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In what ways is the knowledge of Jesus’ heavenly ministry helpful to us here on earth?

Study and Discussion Questions

  1. Concrete images, OT and NT: Exodus 25:9, Hebrews 8:5. In the Old Testament, God showed His people an image of the sanctuary that they were to follow when they built the wilderness model. While the services in that sanctuary were vastly different from those practiced in the surrounding cultures, the sanctuary itself was strikingly similar to the basic plan of Canaanite sanctuaries. In short, a church has to look like a church if it is going to attract people who are interested in church.In the New Testament, Hebrews again talks about the heavenly sanctuary, using language that would have been familiar to the students of Plato: everything on earth is a reflection of the original in heaven (cf. Heb. 8:5). As in Exodus, the language is adapted to the audience, in this case an audience more familiar with Greek thinking than Canaanite.

    Question: What is the benefit of being able to “visualize” concrete images when dealing with the abstract nature of human understanding and human feelings of guilt? How can “sanctuary” be helpful in our modern age? For concrete thinkers? For abstract thinkers?

  2. Contrasting images: Lamb of God (John 1:29; cf. Rev. 6:16, wrath of the lamb) and the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5). How do we negotiate the tension between Jesus as lamb and Jesus as lion? How does the curious phrase “wrath of the lamb” bring the two ideas together?
  3. Jesus as Intercessor: Hebrew 7:25; but cf. John 16:25-27, no need of a mediator. Which image of the intercessor do you find most helpful, the one in which Jesus presents us to the Father? Or the one in which Jesus introduces the Father to us? John 16:25-27 suggests that both pictures may be true. But the ultimate truth is that we have been brought to God through Jesus Christ. That means that someday we will not need any kind of mediator. That is a promise, not a threat.
  4. Jesus as high priest, the focal point of hope: Hebrews 10:19-25. How does the call to fellowship relate to the role of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary?