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Discussion Guide - The True and Better Tabernacle and Covenant (Hebrews 8:1-13)





Monday: Hebrews 8:1-13

Tuesday: Hebrews 1:3; 8:1; 10:11-12

Wednesday: Hebrews 8:5; Exodus 25:40

Thursday: Hebrews 8:6; Exodus 24:7-8; Matthew 26:27-28

Friday: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27



Jesus now ministers in the very presence of God on our behalf.



Some commentators consider Hebrews to be more like a sermon than a letter. If we think of it that way, Hebrews 8:1-2 is where the preacher says something like, “Here’s the main point I want you to get, so listen…”

The “point” he wants to make here isn’t so much what Jesus is doing but where he’s doing it. Jesus is carrying out his high priestly duties “at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven”, “in the holy places”, and “in the true tent”, that is, the very presence of God himself.[1]

Why does this matter? The cost of following Jesus was taking its toll on these Jewish Christians, and they were starting to glance over their shoulders at their former life in Judaism. They probably missed having high priests that they could see. How much help can a non-visible high priest really provide? But Jesus’ “absence” isn’t a liability; rather, it’s a huge advantage. 

For one, if Jesus were still on earth, he wouldn’t be qualified to do any priestly work for us since he wasn’t from the tribe of Levi (8:3-4; 7:13-14). Secondly, the temple the Levites served in was only ever a model of something else (8:5; Exodus 25:40). It was a “shadow”, and Jesus went to minister in the place that cast it.    

Furthermore, the Mosaic Covenant that established the Levitical priesthood came with an expiration date. As God revealed to Jeremiah, a new covenant with better promises was coming (vv 6-9). Jeremiah lists three main promises of this new covenant: God will write his law on our hearts (v 10a); we will have an intimate relationship with him[2] (vv 10b-11); and our sins will be completely forgiven (v 12). It is this new covenant that Jesus instituted on the night he was arrested and which he is now a mediator of (Matthew 26:27-28).



Has not being able to see Jesus ever felt like a liability to your faith? According to Hebrews 8, why is it a good thing that our High Priest isn’t on earth?  

What does it mean to have the law written on our hearts (v 10)? How was the Old Covenant deficient in this regard (v 9)? (Compare Exodus 24:3, 7 with Jeremiah 7:21-26.)

According to the New Covenant (8:12), what can’t happen when Christians sin? How won’t God respond? (See also Romans 8:1) What should our response be when we do sin?



Hebrews 8:12 – “’For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.’”


[1] Ray Stedman calls it “the ‘control room’ of the universe”.

[2] Verse 11 is not suggesting that we don’t need teachers in the church (see Ephesians 4:11-13). It means that no special group will have greater access to God than others. All believers are on equal footing before him (Galatians 3:28).


Click here for a printable version of this discussion guide.