SDA Sabbath School Lessons

Monday July 15, 1996

The meaning of the sanctuary sacrifices
(Hebrews 10:1-12)

Whose sacrifice was represented by every animal sacrifice offered in the court of the earthly sanctuary? John 1:29; Heb. 7:27.

The sin offering for the regular Israelite citizen was a female goat or a female lamb (Lev. 4:27, 28, 32). When John the Baptist hailed Jesus as "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (NIV), he was pointing to the deep spiritual meaning of the sanctuary sacrifices. The same imagery is used elsewhere in the New Testament, most often in the book of Revelation. (Compare Acts 8:32; 1 Peter 1:19; Rev. 5:6.)

The Epistle to the Hebrews consistently treats the earthly sanctuary sacrifices as types or representations of Christ's once-for-all sacrifice. "He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did this once for all when he offered up himself" (Heb. 7:27, RSV; compare Heb. 8:3; 9:12-14, 22, 28).

According to Hebrews 10: 1-1 2, what sanctuary sacrifices pointed forward to and typified the sacrifice of Christ?

The entire passage (Heb. 10: I- 12) is referring to the sacrificial, ceremonial aspects of the law, which met their fulfillment at Christ's death. In Hebrews 1O:1 the word law cannot refer to the Ten Commandments. They remain the standard of righteousness for Christians (Rom. 3:3 1; 7:7, 12, 14; 8:3, 4). "Year by year" translates the Greek phrase Kat'eniauton, which does not refer only to the yearly sacrifices. (The same phrase is used in Hebrews 9:25; 10:3.) The sacrifices that were offered "year after year" (Heb. 1O:1, RSV) included "burnt offerings and sin offerings" (verse 6), which were offered daily. Verse I I also refers to the sacrifices offered "year after year": "And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins" (RSV).

From God's perspective, animal sacrifices lost their significance at the death of Christ; it was never God's intention that sin should be expiated by the blood of animals (Heb. 10: 1-4). Daily burnt offerings and sin offerings foreshadowed the one true sacrifice for sin, that of Jesus Christ our Lord (Heb. 10:5-12). Christ offered "for all time a single sacrifice for sins" (verse 12, RSV).

All sanctuary sacrifices, whether offered daily or annually, pointed forward to the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.