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Lesson 4: Lessons From the Sanctuary *

Introduction: What does it mean to be holy? What probably comes to mind is a cleric of some sort. Someone who is devoted exclusively to religious work. If I told you that you needed to be holy in all that you do, would that mean that you would have to change your profession? The sanctuary teaches us something about being holy, so let's plunge into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn!

  1. Holy


    1. Read Exodus 25:8 and Leviticus 19:2. When a police car is following you, do you drive more carefully? When your boss is watching you, do you work better? When your parents are around, are you better behaved?


      1. If the answer to these questions is "yes," do you think that is why God wants to be around us - to improve our behavior, to help us to be holy?


      2. Is that why parents want to be around their children - to be sure they behave? (No. Parents want to be around their children because they love them.)


      3. Let's assume what I believe is true, God wants to be around us because He loves us. Why does He tell us to be holy because He is holy?


        1. Is God hoping that we will not embarrass Him? (If you review Job 1:6-11, the text suggests that God does take pleasure in our obedience. Thus, the opposite should also be true.)


    2. Read Genesis 2:3. What does it mean for the Sabbath to be "holy?"


      1. When God tells us to be holy, does that make you feel good, or make you feel discouraged?


      2. If I asked you "Which day of the week do you think is most like you," what would you say? (Who wants to be Monday? Why not be Saturday, the day God set aside as being special.)


      3. Is that a fair way to look at God's command for us to be holy, that He wants us to be something special?


        1. Consider again the Sabbath. Is it being set apart that makes it holy? Or, is something else involved? (Consider that the Sabbath is intended to turn our minds to God. This suggests that being holy is to be set apart, and to draw attention to God.)


  2. Holy Work


    1. Read Exodus 31:1-5. Would you like to be Bezalel?


      1. Is he a "blue collar" or "white collar" worker? (He is blue collar, he works with his hands.)


      2. What is the first thing that God did to equip Bezalel (I'll call him "Bez" for short)for working with his hands? ("Filled him with the Spirit of God.")


        1. Does that make any sense?


        2. Does that have anything to do with being holy? (If being holy is being set apart, being special, then the answer is clearly, "yes!" The first step to Bez being a great craftsman is to determine to be special, to be set apart from the rest of the workers.)


    2. Re-read Exodus 31:3-5. What skills does Bez have? (He works with metal, gems and wood.)


      1. Who gave him those skills? (God says that He gave Bez "skill, ability and knowledge.)


      2. We think about God giving gifts to leaders. What about gifts to the people who do not lead? (God gives them gifts to be special. To be holy workers - meaning skilled above others.)


      3. Is it okay to desire to be better than others? To be the Sabbath among a bunch of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday workers? (This is part of being holy. God gives you the gift to be a better worker. God gives you the desire to be excellent!)


        1. The text we will read next tells us Bez is using his skills to create items for the sanctuary. When we think about the nature of Bez's work, is his desire to be better bringing glory to himself? (He is making things for the sanctuary. Thus, his excellent craftsmanship causes others to think about God. He turns their minds to God. However, Bez is also in line for praise.)


    3. Read Exodus 31:6-11. Is it terrible to be Oholiab? Bez is excellent, but Oholiab is a helper. (You can be an excellent helper. Perhaps one day Oholiab will become a skilled craftsman like Bez. But, whatever the work put before us, we need to be excellent.)


      1. As a helper, does the work of Oholiab turn the mind to God? (Yes, because he is working with Bez who in turn is making things that turn the mind to God. It is a joint effort.)


    4. Look again at Exodus 31:7-11. How many craft skills do you find here?


      1. How important is the task of the workers who are making these items? (They are making items to be used in the presence of God, and they are making items that cause humans to reflect upon the things in heaven.)


        1. Is the priest who makes the sacrifice on the altar more important than the person who crafted the altar?


  3. Holy Life


    1. Read 1 Kings 8:31-32. Assume that you left your car at the home of a friend for safekeeping. Your friend calls you later and tells you that your car is gone. What might have happened to your car? (The car might have been stolen. Or, it might have been sold by your friend.)


      1. This is the kind of situation described in 1 Kings 8:31-32. (Compare Exodus 22:10-11.) The car owner does not know what happened, so the friend would come to the altar in the sanctuary and swear that he did not sell the car - he has no idea what happened to it. What does this have to do with living a holy life? (Living in the presence of God causes us to be honest. Our friends know of our honesty and rely upon it.)


    2. Read 1 Kings 8:33-34. What does this teach us about holy living? (That if we sin against God, our enemies can defeat us.)


      1. What hope is held out for those who aspire to holy living? (That even when we fail, God stands ready to forgive us and restore us.)


    3. Read 1 Kings 8:35-36. Isn't this something referred to as an "Act of God?" What does this suggest about seemingly random problems? (They can have a connection to our sins.)


      1. What hope is held out to us? (Again, we turn to God and He cures the problem.)


    4. Read 1 Kings 8:41-43. If we live a life in accord with God's will, is it likely that others will see and want to know more about God? (This is the essence of being holy. Working with excellence in a way that draws attention to God.)


      1. What will God do in such a situation? (Solomon prays that God will confirm in the life of the "foreigner" that God is the great God of Heaven.)


    5. Read Psalms 73:1-3. What is being described here that seems to conflict with the discussion that we just had about 1 Kings 8? (The theory underlying 1 Kings 8 was that if we obeyed then good things would happen to us and if we disobeyed, bad things would happen. Here, the wicked are prospering.)


    6. Read Psalms 73:4-6 and Psalms 73:12-14. Is life going for this good person the way life is supposed to go when you are holy? (No!)


    7. Read Psalms 73:15-17. How does keeping your doubts to yourself and entering the sanctuary answer the problem that life is not going as it should for a holy person? (Sin brings death. God died for us because He loves us so much. The wicked will die in the end, even if they seem to be prospering now. Those who seek to live a holy life, a life led by the Holy Spirit, will live forever with a God who loves them supremely!)


    8. Friend, will you commit to asking the Holy Spirit to help you live a holy life? A life in which you seek excellence in all you do for the purpose of drawing others to God?


  4. Next week: Atonement: Purification Offering.
* 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.

© 2017 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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