Sabbath School Lesson for May 18-24, 2024

Overview of Lesson 8, Light From the Sanctuary

Memory Text: “We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.” Hebrews 8:1, 2 NKJV

William Miller’s spotlight on the Second Coming came from Daniel 8:14, which talked about the cleansing of the sanctuary. He failed, however, to understand that the sanctuary to be cleansed was, by that time, only in heaven.

A study of the earthly and the heavenly sanctuary enabled some of those who lived through the Great Disappointment in 1844 to see that a judgment had indeed started at that time, but it would happen in God’s heavenly sanctuary.

This “cleansing of the sanctuary” would come to be known as the pre-Advent judgment. This would be a time when we are to prepare our hearts for His return, and for God to determine who is or is not saved. After all, He comes with His rewards (Revelation 22:12).

The 2,300-day prophecy ended in 1844 and marked the beginning of the time of the end. The first angel’s message was then heard, which instructs us to “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come” (Revelation 14:7). God’s mercy and transparent justice is once again evident in this warning to get ready. He’s coming soon!

Read chapters 22-24 and 28 of The Great Controversy to learn more about the sanctuary topic.

We will learn about…

  • Sunday: The Heavenly Sanctuary–This must be the one prophesied in Daniel, because the earthly sanctuary services had ended by 1844.
  • Monday: In the Holy of Holies–Christ is now ministering for us in the Most Holy Place, represented by the Day of Atonement.
  • Tuesday: The Judgment Has Come–This is the message of judgment given by the first angel in Revelation 14:6, 7.
  • Wednesday: The Good News of the Most Holy Place–The good news/gospel is that Jesus provides an escape from sin through His blood shed at Calvary.
  • Thursday: Jesus, Our Advocate in the Judgment–We can come boldly before the throne of our heavenly High Priest.

Sunday: The Heavenly Sanctuary

There are two sanctuaries mentioned in the Bible. One was built by Moses and the Hebrews, spoken of in the Old Testament. This earthly sanctuary or tabernacle that Moses was told to build was a shadow or copy of the one in heaven (Hebrews 8:5). It illustrated the plan of salvation which had been lost sight of during their long period of slavery in Egypt (Psalm 77:13).

The “true tabernacle”, the one in heaven, also points to Jesus’ sacrificial ministry. Some of those disappointed Adventists, who were wanting to understand more about the Second Coming and why William Miller’s prediction didn’t come true, were eventually drawn to this idea of a heavenly sanctuary found in the New Testament book of Hebrews. It seemed like the logical place to focus their attention and study.

There is always hope for our salvation. when we look at Jesus’ sacrifice and priestly ministry still going on in the heavenly sanctuary today.

Bible Verses:

  • Exodus 25:8, 9 and Hebrews 8:1-6

Why is it important to study both the earthly and the heavenly sanctuary?

  • Psalm 77:12-15

What can we learn about Jesus from studying the sanctuary?

Monday: In the Holy of Holies

The cleansing of the sanctuary happened on the Day of Atonement, also called the Day of Judgment, or Yom Kippur in Hebrew. It was the only time during the year when the high priest entered the Most Holy Place where the ark of the covenant was kept.

The end purpose of this priestly activity was to cleanse the sanctuary by symbolically placing the blood collected there during the daily sacrifices onto the head of a scapegoat they called Azazel and sending it into the wilderness to die alone (Leviticus 16:21). This represented how God will someday place on Satan the guilt and responsibility for deceiving so many, both in heaven and on earth.

Before this Day of Atonement came, however, the Israelites spent ten days fasting and praying to prepare their hearts for the solemn event. They were to stop clinging to cherished sins and turn away from all evil. This soul searching must also happen now before the great Day of Judgment. God’s people must ask for repentance and cleansing in these last days, so they will be ready for Christ’s glorious Second Coming.

Bible Verses:

  • Leviticus 16:21, 29-34, and 23:26-32

Why was this yearly preparation needed for the people of Israel, and how was it to be carried out?

  • Hebrews 9:23-28

How was Christ’s priestly ministry different from the earthly sanctuary priests?

Tuesday: The Judgment Has Come

The two main characteristics of God are His mercy and justice. One is just as prevalent in the Bible as the other. We hear much about His loving forgiveness, but God’s judgment is also mentioned often in Scripture. For example…

  • “For God will bring every work into judgment” Ecclesiastes 12:14
  • “every idle word that men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment” Matthew 12:36
  • “The hour of His judgment has come” Revelation 14:7

Revelation 22:10-12 informs us that at some point, God’s probation for mankind will be closed. When Christ comes again in the clouds, He will have His rewards with Him (Revelation 22:12). All judgments about who will be saved or lost will have been determined shortly before the Second Coming. The parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) also supports the idea of probation closing at some point…the “door was shut”.

The idea of a pre-Advent judgment going on in the courts of heaven makes sense. God is allowing the angelic hosts there to oversee the process of judgment. The books of life are opened in order for them to be convinced of the openness and fairness of His decisions.

Bible Verses:

  • Daniel 7:9, 10 and Revelation 14:6, 7

How do these verses support a pre-Advent judgment going on in heaven?

  • Revelation 22:10-12 and Matthew 25:1-13

How do these verses support the close of probation before Jesus comes?

Wednesday: The Good News of the Most Holy Place

One can’t deny the centrality of Jesus’ sacrifice, as demonstrated by the symbols throughout the sanctuary. Blood was in the courtyard on the horns of the altar of sacrifice. It was on the golden horns of the altar of incense in the second chamber, called the Holy Place. And it was solemnly sprinkled on the curtain before the mercy seat in the Most Holy Place.

The shed blood of Jesus prepares us for our grand reunion with God the Father. God’s character traits of justice and mercy are witnessed repeatedly as He puts His covenant laws in our mind and writes them on our hearts with His blood (Hebrews 8:10).

Christ’s Second Coming is the next step on our way to heaven, the Most Holy Place, as illustrated by the Day of Atonement, when the earthly priest entered that exclusive, holy chamber once a year for cleansing, after much prayer and fasting.

“Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of the covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail” (Revelation 11:19). It won’t be a quiet, invisible affair. It will be be good news for God’s people. The BEST news of all! (Hebrews 7:25).

Bible Verses:

  • Hebrews 4:14-16,  10:19-22, and Matthew 27:51

What enables us to come boldly before the throne?

What was the veil a symbol of, and why was it “torn in two” after Jesus’ death?

  • Revelation 11:15-19

What is the response of the earth, after the seventh trumpet sounds and Jesus begins His reign over the kingdoms of this world?

Thursday: Jesus, Our Advocate in the Judgment

Jesus is clearly our Advocate in heaven (1 John 2:1). Ministry performed in the earthly sanctuary was symbolic of the Messiah’s work, but Christ’s priestly duties in heaven are, of course, different and vastly superior (Hebrews 10:9-14).

Those who eagerly look forward to His return are especially aware of the priestly work going on in heaven. Jesus not only bears and forgives our sins, but He is our Judge as well. In Him, our salvation is complete. He does it all. See Hebrews 9:28 and 2 Timothy 4:8.

Despite the intercessory work of our High Priest, we are allowed to come before Him in prayer, all the way to the inner sanctum of the heavenly sanctuary, God’s throne room. He now performs His final ministry there that will lead to our escape from Satan’s grip on mankind. The end of the great controversy between God and Satan is very near.

Bible Verses:

  • 1 John 2:1 and 2 Timothy 4:8

Why is Jesus able to be both our Advocate and Judge?

How secure should that make us feel, if we have chosen to worship God?

  • Hebrews 9:28, 10:9-14, 6:19, 20 and Genesis 14:18

How was the Messiah’s work different from earthly priests?

How was Melchizedek’s ministry similar to Christ’s?

Friday: Final Thoughts

If ever there was a time for deep soul searching, it is during these last days of earth’s history. The close of our probation is fast approaching. The Day of Atonement is almost here. Christ will soon come to take us home, just as He promised the disciples (John 14:3).

Ellen White, a devout Christian author, pinpointed the issue that most hinders our preparation. She wrote: “Those who are indeed purifying their souls by obeying the truth will have a more humble opinion of themselves.” ~Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 471, 472

It’s true that the more we behold the righteousness of Christ, the less we see anything worthy in ourselves. Christ is seen all the way through the sanctuary in the many symbols that remind us of Him–the Living Water, the Bread of Life, and the Light of the World, etc. Keeping our eyes on Him is crucial for our spiritual survival in the difficult days ahead before He comes.

Next Week: The Foundation of God’s Government (based on ch. 25-27 of “The Great Controversy”)

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