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
- THE HIGH PRIEST
- 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.
- Why do you think Aaron, the High Priest, had to dress
in this fashion?
- Does this sound like a “picky” God?
- 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
- 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?
- Do you see any New Testament parallels?
(Baptism. See Matthew 3:13-17.)
- Or is this washing a coincidence, instead of a
parallel to baptism?
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- What New Testament parallel do you see? (Once we are
cleansed by the blood, God sends our sins away from
- Is there any New Testament parallel to the scape
- 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.
- Let’s turn next to Hebrews to see what lessons the writer
of Hebrews draws from the Day of Atonement.
- OUR HIGH PRIEST
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- If someone does not understand the extent
of their own sinfulness, should they be
counseling others about sin?
- 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.)
- 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:
- Offered up prayers and petitions to the one who could
save Him from death (v.7);
- Made a reverent submission (v.7);
- Learned obedience from what He suffered (v.8);
- Became perfect (v.9);
- Became the source of salvation for all who obey
- As a result was designated by God to be High Priest.
- Do you see parallels to the Old Testament sacrificial
system in this list?
- 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?
- 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.)
- THE POINT
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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
- 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.)
- For what ultimate purpose did Jesus do this? (Verse
14: so that we can serve the living God!)
- Read Hebrews 9:15. What kind of service are we
talking about? (Eternal life!)
- 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!)
- 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
- Does that (v.19) “anchor” your soul? Tell me how that
is a “firm and secure” anchor for your soul?
- 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.
- NEXT WEEK: “Such a Cloud of Witnesses and the Second Coming.”