October 20, 2019 – Hebrews 8
Lesson Date: October 20, 2019
Focal Scripture Passage: Hebrews 8:1-13
AIM: To lead students to describe Jesus Christ’s superior sanctuary and covenant, and to examine themselves to be sure they are worshiping the real thing (and not just a shadow).
Before class: Read the notes on Hebrews 8 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Gather some pictures of the Tabernacle to bring and show to the class. Many excellent representations are available in Bible dictionaries and other study books, as well as on the Internet (go to www.google.com, click “Images,” and then type “Tabernacle” in the search box; several good images are also located at www.ebibleteacher.com/3DTabernacle.html). Bring a mirror and a photograph of yourself to class.
INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Show the photograph of yourself to the class, and then ask: “Who is this?” When they answer that it is you, ask: “Is this really me, or is it just an image of me?” (it is just an image – a representation of the real thing).
Ask a volunteer to look in the mirror and ask them what they see. Ask: “Is that image in the mirror actually you, or is it just an image of you?” (it is not a real person; it is just a reflection of what they look like).
Ask the students if they have ever seen someone use their hands to make shadow animals on the wall. Ask: “Are those images on the wall really animals?” (no, they are merely shadows that give the appearance of animals).
Write the phrases “Christ’s Superior Sanctuary” and “Christ’s Superior Covenant” on the marker board or chalkboard. Tell the class in today’s lesson we will learn that Jesus Christ is the minister of a superior sanctuary and a superior covenant.
HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):
- Remind the students that we are studying the New Testament book of Hebrews.
- Ask them to name some of the things they have learned about the superiority of Jesus.
- Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (Christ is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek).
- Ask if any volunteers would recite last week’s memory verse (Heb. 7:25).
- Christ’s Superior Sanctuary.
- Ask a volunteer to read the first phrase of Hebrews 8:1, stopping at the colon.
- Tell the students what follows in verses 1-2 is a summary of everything the writer has said thus far about Jesus Christ.
- Ask the volunteer to read Hebrews 8:1-2.
- Ask the class to name the facts about Jesus found in those verses (He is our high priest, He is at the Father’s right hand in heaven, and He ministers in the true Tabernacle erected by the Lord).
- Show the students a picture of the Tabernacle.
- Explain the following:
- After Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, they journeyed into the wilderness and camped at Mount Sinai.
- God called Moses up into the mountain and told him how to construct the Tabernacle (Ex. 25:40; Heb. 9:23).
- The Tabernacle was the portable sanctuary the Jews used in the wilderness.
- That Tabernacle was pitched (erected) by men.
- Ask: “Who pitched the true Tabernacle in which Jesus ministered?” (the Lord).
- Read Hebrews 8:3-5.
- Ask: “According to verse 3, why did Jesus need to make an offering?” (because He is our high priest, and that’s what high priests do).
- Ask: “What was His offering?” (Himself).
- Ask: “According to verse 4, why didn’t Jesus serve as an earthly priest?” (because there were already plenty of priests serving).
- Ask: “According to verse 5, where did the earthly priests serve?” (in the earthly Tabernacle, which was only the example and shadow of the heavenly Tabernacle).
- Ask: “How did Moses know how to construct the Tabernacle?” (God showed him the pattern when he was with the Lord on Mount Sinai – Ex. 25).
- Explain that for almost 1,500 years the Jewish priests faithfully served and carried out the sacrifices in the earthly sanctuaries (first the Tabernacle and later the Temple); but like the photograph, mirror, and shadow animals mentioned earlier, these earthly structures were merely shadows or images of the true Tabernacle in heaven.
- Direct the class’ attention to the phrases written on the board. Tell them verses 1-5 describe Christ’s Superior Sanctuary.
- Summarize: Jesus Christ is our superior high priest, who ministers for us in the true Tabernacle in heaven. Earthly sanctuaries were mere shadows of the true Tabernacle.
- Christ’s Superior Covenant.
- Ask a volunteer to read Hebrews 8:6.
- Ask the students what that verse says about the superiority of Jesus Christ (He has a superior ministry as mediator of a superior covenant, based upon superior promises).
- Direct the class’ attention to the phrases written on the board and tell them the remainder of this chapter describes Christ’s Superior Covenant.
- Ask: “What is a covenant?” (a contract, agreement, or promise).
- Read Hebrews 8:7.
- Ask: “Why did mankind need a second (new) covenant?” (because the first was insufficient to save sinners).
- Ask: “If the Old Covenant (the Law) could not provide salvation, what good was it? Why did God give it if it couldn’t save sinners?” (the Old Covenant proves that we are sinners who need a Savior; in other words, our failure to fulfill the requirements of the Old Covenant serves as our teacher to draw us to Christ – Gal. 3:24).
- Remind the class that the book of Hebrews was written to Jews who had accepted Christ, but were later tempted to return to the old Jewish sacrificial system. Because his readers were Jews, the writer of Hebrews included many direct quotations from the Old Testament. Hebrews 8:8-12 is quoted from Jeremiah 31:31-34.
- Read Hebrews 8:8.
- Ask the students what God promised (to make a New Covenant with His people).
- Ask a volunteer to read Hebrews 8:9.
- Ask: “Why isn’t the New Covenant just like the Old Covenant?” (because the ancient Jews proved that no one could fully keep all the requirements of the Old Covenant).
- Read Hebrews 8:10.
- Ask the class to describe the New Covenant (God promised to put His laws in the heart and mind and establish a personal relationship with His people).
- Ask a volunteer to read Hebrews 8:11.
- Explain that everyone who is saved is included in the New Covenant; therefore they already know the Lord (this verse is not a prohibition against witnessing to lost persons).
- Read Hebrews 8:12.
- Ask: “What did the Lord promise to do about our sins?” (be merciful and forget them).
- Remind the students that the prophet Jeremiah originally wrote these words 600 years before Christ.
- Ask a volunteer to read Hebrews 8:13.
- Ask: “What does the presence of the New Covenant say about the Old Covenant?” (it is no longer needed and is vanishing away).
- Tell the class the Old Covenant sacrificial system actually ended just a few years after these words were written, when the Romans utterly destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. The Old Covenant vanished away, just as the Bible said it would.
- Summarize: Jesus Christ is the mediator of the superior New Covenant. The Old Covenant could not cleanse man of sin or provide a personal relationship with God.
PERSONAL APPLICATION: Show the students once again the photograph of yourself and the mirror you brought to class. Remind them that they present images, representations, or shadows of real things. Similarly, the Old Testament sanctuaries and the Old Covenant were mere shadows or reflections of the real thing. Jesus Christ is the real thing: the mediator of the superior New Covenant. When He came on the scene we no longer needed the shadows.
Ask: “Which is better – a real thing or a picture of the real thing?” (the real thing). Stress the fact that real things are much better than pictures. For example, it is much easier to drive a real car than a picture of a car, and it is more enjoyable to eat a real cookie than just to look at a picture of a cookie. Ask: “Where would you rather place your trust – in the real thing or a picture?” (the real thing). Ask: “If you were going into the hospital for open-heart surgery, do you want a real, highly trained surgeon at the operating table or a cardboard cutout of a man in a doctor’s suit?” (definitely the real doctor). Tell the students the Bible reveals that the Old Covenant was a like a “cardboard cutout,” designed to show us our sin and our need for a Savior. The Old Testament sanctuaries and sacrifices pointed toward Jesus Christ, but when He came they vanished away.
Tell the class that unfortunately, many people today still worship shadows and reflections, rather than the real thing. They focus on religious rules and ritualism, but they don’t actually know the Savior. Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes. Ask them to silently and privately examine themselves. Ask: “Do you have a real relationship with Jesus Christ, or are you just following His shadow?” Encourage any who have never truly trusted the Lord Jesus for salvation to do so right now. Voice a closing prayer.
CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Hebrews 8:6. Tell them when they look in a mirror this week or see a shadow on the ground they should thank the Lord that they know the real Savior: Jesus Christ.
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