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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!

  1. The Will

    1. 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.)

    2. 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 animals.)

    3. 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 blood.)

      1. 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.)

      2. 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.")

  2. The Inheritance

    1. Read Hebrews 9:23 What did we get that was promised in the Old Covenant "will?" (A "better sacrifice.")

      1. What did this better sacrifice do? (It "purified ... the heavenly things." It cleaned the sanctuary in heaven from sin.)

        1. 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.)

    1. 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 sins.)

  1. The Timing.

    1. 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.)

      1. 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 Jesus.)

    2. Consider the timing of the work in the Old Covenant sanctuary. How often were animal sacrifices made?

      1. 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))

      2. 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.)

  2. Next Time

    1. Read Hebrews 9:27-28. What does man face after his death? (Judgment.)

    2. 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 judgment.)

    3. 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.")

      1. Are these attitudes that are missing from your life? Would you like to have them?

  3. The Warning

    1. 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 warning?

      1. Is it possible to lose our salvation according to the writer of Hebrews?

        1. If so, how? (If we keep on deliberately sinning we become an enemy of God.)
        2. How do the enemies of God end up? (In a fire that consumes them.)

    2. Read Hebrews 10:28-29. Is God being fair when He destroys the wicked by fire?

      1. 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.)

    3. Read Hebrews 10:30-31. Who would you rather know about your sins: your fellow church members or God?

      1. 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.")

        1. 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.)

    4. Friend, the choice is yours. What is your decision today? Jesus died for you. Do not ignore what He has offered.

  4. 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.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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