Therefore, brothers, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way He has opened for us through the curtain (that is, His flesh ), and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. Hebrews 10:19-22
For me to understand the impact of what it was like to enter the holy of holies where the presence of God rested, I must go back many thousands of years. I would have to interview a high priest. This privilege was his only once a year and he prepared himself down to the smallest detail because if he got it wrong, he could lose his life. This privilege came with great risk.
Imagine with me for a moment that one of the high priests announced that the common man could now enter behind the veil. God had made the requirements less stringent and the people no longer needed to be afraid. Who would have dared volunteer first? Even if the first few came out unharmed, I contend that every person thereafter would still be on edge because the holiness of God and the sinfulness of mankind was so ingrained in their psyche. No one could conceive that God would sanction such a thing.
Let’s fast forward now to the time the book of Hebrews was written. The audience were the Jewish people, the very same descendants of those who had experienced the rituals surrounding the temple and the holy of holies. The words they are reading from this author, though good news, are still hard to really believe and trust. Do they dare risk eternity and the forgiveness of their sins on the teaching that a human high priest and sacrifices are no longer necessary?
The writer assures them that they can go behind the curtain because Jesus paid for the privilege. They can enter God’s presence boldly and with confidence. They no longer need someone to represent them on earth in order to approach God. Jesus had plead their case to His Father. He washed away their sins permanently and declared them holy. As if this wasn’t shocking enough, they were told that entering the throne room is no longer an annual event. There is unlimited access.
There is one thing that I need to keep hearing. For me personally, it’s not that my sins are forgiven. It’s not that Jesus tore the veil in two. It’s not that God has made me holy. What needs to fully register in this fearful heart of mine is that I can come boldly – all the time, no matter what. No need to be shy. No need to fear rejection. No reason to dread anger. My experience on earth begs me to argue. Those in high places move away from the common man, not towards him. They become less approachable, not more. Not so with God. His desire all along was for intimacy. There was a major bump in the road called the Fall of Man but God removed the curse of alienation through the sacrifice of His Son. Intimacy has been restored. It is ‘paradise~now’.
Skittish of Your love, how often have I stayed in the outer courts and missed the joy of Your presence? Don’t let that ever again be me. Amen