Lesson for December 7th, 2013
Eschatological Day of Atonement
A last-day power will seek to attack God’s sanctuary and destroy the Lord’s people. A time of judgment will come in which God’s sanctuary will be cleansed of sin, and this power will be put down.
Bibles, paper, pencils
Connecting with the Scripture Topic
- If you feel comfortable, tell the group about a time when you felt impatient as you waited for something to happen. Perhaps you were in a doctor’s office, waiting for a check to arrive, or recovering from an illness. Have you ever asked, “How much longer?”
- Have you ever said, “It was worth the wait”? What were you waiting for? How did your perseverance pay off?
Sharing and Receiving Scripture
- Why do we need to continue to grow as Christians? Why isn’t it enough simply to give our lives to God once?
- Thought Questions
Read Daniel 8:1-7 and try to understand the meaning of the symbols in this section. What do they represent?
- A ram with two horns, one horn taller than the other
- A ram pushing in all points of the compass
- A male goat charging from the west without touching the ground
- The male goat attacking the ram and breaking the two horns
- Four horns growing in place of one great horn that was broken off
Now read Daniel 8:8-14, which speaks about a little horn coming up after and out of the four previous horns. What does this little horn represent?
- The ram represents the kingdom of Medo-Persia; the male goat represents the kingdom of Greece (vv. 20, 21).
- The worldwide power that came after Greece was the Roman Empire.
- This power, which grew up to heaven, was more than a political power; it was also religious.
- This power also exalted himself as the "Prince of the host" and attacked God's sanctuary (v. 11).
- Fortunately, God put a time limit on how long the sanctuary would be trampled (2,300 days/years).
Daniel 8:14 is a key verse that speaks of the sanctuary being restored. Why is this verse so important to our understanding of the last days?
- This prophecy points to the very end of time, so it should grab our attention.
- In prophecy, the 2,300 days actually symbolize 2,300 years, which culminated in 1844.
- The sanctuary was not the earth or the earthly sanctuary; it was the heavenly sanctuary.
- Cleansing the heavenly sanctuary was necessary because of the "sins" God's people placed there.
- This cleansing process was symbolically explained in the ritual of the earthly sanctuary's Day of Atonement.
- The reference to the "hour of His judgment" fits perfectly with the message of Daniel 8.
- Cleansing the sanctuary is a "judgment" issue. Justice must be carried out.
- The message of "judgment" points out that this happens before the second coming of Christ.
- The end of the 2,300 day/year prophecy is the commencement of the work of the judgment.
- We understand the judgment by the Day of Atonement; God's earthly sanctuary was cleansed of sin.
Applying the Message of Scripture
Gather in groups of two or three. Choose one of the following options and work on a solution. Report back to your group when your facilitator says time is up.
- Option 1: Over lunch one day, a colleague says, “I think the world will end with a nuclear disaster. Do you think the world will end someday? How do you think it will happen?” In light of this lesson, what would you say?
- Option 2: Divide a piece of paper into four parts. In each square, draw a simple illustration of the four main symbols (the ram, the male goat, the four horns, and the rise of the little horn) in Daniel 8. Underneath each drawing, write a brief explanation.
- Option 3: Read Daniel 9:24-27 and try to sketch on paper the timeline outlined in this passage. The “pieces” that must fit together include: 2,300 days; 70 weeks; one week and 69 weeks; seven weeks and 62 weeks; and an event in the middle of one week.
Valuing Scripture in Your Life
- As you conclude this lesson about God’s sanctuary being trampled, ask yourself, “If my heart was a place where God wanted to live, would I need to do any housecleaning?”
- In groups of two or three, pray together for God to cleanse your heart and help you to be ready for Jesus’ coming.