Lesson 9

The Heavenly Sanctuary

(Hebrews 4 & 7, Revelation 15)
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Introduction: Last week our study was the sanctuary built by Moses in accordance with a "pattern" given to him by God. We learned that this "pattern" was an actual sanctuary that presently exits in heaven! We also learned that the sacrificial system of the earthly sanctuary pointed to the future sacrifice of Jesus, our Savior. Further, we learned that Jesus, after His life, death and resurrection here on earth, is presently in the heavenly sanctuary acting as our High Priest! This week we dive deeper into the heavenly sanctuary and exactly what it is that Jesus is doing for us in heaven.

  1. Our Need For A High Priest

    1. Read Hebrews 4:12. What do you think is the "word of God?" (Bible commentators have differing opinions. It could mean Jesus, the Bible, the Gospel or prophecy. The common denominator is that it is some form of the revelation of God's will.)
      1. What are the characteristics of the word of God according to this text? (List them.)

        1. Living and active;

        2. Sharper than a sword;

        3. Cuts between the soul and spirit, joints and marrow; and,

        4. Judges our attitudes.

      2. As you look at these characteristics, what lessons do you learn for today? Let's go down each of these:

        1. I hear people say that the Bible was for a different time and a different culture, therefore we need to "adjust" (modify) its advice to our culture. What does the "living and active" description say about this thinking? (The Bible has a relevant message for today!)

        2. How is the revelation of God's will sharper than a sword? Is this a reference to "paper-cuts" from reading the Bible? (Learning the will of God "cuts through the nonsense" and reveals what is right and wrong.)

        3. Why do you think the text refers to "soul and spirit" and "joints and marrow?" (This seems to refer to the spiritual (mental) and physical aspects of our life. God's will, if we listen, goes deep into us. If we don't listen, this suggests some damage may result.)

          1. How does the revelation of God's will "cut" the spiritual and physical aspects of our life? (It seems that God's word applies to all aspects of our life. God's will applies to our mental and physical well-being.)

        4. Why would God's word judge our thoughts and attitudes instead of our actions? (The battleground for sin is your mind, your attitudes! Your actions follow long after the war has been won or lost.)

    2. Read Hebrews 4:13. Does this text give you comfort, considering that it follows immediately the "sword" text? (This is all very worrisome. We find that God sees everything, we must "give account" of ourselves - including our private thoughts - and the standard for the judgment is this very sharp sword that is alive and well today! There is no place to run! No place to hide!)

  2. Our High Priest

    1. Read Hebrews 4:14. Why does this verse start out with "therefore?" (This links verses 12 and 13 with what is about to be said next. Since 12 and 13 seem to be warnings, this is like saying: "Some very large and heavy trucks come speeding down this road. Therefore.....")

      1. So, what is the important message that follows about this dangerous sword and us being held accountable for our thoughts? (The "therefore" message is one of comfort considering the dangers that lurk around us. The message is that we have a great High Priest in heaven. We have someone on our side.)

      2. What is the faith that we must profess and to which we must hold tightly? (This is the heart of the matter. Last week we discussed how the earthly sanctuary and its sacrifice were a living parable (and prophecy) of Jesus' coming sacrifice for our sins. We also touched on the fact that Jesus is currently in heaven acting as our High Priest and is offering His blood in the heavenly sanctuary for our sins. It is necessary for us to "hold firmly" to our faith in Jesus' work. This is part of the word of God referred to in verse 12.)

    2. Read Hebrews 4:15-16. What is great about Jesus being our High Priest? (He can sympathize with us because He has dealt with the same kind of problems that we face every day.)

      1. If Jesus is our substitute (i.e., He died in our place), why is it important that He be sympathetic? (This assurance of sympathy shows that Jesus' death in our place is not some sort of mechanical thing. It is not a simple repeating of "I believe" and then your Christian experience is done. This shows that Jesus is looking for people who take seriously their beliefs and are co-laborers with Him in overcoming their weaknesses and temptations. He can help us with this because of His experience.)

      2. Why does verse 16 tell us that we can come confidently (KJV: boldly) before God? (Because of Jesus!)

        1. When is our "time of need?" Is this just when our name comes up in the judgment? (We are talking in general about the judgment, but I think this also goes back to the point we were discussing earlier - Jesus is able to help us in our daily struggles with sin.)

    3. Let's skip ahead to Hebrews 7:23-25. What is Jesus' current work in the heavenly sanctuary on our behalf? (He is interceding for us.)

    4. Read Hebrews 7:26-27. Last week we learned that the sanctuary on earth had morning and evening sacrifices. Is that going on in heaven? (This says that Jesus "offered Himself" and He did this "once for all.")

      1. If Jesus did this "once for all" then why does verse 25 tell us that "He always lives to intercede" for us? (This suggests that Jesus' activities are not the same as the routines of the priests in the earthly sanctuary. Instead, we have this ongoing intercessory ("lawyer") work by Jesus on our behalf. To get a better idea about this, I suggest you read Hebrews chapter 8.)

  3. Headquarters

    1. Let's change gears now and look at some of the other activities that are (or will be) going on in the heavenly sanctuary. Read Revelation 15:2-4. What scene is pictured here? (Those who have been saved from earth and who are in heaven.)

    2. Read Revelation 15:5-16:1. What very different work do we see being directed from the temple? (Judgment is being sent to earth from the temple in heaven.)

    3. Why is the temple, the scene of Jesus' intercession for us, involved in the judgment? (Read Revelation 11:18-19. The temple in heaven is not only the place where Jesus intercedes on our behalf, but after His work of intercession is done (that is the judgment is completed), then the temple is headquarters for the final battle against sin and evil.)

      1. Did you notice that both of these texts (Revelation 15: 5 and 11:19) refer to the temple being "opened." What do you think this means? (It suggests that the temple is "closed" during the intercession of Jesus (much like the earthly sanctuary could not be entered except by the High Priest on the day of Atonement), but when Jesus' work is over, the temple is "opened" for the work of executing the final judgment.)

    1. Read Revelation 16:17. What significance do you find in the fact that this command, "It is done," comes from the temple? (It shows that God has won. He declares when the battle with sin is over.)

    2. Read Revelation 21:22. This chapter describes the New Jerusalem. Why does it say the temple is gone from heaven? Why would it be gone? (The battle with sin is over. Jesus' intercession on our behalf is over. Instead of needing an intercessor, instead of needing a "procedure" to deal with sin, we find that we can now be in the presence of Jesus and our Heavenly Father!)

    3. Friend, there is a battle going on. Will you choose Jesus? He not only intercedes for us, but He will bring an end to sin.

  1. Next Week: The Hour of God's Judgment.

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