Discussion Guide - Jesus Purifies the Conscience (Hebrews 9:1-14)
Monday: Hebrews 9:1-14
Tuesday: Hebrews 9:3-4; Exodus 16:32; 32:15; Numbers 17:8-10
Wednesday: Hebrews 9:7-8; Matthew 27:50-51
Thursday: Hebrews 9:11; Acts 2:32-36
Friday: Hebrews 9:14; Romans 8:1
Jesus removes the barrier that separates us from God.
In Hebrews 8, the author showed that Jesus is the High Priest of a new and superior covenant God made with his people. His superiority to the Levitical priests is demonstrated by the fact that he serves in “the true tent” (8:1) that the Old Testament tabernacle was merely “a copy and shadow of” (8:5).
Now the author begins to explore how Jesus’s sacrifice for sins is superior to the Old Covenant sin sacrifices (9:1-10:18). He begins by considering the layout of the tabernacle that God instructed Moses and the Israelites to make. Within the tabernacle were two sections. The first was the Holy Place (v 2), and inside the Holy place was a curtain which marked off a second section called the Most Holy Place (vv 3-5).
The Levitical priests were regularly in the first section performing their priestly duties. But only the High Priest could enter the second section to meet with God, and even then, he could only enter one day a year (vv 6-7).
These regulations were meant to teach a lesson. God created humanity to live in his presence (i.e. the Most Holy Place). The first section then is a barrier that separates God’s people from his presence (v 8). But no amount of gifts or sacrifices could remove the true barrier separating God and his people – their guilty consciences (vv 9-10). The mere existence of the tabernacle’s first section gave God’s people a constant awareness of their personal guilt and of the fact that it hadn’t been dealt with.
As soon as Jesus died, though, the curtain separating the first and second sections tore (Matthew 27:50-51), indicating that the first section no longer exists. By offering himself as a superior sacrifice on our behalf, Jesus has removed the sin that separates us from God. Whereas repeated sacrifices and washings could not purify our consciences and bring us into God’s presence, Jesus’s one-time sacrifice of himself did (vv 11-14).
What does the constant repetition of verse 6 tell us about the effectiveness of the Old Covenant priesthood? How does this contrast with what Jesus did (v 12)?
Christians are sometimes tempted to “make up” for sin by doing something (reading the Bible more, evangelizing more, etc.). Can you relate to that tendency? How does this passage speak to those moments?
How does having a purified conscience affect the way we serve God?
Hebrews 9:14 – “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”
 The curtain separating the two sections had cherubim woven into it, a callback to the cherubim guarding the way back to Eden (Exodus 26:31-33; Genesis 3:24).
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