Hebrews | 1-7 | 8 | 9:1-14 | 9:15-28 | 10:1-24 | 10:25-39 | 11:1-7 | 11:7-18 | 12:1-11 | 12:12-29 | 13:1-8 | 13:9-25 | PDF |

These small group Bible studies of Hebrews contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Hebrews 9:1-14 Bible Study Guide With Discussion Questions


I. Description of the earthly tabernacle (1-5)
II. Weaknesses of the earthly tabernacle/system (6-10)
III. Our eternal redemption through Christ who entered the Holy of Holies on our behalf (11-14)

I. Description of the earthly tabernacle (1-5)

Discussion Questions

• In what ways did the tabernacle aid worship?
• How do we worship God today?
• Without looking, what was in the outer tabernacle?
• Without looking, what is behind the veil?
• Can you remember from our study of Exodus the significance of each of these (go around the table and each person can take one object).

Cross References

Exodus 25-27, 35-40 – These chapters contain a lot of information about the tabernacle including its structure and design.

John 6:35 – Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

John 8:12 – When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Revelation 5:8 – And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.

Revelation 8:4 – The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand.

Psalm 141:2 – May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

Verses on Worship:

Psalm 95:6 – Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;

John 4:24 – “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

Isaiah 12:5 – Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.

Romans 12:1 – Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. One of the key purposes of the tabernacle was to be a reminder to people about the need to worship God. Many of the objects inside were related to worship. God created us to worship Him from the beginning. In Revelation 7:9-12 we can see that God’s “end vision” for the world is to make worshipers of Himself of every tribe and tongue. As His creation, this is one of our top duties.

Many times, we stress the eternal importance of sharing the gospel or building the church. Yet sometimes we forget that the even more basic daily duty we have of worshiping and praising God. This is not a “once-a-week” activity we do during church. The Psalms are full of instances of David and the other writers worshiping God privately. Worship can be public. But our worship in public will likely not be real or heartfelt unless we also worship God in our homes during our own personal time with the Lord. Do you incorporate worship into your daily quiet times? Should we? How can we? Read and discuss cross references.

2. Special Bible Study Activity: Get a pencil and paper. Spend the next few minutes drawing a sketch of the tabernacle. Write down as many objects as you can and their locations in the tabernacle. At the bottom of the page, write down the daily function of each and also the spiritual significance. This passage gives a summary description of the earthly tabernacle the Israelites set up in the wilderness. Exodus 25-27 gives a more complete view with exact dimensions. In chapter 8 we saw that the earthly tabernacle was a shadow of the heavenly one. Many of the objects inside have a deep spiritual significance. After writing down your sketch (it will help you remember the content in this passage), discuss the items one by one.

II. Weaknesses of the earthly tabernacle/system (6-10)

Discussion Questions

• What did the priests have to do before entering the outer tabernacle?
• What did the priests do in the holy place? Where were sacrifices offered?
• When could they go in to the holy place? Who could go in? What did he do there?
• What sins was he making atonement for? (the ones committed in ignorance since willful sins should have been dealt with already)
• Do we commit sins in ignorance? Any examples? What should do about this?
• What does verse 8 mean?
• Why can the sacrifices offered not fully restore the guilty party’s conscience?
• What does the “time of reformation” in verse 10 refer to?

Verses on conscience:

Isaiah 30:21 – Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Romans 2:15 – They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.

Hebrews 10:22 – Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

1 Timothy 1:5 – The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Proverbs 20:27 – The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord that sheds light on one’s inmost being.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. The priests serve continually in the holy place. Part of their tasks include replacing the bread daily, lighting the lamps, and keeping the incense going. It is a continuous service before the Lord.

2. Yet they could only enter into the Holy of Holies once per year. Then only the high priest could enter. This was the day of atonement. The priest would take blood to sprinkle onto the ark of the covenant. This was offered to cover all of the sins which had been committed unknowingly by the Israelite congregation in the past year.

3. A contrast is made in verse 8. On verse 8, MacArthur says, “The Levitical system did not provide any direct access into God’s presence for His people. Rather, it kept them away. Nearness had to be provided by another way. This is the primary lesson which the Holy Spirit taught concerning the tabernacle. It teaches how inaccessible God is apart from the death of Jesus Christ. By the Spirit-inspired instruction given for the Holiest of All, He was indicating that there was no way to God in the ceremonial system. Only Christ could open the way (John 14:6).” The priests were limited in their access to God. Only one could go once per year. Now through Christ we can all come to God directly at any time. You have every opportunity and resource you need to have a close walk with the Lord. Don’t waste the privileges that you have.

4. The gifts and sacrifices offered in the tabernacle could not truly make people perfect in conscience. Their sins were covered, but not really taken away or replaced. These sacrifices could not take away a guilty conscience. The sacrifices merely foreshadowed what would one day be the true sacrifice: Christ.

5. Why couldn’t the sacrifices not take away a guilty conscience? They couldn’t because they were external, not internal (see chapter 8). People’s hearts needed to be changed. No amount of sacrifices, washings, food, or rules for our cleanliness could change a person’s heart. This is clearly seen in the case of the Pharisees, who did all of these rituals, but whose hearts were like a tomb (Matthew 23:13-27).

6. Time of reformation – When and what does this refer to?

III. Our eternal redemption through Christ who entered the Holy of Holies on our behalf (11-14)

Discussion Questions

• What two thoughts does the “but” serve to highlight the contrast between? (see verse 11)
• What are the good things that are to come?
• What is this tabernacle that is not made with hands?
• What place did He enter?
• What did He do? What was His mission? What did He accomplish?
• Explain the logical flow of thought in verses 13-14 about the goat’s blood and the blood of Christ.
• What is conscience? What does a conscience do? Is conscience always right or can it be shaped by our environment? If it can be shaped, how can we shape our conscience so that it is “tuned” correctly?
• Should parents shape their children’s consciences? Why or why not? If so, how?
• What is the purpose of having a clean conscience? Do you ever ignore your conscience? What do you think will happen if you keep ignoring it?

Verses on Atonement:

Leviticus 17:11 – For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.

1 Peter 2:24 – “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

Revelation 5:9 – And they sang a new song, saying, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

1 John 2:2 – He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. But. Here is that all-important word again. Just when things looked the bleakest, Christ appeared. He did almost appear out of nowhere. He didn’t come with a lot of fanfare. He just came and what He did changed the world.

2. He is the high priest of good things to come. In James 1:17 we learn that every good gift is from above. Jesus is the priest who mediates between us and God and bestows upon us the good gifts of God. Going around the table, each person name one good thing to come.

3. Verses 11-12 talk some about where Jesus entered. It is described as a “greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say not of this creation.” In this case, I’m not sure the author is talking about a real place. The main point is that He is comparing what Jesus did (offer atonement for us with His own blood) to what the Levites did. The focus is on the comparison and on Jesus’ sacrifice for us as our high priest. It may not be a real place but the imagery can help us to understand what Jesus did. The imagery shows Jesus going into the holy place just like the Levite priests did. But instead of offering the blood of animals, He offered His own. Imagine a risen Christ entering this place and offering up His own blood that He shed for us. The image is very poignant.

4. Through His own blood – He sacrificed Himself in the most excruciatingly painful way imaginable.

5. Once for all – Here is this key phrase once again. Jesus doesn’t need to go into the holy place on a yearly basis. Once was enough. There is a song called “There is Power in the Blood.” Jesus’ blood sacrifice was so intensely effective that His blood is enough for all time.

6. Jesus offered Himself – It wasn’t His responsibility. He didn’t have to. He chose to because of His love for us. Do you offer of yourself to others? Do you put others first or yourself? Do you offer yourself to God?

7. Without blemish – Jesus was the perfect Lamb of God, innocent and unstained by the world.

8. Cleanse your conscience – Read the cross references above about conscience and discuss the importance of having a clear and clean conscience before God and man (Acts 24:16).

To serve the living God – What do you want to do based on what we have learned today to serve the living God in the coming week?

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