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Sabbath School Lessons on Hebrews
About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 8: Jesus and the Sanctuary *
Introduction: This week Hebrews teaches us more about Jesus' work in
the heavenly sanctuary. At first we seem to be dealing with estate
planning, then we find out that every one of us can be that lucky
relative who inherited a windfall! What happens if we turn down the
windfall? When is Jesus doing what in the heavenly sanctuary? Let's
jump into our study and find out!
- The Will
- Read Hebrews 9:16-17. I currently have a will and I am in
the process of changing my will. Is it a pressing matter
to get the changes in my will completed? (Only if I am
going to die soon. Hebrews points out that a will only
goes into effect when a person dies.)
- Read Hebrews 9:18-20. The writer of Hebrews compares the
Old Covenant to a will. Tell me how the two are similar?
(The Old Covenant also required death - the death of
- Read Hebrews 9:21-22. Why did the Old Covenant require the
death of animals and the shedding of blood? (Because the
law said there was no forgiveness without the shedding of
- If the Old Covenant, with its death of lambs, cows
and birds, was like a will, did the people inherit
anything from these animals? Was it truly like a
will, the lamb died and the person received what had
belonged to the lamb? (In some sense the person
received life from the death of the animal, but it
hardly seems like a normal will. Indeed, Hebrews has
previously taught us( Hebrews 9:9)that the death of
animals did not give the people life.)
- If the people did not inherit anything from the
animals that died under the Old Covenant sanctuary
service, why does Hebrews compare the old system to a
will? (Hebrews is telling us that the Old Covenant
system itself was like a will. A will says "You get
this when I die." The Old Covenant sanctuary system
showed us that we would get something when Jesus
died. The sanctuary system was an "acted out will.")
- The Inheritance
- Read Hebrews 9:23 What did we get that was promised in the
Old Covenant "will?" (A "better sacrifice.")
- What did this better sacrifice do? (It "purified ...
the heavenly things." It cleaned the sanctuary in
heaven from sin.)
- What does this bring to mind? (The sanctuary
system on earth transferred the sins from the
person to the sanctuary. Then on the Day of
Atonement, the sanctuary was cleaned of sin.)
- Read Hebrews 9:24-26. What is "better" about this
sacrifice? (1. Jesus entered the heavenly sanctuary, not
the copy on earth. 2. He entered the Most Holy place in
the heavenly sanctuary just once - not once a year (on the
Day of Atonement) like the High Priests in the Old
Covenant sanctuary. 3. Jesus appeared once to take away
- The Timing.
- Notice that Hebrews 9:26 attaches a very general time
designation to when Jesus entered the Most Holy Place of
the heavenly sanctuary. When was that? (He appeared once
"at the end of the ages." You may notice that this verse
and verse 24 also use the word "now." Now in verse 24 can
be translated "hereafter" or "soon." The "now" in verse 26
is a variation of verse 24.)
- Do you think this "end of the ages" is a reference to
the time of Jesus' crucifixion? (It doesn't seem to
logically fit the language. If the writer of Hebrews
meant "at the cross" why not say it? Instead, Hebrews
seems to signal a time closer to the Second Coming of
- Consider the timing of the work in the Old Covenant
sanctuary. How often were animal sacrifices made?
- How often did the High Priest enter the Most Holy
place of the sanctuary?( Hebrews 9:1-5 explains the
two compartment system of the Old Covenant sanctuary.
It had a "Holy" and a "Most Holy" place (room,
compartment). Hebrews 9:6-7 explains that the priests
entered the Holy place every day
("regularly")(compare Leviticus 1), but the Most Holy
place was entered only once a year on the Day of
Atonement (compare Leviticus 16). We previously
learned that the Old Covenant sanctuary system on
earth was a prophecy of Jesus as our Messiah and a
prophecy of what would be going on in heaven. The two
compartments, and the different timing for the
sacrifice and the atonement, lend support to the idea
that Jesus entered the heavenly sanctuary after His
crucifixion - but Jesus did not enter the "Most Holy"
place in heaven until a later time, "the end of the
ages." ( Hebrews 9:26))
- There is controversy over when Jesus entered the Most
Holy place in heaven. Does the timing of His entrance
make any difference to our salvation? (This is an
issue for people who "need to get out" and spend more
time on practical Christianity. Understanding the
sanctuary is critical for three reasons. First, it
demonstrates that Jesus is the Messiah because it
validates the idea that the true Messiah would be
crucified - and not overthrow the Romans and create a
kingdom on earth at that time. Second, it reinforces
the idea that Jesus' death takes away our sins and
allows us the opportunity for eternal life. Third, it
comforts us with the knowledge that right now Jesus
is ministering and mediating on our behalf in the
sanctuary in heaven. I am yet to be convinced that
timing issues are critical to any of these primary
reasons the sanctuary is important.)
- Next Time
- Read Hebrews 9:27-28. What does man face after his death?
- What does Jesus look forward to after His death,
resurrection and work in heaven? (He is coming again to
bring salvation to those who otherwise would face
- Let's skip forward to Hebrews 10:19-22. Knowing what we do
about Jesus' sacrifice, and His work in the heavenly
sanctuary, what is our response? What should be our
attitude? (We have several positive words and phrases in
these verses: "confidence," "sincere heart," "full
assurance of faith," and the promise that we can be free
"from a guilty conscience.")
- Are these attitudes that are missing from your life?
Would you like to have them?
- The Warning
- Read Hebrews 10:26-27. After all of this glorious
discussion about righteousness by faith in what Jesus did
and is doing for us, how do you explain this terrible
- Is it possible to lose our salvation according to the
writer of Hebrews?
- If so, how? (If we keep on deliberately sinning
we become an enemy of God.)
- How do the enemies of God end up? (In a fire
that consumes them.)
- Read Hebrews 10:28-29. Is God being fair when He destroys
the wicked by fire?
- What rational do you see for the judgment? (Hebrews
has been making an argument for the love and mercy of
God. We failed the test under the Old Covenant, so
God gave us a New Covenant. In that New Covenant, God
lived the perfect life and died for our sins. All we
have to do is repent of our sins, and accept what God
did on our behalf. God says, "I'm bending over
backwards to get you saved. If you reject all of my
efforts, you are not interested in My ways. You have
disrespected and insulted Me. Therefore, you are an
enemy who will be destroyed." That seems more than
fair and just to me.)
- Read Hebrews 10:30-31. Who would you rather know about
your sins: your fellow church members or God?
- If you hide your sins from your fellow church
members, what does that say about your answer to the
question above? (We think it is "OK" for God to know
about our sins, but we fear having our fellow church
members know about our sins. If we have that
attitude (and we all do), we have missed the point of
verse 31 "it is a dreadful thing to fall into the
hands of the living God.")
- I thought it was good to be in God's hands? My
father used to pray that I would be "in the
hollow of God's hands." Do you want to be in
God's hands? (The point is that we must not fool
around with God and treat sin as a trivial
matter. God loves us, died for us, and offers
us eternal life. But all of this is serious
stuff. If we keep deliberately sinning, we will
find that God is also a mighty Judge.)
- Friend, the choice is yours. What is your decision today?
Jesus died for you. Do not ignore what He has offered.
- Next Week: Jesus' Ministry and the Sanctuary.
* Copr. 2003, 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.