Hebrews 8 Inductive Bible Study Notes and Discussion Questions
Outline: Hebrews 8
I. Jesus’ ministry as our priest and mediator (1-6)
II. The new covenant (7-12)
I. Verses 1-6
Why do you think the writer specifically points out his main point? (Sometimes we are left to figure out the main point for ourselves.)
Where is Jesus now?
Why is it significant that He is at the right hand of the throne of God?
What does the name for God “the Majesty” show us about Him?
What is a minister? What is a sanctuary?
What does the “true tabernacle” refer to?
What does the phrase “gifts and sacrifices” mean? Who are these offered to?
What does verse 4 mean?
In what way is the priesthood a copy or shadow of the heavenly things? How about the tabernacle?
Jesus’ ministry is more excellent than what?
In what way a mediator of a new covenant?
What promises did the people of Israel receive in the OT? What promises do we receive in the NT?
Cross-References – Use BibleGateWay to search for more verses by topic.
Hebrews 5:1 – Gifts and sacrifices
Exodus 25:40 – See that you make things according to the pattern I showed you on the mountain.
Sanctuary – A sacred or holy place.
The main point- Sometimes writers do not spell out the main point for us, leaving us to decipher it on our own. But in this case, he did. What is it? The point is that WE HAVE this kind of High Priest. For chapters he has been showing us that Jesus is a superior high priest. We have been learning many technical details about Melchizedek and the Levitical priesthood, about the old and new covenants. We have been learning about Jesus’ priesthood. The amazing news for us is that we do have this kind of high priest. This brings down the lofty theology and makes it immensely practical and personal. This is not just a fact. It is not for head knowledge. It is not for studying. There are so many fields of study that have no practical impact on our lives. Yet Jesus is our high priest. The Greek word used shows that in some way we actually possess Him. We are His and He is ours. That is because He has given Himself to us and for us. What application can we make from this? What should we do since we have a high priest like this?
He is at the right hand of God’s throne in the heavens – This signifies the position of power. It also is a position of honor and of influence. Remember that James and John wanted to sit one on each side of Jesus when He ruled a kingdom (which He didn’t yet because His kingdom was spiritual). Before the high priests were still distant from God. They could only enter the holy of holies once per year. And even in that case, it was only a shadow of God’s glory which as actually there. Forgive me for using this example. But it could be compared to something like the difference between calling someone on the phone (or a skype conference) and sitting next to them face to face. The Levitical priest’s access to God was far more limited than Christ’s is (who has complete access around the clock). Consider again the benefits of having Christ as OUR high priest. This benefit shows the serious guanxi (Chinese word for relationship) that we have. Our relationship with Christ gives us special privileges from and access to God.
The true tabernacle – The actual place where God dwells. His throneroom. Since He is everywhere, perhaps it could be described as the place where His glory is the most intense. More on this to come.
If Christ was on the earth He wouldn’t be a priest at all because He is not of the Levitical priestly line.
Verse 5 – These Levitical priests served in the tabernacle/temple. This was only a copy or a shadow of the heavenly. The tabernacle’s dimensions were given to Moses by God. We don’t know how, but in some aspects the tabernacle was a shadow of God’s heavenly sanctuary. Certainly many of the items inside such as the lampstand, bread, washing basin, etc. are symbolic of spiritual truths that will be seen reflected more clearly in heaven.
Verse 6 – Jesus’ ministry is better than that of the Levitical priests. He is the mediator of a better covenant with better promises. Remember that the writer is writing to a primarily Jewish background. They place great importance on the priests and lifted them up. The author reminds the Jews that Jesus is greater than all the priests and offers a much better covenant to them than the Levitical priests did.
II. Verses 7-12
What is the first covenant?
What is the second covenant?
Did God always plan on having another covenant? How do we know? Is there anything in the OT about it?
In what ways did the Jews “not continue in [His] covenant?”
What did God mean “I did not care for them?”
What distinguishing marks does verse 10 show us about this new covenant?
Summarize verse 10b using the following phrase “the new covenant is…” (cf. eternal).
Has verse 11 happened yet? When will this happen?
What is the main point of verse 13? So do we need to follow the OT or not?
Jeremiah 31:31-34 – 8:8-12 is quoted from there.
Romans 11 (esp 1 and 26-27) – Israel will finally be saved. Their rejection of God is not final.
Verse 7 once again shows us that the original covenant wasn’t perfect. It had flaws. We discussed this in chapter 7:18. The law has weaknesses, the main one being its inability to take away our sins permanently. The fact that there is a second covenant is further proof that the first is not enough (if it was enough, God wouldn’t have made a second.
The Jews did not obey the first covenant. Back in Exodus we saw God’s declarations before they entered the Promised Land. God promised to bless them in many ways if they obeyed Him. But if they disobeyed Him, He would curse them. Throughout most of the OT period they continued in disobedience. Then Jesus came and His very own people rejected Him. Currently only around 2% of the population of Israel is Jewish. This shows that the vast majority of Jews has rejected Christ as their Messiah. Romans 10-11 goes into detail about God’s plan to go to the Gentiles as accomplished through the Jewish rejection of Jesus as the Messiah.
Although Israel does not follow Jesus, this is a temporary situation. God, in His infinite grace, has promised throughout the Old and New Testaments to one day finally restore Israel to Himself. We can see this taught in verses 10-12.
Verse 10 – The New Covenant is internal, not external. One day the Jews will be following Jesus sincerely from their hearts, not just in outer traditions or rituals. Nowadays Jews are very ritualistic. They dress a certain way. They eat a certain way. They pray a certain way. They believe that these rituals help them be close to God. And yet their hearts are far from God because they have not accepted His Son. One day this will change. One day their hearts will belong to God. He will be theirs. And they will once again be able to be called God’s people. This verse should serve as a reminder to us about the importance of our heart. Our Christian faith is not about going to church, praying publicly, or do any other traditions that make us appear religious in the sight of people. It is about maintaining a close walk with God, about truly loving and following Him from our hearts. You might be able to trick other people into thinking that you are a “good Christian” if you do the right things. But you can’t trick God. He knows what you are thinking about. He knows the deepest desires of your heart. God once told Samuel, “man looks at the outside, but God looks at the heart.” This is still true. What will God see when He looks into your heart?
Verse 11 – One day there will be no need to proclaim the gospel to Israelites. Those who already believe in Jesus will not need to persuade others to believe in Jesus. The reason is that one day everyone will believe from the least to the greatest. When will this happen. It will happen just prior to Christ’s second coming. A number of tribulations and judgments will wipe out a large percentage of Israel’s population (2/3rds?) Then everyone left, will come to accept Jesus. At the beginning of Jesus’ millenial reign, all the Jews will have believed in Jesus. This will be an exciting day! Until then we need to continually and faithfully share to everyone (including Jews) because not everyone knows God.
Verse 12 – God will forgive them. The Jews have a long list of sins. They have a long history of rebellion and disobedience. God would perfectly just in simply wiping them out. It would be reasonable if His patience just ran out and He immediately punished them for their sins. But His patience hasn’t run out. He will take that long history of rebellion and put it out of His memory. He won’t bring it up against them. Instead He will forgive them. God is a merciful God. This same truth is also applicable to each one of us. We are all sinners just like the Jews. We have all rebelled against God. We have all dishonored His name. Yet He makes the same offer of forgiveness to each of us.
Application: What is one area you need to apply the principles in this passage to your life? Write it down and check next week if you have done it.
E-book: If this study is helpful for you, get the whole Hebrews study in one convenient e-book.
“Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.”