Controversy where she is speaking of the importance of personal study of the Sanctuary and the Investigative Judgment (and the truth in general).
When this is presented to members of the church who have not spent time studying these particular subjects, there is an excitement that arises among some. I do not say this in a negative sense. Some begin to feel, rightly, that they must study. For some reason others go further—the excitement tends to build up into a desire to want to know everything at once. Then this desire is acted upon by the rapid overloading of the mind with information. This is dangerous. Why? Because when speed is used in the acquirement of any knowledge, the simple foundations are not laid out with care. Simply put, the foundation counts (Matt. 7:24-27. I’m using the principle found in this context concerning what type of foundation one builds upon—rock or sand).
Sometimes, those that present messages on the sanctuary do so without knowing whether the listeners already know what the sanctuary is. This is not necessarily their fault because they came, or were invited, to present a subject in the confinement of a specific time and they will never get to the point that they need to make if they have to explain every single detail. However, this results in the listeners saying, for example, “Jesus is the shewbread (or showbread)!!” Without knowing: what is the shewbread, How was it used, and how do we know it represents Christ?
The knowledge of the presenter is so impressive that many seek to attain the same heights almost overnight. This, as they soon find out, is impossible. They learn the what without the how, the conclusion without the beginning, the symbolism without the sanctuary. They can’t seem to fight the feeling that if they don’t know every single thing quickly then they are somehow unfit to be followers of Christ. Knowledge can easily become the means of salvation for them without their notice. Biblical knowledge can easily become an idol by which one is made proud.
They learn subconsciously to be disciples of individuals instead of disciples of Christ to whom all of these individuals belong. How does this happen? They didn’t learn everything and therefore they always have to go back to the source—the person, book, or video that they learned it from—in order to explain to others what they are saying. So the person, book, or video becomes the authority for them. A college class test, unless it is an open-book test, is to check your knowledge on materials that you were supposed to have stored in your mind. If you have to go back to the textbook in order to get the answer, then you probably haven’t learned it yet.
If you want to learn about the sanctuary, start where it begins—the Bible. Work your way through learning all the details about the building, the services, etc. After you have built upon this foundation, then look for where these things are mentioned in the other parts of the Bible. Flee the desire to spend more time reading books (listening to sermons or watching videos) about the Bible then the Bible. I’m not saying don’t use those other things at all, but that they shouldn’t be what is used primarily.
As a 29 year old member of the Adventist church, I’ve had my experiences with trying to understand everything rapidly. I’ve learned, by the grace of God, how to put the lessons of my experiences into practice. Therefore, I choose not to do studies without concise explanations of how I arrive at certain conclusions. This way, anyone can trace my reasoning with the Biblical text in hand and see whether it makes sense or not.
We will hear many preachers/teachers say amazing and extraordinary things, and they should because the Bible is deep and the Spirit of God knows how to drop knowledge. The only way you will know whether these things are true or not, if you don’t know already, is by starting your own Bible study (with the Holy Spirit) on the subject. Take your time, don’t rush.