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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!

  1. Building Copy

    1. 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.)

    2. 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.)

    3. 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.)

      1. "Shadow" is an interesting word. What can someone learn about you from your shadow?

        1. What cannot be learned about you from your shadow?

  2. Jesus Copy

    1. Read John 2:13-16. How does Jesus describe the sanctuary on earth? ("My Father's house.")

      1. What claim did Jesus make about His relationship with God? (Jesus is the Father's Son. "My Father's house.")

      2. What is Jesus' claim to authority over His Father's house? (He is the Son.)

    2. 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.)

    3. 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 days.)

    4. Read John 2:21-22. What did Jesus actually mean? (That He would rise from the grave in three days.)

      1. 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 Jesus?

      2. 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.)

  3. Church Copy

    1. 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?

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 3:10-13. What building are we seeing here? (The group that makes up the church.)

      1. Who are the builders? (The Bible teachers.)

        1. Are some Bible teachers better than others? (Some build with "straw.")

    3. 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.)

      1. How is the church a temple?

      2. If the church is a temple, is it yet another copy of the one in heaven?

    4. 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.)

      1. Has the church taken over the role of being God's temple on earth?

      2. Should the church be concerned about retaining its significance?

  4. You Copy

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and 2 Corinthians 6:16. What is the temple here? (We are God's temple.)

      1. 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.)

    2. 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?"

      1. 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.)

      2. 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.)

      3. 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.)

      4. 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.)

  5. Copies Merged

    1. Read Revelation 7:9-10. Where is this? (Before the throne of God in the temple in heaven.)

      1. 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.")

    2. Read Revelation 7:11-12. When the original and the copies merge, what happens? (They praise God! They give glory to God.)

    3. 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.)

    4. Read Revelation 7:17. Where is Jesus? ("At the center of the throne!")

      1. 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.)

    5. 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?

  6. 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.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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