Volunteers have erected a scale replica of a 3,000 year old Hebrew Temple in Saanich to act as a temporary museum of Old Testament stories.
Sponsored by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, the travelling Messiah’s Mansion Tabernacle is open for tours starting Saturday at a field at Chatterton Way and Quadra Street.
Clayton Leinneweber, director of Messiah’s Mansion, from Harrah, Okla., said the event is a visual avenue to explain symbolism and icons of the Old Testament, and the connection of the icons to the life and death of Jesus Christ.
The walled sanctuary is about 150 by 75 feet, and the temple is 45 by 15 feet, both roughly the same dimensions as a wilderness temple built near Mt. Sinai, after the Jewish people followed Moses out of Egypt, as the Old Testament story goes.
“This is the same size as in Moses’ day. The sanctuary is made to scale,” Leinneweber said. “We show people how (the priests) used the services … the sanctuary is like a big story.”
Three Messiah’s Mansions are touring North America, and this particular model was built in Abbotsford for use primarily in Canada to avoid cross-border hassles. The stop in Saanich is the third this year for the Canadian branch, and its first time in Greater Victoria.
The sanctuary is steeped in biblical symbolism of slaying of lambs, the altar of sacrifice, breaking bread and the light of candles, and more literal objects, such as the Ark of the Covenant and the Ten Commandment tablets.
“A lot of it is symbolic. The lamb is a symbol of Jesus, bread represents the body of Christ and bread is a symbol for food. Smoke that rises (from incense) represents the prayers of the saints,” said Leinneweber, who is a school teacher in Oklahoma when he’s not setting up replica Hebrew sanctuaries. “There is a lot of symbolism.”
About 30 volunteers from the Seventh Day Adventists spent three days this week assembling the temple. The sanctuary tours are free and open to anyone, religious or not, but Leinneweber admits most people who tour the temple tend to belong to a church.
“It is geared toward people from church. Families love it, but we ended up doing this because children wanted to know the story. So we said let’s build it full scale,” he added. His group built the first one in 1995 and started touring in 2003.
Tour of the replica temple run Sept. 29 to Oct. 8, 1 to 7 p.m. daily, and are free, at 4401 Chatterton Way. Tours start every 15 minutes and last 75 minutes. The tour is broken into five sections, each lasting about 15 minutes.