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Sabbath School Lessons on The Sanctuary
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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 41 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 2: "Heaven on Earth" *
Introduction: Last week we studied God's temple in heaven. We learned
about God's throne, His advisors and the control center of the
universe. This week we study copies. On the face of it, what we
learned about last week seems nothing like what we will read about
this week. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and see why God
had us create "copies" of the temple, His sanctuary in heaven, how
many He made, and what all of this means!
- Building Copy
- Read Exodus 25:1-8. God solicits offerings from His people
to build His sanctuary on earth. Why? (He wants us to be a
part of this work.)
- Read Exodus 25:9 and Hebrews 8:4-5. What do we learn about
the sanctuary on earth and the sanctuary in heaven? (The
one on earth is patterned after the one in heaven.)
- Read Hebrews 8:5-6. Which one is better? Which one came
first? (This tells us that what is going on in heaven is
better! The fact that the sanctuary on earth was patterned
after the one in heaven shows that the heavenly sanctuary
came first. Notice that Hebrews 8:5 calls the sanctuary on
earth a "shadow" of the one in heaven - it represents in
some way the original.)
- "Shadow" is an interesting word. What can someone
learn about you from your shadow?
- What cannot be learned about you from your
- Jesus Copy
- Read John 2:13-16. How does Jesus describe the sanctuary
on earth? ("My Father's house.")
- What claim did Jesus make about His relationship with
God? (Jesus is the Father's Son. "My Father's
- What is Jesus' claim to authority over His Father's
house? (He is the Son.)
- Read John 2:17-18. Notice that the Jewish leaders did not
laugh at this, but rather demanded some proof that He was
the Son of God. What proof do they require? (A sign.)
- Read John 2:19-20. What do you think about Jesus' offered
sign? (Oddly, the people don't seem to question that this
proof requires the destruction of the temple. Instead,
they think it absurd to believe it can be rebuilt in three
- Read John 2:21-22. What did Jesus actually mean? (That He
would rise from the grave in three days.)
- Is Jesus referring to His body as God's temple? Does
this mean a second copy of the temple was now on
earth? Were there two, the physical building and
- How can we consider both the building and Jesus as
"copies" of the temple in heaven? (The sanctuary in
heaven is where God dwells. God told Moses (Exodus
25:8) to make a sanctuary on earth "and I will dwell
among them." Jesus is God. In all three, the temple
in heaven, the temple in Jerusalem, and Jesus, we
have the presence of God.)
- Church Copy
- Read 1 Corinthians 3:5-9. Paul ends this discussion of
cooperative work with the statement that teachers are
God's "fellow workers," and the church is God's "field"
and "building." How are we a field and a building?
- Read 1 Corinthians 3:10-13. What building are we seeing
here? (The group that makes up the church.)
- Who are the builders? (The Bible teachers.)
- Are some Bible teachers better than others?
(Some build with "straw.")
- Read 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. What temple is being referred
to here? (Kristofor Westermeyer, who coordinates the
translators for these lessons, pointed out an error I made
several months ago when writing about this text. I thought
it referred to individuals, but Kris thought it referred
to the church. This gives me a chance to correct the
error. Paul here refers to the church as a temple.)
- How is the church a temple?
- If the church is a temple, is it yet another copy of
the one in heaven?
- Let's consider this a moment. We have the temple in
heaven. We have the temple on earth. We have Jesus and we
have the church. They are all temples. Read Matthew 27:50-52. What does this suggest about the temple on earth?
(The rending of the curtain suggests that temple is no
longer viable. The work in the earthly temple pointed to
the coming work of Jesus. When Jesus died as the Lamb for
our sins, the temple on earth lost its significance.)
- Has the church taken over the role of being God's
temple on earth?
- Should the church be concerned about retaining its
- You Copy
- Read 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and 2 Corinthians 6:16. What is
the temple here? (We are God's temple.)
- In one respect this seems very odd: Jesus, the temple
in Jerusalem, the Church, and now you and I are
temples. What is the common denominator that makes
all of these temples? (God is in them.)
- Have you ever heard about patterns in the Bible? When I
hear of such things, my general reaction is "so what?" The
only thing I consider valuable about arguments over
patterns is that our God is a complex and sophisticated
God. Is this idea that we have many temples on earth a "so
- What does the knowledge of God being in the temple in
heaven do for us? (At least two things. It tells us
that God is in control! The parallel between the
temple on earth and the temple in heaven tells us
that God died to save us and is mediating for us in
heaven right now. God designed His home to reflect
His work for us.)
- What does the knowledge of the church being a temple
do for us? (God desires to be with us in an organized
way. The church should reflect God's will.)
- What does the knowledge that we are temples do for
us? ( 2 Corinthians 6:17 tells us that we should
reflect God's will. We should be separate from evil.)
- Is there some overarching lesson we can learn about
these temples? (God wants to live with us. His house
is designed with us in mind. He had us create a place
for Him to live with us. He came to earth in human
form to live with us. He sent His Holy Spirit to live
in us. God's desire to be with you and me gives me
comfort and courage in a world full of challenges.)
- Copies Merged
- Read Revelation 7:9-10. Where is this? (Before the throne
of God in the temple in heaven.)
- What is the future of the "copies?" (They are here!
We are there. The "church" is there. Jesus is there.
By the way, I wince at referring to Jesus as "copy.")
- Read Revelation 7:11-12. When the original and the copies
merge, what happens? (They praise God! They give glory to
- Read Revelation 7:15-16. What are we doing in the temple
in heaven? (We get to serve God! We are like the priests
in the temple on earth.)
- Read Revelation 7:17. Where is Jesus? ("At the center of
- What is our relationship to Jesus? (He leads us to
life and joy. Revelation 7:15 tells us that He will
"spread His tent" over us.)
- Friend, the sanctuary in heaven and the copies on earth
show that God desires to be with us. He desires to live in
us. Ultimately, He desires to have us live with Him in the
temple in heaven. Do you want that? Why not, right now,
ask Jesus to live in you, to make you a temple on earth?
- Next week: Sacrifices.
* 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.