Key verse: John 4:23
Big idea: The sacrifices were the sign of the spiritual worship to come.
It is always interesting to me to see the way that children process through play. If our daughter gets in trouble, her baby doll is likely to be punished in the next few days for doing something similar. Our son speaks in high pitched "baby" voices to little things, even when he is not saying any actual words. Both of my kids love their little play kitchen. One of them will stand in their playhouse and "cook" while the other swings and places an "order." These are all shadows of adult things, and will eventually be replaced by the real thing. In a sense, the whole Old Testament sacrificial system was a toy copy of the real worship that would come.
When Jesus sat by a well with a Samaritan woman, He told her that the day was coming - and was now here - when worship would not be centered on a Temple or a mountain, but be in Spirit and in truth. The sacrifice of animals pointed forward to the perfect sacrifice of Jesus. All of the ritual washings and restrictions pointed toward the holiness of God. The dietary and clothing restrictions showed the separation of God's people. Most importantly, approaching the center of the Temple prefigured the day when we would be able to approach God Himself. Everything pointed forward to the reality which we get to experience in truth.
Discussion idea: Why did God give pictures of the ultimate worship before revealing the whole thing?
Prayer focus: Ask God to help you focus on the reality and not be distracted by forms or methods.