The Great Controversy - Weekly Lesson

2024 Quarter 2 Lesson 08 - Light From the Sanctuary

The Great Controversy
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Apr · May · Jun 2024
Quarter 2 Lesson 08 Q2 Lesson 08
May 18 - May 24

Light From the Sanctuary

Weekly Title Picture

Sabbath Afternoon

Read for This Week’s Study

Exod. 25:8, 9, 40; Heb. 8:1–6; Lev. 16:21, 29–34; Lev. 23:26–32; Heb. 9:23–28; Dan. 7:9, 10.

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).

Shortly after the disappointment of October 22, 1844, some of the Millerites came to understand that the 2,300-day prophecy didn’t deal with the second coming of Jesus but with Christ’s work in the heavenly sanctuary.

The cleansing of the sanctuary in heaven was the fulfillment of the earthly cleansing of the earthly sanctuary. To understand this important truth better, look at the parallel between Daniel 7 and Daniel 8:

Daniel 7

Daniel 8</a> Babylon ------ Media-Persia Media-Persia Greece Greece Rome Rome Judgment in heaven Cleansing of the sanctuary

These parallels show the nature of the cleansing of the sanctuary, the pre-Advent judgment. This week we explore Christ’s ministry in heaven.

*Study this week’s lesson, based on chapters 22–24 and 28 of The Great Controversy, to prepare for Sabbath, May 25.

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19th of May

The Heavenly Sanctuary

Read Exodus 25:8, 9, 40 and Hebrews 8:1–6. What two sanctuaries are outlined in these verses?

As the early Adventist believers pored over the Scriptures in the months following 1844, they understood that there are two sanctuaries mentioned in the Bible—the one Moses built and the great original in heaven. The term “sanctuary,” as used in the Bible, refers, first, to the tabernacle built by Moses, as a pattern or “type” of heavenly things; and, second, to the “true tabernacle” in heaven, to which the earthly sanctuary pointed. At the death of Christ, the typical service lost its importance. The “true tabernacle” in heaven is the sanctuary of the new covenant. And as the prophecy of Daniel 8:14 is fulfilled in this era, the sanctuary to which it refers must be the sanctuary of the new covenant.

“At the termination of the 2300 days, in 1844, there had been no sanctuary on earth for many centuries. Thus the prophecy, ‘Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed,’ unquestionably points to the sanctuary in heaven.”—Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 417.

The sanctuary in the wilderness was a scale model or pattern of the heavenly sanctuary. The services in the earthly sanctuary foreshadowed God’s divine plan of salvation. Every sacrifice offered represented Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross of Calvary (see John 1:29). Through the sacrifice of Christ, we are free from the condemnation of sin. Forgiveness is ours. Our guilt is gone as we accept Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf and confess our sins (1 John 1:9). Jesus is not only the Lamb who died for us but also the Priest who lives for us.

Hebrews 7:25 explains: “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (NKJV). He removes the guilt of sin and saves us from the power of sin (Rom. 8:1–4, 2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus’ ministry in heaven’s sanctuary is for us. As a result of His intercession, the grip of sin on our lives is broken. We are no longer under bondage or enslaved to our sinful natures. In Christ we are free—free from sin’s condemnation and free from sin’s control. As we hold on to Christ by faith, we have the assurance of salvation.

What does it mean for you to know that Jesus is in heaven ministering in your behalf, meaning that He is there mediating for you? Why do you need a Mediator in your behalf? Why is this truth good news?

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20th of May

In the Holy of Holies

Read Leviticus 16:21, 29–34; Leviticus 23:26–32; and Hebrews 9:23–28. Why was the Day of Atonement so important in ancient Israel?

The priests ministered every day of the year, but on the Day of Atonement, called Yom Kippur in Hebrew, the eyes of all Israel turned toward the sanctuary. Leviticus 16 and 23 give explicit instructions for the Day of Atonement. All regular activity ceased. Everyone fasted. While the high priest entered the presence of God for them in the Most Holy Place, the people examined their hearts. They sought God in humility and heartfelt confession.

Anyone who was not “afflicted” on the Day of Atonement would be “cut off,” no longer part of the chosen people (Lev. 23:27, 29). On the Day of Atonement, the high priest took the blood of the Lord’s goat into the sanctuary and, after sprinkling it on the mercy seat, applied the blood to the horns of the golden altar and of the brazen altar, completely cleansing the entire sanctuary. When he had made “an end of reconciling,” the high priest placed his hands on the live goat and confessed Israel’s sins. Then it was led into the wilderness to be separated from the camp forever (Lev. 16:20–22).

The blood was transferred into the sanctuary during the daily services, showing the recording of sin (Jer. 17:1) and God’s taking responsibility for its ultimate disposition. Now, on the Day of Atonement, it was transferred out of the sanctuary and placed on the head of the scapegoat Azazel, representing Satan and revealing his ultimate responsibility for the sin problem.

This goat was led far into the wilderness so that, at the close of the Day of Atonement, God had a clean sanctuary and a clean people. In the heavenly sanctuary, Christ ministers for us first in the Holy Place, and now, in the Most Holy Place since 1844, at the end of the 2,300 days.

We will get through this great judgment because of Jesus, our Substitute. As Ellen G. White said, we are “justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 25. As a result of this righteousness—credited (imputed) to us—we afflict our souls, which is a turning away from sin. That means we have not come to a comfortable acceptance of evil nor are we excusing or clinging to cherished sins. Instead we are growing in grace and living a life of holiness.

What is the significance of the Day of Atonement in our lives today? Why should it make a difference in how we live?

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21st of May

The Judgment Has Come

Compare Daniel 7:9, 10 with Revelation 14:6, 7. What is the similarity between these two passages?

The judgment is a prominent theme throughout the Bible. “For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Eccles. 12:14, NKJV). Jesus pointed His hearers to a future time of judgment, when “ ‘every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment’ ” (Matt. 12:36, NKJV). The apostle Paul adds, God will “bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts” (1 Cor. 4:5). The angelic messenger said to John, “The hour of His [God’s] judgment has come” (Rev. 14:7, NKJV).

Read Revelation 22:10–12. When Jesus returns, what is the fate of all humanity? What clear declaration is made to John?

Since Christ comes to give out His final rewards, there must be a judgment before that, to show who will receive what reward when He comes. When Christ returns, there is no second chance. Every human being has had sufficient information to make their final, irrevocable decision for or against Christ.

Read Matthew 25:1–13. Why does Jesus relate so differently to these two different groups of believers?

“When the work of investigation shall be ended, when the cases of those who in all ages have professed to be followers of Christ have been examined and decided, then, and not till then, probation will close, and the door of mercy will be shut. Thus in the one short sentence, ‘They that were ready went in with Him to the marriage: and the door was shut,’ we are carried down through the Saviour’s final ministration, to the time when the great work for man’s salvation shall be completed.”—Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 428.

We need not fear the judgment. Through Christ, forgiveness is ours, freedom from guilt is ours, power to live godly lives is ours, and final victory is ours.

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22nd of May

The Good News of the Most Holy Place

Read Hebrews 4:14–16 and Hebrews 10:19–22. What assurance and divine invitation do these verses give to each one of us?

Paul’s point here in Hebrews is “hold fast,” “come boldly,” “never give up,” focus your faith on Jesus, our great High Priest. In Jesus, we have all we need. By faith we may enter the heavenly sanctuary through the “new and living way” that Jesus has opened for us.

Looking into the court, we see blood on the horns of the brazen altar. In the Holy Place, we see blood on the golden horns of the altar of incense. We behold the sprinkled blood on the curtain before the mercy seat.

Jesus’ blood prepares the way at every step. This gives us hope since we can have reunion with God only if Jesus pardons us and blots out our sins. The mercy of God is infinite, but so is His justice. And justice cannot accept Christ’s sacrifice as atonement for our transgressions unless Jesus guarantees first to forgive our sins and second to blot them out.

Read Revelation 11:19. In the context of the great controversy, why is this vision significant? How does it show the inseparable link between the law and the gospel?

Here in the dazzling brightness and blazing glory of the presence of God, in the throne room of the universe, at the very base of God’s throne, we discover the law of God in the ark of the covenant. Here in the Most Holy Place, God’s justice and mercy are revealed. No earthly power can change God’s law because, among other reasons, it is enshrined in the ark of the covenant in heaven. Hebrews 8:10 says: “ ‘For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people’ ” (NKJV). Entering by faith into heaven’s sanctuary, we find pardon for our past sins and power to live an obedient life through Christ, who died for us and writes the law in our hearts. Jesus saves us to the “uttermost” (Heb. 7:25). Jesus saves us totally and completely—from the penalty of sin and from its power.

Why is Jesus’ intercession such incredibly good news? As we stand before the law as the standard of righteousness, what hope would we have without the gospel?

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23rd of May

Jesus, Our Advocate in the Judgment

Read Hebrews 10:9–14. What difference does this passage reveal between the priest’s ministry in the earthly sanctuary and Jesus’ ministry in the heavenly sanctuary?

Once and for all, Christ died upon the cross as a perfect sacrifice for sin. His priestly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary sanctifies us. Now, having entered the Most Holy Place, He stands as our Advocate in the judgment (see 1 John 2:1). “Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him” (Heb. 9:28, NLT). Through His sacrifice and mediation, sin has been dealt with. Now He comes again for those who “love his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8).

Read Hebrews 6:19, 20. Why does He invite us to follow Him, and what do we discover as we follow?

“The intercession of Christ in man’s behalf in the sanctuary above is as essential to the plan of salvation as was His death upon the cross. By His death He began that work which after His resurrection He ascended to complete in heaven. We must by faith enter within the veil, ‘whither the forerunner is for us entered.’ Hebrews 6:20. There the light from the cross of Calvary is reflected. There we may gain a clearer insight into the mysteries of redemption. The salvation of man is accomplished at an infinite expense to heaven; the sacrifice made is equal to the broadest demands of the broken law of God. Jesus has opened the way to the Father’s throne, and through His mediation the sincere desire of all who come to Him in faith may be presented before God.”—Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 489.

The plan of salvation is a complete plan to resolve the great controversy and rescue this planet from Satan’s grip. Jesus’ life revealed God’s love to a needy world and a watching universe. His death revealed the hideousness of sin and provided salvation for all humanity. His intercession in the heavenly sanctuary provides the benefits of the atonement to each one who reaches out in faith to receive them.

How does Christ’s death on the cross relate to His intercession in the heavenly sanctuary, and why is the judgment so necessary to the plan of salvation?

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24th of May

Further Thought

Notice how Jesus’ work for us in the judgment and our role are described: “Jesus does not excuse their sins, but shows their penitence and faith, and, claiming for them forgiveness, He lifts His wounded hands before the Father and the holy angels, saying: I know them by name. I have graven them on the palms of My hands. ‘The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.’ Psalm 51:17. And to the accuser of His people He declares: ‘The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee.’ ”—Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 484.

“The fact that the acknowledged people of God are represented as standing before the Lord in filthy garments should lead to humility and deep searching of heart on the part of all who profess His name. Those who are indeed purifying their souls by obeying the truth will have a most humble opinion of themselves. The more closely they view the spotless character of Christ, the stronger will be their desire to be conformed to His image, and the less will they see of purity or holiness in themselves. But while we should realize our sinful condition, we are to rely upon Christ as our righteousness, our sanctification, and our redemption. We cannot answer the charges of Satan against us. Christ alone can make an effectual plea in our behalf. He is able to silence the accuser with arguments founded not upon our merits, but on His own.”—Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 471, 472.

“We are now living in the great day of atonement. In the typical service, while the high priest was making the atonement for Israel, all were required to afflict their souls by repentance of sin and humiliation before the Lord, lest they be cut off from among the people. In like manner, all who would have their names retained in the book of life should now, in the few remaining days of their probation, afflict their souls before God by sorrow for sin and true repentance.”—The Great Controversy, pp. 489, 490.

Discussion Questions

  1. What emotions are stirred at the thought that Jesus is lifting His wounded hands for us before the Father? Why is this our only hope in the judgment?
  2. We are living in the Day of Atonement. Atonement is the work of God in saving lost sinners. Why, then, should any day dedicated to the work of God in saving sinners be good news?
  3. Notice what Ellen G. White wrote: “Christ alone can make an effectual plea in our behalf. He is able to silence the accuser with arguments founded not upon our merits, but on His own.”—Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, January 2, 1908. How can you make this hope your own?
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Inside Story

Running From Church: Part 1

By Andrew McChesney

Church was the last place Aneliya wanted to go. Raised in a family that followed a non-Christian world religion, she had visited her own house of worship on holidays and to observe animal sacrifices for more than 40 years. So, it came as a shock when her husband and 20-year-old son, Rosen, were offered a Bible by a stranger on the street.

“Take this and come to our meeting this evening,” the stranger said.

He said refreshments also would be available.

At home, Aneliya balked at the invitation. “What are we going to do there?” she asked. “I don’t want to go. I belong to another religion.”

But Rosen wanted to go to the church.

“Come,” he said. “We’ll eat and listen to a few things.”

All five members of the refugee family went to the meeting in the European city. They exchanged greetings with church members, and they sipped tea and ate cake with them. During the church program, Aneliya heard people talking about Jesus, but she couldn’t understand the words.

What are they talking about? she wondered. It was a normal reaction for someone from her faith background when first exposed to the Bible.

Rosen, however, was fascinated by the meeting. Afterward, he started Bible studies with Paul, the stranger who had offered the Bible on the street.

Before long, Rosen asked his mother to come to church for his baptism.

Church was the last place Aneliya wanted to go.

“I don’t understand what a baptism is,” she said. “I won’t go.”

Rosen was baptized without her.

Then Aneliya and her family were evicted from their rented apartment. They had money for rent, but they couldn’t find a place to live. Church members joined the search but to no avail. Church members invited the family to stay temporarily in the children’s Sabbath School classroom.

Church was the last place Aneliya wanted to go. But she had no choice. She and the family lived in the church for seven months.

During that time, Paul visited the family and read from the Bible. Aneliya wondered why he was reading the Bible. She was convinced that only her religion’s sacred writings contained the truth. She wondered, How will this Bible help me get an apartment? Why can’t we find an apartment?

On Sabbaths, Paul invited the family to attend church services. Aneliya fled. When she saw the worship service starting, she ran out the door. But her 22-year-old son, Sergei, was moved by what he heard. He was baptized.

After the family found a new home, both of Aneliya’s sons began to plead with her to consider Jesus.

Thank you for your support of Adventist Mission, whose Global Mission Centers help train people to share the good news of salvation with precious people from other world religions. For information, visit The story concludes next week.

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