As we prepare to celebrate Good Friday, have you ever wondered what it would have been like to live before the cross? What would it have been like to have a heart’s cry to know God and to live in His presence, yet to be separated from Him by the formality of religion and the rigidity of the law? What would it have been like to follow God’s prescribed way of reconciliation through a blood sacrifice, only to walk away from it knowing with conviction that your sins were not really forgiven through that act—nor were you any closer to the Most Holy Place of God’s presence than you were before the sacrifice? The writer to the Hebrews reveals that the hope of the cross was ever before those in the Old Testament, but only in sacrifices, symbols and shadows.
Read Hebrews 10:1-25
I. THE SACRIFICES
A. Sacrifices That Were Not Perfect
- Were the Old Testament sacrifices effective in taking away sin? Give phrases from the following verses to support your answer: Hebrews 7:27; 8:7; 9:7-10; 10:1.
- If the sacrifices were ineffective in reconciling man to God, why were they made? See Hebrews 9:6-10, 20-22; 10:3, 8.
- What has the cross done for us that the Old Testament system of sacrifices could not do? Hebrews 7:18, 23-25, 27; 8:8-12; 9:12-15; 10:10, 15-17.
- Can you think of anything you can add to the cross to make it more effective from God’s perspective? Write out Hebrews 10:14 in your own words.
- What have you been trying to add to the cross—even subconsciously—to make it more effective? Religion? Rituals? Traditions? Good works? ______? Fill in the blank.
- Would you celebrate Good Friday by thanking God that the cross is perfect and complete in itself and by making sure you have placed your faith in the death of Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God? Then tell someone else that Jesus paid it all.
B. Sacrifices That Were Not Pleasing
- Generally speaking, was God pleased with the Old Testament sacrifices? See Hebrews 10:5-6.
- If He was not pleased, can you think of reasons why not? For help with your answer, see Hebrews 8:8-9; 9:10, 13.
- Is there any sacrifice for sin you can think of other than the cross that God is pleased with?
- What are some of the reasons that God is pleased with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? Read Hebrews 7:22-28; 9:14; 10:5-14.
- Reread Hebrews 10:5-10. How does this answer those who believe there are other ways to God besides the cross?
- Write out your verse-by-verse explanation of Hebrews 10:26-31 as though to someone who believes a loving God will let everyone into Heaven.
- If there are other ways—or even one other way—to God besides the cross, do you think God would have found it?
- What other punishment, besides the cross, do people today believe that God inflicts for the guilt of sin? What verses could you use to reassure them that God is totally pleased with the cross?
- Would you celebrate Good Friday by thanking God that the cross is completely pleasing to Him? Then stop trying to make it more pleasing by adding to it.
C. Sacrifices That Were Not Powerful
- Was a sacrifice for sin made once and for all, or did it have to be repeated? Give phrases from: Hebrews 7:27; 9:6-7, 25; 10:1.
- If the sacrifices were powerless to take away sin, what was their purpose? Read Hebrews 10:3.
- Taking into account the hundreds and thousands of sacrifices that were made during one person’s lifetime, and the rivers of blood that were shed, what difference did the Old Testament sacrifices make in a person’s life? See Hebrews 5:1-3.
- If another way to think of being made holy is to be made whole, what astounding revelation does Hebrews 10:10 give us?
- What is the verb tense used in Hebrews 10:10, and what does this mean to you?
- In what way are you seeking to remove memories of sin? A stronghold of sin? Habits of sin? Attitudes of sin?
- Give phrases that apply to this purifying, powerful impact of the cross from Isaiah 53:4-6; 1 Corinthians 1:17-18; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:20; 2:15; 1 John 1:7-9; Revelation 1:5.
- Would you celebrate Good Friday by confessing all known sin, then thank God for the power of the cross that is still sufficient to cleanse you?
II. THE SYMBOLS
- Relate the symbolic, prophetic promise of Genesis 3:15 to the cross, keeping in mind that the serpent is the devil and the seed of the woman is Jesus.
- In what way do you see the cross in the symbolism of Numbers 21:4-9? Compare with John 3:14 and John 6:40.
- This Good Friday, would you thank God that the cross is not just a symbol of something to come, but it is a testimony to what has already been done? Then tell someone else about the cross.
III. THE SHADOWS
- Give one word that specifically indicates how long the cross is effective from Hebrews 10:14; John 3:16; Romans 6:22.
- In the light of the truth of Hebrews 10:14, what reason would people have for believing they can lose their forgiveness, salvation or eternal life?
- From Hebrews 10:19-22, what has been opened up exclusively for us because of the cross? See also Romans 5:11.
- For those who have been to the cross for salvation and forgiveness, will that door ever be closed?
- From Hebrews 10:22-25, if you have been to the cross for forgiveness of sin, what are five things that you are challenged to do? Write out each one and how it applies to your life. Be specific and practical.
- Would you celebrate Good Friday by living out each of these things with a heart filled with gratitude for the cross?
This Good Friday, join me in thanking God that we live on this side of the cross! ©2021 Anne Graham Lotz
This article is adapted from a study originally published in March 2004.
Anne Graham Lotz has proclaimed God’s Word worldwide for more than 40 Years. Her newest book, “The Light of His Presence,” contains 40 of Anne’s personal prayers and is available through major booksellers and online at AnneGrahamLotz.org.