The sanctuary or temple of God today is the body of Christ. Still in His physical body, He figuratively called it temple (John 2:19 and 21). The body of Christ is His church, in other words the congregation of believers in any place (1 Corinthians 3:16 and 17); this is like a building "having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit." (Ephesians 2:20-22).
Consequently the church of Christ does not have, as the Israelites, a tabernacle or physical temple for the visible dwelling of God among His people. Each congregation of believers which comes together in the name of Christ is a temple of God. It is not the building where they meet, whether a home, a hall or some other building, but the people.
The Israelite temple, even when still in the form of a tabernacle (1 Samuel 1:9), was a visible object, concrete, palpable; it contained the sanctuary, the holy place, symbol of the presence of God among the people of Israel, His "Glory". In it there were a number of features that typify the church of Christ. I am only going to mention three, which may help us to answer the question in focus.
HOLINESS: Everything inside of tabernacle was separated exclusively for the service of the LORD. In its turn, the church of Christ is composed of saints: whoever enters into it by the grace of God by means of the new birth in Christ is sanctified by His blood - separated for the exclusive service of the Lord. As Paul said "… it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me …". But the local church is subject to the infiltration of people who have not been sanctified: those who profess to be Christians, yet remain unbelievers. Only God knows the heart, but if the church is zealous in doctrine, the danger can be considerably reduced.
OBEDIENCE: All objects and decorations, as well as the priests who served God in the tabernacle, followed a detailed divine ordinance given through Moses. All the saints are called to obedience to the commandments of God. These are found in the Old Testament, and are part of the law of Moses, together with many laws and regulations which concern only to the people of Israel. The ones that concern the church are repeated in the New Testament, in the teachings of Christ and of His apostles. In 1 Corinthians 3:17, we find a serious warning to those who introduce sin, which is disobedience, inside the church: "If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are." Defilement is a consequence of the entrance of sin, and is manifested by corruption or crookedness in the local church. If it is allowed to remain, the sin contaminates all, just as the leaven in the parable (Matthew 13:33)
RESPECT: the occasion is well known when Moses came across a flaming bush that wasn't being consumed by the fire in mount Horeb; the LORD called him from midst of the bush and ordered him to take his sandals off his feet, for the place where he stood was holy ground (Exodus 3:5). In the same way the successor of Moses, Joshua, was also ordered to take his sandal off his foot in the presence of the Commander of the LORD' s army. (Joshua 5:15). On both occasions the "place" in itself was not a sanctuary or a temple, but it became holy because of the presence of God. In order to impress upon the people of Israel how holy the presence of the LORD was, they were all forbidden to even step on the fringes of the mount Sinai when Moses went up to receive His law, and this included their animals. Their priests officiated barefoot inside the tabernacle and the temple, as their footwear might bring contamination from outside. To preserve the holiness of the temple, the Jews would not allow uncircumcised Gentiles to go inside (Matthew 24:15, Acts 6:13, 21:28). With regard to the church we find another warning in 1 Corinthians, this time to those who have no respect for other members of the church: "do you despise the church of God …?" (11:22) and "he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgement to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." (11:29). The reference is to a lack of respect for other members of the church, forgetting that that all are part of the body of Christ, which is the sanctuary or temple of God. God regards this as a lack of respect towards Himself; the consequences are serious, because who acts in this unworthy manner in an unworthy manner "eats and drinks judgement to himself."
Holiness, obedience and respect are the factors which establish reverence to God, and this is reflected in the concept we have of His church.
Let us start by checking our own selves, "for if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged." Let us reflect on how we use our bodies: "do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? … therefore glorify God in your body …" (1 Corinthians 6:19,20). We glorify God in our body by means of the purity of our conduct, as described in the preceding verses. But our bodies must be presented "a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service." (Romans 12:1). Therefore, everything which we do with our bodies must be sanctified to the Lord, to please Him. We are constantly in the presence of the Lord, through the " sanctuary " of our bodies. Therefore, let us be reverent.
Just as our love towards God is proven by the love with which we deal with our brothers, our reverence to God is proven by the manner in which we behave inside His church. This does not refer only to our demeanour when we meet for the Lord's Supper, but in all our relationship with the other brethren, whether in formal meetings or any other activity.
Our external appearance says much about the reverence that we have: our attitude, our speech, our manner of dress. Though we may not bow down to the ground, as they did of old, our attitude must be in keeping with the reverence that is due to God, in the surroundings of His gathered church. Let us always be attentive to the ministry of the Word and let us avoid disturbing our brethren with careless behaviour during the meetings (especially solemn ones like the Lord's Supper), for example constant movement up and down, whisperings, inadequate readings for the occasion, even a nap.
Words must be used in moderation, remembering what the Preacher taught in Ecclesiastes: "Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil. Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few." (5:1-2).
Our clothing must be modest, fitting to the company in which we find ourselves, to avoid attracting attention, in this way expressing meekness, humility and purity of character which is our purpose. The first letter to the Corinthians is rich in examples and advice, for it seems that that church had all kinds of problems which might arise in the life of a congregation of believers. It was very much like now, because the moral and religious standards of that time are not very different from what we see around us today, after some adjustments.
To "take the sandals off the feet" demonstrated reverence in the presence of God, but both Moses and Joshua sincerely had a deep respect for Him, and did more than had been required of them: Moses hid his face, because He feared to look at the LORD, and Joshua lay down before Him and worshipped. We must reverently obey God in all our conduct but, if we love and fear Him like those two servants of His, we will worship and serve Him will all enthusiasm, not only doing that which is required of us, but finding opportunities where we can glorify Him even more in our lives.