A HOLY PRESENCE
‘Just as I am, without one plea/ But that Thy blood was shed for me,/ And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee,/ O Lamb of God, I come!’1
Read Hebrews 9:23–28
23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhose presence do you long for the most?
The high priests of old entered the Most Holy Place (25), a limited, ‘localized’ presence of God. But Jesus ‘entered heaven itself,’ God’s very presence (24). Gordon Fee writes: ‘Presence is a delicious word… Nothing else can take the place of presence, not gifts, not telephone calls, not pictures, not mementos, nothing.’2
Professor Fee adds, ‘Ask the person who has lost a lifelong mate what they miss the most; the answer is invariably “presence”.’2 Being banished from God’s presence was the greatest tragedy of the fall (Genesis 3:23,24). Redemption is all about restoring this precious gift: ‘My Presence will go with you…’ (Exodus 33:14). In the incarnation, God clothed in flesh His promise of presence; and today, Jesus’ parting promise of abiding presence (Matthew 28:20b) is realized in the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Around the world, people set out on pilgrimage to ‘holy places.’ But through Jesus’ sacrificial death (26) His followers enjoy the unique privilege of access to God ‘in boldness and confidence’ (Ephesians 3:12, NRSV) – access to a holy presence which is not confined to special times or places.
1‘Just as I am,’ Charlotte Elliott, 1835.
2Gordon Fee, Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God, Hendrickson Publishers, 1996, p9
‘He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them’ (Revelation 21:3). How excited are you about this final fulfillment of God’s promise of presence?
Loving Savior, I revel in Your presence today, the presence of the Comforter within me and the promise of Your presence face-to-face.