The plan of salvation was not an afterthought. God through His foreknowledge looked and saw that sin would occur, and made provision for it. That provision was Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In the last book of the Bible, John the Revelator calls Him the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). When the sinless pair sinned, we know that they went and hid themselves. God went to look for them, and He found them covering themselves with fig leaves, signifying the self-righteousness of men. The Lord God made them coats of skins and clothed them, signifying that only the righteousness of God can clothe us (Gen 3:21).
An animal had to die in order for God to make Adam and Eve coats of skins. That sinless animal pointed to Christ. An animal had to shed its blood in order for sinners to obtain pardon of their sin (Heb 9:22). God’s plan to offer His Son was not an afterthought. From the first man and woman, to the children of Israel, all were to look by faith to the One who would one day come with no sin, spotless, undefiled, to redeem us from the curse of sin. Only through Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, can we obtain salvation. (Acts 4:12).
I think God had a big problem on His hands when trying to decide how to deal with sin. How could He separate us from sin? Better yet, how could He destroy sin without destroying us? This is where the Sanctuary service comes. Through that important institution, God wanted to teach the children of Israel to hate sin. Firstly, the service taught them that sin is costly. They had to buy animals (or take them from their own flocks) to offer them as sacrifices. In addition the sinner’s hand was to be the one slaying the animal. THAT’S NO FUN! No one would find pleasure killing an animal and watching it die every time he sinned.
Although because of Jesus’ sacrifice we now don’t have to offer animals for our sins, the lesson of the Sanctuary service remains. Every time we sin we crucify the Savior afresh (Heb 6:6).
Every follower of Christ ought to know the meaning of the Sanctuary service. Only by understanding this important institution can we fully understand the plan of redemption. In fact, understanding it is a matter of life and death.