Light and Shadows: The Earthly Sanctuary
(Exodus 25, Hebrews 8-9)
Introduction: Have you ever asked yourself, "How do I know Jesus was God?" "Why would God die on the cross?" Is there a link between Jesus and the God of the Old Testament?
I have a dear Jewish friend who tells me (with a smile) that Christians have "hijacked" his religion and we should leave the Jewish religion alone. I respond by telling him his religion is incomplete, he needs our Messiah to complete his theology. To prove my point, I ask him what he thinks all those animal sacrifices were about?
At the core of the answer to all of these questions and the debate with my friend is the sanctuary of the Old Testament. Let's dive into this study and find out why this is a "pillar" of our faith!
- The Pattern
- Read Exodus 25:1-7. On what basis did God ask His people for an offering? (If their heart told them to give.)
- God had some very specific gifts in mind. This reminds me of an engaged couple registering with a store for wedding gifts! What would you think if you heard this "wish list" from God? (That this was no ordinary offering, He had something particular in mind.)
- Read Exodus 25:8-9. What does God have in mind? (He wants them to build sanctuary (tabernacle) out of this stuff.)
- Why does He want them to build this? (So God can dwell with them.)
- Now that you know God's reason for the requested offering, would you be anxious to give?
- Why would God want to dwell among His people? (This is another example of God's love for us.)
- When we built our new church we started with a general idea and hired an architect to draw up the plans. Who designed this sanctuary? (Verse 9 tells us that God was the designer -- He had a pattern.)
- Read Hebrews 8:5. Where have you seen this "pattern" language before? (The writer of Hebrews is paraphrasing the text we just read - Exodus 25:9)
- Where did God get His design? (God gave Moses a pattern for the sanctuary in the desert that was "a copy and shadow of what is in heaven!")
- When Hebrews says the sanctuary on earth was "a shadow" of the one in heaven, what do you think it means? (The heavenly sanctuary is much grander!)
- The Point
- I suggest that you take a few moments and skim over Leviticus chapters 1 and 2 which describe the animal and grain offerings given (sacrificed) at the sanctuary. What was the purpose of these animal sacrifices? (Read Leviticus 1:2-4. These sacrifices would "atone" for the sin of the person.)
- If there is no sin in heaven, why do they need a sanctuary in heaven?
- Are animal sacrifices going on up there?
- Read Hebrews 9:11-14. What do these verses reveal is going on in the heavenly sanctuary? (Jesus takes the part of the high priest and the part of the sacrifice. It is His blood that saves us from sin instead of the blood of animals.)
- Why do you think God set up the animal sacrifice system here on earth? (This system was a living parable (the lesson calls it a "type") for the death of Jesus. The entire system pointed towards the day when the Messiah (the "antitype) would come and make an atonement for sin. This leaves us with two conclusions. First, it is clear that Jesus is the Messiah. He did exactly what was symbolized by the sacrificial system. Second, modern Judaism has lost its vision of what it was about.)
- Why do you think that modern Judaism has lost "the point" of the sacrificial system? (When the temple was destroyed by the Romans (70 A.D.), that whole part of their worship system disappeared.)
- Why do you think the Romans destroyed the temple? (This is yet further proof that Jesus is the Messiah. After Jesus died and was raised to life, thus fulfilling the entire sacrificial system, the Romans destroyed the temple. God allowed this to happen because earthly sanctuary was no longer needed. Its purpose had been fulfilled.)
- Lessons From the Copy
- Next week we are going to go into more detail about the sanctuary in heaven. Let's turn our attention to what other lessons we can learn from the earthly sanctuary.
- Read Exodus 29:38-41. What do you think about the timing of the sacrifices? Is there a spiritual lesson in this for us today? (God wants us to turn our attention to Him first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening.)
- What about the time in between? ( 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to "pray continually." I think the lesson of the sanctuary is have a formal resolve to start with God each morning and end each day with Him.)
- Notice in Exodus 29:41 God mentions the "aroma" of the sacrifice. Why, of all things, should the smell of this be mentioned? (Have you ever passed by a restaurant and been attracted by the smell? I used to think that restaurants would deliberately vent the smell of the cooking to lure you in! People not seeing the sacrifice would be reminded by the smell in the area what was going on. Another "smell" part of the service was burning incense. See Exodus 30:8-9.)
- Is there a spiritual lesson in this for us? (To make the worship of God as attractive as possible.)
- Read Leviticus 17:11. Why was spilling the blood of the animal required for sacrifices at the earthly sanctuary?(Life is in the blood. Spilling the blood meant that the animal's life was ending. Last week we discussed that Satan's first lie was to deny that sin causes death. ( Genesis 3:4) The sacrificial system not only reminded people that sin does, indeed, cause death. It also taught them that their sin could be removed by a substitute. This substitute requires cleansing with blood.)
- Could the blood of these animals cleanse the people of their sins? If it could, why would Jesus have to come and die? (Read Hebrews 9:13-15. The blood of these animals made the Israelites superficially clean. It took the sacrifice of Jesus to make us completely clean ie., to pay the penalty God set at the beginning of the world: sin = death.)
- During the year the animal sacrifices for sin were continually made. Then once a year, on the Day of Atonement, a sacrifice was made for the sanctuary itself and the High Priest. This is described in Leviticus 16. A summary of this is found in Leviticus 16:32-34. Read. What was the reason for this? (To cleanse all of these "things"(the sanctuary, the tent of meeting, the alter, the priests and the people) from the sins that had been collecting in the sanctuary during the year.)
- Is there a spiritual lesson in this for us today? (Our lesson points out (Monday) that the sanctuary ritual on earth did not end with the death of the animal. Thus, there is a time when the heavenly sanctuary will also be cleansed.)
- Read Hebrews 9:24-28. How many days of atonement are there in heaven? (One. Jesus entered on our behalf once.)
- Does Jesus stay there in the heavenly sanctuary as our priest? (Verse 24 says that Jesus is "now" going to appear for us in God's presence. This seems to indicate an ongoing work on behalf of us.)
- When is the heavenly sanctuary cleansed? When does this "Day of Atonement" end? (Our lesson indicates (based on other prophetic texts that are not discussed) that this began in 1844. However, Verses 26 and 28 suggest the end is at the Second Coming. While this beginning date suggested by the lesson is not without considerable controversy, I doubt that the beginning date has considerable significance to us today. Instead, the significance is when the Atonement is over and Jesus comes a second time to close the door on our sin and take us home with Him!)
- Friend, the entire sacrificial system points to Jesus as the sacrificed Lamb of God. He not only died for us, but in the heavenly sanctuary He acts as our High Priest who intercedes for us. At some point soon this intercession will end and He will return. Will you accept Him today as your sacrifice and as your Intercessor to free you from your sins?
- Next Week: The Heavenly Sanctuary