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Lesson 3: Jesus and the Sanctuary *

Introduction: Consider one of the main arguments against Jesus being God. He was born to an obscure couple, raised in a disreputable village, and at an early age died the death of a criminal. For the uneducated, this is not a resume that would seem to put you on the fast track to being a hero of history, much less being God. It is the qualifier "uneducated" that is so important here. For thousands of years, God had been trying to educate humans that the Messiah was coming to die. Let's jump into our lesson and learn more about God's early education plan!

  1. Addressing the Sin Problem: Symbolically.

    1. Read Leviticus 4:22. Have you heard the expression, "ignorance of the law is no excuse?" How does that apply to God's law? (The text says that leaders are guilty even of unintentional sins. You do not need to have intent to be guilty of sin.)

    2. Read Leviticus 4:23. Does this next verse modify the conclusion we just reached about being guilty of sin even though we have no intent? (Perhaps this is just a rule of commonsense. But, it seems to indicate that we have no obligation to seek forgiveness of sin until we become aware that what we are doing violates God's law.)

    3. Let's put Leviticus 4:24 together with Leviticus 4:23. What is God's solution to the problem of those leaders who sin? (Once you became aware of your sin, you had to make a sin offering to God by sacrificing a male goat.)

    4. Read Leviticus 4:25-26. What else is required for forgiveness? (The background for this is in Exodus. In Exodus chapters 25-27, God gives Moses the instructions for building a sanctuary (temple) so that God can dwell with humans. ( Exodus 25:8.) In Exodus chapters 28-30, God sets up a priesthood and a system of sacrifices for this sanctuary. When Leviticus 4:25-26 refers to the "horns of the altar of burnt offering" and the "priest," those hearing the instructions would know it referred to the sanctuary system God had set up in Exodus. Thus, the forgiveness of sin required not simply the sacrifice of an animal, but the blood of the sacrifice being applied at the sanctuary in the proper way by the designated priest.)

    5. Read Leviticus 4:27-31. How are the sins of the average person forgiven? (The same way as the sins of the leaders are forgiven. Only the specifications for the animal differed.)

    6. Did you notice that all these texts refer to "unintentional" sin? How does that make you feel? Is it possible that God only set up a plan for forgiveness of unintentional sins?

      1. Read Leviticus 5:1. Is this an unintentional sin?

      2. Read Leviticus 6:1-3. Are these unintentional sins? (These are clearly intentional sins.)

        1. Read Leviticus 6:4-7. What must you do to be forgiven of intentional sins? (It requires the death of an animal, as with unintentional sins. However, it also requires restitution when property has been taken, along with a 20% penalty.)

        2. What do you think about the 20% sin penalty?

          1. Why do you think God imposes it? (To deter sin.)

          2. Is restitution and this 20% penalty what separates intentional from unintentional sins?

    7. Read Leviticus 17:10-12. What role does blood play in the sanctuary sacrificial system? ( Leviticus 17:11 tells us that the "life" is in the blood, and it is the blood which atones for our sins. Modern medical science has shown the importance of the circulation of blood in bringing oxygen, and thus life, to the cells of our bodies.)

      1. I can logically understand why God would say that the Israelites could not eat the blood of the animal which was being sacrificed. However, these verses forbid eating the blood of any animal. What logic do you see in this? (This shows that God is teaching us something that goes beyond the sacrifice of the animals. Linking the atonement in general to blood is part of the unfolding of our education that the blood of the Messiah atones for our sins.)

    8. If the blood atones for sin, why is restitution required for intentional sins involving property? (Like "works," today, it reveals the attitude of the heart.)

  2. Addressing the Sin Problem: the Reality.

    1. Read Hebrews 9:19-22. What is the writer of Hebrews describing here? (An aspect of the sanctuary part of the Old Testament sacrificial system we have been studying.)

      1. What role does Hebrews say that the shedding of blood plays in the forgiveness of sin? (Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin.)

    2. Read Hebrews 9:23-26. Whose blood did the blood of animals in the Old Testament system symbolize? (Jesus.)

      1. Read Hebrews 9:27-28. How does this text say that Jesus died? (He was sacrificed. Just like the animal sacrifice of the Old Testament, Jesus shed His blood for the forgiveness of our sins.)

  3. Addressing the Sin Problem: the Logic.

    1. Although the nature of Jesus' death was foretold thousands of years in advance, explain logically why Jesus' death was required for the forgiveness of sin? (Look again at Hebrews 9:26. It says in part, "to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself." Hebrews 9:28 says in part, "Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people." Jesus' sacrifice takes away our sins.)

      1. We can see the statement that Jesus' sacrifice takes away our sins. But, tell me the reason why should that be true? (The logic of this has always been difficult for me. We start out with the rule that sin causes death. ( Genesis 2:15-17.) Thus, those who sin, die - that makes logical sense. The only logic I see to Jesus' death is a very simple concept. Jesus agreed to suffer the death penalty in our place. He agreed to die for us.)

      2. Would Satan have to agree to this substitution - instead of us dying, Jesus dies? (God is the one who is offended by sin. Thus, it would be God who has agreed to this.)

    2. Assume you are with me on the logic of Jesus' dying in our place. Why was it necessary for Jesus to live a perfect life? (Two suggestions. First, if Jesus had sinned, then He would have had to die for His own sin. He could offer to be our substitute only because He was not under a sentence of death. Second, this whole "sin results in death" concept would not be "fair" if humans had no choice but to sin. Jesus shows that Adam and Eve had a choice. Jesus shows that God's command to the first couple to obey His law was both reasonable and possible. Thus, in Jesus' life we see both a vindication of the law of God and the payment of the penalty of sin which humans brought on themselves.)

    3. Although you should read the entire chapter of Isaiah 53, let's focus on Isaiah 53:1-5. Who is Isaiah writing about? (This is a prophecy of Jesus.)

      1. As you consider these verses, do they describe power, beauty or authority? (No.)

      2. Isaiah 53:1 calls the message of these verses the "arm of the Lord." To what does the arm of the Lord refer? (God's power. God's muscle.)

        1. How can this picture which lacks beauty, power or authority be referred to as the power of God? (This is part of God's logic. His "power" comes through self-sacrifice. He wins against sin by giving Himself up to benefit others.)

        2. Have you tried to apply this principle to your life?

    4. Friend, when you consider that the Old Testament sacrificial system required the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sin, the nature of Jesus' death was perfectly forecast. This is extraordinary evidence that Jesus is the Messiah. However, the logic of this teaches us an important lesson about life. Have you felt the power of self-sacrifice?

  4. Next week: A Body You Have Prepared for Me.
* Copr. 2005, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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