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Lesson 9: Jesus' Ministry and the Sanctuary *

Introduction: "Faster access." Since GoBible is an Internet ministry, all of you who read this lesson no doubt want the fastest possible access to your Internet data. Have you ever given thought to "faster access," or "better access," when it comes to your relationship with God? The book of Hebrews has been teaching us about the parallel between the earthly and heavenly sanctuaries. This parallel has a lot to teach us about our access to God. Let's dive into our lesson and see what we can learn!

  1. The Shadow

    1. Read Hebrews 10:1. When you think of a "shadow," what comes to mind?

      1. How would you define the word "shadow?"

      2. How is shadow used in this text? (As something that generally resembles the original.)

        1. In your experience, how close is a shadow to the reality? (My shadow is generally a distortion of the way I actually appear. My shadow makes me appear either very tall or very short.)

      3. How is "the law" a shadow of the good things ahead? (The Greek word translated "law" can mean "the principle." The writer of Hebrews seems to be telling us that the principles of the Old Testament sanctuary service are a reflection, but a distorted reflection, of the ultimate principles of God's kingdom.)

      4. In this case, what is wrong with "the shadow?" How does it distort the true image? (One major problem is that the sanctuary service did not make perfect those who participated in the system.)

      5. Are there other ways in which the Old Testament sanctuary service distorts our ultimate picture of God? (A very significant distortion has to do with our access to God. Sins were only forgiven through the help of the priest. Only the High Priest was in the presence of God, and then only one day a year. As we will see later in this study, that gives us a distorted picture of our present access to God.)

    2. Read Hebrews 10:2-4. How do we know that the Old Testament sanctuary service did not make the people perfect? What logical argument is made by the writer of Hebrews?(He has three arguments: 1) If just one sacrifice could cleanse the people from their sins, they would not need to keep sacrificing. 2) If just one sacrifice would have eliminated sin, then the people would no longer have any feelings of guilt. 3) The sacrifices were just a reminder of sin, not a solution to sin, because animal blood cannot remove sin.)

      1. Now that we are under the New Covenant, should the opposite now be true? We have been studying that Jesus was sacrificed just once for our sins. See Hebrews 9:28.

        1. If you said, "yes, the opposite is now true" why does the sanctuary service in heaven continue?

        2. If the opposite is now true, would we need to continue to feel guilty?

        3. If the opposite is true, would we need to continue to be reminded of our sins? (Only one sacrifice by Jesus was needed. As we consider the parallel between the Old Testament sanctuary service, and the one in heaven, Jesus, our High Priest, is now in that part of the sanctuary service where He is in the presence of God the Father. He is there on our behalf. That should release us from feeling guilt for sins which have been confessed to Jesus.)

  2. What God Wants

    1. Read Hebrews 10:5-7. What does God NOT want? (Burnt offerings and sacrifices.)

      1. Why not? God set the sanctuary sacrificial system up, didn't He? The Old Testament sanctuary service was not just some "brain storm" that Moses had one day, right? (The key to the answer is in verse 7. Jesus says "I have come to do your will." God's will is that we obey. What Jesus did for us is to perfectly obey the law on our behalf. The sacrifices were not the goal of the sanctuary system. The goal of the system was obedience to the law. That comes only through Jesus.)

    2. Read Hebrews 10:8-10. What ultimately made us holy? (Verse 10 tells us that God's will, through Jesus' sacrifice, has made us holy.)

      1. What does this tell us about God's desire for us to be saved? (God's will is that we be saved. That is His desire!)

      1. What is "the first" that Jesus has set aside? What is "the second" that Jesus has established?

      2. Are you holy now?

  1. Mediation

    1. We have learned so far that the sanctuary system was intended to draw our attention to the better principles that govern God's kingdom. One of those principles is that the life and death of Jesus is intended to make us holy. Let's explore this a bit more. Read Hebrews 7:23-25. What kind of salvation is available to us? (Complete salvation.)

      1. What do we have to do to obtain this complete salvation? (Come to God through Jesus.)

      2. What does Jesus do when we come to Him seeking salvation? (He intercedes for us.)

      3. We see that God is "on board" with this program. It is God's will that we be saved. It is His will that we be holy. Why, then, would Jesus have to intercede, or mediate for us? If God is "on our side" why do we need a mediator?

        1. Read Colossians 1:19-22. What is the problem between God and humans? (Because of sin, we were in a state of hostility to God.)

          1. How does the work of Jesus change that? (Jesus' sacrifice has "reconciled" us to God the Father.)

          2. What do you think this reconciliation has done for your access to God?

  2. New Mountain

    1. Read Hebrews 12:18-21. What is being described here? (This is a description of the giving of the Ten Commandments to the Israelites at Mount Sinai. See Exodus 19.)

      1. Even Moses was trembling with fear. Why did God approach the people in such a way? (This reflects the hostility between God and man that was created because of sin. God wanted to "put the fear of God" in their hearts.)

    2. Read Hebrews 12:22-24. Describe how the reception at Mount Zion is better than the reception at Mount Sinai? How are things different?

      1. Why are things different? (Jesus has defeated sin. He has overcome evil. He has reconciled us to God. He has been working as our mediator under the new covenant. Instead of fire, brimstone and terror, we face a happy, joyous heavenly host to welcome us home.)

      2. How would you describe this access to God? (Imagine the difference between entering a home where the head of the household had some serious problems with you, as opposed to where the head of the household felt joy because of you.)

      3. In the context of all of this happiness, why is the "blood of Abel" mentioned? (Both Jesus and Abel died as a result of sin. The difference is that Abel's death shows us the natural outworking of sin. While Jesus gave us the opportunity to claim the victory over sin. We do not face the natural, ultimate consequences of sin because of Jesus. One of those natural consequences of sin is that it is repugnant to a Holy God. Jesus, however, has made us holy.)

        1. What kind of attitude should we have as a result? (We can rejoice. Jesus has made us holy. Jesus is mediating on our behalf. Heaven looks forward to us arriving. What access we now have!)

    3. Friend, it that the reception you want to have in heaven? Do you want heavenly beings to have joy at your arrival? If so, repent, accept Jesus as your substitute, and He will make you holy.

  3. Next week: Jesus, Our Sacrifice and Salvation.
* 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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