This is one of my favorite passages in scripture, and one I committed to memory a long time ago.
Every year on the Day of Atonement, the people would wait outside the tabernacle as the High Priest went through the Holy Place and entered into the Most Holy Place with the blood of the sacrifices to sprinkle the ark of the covenant and make atonement for the sins of the people. (Leviticus 16:15-17)
But when Jesus went through the true holy places in heaven, he did something that no priest before him was ever able to do. He tore down the curtain that stood between God and us. When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain that hung between the Holy Place and Most Holy Place was torn in two. (Matthew 27:51-52)
And by that one action, God was telling the people, “The way into my presence has now been opened up.”
And so the writer of Hebrews tells us,
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. (19-22)
After Jesus entered the Most Holy Place in heaven with his blood, he didn’t merely exit again with the barrier still standing between God and us. Rather, he came out to us and said, “The way is now open for you to come into the Father’s presence. Come, let us enter together.”
And so the writer of Hebrews says, “Don’t just stand outside the tabernacle, away from God’s presence. Draw near. Jesus has opened up the way through his death on the cross. And just as the atonement cover was sprinkled with the blood to purify it from the sins of the people, so now your hearts are sprinkled by the blood of Jesus and made pure before God. You no longer have to fear standing in front of God because of your unholiness. Through Jesus, you have been made holy.”
He then charges us,
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (23)
When trials in life hit, it can become easy to fall away from Christ and the faith that we have in him. We wonder if God really does care, if he truly is faithful and will keep his promises.
But Jesus proved his love and faithfulness to us by going to the cross. How then can we doubt him? So when times get hard, hold on to him, knowing that he is faithful.
And when you see others faltering in your faith, the writer tells us,
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (24-25)
Sometimes people say, “I don’t see why I need to go to church. I’m fine by myself.”
But that is a very selfish way of thinking. Even if it were true (and it isn’t), others need you. They need your encouragement. And you need theirs. We are to spur one another on toward love and good deeds and not let ourselves get discouraged or complacent.
So consider, think, plot, and plan just how we can get our brothers and sisters to reach out in love and touch this world around us. Especially in light of the fact that Jesus is coming again soon.
The way has been opened up for us to come to God. Are you taking advantage of it and drawing near? And are you encouraging others to draw near to him as well?
The Father is waiting for you. What will you do?