Grand churches in the United States, and especially in Europe, used to intimidate me. As beautiful as they were architecturally, they made me feel unworthy, small, insignificant.
I would think, “I don’t belong here. Why would God bother with little ol’ me?”
How much more unfit the poor ordinary citizens of ancient Jerusalem must have felt when going anywhere near the spectacular Jewish temple of Christ’s time.
Guarded by hordes of important looking priests and officers, one couldn’t escape the impression that God must only be interested in religious big shots, and only at a distance.
And right in the temple’s center, was a section known as the “Holy of Holies,” that was set apart by a massive six-story-tall veil, partitioning the dwelling chamber of God from the presence of sinful men.
Once a year, representing all of Israel, the Jewish high priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies. He carried a bowl of sacrificial blood to sprinkle on the “Mercy Seat” as atonement for his own sins and the sins of the people — then he beat a fast retreat. This was no place to dawdle.
The message was clear; man was sinful, and God was perfectly holy, and the veil kept the two apart.
If you wanted to get anywhere near to God in those days, you needed a temple to go to, a high priest to represent you, and an acceptable blood sacrifice/offering to cover you — a tall order, especially for the hoi polloi living in the sticks.
But then along came Jesus Christ.
Proclaiming that He was about to forge a new and living way of approach to God, Jesus confidently declared, in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.”
The religious establishment hated Him for it and eventually saw to Jesus’ unjust condemnation and savage execution, as written in Matthew 27:50-52.
“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split. Also, the tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised …”
They played right into God’s hands to terminate an obsolete Old Covenant and initiate a New Covenant not requiring ornate temples, complex religious systems, endless animal sacrifices and fatally flawed human priests.
By the miraculous tearing of the veil, God showed that when Jesus Christ, God the Son, shed His blood and allowed His body to be torn through crucifixion, everything had changed.
An entirely new way of approach to God was opened — one that didn’t just lead behind the veil of a man-made earthly temple, but into a heavenly tabernacle. Hebrews 9:11-13 states:
“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things having come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made by hands, that is, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all time, having obtained eternal redemption.”
So, what does it all mean to us today?
A new and living way, according to Hebrews 10:19-22:
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, through His flesh,and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let’s approach God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith …”
Now, God-seekers everywhere, not just in Jerusalem, can safely enter the presence of God without fear — not because of who they are in themselves but because of what Jesus has done for them through His shed blood and poured out life.
Jesus said a mouthful when He spoke from the cross, “It is finished.” The Apostle Peter later wrote, in 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also suffered for sins once for all time, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit …”
How About You?
Believer, ignore the religious mumbo-jumbo around you and approach your God confidently, directly, in full assurance of faith, anywhere you are — from your car, workplace, living room, out in the wilderness, and know that when God hears the faint cry of one of His own, Heaven stops, listens and responds.
As written in 1 Peter 2:8-10, we believers are, “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light …”
Do you get that?