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. 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

      2. Is there any New Testament parallel to the scape

        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.

    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. 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

    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.”