Sabbath School Lesson 16 - The Great High Priest

Sabbath, October 14, 2017

“Confess the peculiar sins that you have cherished; repent of them, and put them away…. The mighty Conqueror has presented toil and struggle as the price of victory. Those who would win the crown must lift and bear the cross….

“By faith we should keep our eyes on Jesus our High Priest, who ministers in heaven for us. No other light has shone or ever will shine upon fallen men, save that which has been and shall be communicated by the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. We should ever recount our blessings. We should gather them together and hang them in memory’s hall.” –Review and Herald, March 26, 1889.

A very important truth

1. Considering the sanctuary and its services, what is most important for man? In what sanctuary is Jesus ministering for His people? 

Hebrews 4:14; 8:1-3 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession…. 8:1Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; 2A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. 3For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. 

“As a priest, Christ is now set down with the Father in His throne. Upon the throne with the eternal, self-existent One, is He who ‘hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows’ (Isaiah 53:4), who ‘was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.’ Hebrews 4:15…. ‘If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father.’ 1 John 2:1. His intercession is that of a pierced and broken body, of a spotless life. The wounded hands, the pierced side, the marred feet, plead for fallen man, whose redemption was purchased at such infinite cost.” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 69. 

Offering His own blood

2. Is Jesus like the Levitical priests, who in the sacrificial system offered blood that was not their own? Unlike the Levitical priesthood that in the ministry never suffered pain or death, what was the experience of God’s Son in giving the greatest of all sacrifices?

Hebrews 9:11, 12; 2:18 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us…. 2:18For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

“The very system of sacrifices was devised by Christ, and given to Adam as typifying a Saviour to come, who would bear the sins of the world, and die for its redemption….

“The blood of the Son of God was symbolized by the blood of the slain victim, and God would have clear and definite ideas preserved between the sacred and the common. Blood was sacred, inasmuch as through the shedding of the blood of the Son of God alone could there be atonement for sin.” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 55.

“Thank God that we have a great High Priest, who has passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God. Christ has not entered into the holy place made with hands, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. By virtue of His own blood He entered in once for all into the holy place above, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” –Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 49.

The daily service in symbol and reality

3. What did the daily service of the Levitical priests include? What corresponding ministry has the great High Priest performed in heaven since His ascension?

Hebrews 9:6 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. 

Numbers 28:3, 4; 15:27, 28 This is the offering made by fire which ye shall offer unto the Lord; two lambs of the first year without spot day by day, for a continual burnt offering. 4The one lamb shalt thou offer in the morning, and the other lamb shalt thou offer at even;… 15:27And if any soul sin through ignorance, then he shall bring a she goat of the first year for a sin offering. 28And the priest shall make an atonement for the soul that sinneth ignorantly, when he sinneth by ignorance before the Lord, to make an atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him. 

Hebrews 9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.

“… The priests ministered daily in the holy place,… Day by day the repentant sinner brought his offering to the door of the tabernacle and, placing his hand upon the victim’s head, confessed his sins, thus in figure transferring them from himself to the innocent sacrifice. The animal was then slain…. The blood, representing the forfeited life of the sinner, whose guilt the victim bore, was carried by the priest into the holy place and sprinkled before the veil, behind which was the ark containing the law that the sinner had transgressed. By this ceremony the sin was, through the blood, transferred in figure to the sanctuary.” –The Great Controversy, p. 418.

“After His ascension, our Saviour was to begin His work as our High Priest. Says Paul, ‘Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.’ Hebrews 9:24.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 357. 

Jesus and the cleansing of the sanctuary 

4. What cleansing took place on the Day of Atonement in the typical service? What holy work has the antitypical High Priest performed in the heavenly sanctuary since the end of the 2,300 prophetic days of Daniel 8:14?

Leviticus 16:33 And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness. 

Hebrews 9:7, 23 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people…. 23It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 

Daniel 8:14 And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. 

“As the sins of the people were anciently transferred, in figure, to the earthly sanctuary by the blood of the sin offering, so our sins are, in fact, transferred to the heavenly sanctuary by the blood of Christ. And as the typical cleansing of the earthly was accomplished by the removal of the sins by which it had been polluted, so the actual cleansing of the heavenly is to be accomplished by the removal, or blotting out, of the sins which are there recorded. This necessitates an examination of the books of record to determine who, through repentance of sin and faith in Christ, are entitled to the benefits of His atonement.” –The Faith I Live By, p. 206.

“Let faith … center in Jesus, our High Priest, who hath entered for us within the veil. Whatever clouds overcast the sky, whatever storms surge around the soul, this anchor holds firm, and we may be sure of victory.” –In Heavenly Places, p. 127. 

A greater, more perfect tabernacle

5. How does the heavenly tabernacle where Jesus ministers compare with the earthly tabernacle, which was just a symbol? What is Jesus accomplishing in His heavenly ministry?

Hebrews 8:5; 9:9, first part, 11, 12 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount…. 9:9Which was a figure for the time then present…. 11But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

“Such was the service performed ‘unto the example and shadow of heavenly things.’ And what was done in type in the ministration of the earthly sanctuary is done in reality in the ministration of the heavenly sanctuary. After His ascension our Saviour began His work as our high priest. Says Paul: ‘Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.’ Hebrews 9:24.” –The Great Controversy, p. 420. 

“ ‘The way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:… but Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands,… by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.’ Hebrews 12:24; 9:8-12.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 166. 

A High Priest such as never was

6. What is clear when we compare the ancient Levitical priesthood with that of Jesus? Therefore, with what faith should we approach the heavenly throne of grace?

Hebrews 7:26; 4:15, 16 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens…. 4:15For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. 

“The people were taught each day, by means of types and shadows, the great truths relative to the advent of Christ as Redeemer, Priest, and King; and once each year their minds were carried forward to the closing events of the great controversy between Christ and Satan, the final purification of the universe from sin and sinners. The sacrifices and offerings of the Mosaic ritual were ever pointing toward a better service, even a heavenly.” –The Faith I Live By, p. 195. 

“No sooner does the child of God approach the mercy seat than he becomes the client of the great Advocate. At his first utterance of penitence and appeal for pardon Christ espouses his case and makes it His own, presenting the supplication before the Father as His own request.” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 68. 

7. Considering the Saviour’s faithfulness and love, to whom will we be eternally grateful? Knowing that we have such a High Priest ministering in our behalf, what will we feel? 

Hebrews 3:1, 2; 6:19; 2:17 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; 2Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house…. 6:19Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;… 2:17Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 

“ ‘If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father.’ 1 John 2:1. His intercession is that of a pierced and broken body, of a spotless life. The wounded hands, the pierced side, the marred feet, plead for fallen man, whose redemption was purchased at such infinite cost.” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 69. 

“Whatever your anxieties and trials, spread out your case before the Lord. Your spirit will be braced for endurance. The way will be open for you to disentangle yourself from embarrassment and difficulty. The weaker and more helpless you know yourself to be, the stronger will you become in His strength. The heavier your burdens, the more blessed the rest in casting them upon your Burden Bearer.” –My Life Today, p. 297. 

“We are to have free access to the atoning blood of Christ. This we must regard as the most precious privilege, the greatest blessing, ever granted to sinful man.” –The Faith I Live By, p. 195.

For additional study

“Our great High Priest completed the sacrificial offering of Himself when He suffered without the gate. Then a perfect atonement was made for the sins of the people. Jesus is our Advocate, our High Priest, our Intercessor. Our present position therefore is like that of the Israelites, standing in the outer court, waiting and looking for that blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ….

“Here we see the great Intercessor presenting His petition to His Father. No middle man comes between the sinner and Christ. No dead prophet, no buried saint is seen. Christ Himself is our Advocate. All that the Father is to His Son, He is to those whom His Son in His humanity represented. In every line of His work Christ acted as a representative of the Father. He lived as our substitute and surety. He labored as He would have His followers labor, unselfishly appreciating the value of every human being for whom He suffered and died. (Manuscript 128, 1897).” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, pp. 913, 914.