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Lesson 4: Rejoicing Before the Lord: the Sanctuary and Worship *

Introduction: When I was in school, I spent a summer working for a small construction company. It was not a great job. The work was dangerous because the owners seemed uncertain about some fundamental rules, like gravity for example. One of the owners cut off a board that he was sitting on and fell eight feet onto a cement sidewalk. The owners were hardly alert to danger for their employees since they did not seem to notice matters involving their own safety. Another problem involved giving directions. One owner would quickly state what he wanted me to build, and when I did not understand, he would take his pencil and draw on the ground what passed for a picture. He would then announce that he had told me, and even drawn me a picture, and therefore I had plenty of instruction. Our God has drawn us a picture about His plan of salvation. Unlike the pictures drawn by my former boss, God's picture is full of details. Let's dive into our Bible to see what picture God drew for His people about salvation!

  1. Heaven's Picture - God With Us

    1. Read Exodus 25:8-9 and Hebrews 8:5. We see that God told Moses to make a sanctuary according to a "pattern" that God showed him. Notice that Hebrews describes it as a "shadow of what is in heaven." What does that tell us about the earth version of the tabernacle? (How would you compare your shadow to yourself? It is a copy, but it gives us only a general idea of the original.)

      1. What did God say was His reason for asking Moses to build a sanctuary? (God wanted to "dwell among" His people.)

    2. Read Revelation 21:2-4. What is God's ultimate plan for His followers? (That He will live with them! Heaven will come down to earth and God will dwell with humans. Notice that this is a long-standing desire of God.)

      1. If someone says that they want to live with you (and they can otherwise afford to pay rent) what does that say about their attitude towards you? (God loves you!)

  2. Heaven's Picture - Human Partners

    1. Read Exodus 25:1-7. How was God's dwelling place on earth to be built? (By gifts from God's people.)

    2. Read Exodus 35:20-21. Were the people coerced into giving God the materials for His sanctuary? (No. "Everyone who was willing and whose heart moved them" brought gifts.)

      1. If you were God, and it was an incredible privilege and honor for whatever group of humans you decided to honor with your presence, would you have this same attitude towards the funding of your home?

      2. Or, if you were God, would you think it was beneath you to fool around with humans - and you would speak into existence a great mobile palace?

      3. What does this teach us about God's attitude towards humans? (It shows that God wants to partner with us in accomplishing His will, but God does not coerce us - even when He has a legitimate claim for our support.)

    3. Read Exodus 35:22. What do you think about the source of the gold for God's house?

      1. You recall that two weeks ago we studied the golden calf made by Aaron? Read Exodus 32:1-4. What was used to make the golden calf? (The same thing - gold jewelry.)

      2. Think even further back about the source of this gold. Remember that these people were slaves. Their possessions undoubtedly came from the Egyptians (see Exodus 12:35-36). What does this tell us about God's goals for our wealth? (First, God owns everything. The Hebrews only had this gold because God had intervened on their behalf. God could justly claim it all, but He did not. He let the people decide. Second, the gold was not "clean" or "dirty," rather the question is how God's people will use it. Will we use it to build an idol, or will we use it to give glory to God?)

      3. What do these gifts suggest about the support for God's work today? (God wants us to bring our secular talents and our common resources and use them to advance the Kingdom of God. All sorts of gifts and talents can be used to support the gospel.)

    4. Read Exodus 25:9 again. How precise did God ask Moses to be? (God says make it "exactly like" the pattern.)

      1. Do you think that God is particular about our part in our partnership with Him?(God does not coerce us. God uses our common talents. But, God has high standards for us. If we choose to join in God's work, He expects us to obey.)

  3. God's Picture - Sanctuary Attitude

    1. Read Hebrews 10:1. Notice the reference again to a "shadow." Just like we learned that the sanctuary on earth was a shadow of the one in heaven, so the law is a shadow "of the good things that are coming." What do you think is the reality - more laws?

      1. What does this text suggest is the goal of the law? (To make us perfect. For this goal it is a mere shadow.)

    2. Read Hebrews 10:2-7. What is the reality of the law? What is the original? (Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf. The goal of the law was to make us perfect, but for that it was a mere shadow. Jesus was the reality.)

    3. Read Hebrews 10:8-10. If God was not pleased with the sacrifices, why did the Old Testament require them? (Look again at Hebrews 10:3. We are told that the sacrifices were for us - to remind us of our sins.)

    4. How would you suggest that we can be reminded today of our sins? (Jesus died in our place. We should be reminded of this through the Lord's Supper. See 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.)

      1. Is there some way you could be reminded more often?

        1. Is there a way in which the law could be part of this reminder? (Read Matthew 22:36-40. Jesus tells us to love our neighbor "as yourself." This involves some sacrifice. Hebrews 10 is all about sacrifice. The idea that forms in my mind is that when we sacrifice for others, we are reminded of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. In this way the law is a "shadow" of the reality of Jesus' extreme love for us.)

        2. Read Romans 12:1. What does Paul teach us about this kind of sacrificial attitude? (It is a form of worship - true and proper worship!)

      2. I'm on vacation as I write this lesson. I've found a local church to visit each Sabbath of my vacation. These churches have been very small - and in some respects this is very discouraging. Why do so few attend? What would cause you personally to leave a church? (Do we attend church so that we can sacrifice? Or, do we attend church so that we can be spiritually fed by others?)

        1. If we decided to be part of the group that spiritually fed others, would that feed us?

    5. We started out by saying "What picture has God drawn for us by His sanctuary on earth?" What is your answer to that question? (God wants to dwell with us. God does not coerce us. However, dwelling with God is a serious commitment. The entire system of the law and sanctuary draws a picture of sacrifice for others. True worship is self-sacrifice. True worship is a constant reminder of what God has sacrificed for our sins.)

    6. Friend, have you examined your life to evaluate whether you have a spirit of self-sacrifice, or a spirit of self-gratification? Will you ask the Holy Spirit today to convert your heart so that you better reflect the law and the love of Jesus towards you?

  4. Next week: Happy Are You, Israel.
* Copr. 2011, 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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