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Sabbath School Lessons on The Promise - God's Everlasting Covenant
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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 11: New-Covenant Sanctuary *
Introduction: When God gave His people the Ten Commandments, He also
gave them detailed instructions on how to build a place for Him to
live with them. God's home on earth was designed for a procedure the
people could use to rid themselves of sin. Any "outsider" looking at
this would have concluded that God was very concerned about sin.
After all, His dwelling itself addressed the problem of sin. Of
course, an outsider would also probably be mystified by the "sin
removal procedure" with its focus on the shedding of animal blood.
This week we study Hebrews 9 to try to uncover what God really had in
mind with His house design and sin procedures. Let's dive into our
- Earth Sanctuary
- Read Hebrews 9:1-5. What is this "earthly sanctuary?" What
is being described in these verses? (If you review Exodus
25 & 26 you will see this is a description of the
tabernacle that the Israelites built while on the Exodus
- Read Exodus 25:8-9. What was God's reason for having
the Israelites build this tabernacle? (God wanted to
dwell with them. This was to be God's dwelling on
- Who decided how the tabernacle and the
furnishings should be made? ( Exodus 25:9 and
Exodus 26:30 reveal that God gave the plans for
the tabernacle and the furnishing to Moses. You
would expect the owner of a home to select the
- Hebrews 9:1 describes the "first covenant" as having
"regulations for worship and also an earthly
sanctuary." Is the "first covenant" the same as the
"old covenant?" (Yes, these are interchangeable
- Was God's house part of the "old covenant?"
- How about the Ten Commandments? Are the Ten
Commandments also part of the "old covenant?"
( Hebrews 9:4 mentions the "stone tablets of the
covenant." This is a clear reference to the Ten
Commandments. However, Hebrews 9:1 teaches us
that the old covenant was not simply the Ten
Commandments, but the entire system of worship
regulations that were part of the sanctuary
- Let's continue on in Hebrews 9. Read verses 6-8. Carefully
consider verse 8.
- Why was God's dwelling place designed to deal with
the sins of the people?
- What is the "way into the Most Holy Place?"
- How was that "way" not disclosed? Wasn't it just the
next room? Was God's house so big you couldn't find
your way around it?
- Why did God's house, the tabernacle (sanctuary,
temple) have to be destroyed before the "way" could
- What did finding the "way" get you?
- Read Hebrews 9:9-10. How do these verses answer the
questions I just asked? (What happened in the temple
service on earth was merely an "illustration" - it was
symbolic. The high priest went into the Most Holy Place
only on the Day of Atonement - the one day a year when the
sins of the people were totally erased from them and the
temple. (See Leviticus 16) The purpose of the Day of
Atonement was to remove sin from the community and God's
house. This ritual illustrated (symbolized) Jesus' death
to take away sins. Therefore, until Jesus came, the "way
into the Most Holy Place" was not truly realized. Once
Jesus came and died for our sins, the symbol no longer had
any purpose. The reason for its existence had ended. It is
for that reason that the curtain which separated the Most
Holy Place from the rest of the temple was torn in two at
Jesus' death. ( Matthew 27:60-51))
- Notice something interesting in verse 9: we are told
the sanctuary sin removal procedure "is an
illustration for the present time." I thought it was
an illustration for the people who lived under the
old covenant, not for the people who were first
reading Hebrews. Why does the writer of Hebrews say
this? (2,000 years after Jesus' death the answer is
not obvious to us. We think (correctly) that the old
covenant sacrificial system was a lesson to the
people about what would happen to the Messiah.
However, if you back things up about 2,000 years ago,
we see the Bible writers trying to convince the
people that Jesus was the Messiah. Thus, the writer
of Hebrews is arguing that Jesus' death is proof that
He was the Messiah because the sanctuary service
illustrated the fact that the Messiah would have to
die for our sins.)
- Heavenly Sanctuary
- Read Hebrews 9:11. What tabernacle "is not a part of this
creation?" (This turns on the light. This text tells us
that God has a perfect home (tabernacle, temple,
sanctuary) in heaven. God's command for the Israelites to
build a place for Him to dwell on earth based on a pattern
He gave them was merely a command to build a model based
on God's perfect dwelling in heaven.)
- Read Hebrews 9:12-14. Why did God set up the "sin removal
procedure" in His earthly home? (It symbolized what Jesus
is doing for us.)
- Do you think that Jesus actually entered God's temple
in heaven just as the high priest entered the Most
Holy Place in the earthly temple on the Day of
Atonement? (That is exactly what this text tells us.)
- Notice that Hebrews 9:13 speaks of being "outwardly
clean." Why does it use that term to describe the old
covenant system? (It is only the life and death of
Jesus on our behalf that truly cleans us of our sins.
He is the only way to have our sins truly forgiven.
Hebrews 10:4 tells us it is "impossible for the blood
of [animals] to take away sins.")
- Read Hebrews 9:15. What new things are we learning about
the "new covenant" in this text? (What is "new" about the
new covenant is that Jesus has given His life for our sins
so that we can be truly clean of sin. He is also our
mediator, like the high priest of the old sanctuary
service, except Jesus' mediation gives us "the promised
- Read Hebrews 9:24. Under the new covenant, what is Jesus
doing for us right now? (He is "appearing for us." When I
represent a client in court, I make what is known as "an
appearance" for that client. We are Jesus' clients when He
appears before God the Father in God's dwelling in
- What kind of client are you?
- How much does it matter?
- Read Hebrews 9:26b-27. Who is the focus of this
judgment? (This says that Jesus sacrificed Himself to
do away with our sins. The focus is on Jesus, not
you. However, we must not forget the "big picture" of
the symbolic system on earth. The people came to the
temple, they confessed their sins and the shedding of
animal blood pointed them towards the coming
sacrifice of Jesus. Nothing under the new covenant
lessens the need for coming to God, confessing our
sins, and relying on the sacrifice and work of our
Mediator in heaven.)
- Verse 27 tells us that Jesus is coming again "to
bring salvation to those who are waiting for
Him." Don't we already have salvation? What does
this mean? (Read Galatians 1:4. The NIV says
"rescue us from the present evil age." "Evil
age" is the phrase used by about half the
translations I consulted. "Evil world" is the
phrase used by the other half. I think the
"rescue" takes us out of this evil world. When
Jesus comes to bring salvation to us, He is
coming to take us out of this world and up to
heaven where He lives!)
- Friend, God has always been greatly concerned about the
sin problem. His home on earth and His home in heaven
address this very issue. He sent His Son to come and live
as a man, perfectly obey the law, and then die on our
behalf. Jesus, as fully God and fully man, is the perfect
connection between God and us. Given God's great concern
about sin, and His offer of a way out of sin and into
salvation, will you accept it today? Will you determine
to avoid sin until He takes you to heaven with Him?
- Next week: Covenant Faith
* Copr. 2003, 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.