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Lesson 12: The Efficacy of His Priestly Ministry *

Introduction: Have you ever had someone ask you, "What have you done for me lately?" Our studies for the last two weeks have been the death and resurrection of Jesus. How glorious was Jesus' triumph over death! But, that was over 2,000 years ago. Is that the end of the story? What, if anything, is Jesus doing now? If He is doing something, is He doing it for you and me? Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and find out!

  1. The First Contract

    1. Read Hebrews 9:1. A "covenant" is a contract. What was involved in this "first contract?" (It had rules for worship and it had a special place for worship.)

      1. Who do you think are the parties to this first contract? (God and humans had an agreement about how humans should approach and worship God.)

    2. Read Hebrews 9:2-5. What is being described here? (The place of worship and the articles used for worship in the first contract. The "earthly sanctuary" started out as a portable tabernacle that was constructed in the wilderness journey of God's people from Egypt to Palestine. Later, King Solomon built a permanent structure in Jerusalem following this same general plan. Solomon's temple was destroyed and a replacement built that lasted until its final destruction by the Romans in 70 A.D.)

      1. What divided the "Holy Place" of the temple from the "Most Holy Place?" (The "second curtain.")

      2. What was the purpose of the Most Holy Place? (The ark represented the presence of God. It contained the Ten Commandments. Above the cover of the ark, between the two cherubim, was where God would come to give directions to His people. Exodus 25:22.)

    3. Read Hebrews 9:6-7. How were these two compartments of the temple used? (In the outer court, the "Holy Place," the priests offered daily sacrifices for the sins of the people. The priest sacrificed an animal because the person bringing the animal had sinned. The blood of the animal transferred the sin of the person to the temple(Leviticus 5). Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest entered the inner court, the Most Holy Place. He did this to take the blood symbolizing the sins of the people to God. By this annual ceremony the sins of the people and the High Priests own sins were removed from the temple(Leviticus 16).)

    4. Read Hebrews 9:8. There is a lesson for us in this system. It seems to say that we did not have an adequate map. What does this mean? A map to what? (No one but the High Priest could enter the Most Holy section of the temple, and he could only do it once a year. The Most Holy Place was where the Ten Commandments were kept and where God would come. Therefore, this must mean that we (the ordinary people) did not have an adequate map to find obedience or find God.)

  2. The New Order, the Map and the Second Contract

    1. Read Matthew 27:50-51. This refers to the curtain separating the Holy from the Most Holy sections of the temple. Why are we told that it was ripped "from top to bottom?" (Humans would start from where they were - standing at the bottom. This was done supernaturally.)

      1. When did this happen? (At the time that Jesus died on the cross.)

      2. Why would Jesus' death have anything to do with the curtain in the temple? (Read Hebrews 10:19-20. Jesus death opened up the way for ordinary people to approach God. We now have "the map" to get to God!)

    2. Read Hebrews 9:8-10. The "time of the new order" has arrived. What is the "new order?" Why does it have anything to do with the existence of the place of worship under the first contract?

      1. If the old place of worship is destroyed, how does that help us with our "map" to find God?

    3. Read John 1:29. Here is a big hint about the new order and the second contract. Why is Jesus called the "Lamb of God?" What does He have to do with taking away the "sin of the world?" (John the Baptist called Jesus the "Lamb of God" from the very beginning of Jesus' ministry. Under the old order, actual lambs were sacrificed to remove the sins of the people. This was just a temporary arrangement ( Hebrews 9:9-10), one which did not really clear the people of sin, but one which illustrated the new order in which Jesus died for our sins!)

    4. Read Hebrews 9:11-12. Hebrews just explained that Jesus was the Lamb. Now we are told Jesus is also the High Priest. How can He be both?(Under the first contract, the old order, a human High Priest carried the blood of an animal into the Most Holy Place (where God would come)once a year. This was the method of removing sin and it was repeated annually. In the new order, the second contract, Jesus carried His own blood into the presence of God. Thus, He performed the role of both the sacrifice and the High Priest. Jesus did this just once to make a one-time, full payment for our sins.)

      1. Where is Jesus acting as the High Priest? The text says Jesus "went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle [temple]." We already discussed three temples, which one is this? (Read Hebrews 8:5 and Hebrews 9:24. Jesus is serving in the temple in heaven! The heavenly temple was the pattern for the temples here on earth.)

        1. Why would there be a temple in heaven before any were built on earth? What purpose would it serve?

    5. Read Hebrews 10:8-10. How is the new covenant (contract) an improved version of the old?

      1. Why would God not be pleased with the first contract? (God is never pleased with us sinning. He was less pleased that animals died as the result. However, the animals impressed on the people that sin caused death. It symbolized the sin problem and what God intended to do about the sin problem.)

      2. Why would the death of Jesus be more pleasing? (Jesus fixed the sin problem in many ways. One is that He died once for our sins so that we could become holy and have eternal life.)

    1. Read Hebrews 10:19-22. We read this text earlier and noted that Jesus was also compared to the curtain that separated the Holy from the Most Holy place. How is Jesus like the curtain that was ripped? How does this help us with the "map" problem that we discussed earlier? (The curtain kept everyone but the High Priest from entering or even seeing the Most Holy place -- where God dwelled. Jesus gives us access to God! When we died with Jesus for our sins, and were washed in baptism, we have been given access to God!)

    2. We considered earlier why there would be a temple in heaven before any were built on earth. Do you really think there is a physical temple in heaven which looked like the ones on earth? (No doubt there is a place in heaven where God lives. But, when I read that Jesus is the Lamb, the High Priest and the Curtain, I begin to think that the physical temples on earth may be largely symbolic of what is going on in heaven. What is done in heaven is very real. It is the substance of what the earthly temples symbolized.)

  1. Confidence in Our Salvation

    1. When Hebrews 10:19 tells us to confidently enter the Most Holy Place in heaven, what does that mean as a practical matter? I'm not actually setting foot in heaven now. How do I show my confidence? How do I enter? (Entering the Most Holy Place was the means by which sin was removed. You approached God with His Ten Commandments. I can only understand this to mean that I must have confidence in my salvation. If I confidently enter into the place where sin is taken away, I know I have salvation.)

    2. Read Hebrews 10:26-27. Does my confidence include the understanding that once I am saved I always will be saved?

      1. If you say "no," read Hebrews 10:14. How do you explain this? (Jesus did make us perfect through His life and death. We can, however, reject His gift of perfection by choosing a sinful life.)

      2. How can I balance the great news of the new order, the second contract and my map to God with the reality of my daily struggle with sin? (Jesus paid the price for our sins. We now have access to Father God. But we must have the attitude that we want to avoid sin. We must ask the Holy Spirit to help us be obedient to God's will, the Ten Commandments.)

      3. Read Hebrews 10:15-16. What does this suggest about our relationship to God's Ten Commandments and the Holy Spirit? (Obedience becomes part of our attitude through the power of the Holy Spirit.)

    3. Friend, now that you are part of the new order, the second contract and a holder of the map, will you determine to pursue holy living?

  2. Next week: His Return as King and Friend.

* Copr. 2008, 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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