STUDY Hebrews 9:1-10 (click here for notes)

Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place.

Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron's staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now.

When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing. This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings-external regulations applying until the time of the new order. (NIV)


The Sanctuary

The writer of Hebrews is reminiscing about the intricacy and beauty of the Old Covenant ceremonies and symbols of worship.

1. The center of the Old Covenant worship system was the sanctuary. What was the sanctuary, and what was it for? (see Exodus 25:8)


2. Where did Moses get the materials for the sanctuary? (see Exodus 25:1-8; 35:4-29)


The Lampstand

1. Describe the lampstand. (see Exodus 25:31-40; 40:25)


2. How were Aaron and subsequent high priests to care for the lamps? (Leviticus 24:1-4; Exodus 27:20-21; 30:7; 1 Samuel 3:3; 2 Chron. 13:11)


3. What did a lampstand symbolize in the New Testament? (see Revelation 1:12-13, 20; 2:1,5; 11:4)


The Showbread

1. What did the showbread represent, from what was it made, and who ate it and where? (see Exodus 25:23-30; Leviticus 24:5-9; 6:16-18)


2. On what occasion did non-Levites eat the showbread, and how did Jesus use this incident to teach about the role of the law in relationship to himself? (see 1 Samuel 21:1-6; Matt. 12:1-8; Mark 2:26; Luke 6:1-5)


3. How is unleavened bread incorporated into New Covenant worship? (Matthew 26:26-29; 1 Cor. 10:16,17)


4. Ultimately, what does bread symbolize? (see John 6:26-42)


Altar of Incense

Although the altar of incense was on the Holy side of the curtain, it was so closely associated with the Most Holy that people often thought of it as part of the furnishings of the Most Holy.

1. What was the function and purpose of the altar of incense? (see Ex. 30:1-10; Lev. 16:12-13; Mal. 1:11)


The Most Holy Place

1.The Ark of the Covenant was at the heart of the Most Holy Place. Describe it. (see Exodus 25:10-21)

2.Where did God place his visible presence? (see Exodus 25:22; Lev. 16:2)

3.On the Day of Atonement, the high priest would sprinkle the blood of the sin offering on the atonement cover (Lev. 16:14-15). What was significant about God's directing Moses to put the "atonement cover" over the tables of the law?

4.What did the Ark of the Covenant hold besides the Ten Commandments? (Exodus 16:32-35; Numbers 17:10)

5.Ancient treaties required that copies of the treaty be placed in the religious shrine in the presence of the nation's deity. How does Deuteronomy 31:9 suggest that the written laws were placed in the Ark of the Covenant?


Old Covenant Intercession

1. The priests carried on their work in "the outer room". How often did they enter there? (see Numbers 28:3)


2. Who went into the Most Holy Place, on what occasion, and for what purpose? (see Exodus 16:11-19, 29, 34)


3. Verse 8 says, "The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was standing." What is the "way into the Most Holy Place"? (see John 14:6; Hebrews 10:19-20)


4. What was it about "the first tabernacle" that made it impossible for people to find the way into the Most Holy Place? (see Isaiah 59:2; Hebrews 7:11, 15; 20-25; 8:7-8, 13; )


New Covenant Illustration

"This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper," states verse 9.

1. Of what is the Old Covenant's undisclosed way to God an illustration for the present (New Covenant) time? (see Hebrews 10:1; Romans 2:12; Gal. 4:8-11)


2. Why would we need to remember that the Old Testament gifts and sacrifices are "not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper"? (see Hebrews 10:3-10, 16-18; Galatians 4:21-23, 28-31)


3. The Old Covenant prescribed "external regulations applying until the time of the new order." What were the "external regulations"? (see Col. 2:16; Romans 14:3-5; Gal. 4:10-11)


4. What in the New Covenant replaced the old external regulations? (see Romans 14:17-18; 15:13, 17-19; 1 Cor. 2:4; 1 Thess. 2:4-5; Gal. 2:15-16; 5:22-23)


5. If the Old Covenant regulations were a shadow of the good things to come and were not a replica of a physical building in heaven, why was Moses "warned" (Heb. 8:5) to "make everything according to the pattern shown [him] on the mountain"?



1. Have you found the way into the Most Holy Place?


2. How can you tell the difference between finding the way into God's presence and merely understanding how to find the way?


3. What "external regulations" have you particularly enjoyed?


4. How has entering the presence of God through Jesus Christ impacted or changed you?



1. What work or external regulation stands between you and entering the presence of God through the Lord Jesus?


2. What identity or definition of yourself do you fear losing if you walk fully into the light of grace and give Jesus the control over your life?


3. What secret about yourself do you fear facing or confessing if you open your heart to Jesus' love?


4. Ask Jesus to give you the courage to be honest before him. Ask him to show you what secret(s) he wants you to face and confess. Trust Jesus' love, and let him bring you into the presence of God through his forgiveness. Open yourself to his love with which he will affirm and comfort you as he cleanses the shame from your soul.


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