Lesson 7

The Sanctuary and the Second Coming

(Leviticus 16 and Hebrews 5, 6 & 9)
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Introduction: Christians often miss the important link between the sanctuary service of the Old Testament, Jesus life here and the present heavenly work of Jesus on our behalf. Sometimes the sanctuary service seems like some ancient barbaric practice, rather than a living parable of God's victory over sin. Let's jump right into our lesson to learn more about the modern application of the sanctuary service.

  1. THE HIGH PRIEST


    1. All year long the Israelites offered animal sacrifices at the sanctuary for their sins. This led to the Day of Atonement when all that accumulated sin was addressed. Turn to Leviticus 16:3-4 and we will begin reading about the Day of Atonement.


      1. Why do you think Aaron, the High Priest, had to dress in this fashion?


        1. Does this sound like a "picky" God?


      2. Do you see any New Testament parallels? (Matthew 22:11-13. This is part of the story of the wedding feast -- a story about salvation -- where the guest needed the robe of righteousness to be accepted. The High Priest was a sinful man. He needed to be covered with a special garment when he came into the presence of God.)


      3. Leviticus 16:4 also tells us the High Priest had to wash before he put on the sacred garments. Why do you think he had to wash?


        1. Do you see any New Testament parallels? (Baptism. See Matthew 3:13-17.)


        2. Or is this washing a coincidence, instead of a parallel to baptism?


    2. Read Leviticus 16:5-9. We have three animals here. A bull and two goats. Why did the High Priest sacrifice the bull? Why did he sacrifice it first? (The High Priest was a sinful man - like the others. It was important for him to have forgiveness of sins before he went further.)


      1. Why did the High Priest sacrifice the bull after he put on his sacred garments and not before? Wouldn't it make more sense to sacrifice the bull, wash and then put on the sacred garments to begin the cleansing of the Day of Atonement? (This teaches us a lesson on the "illogic" of righteousness by faith. No amount of our washing will make us clean enough for God. The High Priest did what he could when he bathed. But he needed to come into the presence of God, protected by his robe of righteousness, to have his sins forgiven by the blood sacrifice.)


    3. Read Leviticus 16:10, 21-22. Why is the goat (who was not sacrificed) sent out in the wilderness? What does this represent? (The sins of the people, through the blood, was transferred to the sanctuary. Thereafter the sins were transferred from the sanctuary to the scapegoat.)


      1. What New Testament parallel do you see? (Once we are cleansed by the blood, God sends our sins away from us.)


      2. Is there any New Testament parallel to the scape goat?


        1. Why could not that be the whole plan of salvation - that the people confess their sins, the Lord finds an appropriate person (say Satan), transfers the sins to him and sends him away? No suffering or sacrifice on Jesus' part! Why not that? (There are several reasons. One is that the wages of sin is death, not mere confession or banishment. Someone had to die. Romans 6:23)


    4. Let's turn next to Hebrews to see what lessons the writer of Hebrews draws from the Day of Atonement.
  2. OUR HIGH PRIEST


    1. Read Hebrews 5:1-3. This text tells us that the High Priest of the sanctuary system dealt with sin in two ways. What are they? (He offered sacrifices for sin and he taught the people about God's will.)


      1. These verses suggest that the "weakness" (v.2) of the High Priest was both a good and bad thing. First, what is this weakness? (That the High Priest was "only human," he was sinful.)


        1. Second, what is good and what is bad about this "weakness?" (What is good is that being "only human" made him sympathetic to those who struggle with sin. What is bad is that he had to offer sacrifices for his own sins as well.)


        2. Have you ever seen someone who did not (v.2) "deal gently" with "those who are ignorant and going astray?" What was the problem? (This verse suggests the problem is that they do not understand the extent of their own sinfulness.)


          1. If someone does not understand the extent of their own sinfulness, should they be counseling others about sin?


    2. Read Hebrews 5:4-6. These verses say that Jesus was a High Priest. Is that historically true? He was never recorded as offering any sacrifices in the temple as a priest, much less acting as the High Priest!(Verse 6 tells us that He was not a priest of the order of Aaron, but instead was a priest of the order of Melchizedek.)


    1. Read Hebrews 5:7-10. What did Jesus do on behalf of Himself (and us) while He was here? This suggests that Jesus was engaged in a priestly ministry while He was on earth! Let's list what these verses say Jesus did:


      1. Offered up prayers and petitions to the one who could save Him from death (v.7);


      2. Made a reverent submission (v.7);


      3. Learned obedience from what He suffered (v.8);


      4. Became perfect (v.9);


      5. Became the source of salvation for all who obey (v.9); and,


      6. As a result was designated by God to be High Priest.


    2. Do you see parallels to the Old Testament sacrificial system in this list?


    3. Are you troubled by some of the things in this list? For example, how can it correctly say that Jesus "learned obedience" and "became perfect?" Wasn't He already obedient and perfect?


      1. Read Hebrews 4:15. Compare Jesus with the description of the High Priest in Hebrews 5:2. Are they similar? (Just like the earthly High Priest, Jesus is able to sympathize with our weakness because He lived with us. His temptations made Him the perfect sacrifice and the perfect High Priest. However, Hebrews 4:15 makes very clear that in all of this temptation Jesus did not sin.)


  1. THE POINT


    1. Let's skip ahead and read Hebrews 9:1-7 quickly as a review. Now let's read Hebrews 9:8. We just got through studying the annual Day of Atonement, how can the writer of Hebrews say the way into the Most Holy part of the sanctuary "had not yet been disclosed?" It had been disclosed tons of times!(He is not talking about how to get there, he is talking about the true meaning of the Day of Atonement - the way in which sin is forever forgiven.)


    2. Read Hebrews 9:9-11. What more perfect tabernacle is not "man-made?" ( Hebrews 8:5 tells us the sanctuary on earth was a "copy and shadow" of the sanctuary in heaven.)


      1. Without Jesus, would the sanctuary system of the Old Testament have any meaning? (No! I have a dear Jewish friend who is learning more and more about God and his own faith. While I rejoice in his religious awakening, I feel frustrated when I talk to him about the sanctuary service. He cannot see that Jesus is what the sanctuary service was all about. It seems logical for an observant Jew to question why this huge part of the Torah no longer has any meaning or relevance.)


    3. Read Hebrews 9:12-14. How is Jesus' sacrifice superior to the sacrifice of goats and bulls. (He died once for all. He paid the "wages" of sin for us.)


      1. For what ultimate purpose did Jesus do this? (Verse 14: so that we can serve the living God!)


      2. Read Hebrews 9:15. What kind of service are we talking about? (Eternal life!)


    4. Read Hebrews 9:27-28. How are Jesus death and the Second Coming linked in these verses? (The sacrifice prepares the way for the Second Coming where Jesus will bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him!)


    5. Read Hebrews 6:19-20. Jesus entered the Most Holy place in the heavenly sanctuary before us. What do you think Jesus is doing there now as we await His Second Coming?(We learn two things in this text. First, He has entered "on our behalf." Second, He is our High Priest forever. From this it appears that He is mediating for us in heaven right now! The Day of Atonement, the cleansing of God's people is now.)


      1. Does that (v.19) "anchor" your soul? Tell me how that is a "firm and secure" anchor for your soul?


    6. Friend, do you want God to forgive you of your sins? If you want to be securely anchored in that hope, then you must accept Jesus, the heavenly High Priest who mediates on your behalf.


  2. NEXT WEEK: "Such a Cloud of Witnesses and the Second Coming."

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