Apply:Matthew 27:51 tells us the veil of the earthly sanctuary was torn apart when Jesus was crucified. In Hebrews 4:14-16 it tells us to come boldly before the throne of grace in time of need. How does this veil being removed give you confidence to enter the presence of God today?
Share: Your friend asks you, if Jesus was God why weren’t people destroyed when they saw Him walk the earth, just like the Israelites were destroyed if the approached God on Sinai or the temple? How do you answer your friend? Hint: Hebrews 10:19-20.
Study: What invitation do we have in this passage?
Apply: What accusations could Satan make against you before God, if He were allowed? Though he is a liar, how much would he have to lie about you in order to seek your condemnation? What’s your only hope?
Share: Your friend asks, “What does it mean to be able to enter into the holiest through the veil through His flesh and blood by a new and living way? And what does it mean to have our hearts sprinkled and our bodies washed?” How do you answer your friend?
Apply: How can we learn to make the promise of eternal life real to us now, amid a world so full of pain and suffering? What answer can you give to those who say that this is all just a fantasy to help us feel better about our life here and now?
Share: Your friend asks you how you know your name is registered in heaven? How do you answer your friend?
The precious Saviour will send help just when we need it. The way to heaven is consecrated by His footprints. Every thorn that wounds our feet has wounded His. Every cross that we are called to bear, He has borne before us. The Lord permits conflicts, to prepare the soul for peace.–The Great Controversy, p. 633. (1888)
While the two covenants can be confusing for some of us, I really appreciate a couple of things last week’s Sabbath School lesson brought out, which I believe clears up any confusion.
While many people believe that God changed His covenant at the cross, speaking of the covenant in the Old Testament, God told us through David,
My covenant I will not break, Nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. Psalms 89:34 NKJV
Here God is saying He is not going to change His covenant. So did God change His covenant at the cross? Well let’s look at God’s covenant in the Old Testament. Of course a covenant is a promise. So what were God’s promises?
Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3 NKJV
Were any of these promises done away with at the cross? Not at all. As a matter of fact we read in Galatians,
And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:29 NKJV.
The NLT makes it even more clear at to exactly what this means.
And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you. Galatians 3;29 NLT
Instead of God’s covenant to Abraham being changed, it was extended to everyone who believes.
At Sinai God makes a promise,
You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” Exodus 19:4-6 NKJV
In the original manuscripts the word “obey” is “Shama.” It means to listen. The word “keep” is “shamar.” it means to regard, care for or treasure. God says.”Keep my covenant,” and we know that God’s covenant is a promise. How are supposed to keep God’s promise? We aren’t. God is telling us to listen to His voice and treasure His promise! The word “shamar” is also used in Genesis when Adam was told to shamar the garden, or keep the garden. Was Adam told to obey the garden? No, of course not. He was told to regard, treasure and care for the garden. In this passage God is telling His people to treasure His covenant promises, and by thus doing, they will be His special people, made holy, preserved from corruption, a kingdom of priests. Was this promise changed after the cross?
by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:4 NKJV
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 1 Peter 2:9 NKJV
Once again we see that God’s covenant does not change from Old Testament to New Testament. Everything promised in the Old Testament becomes reality in the New Testament – as long as we trust in His great and precious promises. That’s because God’s covenant given to Adam, Abram and Moses is an eternal covenant as expressed in Psalm 89:34. This is why Monday’s lesson of last week brought out that the “New” Covenant was actually a renewing of the everlasting covenant God originally gave to Adam, Abram and Moses. When God spoke of a “new” covenant in Jeremiah 31, He used the word, “hadashah,” which means to renew. Abram forsook God’s everlasting covenant when he took Hagar as his wife. He stopped trusting God’s promises and covenant and tried working things out on his own. At Sinai instead of trusting God’s promises, Israel started making their own promises, saying, “All that God said we will do.” (See Exodus 19:8) This original Covenant was never the problem. God’s Covenant was never intended to be about legalism. The original Covenant God made was all about grace. Hebrews 8:8 says the problem was with the people. They started making their own promises instead of trusting God’s great and precious promises. When people kept trying to make their own promises and work things out on their own, God had to renew the original covenant all the way back in Genesis 3:15, which is based on better promises – God’s promises, rather than people’s promises. For more see Better Promises Make a Better Covenant. When Paul speaks of the old covenant I believe he means “old” as in “useless.” because our promises are useless. Paul is not referring to the original everlasting covenant as the old covenant. He is referring to the legalistic covenant that man made at Sinai as the old covenant as in useless. Man made covenants are useless in both Old and New Testaments.
The “New” Covenant of grace is actually the everlasting covenant of grace found all the way through both the Old and New Testaments, beginning in Genesis 3:15. God never changed this covenant. But He renewed this covenant whenever people tried to change covenants by making their own promises. The “New” Covenant is the original everlasting covenant, which is God making promises to man. The “old” Covenant, which is a useless covenant, is a covenant man made after God made the everlasting Covenant. When Abram took Hagar, he was making his own legalistic covenant apart from God’s everlasting covenant. The same for the Jews when they promised at Sinai that they themselves would do what God had promised.
Some have the idea that the law is the Old Covenant ,while grace is the New Covenant. However when Paul said, “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight” in Romans 3:20, Paul was not saying anything new. Paul was stating a truth as everlasting as the original covenant. No one was ever saved by the law before or after the cross. This is clearly seen in Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve tried to make their own fig leaves to cover themselves. Their fig leaves proved useless in God’s sight just as the deeds of the law. In Genesis 3:21 an animal had to die to cover Adam and Eve. This represents Jesus dying on the cross – which is the everlasting covenant. So throughout the Old Testament we see the new or renewed covenant whenever God is promising mankind His grace. Throughout the New Testament we see the renewed or everlasting covenant. Maybe we could clear up a lot of confusion by just calling the New Covenant the Everlasting Covenant, and calling the Old Covenant the “useless covenant.” Remember the New Covenant is the renewing of the original everlasting covenant based on better promises-God’s promises.
While we have grace in the Everlasting Covenant. we also have the law in the Everlasting Covenant. This is why I really appreciate how Thursday’s lesson of last week brought out how the new covenant was not about new laws, but about a new heart.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Ezekiel 36:26-27 NKJV
God does not give us new laws. He gives us new hearts that will trust His promises instead of relying on self. God changes our hearts so that we can keep and cherish all the promises God makes for us in His law. In the Ten Commandments God promises He will deliver us from bondage so we won’t need any other gods before us. He promises to fulfil all our temporal and emotional needs so we won’t need to steal or commit adultery. He promises us a weekly Sabbath rest to always remind us to never rely on our own works.
After all the problem at Sinai was not the law, it was the promises the people were making. Again that is why Paul said the fault was with “them” in Hebrews 8:8. When God renews His Everlasting Covenant we will be keeping the law with all our new hearts.
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Jeremiah 31:33 NKJV
Now in Jeremiah 31:32 God talks about Israel breaking the covenant when He led them out of Egypt. They broke God’s covenant when they went about to establish their own covenant promises. God never asked them to make their own promises. Remember in Exodus 19:4-6 God asks them to cherish His promises. The useless covenant is mankind promising God. The Everlasting and Re-Newed Everlasting Covenant is God promising man. By God’s Everlasting Promises of grace in both the Old and New Testaments we have salvation from sin, and are given new hearts that can keep or Shamar, cherish the everlasting law. We escape the corruption in the world by cherishing God’s great and everlasting promises.
by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:4 NKJV
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.
Main Theme: Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. “With His stripes we are healed.”-Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 25.
Study: What does this passage say about the work of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary?
Apply: Think what you would face if you had to face the just punishment for your sins. How should that truth help you understand what Christ has done for you?
Share: Your friend asks you why Jesus is ministering in the sanctuary? Wasn’t everything already accomplished on the cross for our salvation? Why is He in the sanctuary now? What do you tell your friend? For Hints see The Sanctuary in Light of the Cross.
Read Together:Hebrews 2:9. Discuss the main idea of this passage.
Study: How did Jesus taste death for every man? Especially since everyone seems to die their own death? Hint: See The God-forsaken God.
Apply: How does Jesus’ death on the cross not only atone for our sin, but also help restore our faith in God’s love?
Share: A friend tells you they have read where Jesus died for everyone, but how can they know for sure that they can have eternal life? How do you answer your friend? Hint: See The Gospel Presentation.
Study: How is Jesus’ sacrifice described in these passages?
Apply: The cross is the basis for all the benefits that God bestows upon us. It provides purification from sin, sanctification to serve, and nourishment to grow. How can we better experience what we have been given in Jesus?
Share: A friend asks, why did all those innocent animals have to be killed in the Old Testament if Jesus’ sacrifice accomplished forgiveness for all time? What do you tell your friend?
Study: What does Redemption in the Cross for the forgiveness of our sins reveal about God?
Apply: Why does the cross and the ministry of Jesus in our behalf suggest that we should look confidently, but with humility and repentance, toward the judgment?
Share: Have you ever shared the Gospel Presentation with someone? Can you think of someone this week you could share it with?
“No sooner does one come to Christ than there is born in his heart a desire to make known to others what a precious friend he has found in Jesus; the saving and sanctifying truth cannot be shut up in his heart. If we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ and are filled with the joy of His indwelling Spirit, we shall not be able to hold our peace. If we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good we shall have something to tell. Like Philip when he found the Saviour, we shall invite others into His presence.” -Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Page 78.
Main Theme: By living a perfect life, and then by dying in our place, Jesus mediated a new, better covenant between us and God. Through His death, Jesus canceled the penalty of death that our trespasses demanded and made possible the new covenant.
Study: What are the similarities and differences between these two promises?
Apply: Christ has satisfied the demands of the covenant; therefore, the fulfillment of God’s promises to us is not in doubt. How does this help you understand the meaning of 2 Corinthians 1:20-22? What wonderful hope is found here for us?
Share: What is your main “take away” from today’s study? How can you share it with someone this week?
by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:4
Main Theme: The book of Hebrews encourages us to not become discouraged and give up the hope we have in Jesus.
Read Together: Hebrews 6:4-6. Define the main idea of this passage.
Study: What were believers given in Christ while they were faithful to Him?
Apply: Have you ever been enlightened and tasted the heavenly gift, and been a partaker of the Holy Spirit? How so?
Share:The Inside Story on lesson four talked about a doctor who believed in Jesus when Jesus miraculously healed his son. The story went on to say that the doctor no longer believes in Jesus now. A classmate asks how can someone have such a wonderful experience with Jesus and then turn away? How do you answer your classmate? How do we make sure that doesn’t happen to us?
Study: List the good things that the audience has doneand continues to do and explain what they mean.
Apply: Sometimes we have to give words of warning to those people whom we love. What can we learn from the apostle regarding warning and encouraging others?
Share: A friend confides that he is discouraged because he has not seen the results he had been hoping to see in his ministry. Can you encourage him by sharing a time you were discouraged in your ministry, but later realized just how fruitful you were?
What if I told you, no matter what the circumstances of your birth were, you are no accident. God literally loved and dreamed you into existence. God did not create you to fill a place on this earth. He created the earth to give you a place to live. Our Redeemer hungers and thirsts for your love and sympathy. He longs for your friendship. And that is what the sanctuary service is all about. Its not so much about a legal process as it is about atonement and reconciliation. As humans we tend to relate more to legal settings. We can invent a Santa Clause who gives good gifts to good children. We also dream up karma where bad people get what is coming to them. But God’s grace is so much greater than any legal setting our minds can create. This is why I believe the story of the prodigal son is Jesus’ way of illustrating the atonement and sanctuary from God’s perspective, without having to use a legal setting that we as humans are more accustom to, and seem to relate to.
First let me begin by clarifying something. Obedience is not legalism. Obedience is the gospel. Obedience and good works are the fruit of grace. See Romans 1:5, Ephesians 2;8-10, Titus 2:11-12. I have talked to adults who told me how “legalistic” their parents were while growing up. When I ask, “how so?” they tell me, “well they went to church every single Sabbath.” I’m thinking to myself that is not legalism, that is just loving to be in God’s presence. Often as the person continues explaining, I come to the realization that the parents were not legalistic, they just had standards. Standards, obedience and good works done out of love instead of for selfish gain are not legalism. They are fruits of the gospel. Legalism is when we try to obey God’s law in our own power for our own glory. The Gospel is when we obey by the Holy Spirit’s power because we love God.
And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them. Luke 15:2 NKJV
By eating with sinners Jesus was making a public proclamation, which irritated the religious leaders. Companion is a Latin word; com, meaning ‘with” and pan, meaning “bread.” so a companion is someone you eat bread with. By eating with sinners Jesus was telling the world “These sinners are my friends!” God provided the sanctuary service as a model of reconciliation. God does not need a legal setting. I believe that when the Bible describes a legal setting at all, it is for our understanding and not for God. This is why I would like to share a parable with you, which I believe describes the sanctuary message from God the Father’s perspective.
The story of the prodigal son is the story which I believe demonstrates the sanctuary service and atonement from God the Father’s perspective.
Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. Luke 15:11-13 NKJV
So basically the son is saying, “Give me your blessings but don’t expect me to live by your rules.” Do we ever treat God like that? Even worse, by asking for the inheritance now the son was suggesting he wished the father was already dead. The son seems to have the same attitude of the rich young ruler. The ruler wanted eternal life, but did not want to follow Jesus. He was willing to earn eternal life by doing a “good thing” but when Jesus invited Him to go with Him and have an actual relationship/friendship, the ruler would hear none if it. The rich young ruler only wanted eternal life, but not to be friends with Jesus. The prodigal son wants the father’s blessings but does not want the father’s friendship. How sad! Seeing how our Redeemer hungers and thirsts for our friendship.
But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. Luke 15:14-16 NKJV
Those blessings don’t last when we leave the source of those blessings. You can’t run away from the fireplace and still expect to feel its warmth. Now the son has joined himself to citizen who really has no need for him. ‘He joined himself” implies this was a one sided agreement. He pushed himself upon the citizen. The son really doesn’t belong here. He belongs at home with the father.
But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” Luke 15:17-19 NKJV
Now the son comes up with a legal proposal. He still is not looking for a relationship with the father. He is not looking to be his son, he is planning to be a servant. He will work under a legal agreement. He will work in exchange for room and board. That’s it. Strictly a legal agreement. None of this father and son stuff. I will just do my work and get my pay. How sad! Beings how our Redeemer hungers and thirsts for our love and recognition. He did not die to make us slaves. He died to make us friends again.
And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. Luke 15:20 NKJV
So the son turns towards home, or the workplace whichever way you look at it, rehearsing his legal proposal on the way. But while He is a great ways off the father saw his son, and ran and fell on his neck. That phrase “fell on” is an old English phrase meaning “big bear hug.” Its the same term used in the book of Acts, when the Holy Spirit fell upon the people in the upper room. The Holy Spirit gave them a big bear hug. This is why I see this story as being God’s view of the atonement. The son is bringing a legal proposal but the father is bringing bear hugs and kisses.
Part of the cleansing of the sanctuary is cleansing our minds from all the lies Satan has told us about God, so we can have a clear appreciation of the father’s love. In the book Great Controversy, the chapter titled, “An era of Spiritual Darkness,” we see a gross misrepresentation of God’s character, in the pope, who made German emperor, Henry IV wait for days outside the pope’s castle in the freezing cold, before he would finally grant him pardon. Jesus shows us what the Father is really like, in the story of the prodigal son, who while his son was still a great ways off, ran to him and gave him bear hugs and kisses!
And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry. Luke 15:21-24 NKJV
So the son begins his legal proposal, but he never gets to finish it. As soon as he gets to the part about not being worthy to be called his son, the father would hear none of it. The father tears up the legal proposal and throws it away! “Go get the robe and family ring!” The son never gets to finish the legal proposition of being a hired servant. Our Redeemer did not die to make us slaves and servants. He died to make us sons and daughters. He died to make us friends. The father will hear nothing of a legalistic arrangement. He just wants to be friends again! Remember God is not legalistic, we are. We relate to legalistic settings because we are legalistic. If the Bible describes the atonement in any legal way it is so that legalistic humans can understand. The story of the prodigal son is the story of the sanctuary and plan of salvation the way God understands it. Therefore not one hint of legalism will be tolerated in this story. We see the son with a legal proposal. We see the father bringing bear hugs and kisses.
What if I told you all that legal record keeping in heaven is not for the Father? What if I told you it is for legalistic humans to look over during the thousand years? I have been in at least a couple of Sabbath School class discussions where this scenario was brought up. You are driving down the street when a huge truck crosses the center line and hits you head on and kills you. Right before you die you see the truck coming your way and say a bad word. I have heard people actually suggest that you will not be saved because you never told Jesus you were sorry for saying that bad word. You were killed before processing the legal paper work to get forgiveness, therefore no heaven for you. What if I told you God is not legalistic and does not need any legal paper work processed in order to forgive you?
If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, Psalm 130:3-4 NKJV
Remember God is love. God keeps no record of being wronged. In Mark 16:7 the angels tell the women to tell the disciples and Peter that Jesus would meet them in Jerusalem. But wait! Peter hasn’t had a chance yet to tell Jesus He is sorry. Peter hasn’t processed the legal paper work for forgiveness yet. That’s okay. God isn’t legalistic. He has already forgiven Peter, without the legal paper work being processed.
But there’s more! The father has ordered the fattened calf to be killed for a celebration. Now wait a minute. If you’ve ever worked on a church board or finance committee you know this will not work. The son has already wasted the father’s money. We will have to sell the calf to reimburse the father for his loss. Also there will be more expenses to the party besides the calf. We must call the whole party off. We must save that money to make up for the money that was wasted. We can’t waste any more. Calling off the entire party just makes good legal sense. Only one thing though. God is not legalistic. After all the son has already wasted God is still going to have that party. After all, His child is home now. They can be friends again!
“Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ Luke 15:25-30 NKJV
Sadly the older brother who had been working at home was just as legalistic as the brother who left home. Funny, the only one who is not legalistic is the father. Both sons seem to connect their blessings to their work, while father connects their blessings to being family. The older son seems to think he has worked hard and has earned a reward. This must have broken the father’s heart when he realized his son had been working all these years for a reward. The father just thought the son was working because he loved him. The son’s speech makes it clear to the father that these years of service had nothing to do with love. He still wants to be paid or rewarded.
The older son makes it clear he was working under the younger son’s legal proposal the entire time. The son divorces himself from the family saying I have been serving you like a servant and not a son, and this son of yours, instead of my brother. All this legalism is breaking the father’s heart. He will hear nothing of the sort. While both sons keep using legal terms like “this son of yours” instead of my brother, and “one of your hired servants” instead of son, the father refuses to use such language. The father keeps using the words, “This son of mine” and “your brother.”
In the story of the prodigal son God is desperately trying to share His perspective of the sanctuary and atonement. God did not send His Son to die to make a legal working arrangement. He did not send His son to make us slaves and servants. He sent His Son to die to make us family, so we can be friends again.
No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. John 15;15 NKJV
For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, Hebrews 2:11 NKJV
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! 1 John 3:1 NKJV
While millions are studying about Jesus’ priestly ministry in the sanctuary this quarter in Sabbath School, the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, has asked me to do a seminar on the sanctuary, as a part of their Zoom vespers service. Since anyone can join on Zoom, I thought why not invite all my friends from my In Light of the Cross blog to join us. The seminar will begin this coming Friday and will run bi-weekly for two months, with four presentations.
The Zoom ID is 936 190 2575. The passcode is 615408