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Lesson 1: The Heavenly Sanctuary *

Introduction: Assume that you could design your home and your job in any way that you like. How would you design them? No doubt the design of your home, and the kind of work you do would reflect your priorities in life. If I asked you, "How important is it to know about the sanctuary in heaven," what would you say? Some argue that it is an obscure and technical issue that has little, if anything, to do with our salvation. But, consider for a moment that it is God's home and that it reflects what He does. It must reflect God's priorities! I'll tell you as a sneak preview, God's priority is you! Let's plunge into a new series of lessons about the heavenly sanctuary and what it means to us!

  1. Through the Door to the Throne

    1. Read Revelation 4:1. Does this remind you of a video game? You are in a special and unknown place, an open door is in front of you, and a disembodied voice says, "Come!"

      1. Is this a soft voice? (It says it was like a "trumpet.")

      2. What does the open door suggest? (An invitation to enter.)

      3. What is interesting about the invitation? (It not only appeals to your curiosity about what is behind the door, but it says that if you enter, you will learn the future. Let's go!)

    2. Read Revelation 4:2. What does it mean to be "in the Spirit," and what does that have to do with going through the door? (John, the writer of Revelation, is telling us that this is no video game, God's Spirit is directing his mind. He confirms that going through the door is part of a vision from God.)

      1. What does John see on the other side of the door? (A throne - and it is occupied.)

  2. God on His Throne

    1. Read Revelation 4:3. John says "someone" is sitting on the throne, and then describes what this "someone" looks like. Who is the likely candidate to be sitting on the throne in heaven? (God!)

      1. Why doesn't John just say that?

      2. Why does John say that God looks like rocks? (Notice that John says "had the appearance of." This does not mean that God looks like rocks.)

        1. What do we learn from John saying a "rainbow" resembles an "emerald?" (John's point is that these stones have "flash." They have a beauty that radiates from them. God has a beauty and glory that radiates from Him.)

    2. Read Revelation 4:4. Circling God's throne are twenty-four other thrones. Who is on these thrones? (God's counselors. God's advisors. Twenty-four elders.)

      1. Aside from heaven, and God's throne, what is this place that John is seeing? (It sounds like the headquarters of the universe.)

      2. Compare the description of the elders with the description of God? (They look "normal" to us, white clothes, gold crowns, and heads. They are identified as elders - something we would recognize!)

    3. Read Revelation 4:5. Think about this description. God's throne rumbles, thunders and has bolts of electricity flash from it. What does this suggest? (God's throne is a power source. If this were on earth, I would be afraid to come to close for fear of being killed by the power.)

      1. Notice that the Spirit of God is described as a blazing lamp. This is the same term used in Revelation 8:10 to describe a falling star. What does this suggest? (Again, power - power in the Holy Spirit.)

      2. Read Acts 2:3-4. Does the appearance of fire, when the Spirit of God comes to earth, surprise you? (No. The Holy Spirit has power, like the burning of a falling star!)

    4. Read Revelation 4:6. Does God have a good view from His throne? (The sea of glass! No wonder I like water views.)

    5. Read Revelation 4:7-8. What are we told about the identity of the person who sits on the throne in heaven? (The four creatures identify the person as God. It makes sense that John would be reluctant to identify God. Instead, he uses the identification of those who live in God's presence.)

  3. Worship in the Throne Room

    1. Read Revelation 4:9-11. What specific reason do the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders give for praising God? (God is worthy because He created us and sustains us.)

      1. How does the theory of evolution impact this basis for giving glory to God?

      2. Read Revelation 14:6-7. What is the foundation of the "eternal gospel?" (God's claim to be our Creator. There are some things that matter deeply, and one of them is giving glory to God as our Creator. This is foundational - which is no doubt the reason why Satan attacks on this very point.)

    2. Read Revelation 5:1-4. This is heaven! How can we lack worthy people? I thought everyone in heaven was worthy!

    3. Read Isaiah 11:1 & 10 and Revelation 5:5-6. Who is this? (Jesus!)

    4. Read Revelation 5:7-9. Now we get a fuller picture about being worthy. Why is Jesus worthy and no one else is? (Because Jesus was slain for our sins. Because He "purchased" us from Satan and death.)

    5. Let's go back a moment. Re-read Revelation 4:6 and Revelation 5:6. Where is Jesus? (He is standing on the throne of God.)

      1. What does this mean? (This identifies Jesus with God. This is further evidence of the Trinity.)

      2. Notice the last part of Revelation 5:6. What does this indicate about the Trinity and the Holy Spirit? (It links the Spirit with Jesus.)

        1. What do you think about the seven horns, seven eyes and seven spirits? (Read 1 Samuel 2:10 and Zechariah 4:1. Seven is the number of perfection. Horns symbolize kingly power, eyes symbolize sight or knowledge. Therefore, Jesus has perfect power, perfect knowledge and a perfect relationship with the Holy Spirit.)

    6. Read Revelation 5:11-12 and re-read Revelation 4:11. What two points form the basis for our worship of God? (He is our Creator and our Redeemer. The throne of God, the glory of God, is tied to those two beliefs.)

      1. How does the Sabbath fit into this idea? (The Sabbath memorializes Creation ( Genesis 2:2-3), and Jesus rested on the Sabbath at the cross ( Matthew 28:1-6. Thus, the Sabbath reflects the basis for worship at the throne of God!)

  4. Sanctuary Work

    1. Read Hebrews 8:1-2. Who is it who is at the center of the throne? (Jesus is there with God the Father.)

      1. What is Jesus doing there? (Serving as High Priest.)

    2. Read Hebrews 8:3-5. Recall that in Revelation 5:6 Jesus is in the throne room of heaven looking like a slain lamb. Why do you think Jesus is pictured as a slain lamb in the heavenly throne room? (The sanctuary on earth involved the sacrifice of lambs. These verses in Hebrews show us that the sanctuary on earth is important in teaching us about the sanctuary in heaven. It reflects what is going on in heaven.)

    3. Read Hebrews 8:6. What is going on in heaven? (Jesus is ministering as our High Priest!)

    4. Recall that we started out thinking about how we would design our home and our job if we could. What priorities do God's home and job reflect? (His work in heaven is to minister on our behalf! Since we just read that the sanctuary on earth is patterned after the one in heaven, even the design of God's home reflects the story of redemption! Next week we will study the sanctuary on earth and see what else we can learn.)

    5. Friend, God's claim to worship arises from being our Creator and Redeemer. Since God's priorities are you, are you doing all that is within your power to stand with God on these issues?

  5. Next week: "Heaven" on Earth.

* Copr. 2013, 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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