“And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:19 NLT)
I still remember, like it is real again, right now, the moment when in my spirit, I looked behind the curtain. If you’ve ever envisioned yourself standing in the Most Holy Place, you’ve probably felt both privilege and humility. These were my feelings I experienced as I entered the place where God’s physical glory dwelt, the place where he spoke to Moses, the place where my sin was atoned for once and for all, the special place where God’s presence resides. God’s presence, represented by the cloud, dwelt with the people and physically resided inside the Most Holy Place. I had entered the secret place
Though we have enjoyed so much in the Outer Court and the Holy Place, still we had not yet entered the Presence of God. Another veil separated us from the Holy of Holies.
For a moment think back to the Priests duties. What are they doing when they go through the door of the tabernacle? They are standing at the table of shewbread, praising the Lord night and day, the Scripture says; they are standing by the golden candlestick, giving their praise to the Lord. They are standing at the altar of incense, in their praise and their adoration of the Lord. In later blogs I will focus on the furniture of the Holy Place and the wonderful truths they convey.
Now put yourself in the position of the High Priest. While in the Holy Place, you look around to view the Holy of Holies. What so you see? Well, a thick curtain separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place. You see an amazing veil made from fine twisted linen in blue, purple and scarlet. There were figures of cherubim (angels) embroidered onto it. Cherubim, spirits who serve God, were in the presence of God to demonstrate His almighty power and majesty. This veil separates the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies.
The picture of the veil was that of a barrier between man and God, showing man that the holiness of God could not be trifled with. God’s eyes are too pure to look on evil and He can tolerate no sin. The veil was a barrier to make sure that man could not carelessly and irreverently enter into God’s awesome presence. Even as the high priest entered the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, he had to make some meticulous preparations: He had to wash himself, put on special clothing, bring burning incense to let the smoke cover his eyes from a direct view of God, and bring blood with him to make atonement for sins.
So, the presence of God remained shielded from man behind a thick curtain during the history of Israel. While the tabernacle stood, only the high priest could enter there, and that once a year, with blood which he offered for his sins and the sins of the people.
However, Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross changed that. When He died, the curtain in the Jerusalem temple was torn in half, from the top to the bottom. Only God could have carried out such an incredible feat because the veil was too high for human hands to have reached it, and too thick to have torn it. Furthermore, it was torn from top down, meaning this act must have come from above.
As the veil was torn, the Holy of Holies was exposed. God’s presence was now accessible to all. Shocking as this may have been to the priests ministering in the temple that day, it is indeed good news to us as believers, because we know that Jesus’ death has atoned for our sins and made us right before God. The torn veil illustrated Jesus’ body broken for us, opening the way for us to come to God. As Jesus cried out “It is finished!” on the cross, He was indeed proclaiming that God’s redemptive plan was now complete. The age of animal offerings was over. The ultimate offering had been sacrificed.
Today the veil continues to remind me of God’s holiness as I enter into His presence. God has not changed. His holiness is no less now than it was in the tabernacle. What has changed is the great gift God gave us in providing His son as a pure, holy sacrifice, so that we would not die in His presence. Jesus’ shed blood is the only reason we now enjoy open access to God’s presence.
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)