1) How does Hebrews 9 help you see that Christ is present even in the Old Testament? What features of the tabernacle stood out to you and why?
2) Does Hebrews 9 change the way you think about the unprecedented access Christians have to God? What does more confidence look like (or not look like) as we come into God’s presence?
3) In what ways have you sought to alleviate a guilty conscience? How are you encouraged today to find that solution only at the cross?
Scripture: Hebrews 9:1-10
I. Jesus is a better sacrifice because old covenant worship focused on an earthly place.
A. We read about that earthly place in Hebrews 9:1. This tent/tabernacle had two sections or chambers to it that are described in verses 2-5. First, there was an outer chamber, the holy place, that we read about in verse 2. Then, beginning in verse 3, we read about the second chamber of the tabernacle which is called the most holy place. The ark of the covenant inside the most holy place was the symbol of God’s throne. God ruled the world and His people Israel from this location. And God met with His people in fellowship at this earthly location.
B. But the message of access denied was communicated by the layout of the tabernacle/tent. Ordinary Israelites had no access to God. There was one restriction after another that prevented the people from reaching God under the old covenant worship system. How has Jesus changed all of this? Matthew 27:51: “And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” Because Jesus died for your sin, He has turned the message of access denied into a new message of access permitted. You now have full and free access to God wherever you are.
II. Jesus is a better sacrifice because old covenant worship focused on an earthly priest.
A. Old covenant worship said that only a few priests from within Israel could get somewhat close to God at the earthly location of the tabernacle. Old covenant worship then focused on an earthly priest who descended from the tribe of Levi. We read in verse 6 that the priests go regularly into the first section of the tabernacle. Then in verse 7 we look at the work of the high priest. In that verse we see that only the high priest goes into the holy of holies, and he but once a year. Why was access denied even to the high priest? Because even the high priest was a sinner.
B. It was because of the sinful nature of even the high priest that God gave this message to Moses in Leviticus 16:2: “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat that is on the ark, so that he may not die. For I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat.” Contrast this message with the one God gave us after Jesus was sacrificed for us in Hebrews 4:16: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
III. Jesus is a better sacrifice because old covenant worship focused on an earthly sacrifice.
A. What was the result of the old covenant worship system which sacrificed animals for the sins of the people? We read the result in vs. 9-10. Do you know what animal sacrifices could not do? Those sacrifices could not get rid of our guilty conscience. The guilt would remain even after the animal sacrifice was made. Why? Because an animal sacrifice cannot bring the full forgiveness of sins. If you want full forgiveness and the removal of guilt, you need the sacrifice of a spotless human being not a spotless animal. Jesus was that spotless man who brought us full forgiveness through His death on the cross. But under the old covenant system of worship, all those earthly sacrifices merely pointed forward to the time of reformation (vs. 10). The time of reformation is the time of the new covenant. It is the time when Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins brought us full forgiveness of sins. It is the time when Jesus finally removed all of our guilt from us.
Don’t be afraid. Come near to God with whatever need you have. Your God will not deny you.
The letter to the Hebrews
Commentaries on Hebrews by Tom Schreiner and Raymond Brown
Bible study by Michael Kruger